2008 Rickshaw Season Summary

Well, with the ride last Wednesday, I thought I’d take this chance to reflect back on this season as I have with the prior two (2006 and 2007). So, here we go.

There were lots of great Rickshaw moments this year. This blog doesn’t capture everything. There’s lots of rides that aren’t mentioned. I usually like to have a picture to go with an event. Here’s some of the more memorable events (in no particular order):

  1. Mike came and visited from California and we spent some time and notable mileage on the Rickshaw. Fun.
  2. Joe and Steph ride towards town, and on the way to pick them up, I climb the bench. I took the most gentle way up, which is the old rail bridge from the Greenbelt and emptying out on Orchard. It was not a climb I’d have pulled off in the prior seasons.
  3. Kelly and Faye on the back to start off the season.
  4. Tour de Fat. “Never Gonna Give! Never Gonna Give!”
  5. With Bob, with car fire!
  6. There was a wedding. I understand why professionals do such events. I don’t see myself doing one again, but you never know. It was entertaining once.
  7. Mom and Faye on the back, both Eagle Fun Days Parade and Boise Bike Week.
  8. Bob and Bryce on the back returning from the Kristin Armstrong parade. I also had a bike on the back for that event.
  9. Doug and I had a couple outings, including with his wife along once. Good times. I mention this last because Doug took more video this year:

This year, Bob was the #1 rider, whereas Joe had that honor the prior two years before he lost 100 lbs (I’m not joking).

Lots of Rickshaw changes this year, including a great new canopy, rebuilt seat, added headbadge, a cycle computer and the “This Driver Shares the Road with Cyclists” bumper sticker. The 3 speed didn’t get dropped in, but maybe it’ll get added before next season. I bent the chainguard up in October, so hey, what better time to convert the front to a 3 (which would involve getting rid of the chainguard anyway)?

Outside of the canopy this year, the biggest change this year was that the Rickshaw Engine(tm) became for more capable. Indeed, my legs have very noticeably bulked up. The increased capabilities in distance and climbing allowed me to take journeys that wouldn’t have been possible in earlier years. I also logged far more miles… …almost certainly more this year than in the prior two years combined. The Odometer reads 130.92, which is most of the miles for the 2008 season. Other changes this year were the additions of this web site and also a Rickshaw Season YouTube channel.

For my passengers this year, thanks for coming along and I’ll likely see you in the 4th Annual Rickshaw Season. Many thanks to my wonderful wife Kelly for the work on the Canopy and help with the seat as well. The new canopy really makes the rig.

2008 Rickshaw Season is sooooo over!

My MBA student lifestyle and full time job pretty well put the clamps down on Rickshaw riding for a while. I did ride the Rickshaw out to school in late October where I damaged the chainguard, but other than that there was little to no action after the Tour de Fat. Well, last Wednesday was a nice night for November in Boise, Idaho. It was still and the clouds were overhead. It was warm enough that no hat or gloves were necessary. Time for the final ride of the season.

Brother Bob and I headed over to the Terrapin Station, a Dead Head bar in the ‘Rhino District’ to see Audra Connolly, a local singer-songwriter. Apparently she normally performs alone but she had a backing band that night. The Rickshaw was making a ticking noise and the headlight was dim, the canopy lights had one half very dim and the other half was completely dead. It was a short trip so we turned on as much lights as would work with us (the tail lights were functioning very nicely) and headed out.

Audra was singing and playing acoustic guitar all night (think “singer-songwriter”) and Bob and I got to meet the Bartender, also named “Brock”. That doesn’t happen often. I didn’t replay the pinball machine (which is more uncommon than not). We finally headed home. All in all a nice way to end the 2008 Rickshaw Season.

Tour de Fat 2008 (Boise, Idaho)

It’s been almost a week since the Tour de Fat, but it was a great event worthy of a write-up.

Kelly was going to ride on the back, but once I announced my plans to Rickroll she had no interest in being attached to this ride. Everyone else wanted to ride their own rides too (understandable), so we put the Halloween scarecrow on the back with a bike helmet. Perfect. Here’s the highlight reel:

This was my fourth year of Tour de Fat and it seems every year past year one they mess up parade flow. Last year, they had a huge turnout and tried to funnel part of it onto the greenbelt (bad idea). This year, almost last minute, it was like they were thinking “This is working too well” and they had everyone go up a curb and onto the lawn so they can pass the Tour de Fat main stage. Bad idea. It bottlenecked hard at the narrow entry to the road where lots of people were trying to start from to begin with.

Past there, they made a fundamental mistake. Understand that outside of New Belgium Brewing the organizers are local biking enthusiasts. They ride a lot on light bikes with multiple speeds. They aren’t in touch with the average rider in the Tour de Fat. I ran across an organizer about 6 months back and I was very obvious about not having a bench climb. Maybe next time I should get an email address or show up as a ‘user advocate’ (as I have for software over the years). Well, sure enough, there was a bench climb. My cruiser minded friends who showed up had Shimano 7 speed hubs, so they could drop down and climb. That’s not typical in cruiserworld.

