30 May 2012

Preparation for the Disaster Relief Trials

Here's the scenario: The Pacific Northwest has just been hit by a massive earthquake. Help is trickling in, but the local roads are tattered and broken; your car is useless. You can pickup emergency rations for your family, but it's all staged miles away across town. What do you do?

Enter the Disaster Relief Trials. It's a cargobike alleycat race around Portland where the participants will be putting their bikes to the test in an effort to help the local Emergency Management Department plan for just such a scenario.  We'll be riding 30+ miles, picking up cargo along the route, and facing a number of required challenges and obstacles along the way. I'm registered to ride my Xtracycle longtail cargobike that I typically use for local errands and taking kids to school.

Yesteday was a training day, which really just means that I stacked a bunch of lengthy cargo trips together. First I took the kids to school. Then I biked 25 miles to Federal Way making a delivery for The Can Hattery. Not a heavy load, but not aero either. The ride mostly follows my old commute route up Highway 99. It's still as scary as ever riding on the shoulder next to so many semi trucks.

Then I did a run to Costco, where I ran into Mark Monlux, a local illustrator and fellow chalk artist. Mark was impressed with the bike, but I was less than satisfied with the performance of the Xtracycle on the ride home. The bike gets quite fishy with heavy, non-people loads, especially when they stick out that far. The big descent down Pine Street to South Tacoma Way felt sketchy in traffic.

used with permission from @markmonlux

I finished the day taking to kids to the park for baseball practice. All together, it was over 40 miles on a 50 pound bike, carrying a payload most of the time. I am super stoked about this event! If you'd like to follow along, I'll be tweeting about it with hashtag #DRTpdx.

05 May 2012

Bike Month DIY: Xtracycle Running Board

We had a two nice days of Bike Month before the rain came. May is consistently wet on Tacoma, which can give you plenty of time for little maintenance tasks and bike projects.

Xtracycle now sells a nice pair of runningboards for $149, which are out-of-my-price-range and out-of-stock. So on a rainy Thursday, inspired by this photo by some folks at Clever Cycles, I started making a running board for my Xtracycle.

I used a wideloader as a frame.

I have a pair of these guys and rarely use them.  They are a bit wide for navigating sidewalks and bikeracks, and they get in the way of my small passengers doing running mounts/dismounts.  So I removed the spring pins with an old spoke, hacksawed 4" from each end, and drilled new holes for the pins.

While I was under the hood, I removed the broken Kickback plug and replaced it with a wine cork. I found out later that you only want to leave ~2mm of cork sticking out. This is too much:

[Not shown: biking to three hardware stores to find 3/4" P-clamps. WTF? - MN]

I shellacked and old flooring board that I found in my basement, drilled and clamped. Those are cut-up road tubes under the clamps.


I decided to only mount a running board on the drive side for a multitude of reasons: kids climb aboard curb-side, protects derailleur, I push-off with my left foot and it would sometimes get caught under the Wideloader, and one platform seemed like enough.

The Snapdeck and handlebars also received a fresh coat of shellack whilst I had it out. Now I'm ready for more rain!

[I finished this on Friday night, right after receiving an email from Xtracycle stating that their Running Boards will be back in stock next week. FYI. - MN.]