Friday, August 22, 2008

Texas Homeless Bike Run....

Sent in from: Bici Bickel


I built up this beater bike and picked up a trailer so I could haul groceries and run errands, something I could lock in front of a store and not sweat. The bike actually turned out a lot nicer than I really wanted; this is what happens when your junk drawer is full of carbon test bits from your race bikes.

$100 Trek steel frame that looks almost new, $40 set of Mavic/Campy 10speed wheels off Ebay (no pictures, no other bids)… well I’m just a pig in fertilizer.

Figure I’ll give the whole rig a good shakedown, run a bunch of errands, head out to ranch country to pick up some fresh eggs and honey, nice 60 mile round trip.

Plan was to get out in the morning but as usual, got interrupted. Then I spent an hours going through boxes (we just moved) to find the bike lock. By time I’m on the bike and out there door it’s 2 PM, but still plenty of time to make the rounds. First thing I notice when I hit the concrete is the humidity from the epic rains we had over the last 3 days.

The sun comes out from behind the clouds a few minutes into my ride and creates a nice steam bath.

Stop one is the bank. Find a pole to lock the bike to, do my business, and head to the post office about 6 miles away. I’m tooling along pretty well, which creates a nice breeze and makes things comfortable. Stop at a light and sweat pours.

The last part of my Post Office run requires an alley/parking lot fandango to avoid a bunch of expressway silliness. One section has a few speed bumps which I normally bunny hop, followed by a busy intersection, then one block to the PO. The PO is not to be confused with EPO, which gets you to the PO faster, but is expensive and defeats the cost savings of riding your bike to the PO.

Speed bumps: I found you cannot bunny hop with a trailer. Well you kinda can, except when you’re airborne and the trailer wheels hit the bump, it’s an interesting dynamic that can have you checking your dental plan for coverage.

I complete the MX course, cross the intersection, and notice a bike trailer sized wheel come flying past on my right.


This is followed several seconds later by a loud grinding noise coming from my right rear.

Followed by an identical wheel scooting past me on the left.

Followed by quite a ruckus from behind.

Man, road rage here is creative. I’ve had a lot of different stuff hucked at me, but trailer wheels?

Look back but instead of an irate, yet creative redneck, I find a sled where my trailer used to be. Sleds are very efficient if you’re in the snow. Trailers work better on pavement.

In case you were wondering.

Pull over and am immediately offered a ride by an elderly couple in a pickup, who I swear look exactly like the Jeffersons from the old TV show. I go on my easter egg hunt with the theme song rolling through my head…

“Well we’re movin on…”


“up (movin on…up)”


“To the east side….”


“To that deeeeeelux apartment...”


“…in the…”

Nail (not mine)


Bailing wire (not mine). Spacer. Shim.

You get the idea. Three verses and a short Abba medley later, I’ve found everything but the pins that I thought held the wheels on, but I now understand were meant to be used to hang Christmas ornaments.

Field expedient: I go back and pick up the wire and the nail, and end up settling on the wire for my makeshift pins.

Note: You do not need a cutter to get the desired length of certain types of wire. If you bend it rapidly back and forth, eventually the wire weakens and snaps. In the mean time the bending generates a nice amount of heat, the burns from which are quite painful. The pain is an excellent distraction from the sweat pouring down your forehead. Both the pain and the sweat will obscure your vision, at least momentarily. Wiping your eyes with burnt fingers does very little.

And…he’s off!

Drop off my mail, and head to the big box retailer to pick up some ant spray, the ants here like my cooking. Make it to the parking lot and realize that while Galileo proved the Earth was NOT flat, my front tire WAS.

By time I fixed the flat and got my “Saddam Hussien endorsed Mother of All Ant Killer” the sun was dipping a bit low, what little water I had left was now lukewarm, I had no spare tube, no lights, and the songs in my head had switched over to Blind Willie Johnson. Johnson died penniless from pneumonia brought on by exposure. He was living in the burnt out shell of his roofless house and was found under a blanket of newspaper. While tragic, there can be no more fitting way for a bluesman to go.

I, on the hand, would be found under a copy of USA Today toting bug spray and riding a cheap bike towing a trailer held together by wire and wearing mountain bike shoes.

The egg run would have to wait.

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