He’s Not Biking, But He’s Using a BOB Trailer

The weather was perfect in South Florida back in March of 2005, so I headed out for the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST). (Temps were 63 to 74, but the weatherman lied about 5 mph winds, decreasing to calm. They were really 5 to 7, increasing to 7 to 10, by my wind gauge.)
Steve Fugate repacks his modified BOB trailer
About eight miles into my ride, I saw something breaking the horizon. I figured it was another biker or hiker, but we didn't seem to be closing as quickly as I would have thought.

When I got closer, I didn't see a bike, but there was some kind of contraption on the ground and colorful stuff scattered all over the trail. Looked kind of like a rag bag had vomited its contents. The guy was busy stuffing the bits and pieces into waterproof bags.

Turns out I'd run into Steve Fugate from Vero Beach, who was on the last legs of his marathon hike around the country. Continue reading “He’s Not Biking, But He’s Using a BOB Trailer”

Phillip’s Triple-Trailer Bike: Headed to Chicago

Triple Bike Trailer

Phillip, Taking a Break in the Shade on His Way to ChicagoPhillip is headed to Chicago this summer to visit family. Phillip has 1,300 miles or so to go… On a bicycle… Pulling three fully-loaded trailers.

When I saw him sitting in the shade at the side of the road this morning, I had to stop and chat. I'm used to pulling my son around in a bike trailer. All told, him (42 pounds), his toys and his trailer (31 pounds) weigh in at 80-85 pounds. Phillip's convoy is every bit of 300 pounds.

Phillip doesn't know when he'll get to Chicago. He has done the round trip before but didn't keep track of the days, his peak wattage or calories burned. He rides without a GPS.

I wish I had more time to chat but I was running late for work. Below are some pictures. If anyone between Palm Beach County and Chicago, Illinios happens to see Phillip, please post an update to the comments below. I'd love to know what sort of progress he is making.

(more photos of Phillip's Bike below)
Continue reading “Phillip’s Triple-Trailer Bike: Headed to Chicago”

Phil the Knife Sharpener is a Trailer Guy

If you want to start an argument on a bicycle touring list, ask the question, “Which is better panniers or a trailer?” The world is divided into two groups, trailer cyclists and pannier cyclists and each group is passionate about his or her choice.

Back in February 2002, on a ride from West Palm Beach to Hobe Sound, FL, and back, I ran into Phil the Knife Sharpener near the Riviera Beach FP&L power plant.

Phil, it goes without saying, is a trailer guy. Phil is a Big Trailer Guy in more ways than one.

Closeup of Phil\'s trailer

I asked him where he was headed.

“Daytona Beach,” he said.

Where did you start?

“Key West.”

Where you going after Key West?

“South Dakota.”

At that point, I said, “We have to talk. How MUCH does that trailer

“About 300 pounds. I’m another 275 pounds,” he added.

How hard is that thing to pedal?

“I’m in a mid-range gear right now, give it a shot,” he offered.

I climbed on the beast, stood up on the pedals and went…..nowhere. Zip, nada, zilch.

“That’s what happens most of the time someone tries that,” he laughed, reaching down and lifting the trailer straight off the bolt that held it to his frame.
The bolt that holds the bike to the trailer.
“Does that thing ever pop off when you’re riding,” I asked?

“Yeah, a few times. Once I was going down a steep hill doing about 40 miles per hour riding the brakes when I hit a speed bump. The trailer popped off. When the load came off, then the brakes grabbed hold and the trailer tried to pass me. This trooper saw things start to get interesting and asked if I was hurt. ‘Yep,’ I said. He wanted to know if he should call an ambulance. ‘Yep,’ I said. He wanted to know if I wanted to get down off my bicycle. ‘Nope,’ I said. ‘I got a broken leg.'”

Phil said he had ridden about 250,000 miles in the last 18 years, most of them on the beater bike and trailer he was riding here.

When we approached the Port of Palm Beach flyover, a fairly good grade for these parts, I said, “I don’t get much hill climbing experience down here, so I hope you don’t show me up too badly.”

About 15 feet up the incline, Phil said, “OK, I’ve run it out as far as it’ll go. I’ll walk it from here.” And that’s what he did.

Understanding why he didn’t exactly zoom up the hill, I still had to ask how the heck he managed to make it over the Rockies. “It takes me about three days to push the bike UP the mountain, but only about two hours to go DOWN it.”

He then went on to tell a story about how he drafted an 18-wheeler down the side of a mountain at speeds that stripped the gears in his mechanical speedometer. When the truck driver finally pulled over, he came back to check his rig. He looked at Phil and said, “Geez, I passed you 50 miles back. What are you doing here?” “I’ve been drafting you. Just how fast WERE we going?”

The truck driver said he had hit 85 mph at one point. [I suspect a large grain of salt might be in order here.]

Phil makes his money sharpening knives. “I love those little towns in the Midwest with about 200 people in them. I’ll stop in the downtown area and sharpen some farmer’s pocketknife so sharp that he don’t know he’s been cut until he sees blood. Before long, half the town is running back into their homes to round up all their knives.”

On the way back south, I ran into Phil, still plugging away northbound at 4 mph.

One hint if you run into Phil on the road: ride upwind.

Phil poses with his bike and homemade trailer.

Carven’s Pimped-Out Bike with Audio System Trailer

On my way to work this Thursday morning, I saw Carven cresting the top of the 10th Avenue I-95 overpass. The fixed-gear tricycle he was on looked pretty beat-up but the trailer he was pulling is what really grabbed my attention.Carven\'s Bike with Pimped-Out Audio System

His low-riding plywood trailer had two 12-volt car batteries, an audio amplifier, two subwoofers, two mid-range speakers and a pair of tweeters all connected to a Kenwood car stereo. The batteries alone must have weighed in at more than 50 pounds. Toss in what looks to be half a sheet of half-inch plywood and you’ve got another 15 pounds.

One of the trike’s wheels had a spinner. The other drive wheel used to have a spinner but it fell off and he hadn’t yet put it back on.

Even better, he had dual bicycle bells on the front chopper-style handlebars. You don’t get any flashier than that.

I couldn’t resist. I parked at the bottom of the overpass, jumped out with my camera and took a few pictures. Carven was proud of his ride and didn’t mind at all. He did think it odd that some guy in a tie stopped him on the side of the road.
Carvens Pimpalicious Trike from the Side to Show the Spinners

I told Carven I was really impressed by the engineering but moreso his legs. All in, his full rig must have topped a hundred pounds or nearly six and half Trek Madones. No weight wennie there, that’s for sure.

After not more than a couple minutes, he left for school and I left for work. As he rode off, one of his buddies hopped on the back as though Carven was driving a taxi and caught a ride to school.

Carven\'s friend catches a ride to school on the back of his bike.

If I see Carven again, I hope it is in my rear view mirror, briefly, as he passes my bike on the road.


Death and Your Rolls Royce’s Paint Job

I had a sneaking suspicion that an old geezer in a Rolls Royce was going to blow a stop sign in front of me one day, so I was ready to stop.

When I caught up with him at the next light, he had the window down actually breathing the same air as me.

I leaned in and said, calmly, “Do you know what would have happened back there when you rolled through that stop if I hadn’t been paying attention? I’d have been dead and you’d have had a scratch in your paint job.”

Somehow, I think the latter idea pained him more.