Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bike Pick-up and Drop-off

Well, I missed a major Flickr opportunity this weekend when I took the Bakfiets to the shop to get the gearing looked at.  On colder days, we've been having some problems shifting so the kind folks at Devil's Gear said they would check it out.  Sticking with my vow to try and never drive to the bike shop, P and I brainstormed how to get to and from the shop on two wheels. 
On Sunday morning, we put P's Rudge Roadster in the Bakfiet's cargo box (half in, half hanging out) and off I pedaled.  I must admit that we should have gotten the bungee cords out because after one sharpish right turn, I clipped the Roadster's front wheel that was precariously close to the Baks's front wheel and suddenly I dumped P's bike out, right there on the street. Thankfully, there were not many folks out on the roads at that time so I didn't cause an accident or do any damage to the Roadster.  I tried to resettle his bike in the cargo box, moving the wheel away from my front wheel.  However, a few blocks up ahead, I managed to dump P's bike again-- Whoops!

Without bungee cords, I decided to get MacGyverish (something P is far better at than I) and wrapped his locking cable around part of the Roadster's frame and grabbing on the other side with my mittened right hand. I managed to ride--slowly-- that way, clutching the cable like the bridle of a runaway house, the rest of the way to the shop.   I couldn't decide if I was totally pleased with myself for pulling this off or simply chagrined for being such a nut. It did feel good that after leaving the Baks in Mitch's capable hands, I climbed on P's Rudge and headed back home.

Picking up the Baks the next day turned out to be an unexpected adventure as well. Two of my fellows decided to hang at home with their dad, but C happily strapped on his googles and helmet and grabbed his book.  He loved having the box to himself so flipped up the seat and stretched out right on the box's 'floor.'  I was happy to be able to shift smoothly between gears, and spent the first half of the ride chuckling to myself imagining the wheelies that shop owner pulled off when testing the Baks himself.  

When I reached our neighborhood, riding along a two-lane street I cycle on often, sirens burst out.  I looked ahead and saw two police cars speeding across the yellow line of this not-so-wide two lane road. I hastily pulled over and up against the right curb, right at an intersection where drivers were trying to figure out the sirens' whereabouts.  It suddenly became apparent that the police cruisers were in pursuit of a driver, who also speeded across the yellow lane and through a red light, narrowly missing a car right at the intersection where I was stopped.   It all went down in a matter of moments, but I must admit that I was shaken.  It was one of the first times since I have been out on my bike that I felt truly vulnerable, and I felt REALLY vulnerable there with my son sitting there-- exposed-- in the cargo box  seemingly unaware, engrossed in his book (you got to know him).   

I rode home really slowly after that. Three more police cruisers, lights flashing and sirens blaring, passed us but without the same speed and lane crossing as the first two.  I've been unable to find any information in the news about just what happened, but it was a scary moment. I imagine I well would have felt some level of discomfort if I had been sitting behind the wheel of our car, with a boy strapped in the back, witnessing an out-of-control car careening by us.  I was grateful, though, when I reached our home's red gate and parked the Baks up along the fence.


Andrea said...

Yikes! Just think, though, if everyone rode bikes, the out-of-control guy would have been a little less scary on his Huffy.

Angie said...

No camera?! Noooo! :p I would have loved to see that. And my hubby is still depressed that you all have a Rudge - can't believe he passed up that opportunity!

That's very scary about the police chase! I have rarely felt vulnerable on my bike, but it has happened. It's not a fun feeling. I'm sorry you had to experience that. :(

Jennifer said...

Glad you were safe. I've had near misses this week primarily because I'm biking when it's dark. Never a good feeling.

Amy Whitley said...

I don't know what half of this means (all the technical bike stuff!) but I love what you're doing as a family...dedicated to biking. I'm always trying to think past the conventional way of doing things in order to live more simply and more environmentally, and this is yet another blog that's opened my eyes to an alternate way of going about daily life. Very cool. I'll keep checking in despite my lack of knowledge about bikes, if you don't mind! In fact, I write at the site, and would love to feature your family sometime. Email me at Never-True Tales if you'd be interested!

Nipper said...

I live near a hospital and have had to pull over a few times for speeding ambulances. That is frightening enough but a full blown car chase... I am glad you and C were OK.

I am saving for a Bakfiets and your blog just confirms how useful a family vehicle they are. I can't wait to get one!

Last month I had to take my wife's roadster to the bike shop for a service and carried my Brompton in a bag, I then used it to ride home. Have you considered getting a Brompton? They are great for many things including mixed mode and that difficult bike drop off. I like mine because it folds so small and rides well.


sara said...

@Nipper-- Glad to see you again. The bakfiets is worth saving for. Seriously. My only regret is that we didn't buy it SOONER. Ahhh, the Brompton. I dream about lots more bikes and a foldy one.... We shall see.