Yesterday I decided to return two of the Fat Tire kegs that we had emptied at the shop. I figured this was a great time to pull out the ol’ workhorse Xtracycle. The kegs were empty but still heavy.
In much of the world and even some cities in the U.S. cargo bikes carrying large loads is common. Here in San Diego it’s sadly a rare sight. It’s so rare that people don’t know how to comprehend whats happening. On the web forum SDBikeCommuter.com we have had conversations about how nice it would be see things being hauled around by bicycle as a regular occurrence in our fine city. I figure this starts with me so whenever I get a chance I haul large things around. I’m not trying to be a hero or anything but I want people to start following my lead on this. That or it would be nice if someone could say to themselves “Hey, I should be able to carry a week’s worth of groceries, after all I saw some nut job carrying two kegs around once”.
The ride was fun. With the width of this load in mind I chose the longer, flatter route with large bike lanes and back roads for this adventure. I was wondering where I would find someone to get an action photo and thats right about the time I found a building with reflective glass (woo hoo). For part of the route I took an expressway that runs through Miramar Airbase (where Top Gun was filmed). That stretch was flat and it’s always fun to watch the military jets doing maneuvers overhead.
For the most part the drivers were confused and excited to see two kegs rolling down the road on a bike. Some cars slowed down behind me to snap photos on their cell phones. Carrying a load that wide has it’s challenges though. It had the aerodynamics of a rolling brick wall which meant that I had to be extra careful with what the cars behind me were doing. I did have problems with two drivers though. One classy chick rolled down her window to spit at me. She missed luckily. The other guy cussed me out in a foreign language. In both situations I had done nothing wrong and was actually in a really large bike lane. The only thing I could think of was they were in an AA 12 step program and were disgusted by the empty beer kegs. Who knows….
So, you’re probably wondering about how it rode. It was very normal actually. It was a little wobbly and I rode on average 2 or 3 gears lower than I normally would on this bike when unloaded. Other than that it was just fine. I hit a few hills and never hit the granny gear for them. I did go to the granny on a pedestrian path that spanned the 805 freeway but it was really steep. Basically what I’m saying is anyone could have done this. With all those lower gears left untouched pretty much any rider no matter how slow could have done this. These Xtracycles ride better and handle loads a lot better than people may think. For this reason I actually have an Xtracycle at the shop that people can take home for a day or two to see how the rig can work for them in their lives. They can go shopping with it, pick up the kids from school or whatever. I tend to take my Xtracycle out even when I don’t expect to shop because it will always have my spare lights, spare tools, cold weather gloves, extra jacket and on top of all that if I just so happen to need to go shopping for something I have the capabilities. Heck, I can even ride a friend around and yes, that situation has happened.