One of my favorite things about working at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) was that I often got the opportunity to try out new kinds of bikes.
Visitors to the office would often drop by with quirky getups, and occasionally I’d get to try them out—most memorably a Bike Friday tandem my friend Gregg brought by one day. (I shrieked as he captained us around the block.) Every year for our annual fundraising event we would get at least a couple bicycles donated as auction items—one year I pedaled a cargo bike around inside our office building, and later got familiar with a Brompton when I needed to deliver it to an auction winner who worked about six blocks away.
Until recently though, I had never ridden an Xtracycle.
Lovely Lily, treasured friend and ex-coworker, had an Xtracycle as her primary means of transportation for the past few years, but she was heading to Germany for six months. In November, she asked if I’d like to babysit Persephone Xtracycle while she was away. Would I? I leapt at the chance.
The beauty of trying out a bike short-term is that you don’t have to buy it, store it, or find a new home when you don’t need it anymore. But you still gain the experience of riding the bike, and potentially some other details in the setup. For example, Persephone Xtracycle has a dynamo/generator light setup from CleverCycles, meaning I don’t need to make sure my headlight is charged before leaving home—I’ve got a power supply that only stops when I do! Given my issues with making sure the battery on my regular light (a NiteRider MiNewt Dual) is recharged, trying out a dynamo system is a great thing.
The bike changed hands after Lily left on Christmas, and my first ride was all the way from NE Portland to my home just into Clackamas County. Although I was a little anxious about riding all that way on a new bike, it all went fine. Including a brief social stop, I made the trip in average time. A few weeks later I decided to ride the Xtracycle again to brunch at Bar Carlo (above)—a relatively short, flat route from my house. Just because.
There is a down side though: I am looking for more opportunities to test the Xtracycle’s famed cargo hauling capacity. In the last two months there haven’t been many bike moves that I’ve been aware of. At the moment, the only option I can think of is to use the Xtracycle to pick up the next batch of dog food for Atticus—but that doesn’t seem particularly challenging since I can already do that on my regular bike.
Lily is slated to return home in May, and I need to get more use out of the Xtracycle before then!