As mentioned, my plan was to “Rickroll by Rickshaw”, which, if you are unfamiliar with Rickrolling, involves unsuspectingly bombing people with Rick Astley’s hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. We put the fake passenger on the back, I printed up a big Rick Astley on three sheets of paper on the DECLaser 5100 and joined them, and also printed the other signs and taped them on as well.

Burning the CD was fun. I could have burned just one track and put it on replay, but naw, I put over 10 copies of it on one disc instead.

I put the disc in the boombox and it played fine. Right before we leave for the tour, I decide to ride with the cd playing from the boombox which is bungied on the back rack. It was awful. I thought an occasional skip would be fun, but this thing was skipping to where it would stop playing within one minute. Awful. It would rarely skip if I carried it during while riding, so that’s what I did.

The Tour de Fat is my favorite annual Boise event, and this year was no different.

Buick Headbadge

(This entry backdated to August 23rd. Actual date: October 11, 2008)

The Rickshaw, much to my disappointment, never came with a headbadge. A headbadge is the marker plaque that is typically on the front of the frame of a bicycle. The Schwinn oval is a classic headbadge.

I bought a Schwinn cycle computer earlier in the year and moved the sticker from the packaging to the Rickshaw as a temporary headbadge, but I really wanted something more substantial. Bob and I headed out to Jalopy Jungle in Nampa in search of car badges that might make nice headbadges. There was some neat stuff out there. I had hoped for a Fiero badge but their Fiero had none left. The best looking of the group of badges acquired was a Saturn fender badge, but it was metal and plastic, and was not going to bend readily. The Buick 90th Anniversary fender badge was flexible, had the look, and was reasonably sized. That’s what I went with:

The assortment of badges we left with was $10 total and entry was $1, so my cost to return on the one used wasn’t so good, but Bob and I got to crawl around the junk yard for a while. The badge was a nice choice for Chinese Rickshaw use. China loves Buick.

Attachment was pretty simple. I dabbed a tiny amount of Gorilla Glue to the back of the badge. The badge needed to be held on to the frame for a while (24 hours at least) as the glue dried. Three zip ties solved that problem:

The zip ties were on there for the majority of the week and cut the night before Tour de Fat 2008 in Boise. It worked. The badge was bent and was staying on fine.

All in all a successful project. I’d saved some money if I’d come home with just the one badge, but I wanted to have multiple of them to stare at with the Rickshaw present. As I write over a month later, the badge is still holding nicely.

Kristin Armstrong Parade

Kristin Armstrong won gold in women’s time trial cycling in the 2008 Olympics so it was time to celebrate in Boise. Instead of a typical parade, it was decided to have a bike parade from the YMCA on State Street (where she has worked) to City Hall where she was presented with the key to the city.

Bob rode along on the back, and thinking he might want to leave early, we put his Schwinn Racer on the back using a bike carrier designed for use on cars. It works pretty well back there, with the only difficulty being it makes the Rickshaw wider.

Kristen Armstrong Parade

Things went pretty quick, so Bob and his Schwinn hung around for the full ride. All in all, a nice little event in beautiful Boise, Idaho. The Rickshaw odometer is now reading just under 110 miles so far.

Up and down the bench?

Boise has an interesting set of elevations in town called ‘benches’. Here’s a Wikipedia description:

The bench is named such because the sudden rise in elevation gives the prominent appearance of a step, or bench. The Bench (or Benches, there are 3 actual benches throughout the Boise Valley) was created as an ancient shoreline to the old river channel.

The edge of each bench is like climbing a plateau, but instead of coming down the other side, you are greeted with another climb to another bench after the one you’re on. The area on top of each bench is fairly flat, so once you’re there it is all good. The battle is getting there.

The Rickshaw had never been up the bench for obvious reasons, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I called my friend Joe (who is the all time leader in Rickshaw miles as a passenger) and said I’d try to get him and his girlfriend down the bench and we’d hang out for some Karaoke. They were going to have to take a cab back though, because I was not going back up. Sounded like fun, so it was a go, or at least a try.

Water is power, so I took in a lot of water and Gatorade before I left the house. I decided the easiest way up was going to be the old rail bridge route that goes from the Boise Greenbelt, across the river, and ends up in the Orchard/Emerald area on the near bench. This route is smooth and about as gradual as it gets. Could I do it? Could the Rickshaw make it without snapping the chain or something else?

I took it easy on the way there. I wanted to be fresh for the climb. I hit the climb for the rail bridge and it wasn’t easy but I made it. I crossed the river and then kept going. I tried to keep my speed up so I had the crank turning at an optimal speed. There’s only one speed on the Rickshaw so I don’t have an easier gear to kick down to. A quick glance down revealed that I was going 7.9 MPH, which is a hair slower than normal cruising speed. I dig in a smidgen more and get it in the 8 MPH range. That’s cruising speed while climbing the bench.

