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What I did on my summer vacation

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What I did on my summer vacation

Old 08-02-10, 07:02 PM
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Bikes: Dahon Mariner, Bike Friday tikit, Disc Trucker, Specialized Crosstrail, Raleigh M50, a bunch of get-around-to-thems

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What I did on my summer vacation

We just got home from a road trip where we got to ride our bikes in a whole lot of new places.

I've been enjoying my Bike Friday for a pretty good while, but earlier this year I read on here about ThorUSA's garage sale and I decided that would be a great way to add to my little fleet and to get my girls onto folders without too painful an investment. So I got a Mariner and then a Boardwalk, modified them only slightly, and we loaded them in the back of the family Subaru and headed for the east coast. We were looking for real casual riding, and thanks first to the foldies we could leave in the car without security worries, and second to an amazing collection of community bike trails and rural rail trails, every day we got to ride in interesting and attractive places that none of us had ever been before.

We went to Assateague Island National Seashore, a little way north of Virginia Beach. Summer and beach means crowded and parking problems. Not for us; we parked far enough out to be able to ride past the wild pony pastures Assateague is famous for, and then we had easy parking right up front.

A big eye-opener to me was Boston, where we rode the train a good bit more than the bikes. I was scared of the idea of big city traffic, but in our first hour in Boston I think I saw more bikes on the road than I have EVER seen in Arkansas, and they didn't seem to be having any trouble dealing with the traffic. I can go weeks at a time in Little Rock without seeing another commuter on my short route. When we did get on the road I was completely thrown off by all the drivers doing weird stuff like leaving room for us, or stopping at the crosswalks. Who knew drivers could act like that?

Another place we went, just to say we did, was the world's longest pedestrian and bike bridge, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Little Rock's Big Dam Bridge (no really, that's the name) held that distinction till this one opened up. I hate to admit this, but the bridge at Poughkeepsie is a lot prettier than our bridge. But our bike trails are nicer. For now.

Our biggest adventure of the trip was in Maine, where we got a sudden education in how tides work. We're from Arkansas, what do we know about tides?! But we weren't on our bikes, so it's not part of this story. We rode lots of other places, too, and the thing that struck me most, in a week and a half of selecting rides either completely blindly or from only the thinnest of ideas, was that we never found an ugly one. Every single place we went was a place I'd like to get to see again.

That's three bikes in the Superoo behind my lovely daughter; an early Bike Friday and a pair of new Dahons from Thor's garage sale. I was quite pleased with myself to be able to fit three bikes and three people IN the car. Luggage was a little tight.

Riding into the sunset in south central Pennsylvania.

Our little fleet of headturners

The Friday's my regular ride any more. The long booms and the Thudbuster make it the cushiest of all my bikes, and the most comfortable of my uprights. I have it set up as a commuter. I thought I did, till I saw all those Boston bikes, but I have a short ride, and inside parking at either end, so I have the luxury of being able to leave a lot of stuff hanging on it.

The Mariner's geared 28-76 inches. I replaced the stock crank for lower gears, and changed the flat bar to a Soma Sparrow with an Aber Hallo stem extension from Thor. I like the bike a lot, but it's really a little short for me. Eventually I'll look into some kind of longer seatpost, but for now it fits my wife fine as she's only 6 feet. One thing I found, with the Aber Hallo extension, is that the quick release is a little hard to get at. I drilled a hole right at the end of the lever and put a loop of string through it and now it's easier to use than it was stock.

I replaced the Boardwalk's rear wheel with one of those great Sturmey Archer three speed take-off wheels from Utah Trikes. It came ready to go with shifter and cable included, and by taking off the outer locknuts I could install the wheel with no frame adjustment needed. The cable was a little short, and if I'd ever messed with three speed hubs before I'd have known that was a simple thing, but a package from Harris Cyclery fixed me right up. It's geared 35-62 inches. The Boardwalk came to us with a coaster brake, but along with the new hub I put a big chunky BMX sidepull on it and that works just fine. That was kind of funny, getting that brake. One of the mechanics at the shop where I picked it up is young enough to have not really seen BMX before it went lightweight, and he was turning that brake over, looking at it, and said "Why would Anybody make such an oversized part? What's it even for?" And the other mechanic just grinned and pointed up at me and said "Well obviously they made it for Him!"

All my bikes are geared low. We're big people, and we don't get in a hurry, so we don't have a lot of need for high gears. Thanks for reading.
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Old 08-02-10, 07:38 PM
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Folders are... versatile.
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Old 08-04-10, 01:20 PM
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Nice story!
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Old 08-05-10, 05:40 AM
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Thanks for taking us along! You'll notice no one asked "are we there yet?"
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