There’s a point where the path up the bench actually starts to go down a bit before going back up more. I stop at the top of that point, not because I had to, but I wanted to assess myself and the Rickshaw. Both were doing well. I consumed 16oz of water, and then rode on to the top. Victory!

From there, I rode over to Joe’s place. I lost a bolt on the way (thankfully not a problem), which Joe replaced with some cool looking carriage bolts which looked much nicer than the regular bolts they replaced:
Carriage bolt
Once the bolts were replaced, it was time to load up and head out.

Because of my concerns about downhill braking, which had never received a real test, I wanted the safest route down which I guessed was Ustick Road:

  • It has a bike lane.
  • It has a lot of road texture, so it is a slower roll than the path I took up the bench.
  • Though it is steeper than the route taken up, it also goes back up hill part way before the next intersection so even if the brakes went bad, gravity would stop the Rickshaw long before reaching the next intersection.

I went slow and the brakes took it. No noticeable brake fade. No noticeable smells coming from the brake. All was good.

We made it down the bench, on to karaoke, and then I hauled myself on home to finish the night. All in all, I’m thinking about 18 miles of traveling that day. The odometer is now sitting at 80.75 miles. That was the most demanding trip to date, but I took it much better than many other trips in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

I’ve wanted to clear the 100 mile point in a season and it appears that will happen this season. I’m still fat but my cardiovascular and leg strength have improved significantly this year, and I have lost some fat. These days, hopping on a bike almost seems like taking a car, which is odd. More odd, the Rickshaw is increasingly starting to seem like riding a bike. If you’d have told me last year that I’d get the Rickshaw up the bench with a single speed I would have been surprised.

How to get to that acoustic guitar gig?

My friend Bob had a gig in a park tonight on acoustic guitar. It was about 11 blocks away. I volunteered to take him.

Brother Bob loading to get to the gig

I dropped him off (to a comment something to the extent of “Way to travel in style, Brother Bob!”) and he’ll call later for the ride back. I’ve been wanting to do the gig haul for a while, just for the sheer novelty.

The classic Hyde Park and Downtown triangle… …now with car fire!

Yesterday night’s rides were interesting. First, there was a Wedding. I’ll have more on that when I get photos back. The second trip of the night was with Bob, and we did the classic ‘home > Hyde Park > Downtown > home’ triangle.

First, we went to Hyde Park were both of us ran into people we knew. The new semi-enclosed patio area at Parilla Grill was nice. People were also out at Hyde Park Pub.

We hopped back on the Rickshaw and it was time to head to downtown. We decide to go to the Neurolux. On the way we see this Dodge Durango with an interior fire in the front seat area. Bob captured this picture with has camera phone:
Dodge Durango on fire

The fire department got the fire out quickly. They did this with lots of water, and in fact we could see water coming out the bottom of the drivers door. Very entertaining for us, probably less so for the owner of the Durango.

We go the last block to the Neuro and they have a $3 cover. We weren’t hanging out there all night so we left. We decide to check out The Modern Hotel and Bar on Grove, but the bar was closed for the night. Oh well, onto Gil’s K9 (which is at 25th and Main) and then back home. On the way back home, the chain starts slipping continually worse and worse. We make it back but it was time to give the Rickshaw a rest.

All in all, a fun non-event ride.

Rickshaw wedding

(This entry backdated to July 19th. Actual date: September 4, 2008)

So, this dude Chad finds RickshawSeason.com while searching for Boise and Rickshaw. He’s getting married and wants to have a ride from his reception at The Linen Building in the ‘Linen District’ (or as I call it, the ‘Rhino District’) to the Grove Hotel. I talked to him, he sounds cool, so I’m all “Yeah sure, I’ll haul you.”

The Rickshaw has broken boards in the passenger bench (see Old seat fixed) so Kelly and I fixed that the day before. Everything was ready to go on wedding day.

I showed up about 30 minutes before the scheduled leave time. We ended up leaving about 50 minutes after my arrival. Watching other people’s reception once is kinda amusing, though I can see why the pros get paid for this.

Reception ends and it’s time to haul off. The bride and groom present me with an unseen challenge… …luggage! I really should have thought that through. Unfortunately, I had no bungee cords (I do now) and they had two bags. With bungees, I could have strapped luggage on the back fold down rack no problem, but that was not an option. Thankfully, there was room for one bag under the seat and the other went on the foot grate, less than ideal but doable. Here’s the picture as we’re leaving from the reception:
Rickshaw Wedding

We took off, the bride and groom are stoked, I’m amused, and it was a nice night out and just late enough to where the LED canopy lights were starting to work nicely. I rode down Grove, up 10th, back down 8th (with lots of people on the patios… …nice) and then to a busy Grove with the fountain running. I ran the around the fountain 2 or 3 times and then rounded the fountain and dropped them off. It was an enjoyable experience and I hope I added something to their wedding night.