Trike diary - June 1999

Through to Wednesday 30 June 1999

I've managed to do two or three days a week by trike so far - the week with Michael's sports day one day and his "parent's meeting" the next was only two days, because of Joan being ill and my needing to use the car to ferry her on those days. Otherwise, I drive on a Tuesday so that we can take Michael swimming (this is a bit tight for time, and also he falls really asleep afterwards, and so the trike would be a bit difficult). Friday's it is Thomas' turn to go swimming, but for that it seems to be more feasible to take the trike and trailer in in the morning, pick Thomas up with them (the assemblage handles a lot better with just the trailer loaded - I think mainly because Michael is high up, and also because he tends to lean randomly!), and then use the car to dash off swimming and then back to nursery to pick up Michael. We'll see how that goes.

The other day on the way home, just before turning into Missleton Court, I exchanged waves with a gentleman in a vintage car - one of those that has running boards (a real car) and a bonnet of the sort that folds up and over sideways to open. He had the proper gear on, too - leather "flying" helmet and goggles. It was a nice moment of greeting between two "alternative" means of transport...

Saturday 19 June 1999

Rode the upright into town this afternoon to collect my track pump from Ben Haywards - it needed mending because the retaining screw opposite the Shrader/Presta selection lever had flown off and disappeared. Basically, I figured trying to park the trike near them would be a pain, and anyway I hadn't ridden the upright in a long time.

It was most odd. It's peculiar (although nice) being so high up, and I like the manoeuverability (I felt a little more understanding of why people might enjoy going mountain biking where they have to use this), but I did not like the saddle (more than I expected), or having to rest weight on my hands/wrists. Regardless, I still intend to use the upright on occassion - I still think diamond frame bikes are the ultimate in "flexibility of use" for bicycles (it's definitely useful to be able to just pick it up over my shoulder and carry it back to the right place in the currently rather cluttered garage).

Friday 18 June 1999

Started off using the car today because of intending to take Thomas swimming (just the two of us for the first time) in the afternoon. Unfortunately, ended up with Thomas at home all day (turned out not to be anything worse than a cold and teething, we think, so that was OK). So no cycling today.

Thursday 17 June 1999

Came in with the trike-and-kids, with nothing much to say. Had to dash off early to see Thomas at the nursery who had a high temperature, but after some Calpol he settled down, and we left for home slightly early. Michael fell asleep again and did the dreaded "floppy head" thing again.

Wednesday 16 June 1999

Bike-to-work day, and a nice day it is too. Came in with the trike and children, with no problems on the way in. Tess Jones had organised a meeting at the Trinity Centre from 8 to 9 for tea/coffee as a launch of the proposed new Science Park Bicycle User Group, so I managed to get there by about 10 to 9 (I was very tempted to go to Hobb's Pavilion for the Free Breakfast instead, but felt the BUG was more important). Of course, almost everyone had gone when I got there, but one lady did have a quick go on the trike, and I got to meet Tess. Various people admired the trike, and we all admired the two ladies who had cycled in from Huntingdon (one and a half hours) - especially since one of them is aiming to do it two or three times a week in the future.

Going home, Michael fell asleep again. It's fairly disturbing when his head goes all floppy on his neck - luckily, he sort-of woke up again several times on the way home. I still find this disturbing, though, but I can't think of anything sensible to do - the straps on the seat are already as tight as possible (and practicable).

We got home late because we left nursery late (one of those things) and also because we met Peter Hutchison and then John Dallman on the way home.

Monday 14 June 1999

It's a nice day today, and since Joan is using the car, today's task was to come in to work by trike-and-trailer, with the children in tow.

The nice weather made it all a lot easier - I'm still not looking forwards to getting Michael set up the first time it's raining. But as it was, he was quite happy to be coming in to nursery by trike.

En-route I managed to get him helping to signal (he was sticking his arm out nice and straight about half the time I was signalling), and we also had a short discussion about bicycles having two wheels and tricycles having three, and this was a tricycle. It's nice to be able to hear him when he wants to say something.

Thomas fell asleep again, almost at once I think, so that's a good sign.

I was quite pleased that the journey wasn't too hard work - OK, we went slowly, and I was using low gears, but it wasn't too much effort. Of course, there also wasn't any wind to speak of.

I'm definitely feeling encouraged about doing all of this - we'll see what happens later on in the week (will the laziness of the car win out, especially when it comes to organising swimming in the afternoon - I need to work the logistics of that out).

Going home: Well, as usual Michael was tired at the end of the day, so it was a bit of a trial getting leaving nursery organised, but he wasn't trying to avoid getting on the trike (if anything, the opposite). He wasn't even phased by the occasional drop of rain (at worst a very light drizzle) on the way home. The only problem was that half way home he fell asleep, and we had the "floppy child" problem for a little while (very worrying!), until he obviously figured how to balance himself whilst sleeping (presumably not as deeply).

The odd thing was that I was much more aware of camber going home with the children than normal. Going along Burleigh Street in particular (which is a brick-paved semi-pedestrian street, with quite a large curve to it). When by myself on the trike, I notice it but don't feel it a worry, but on this occasion I was actually wanting to lean to try to compensate for it (rather a non-starter as a solution, in fact). I don't think the camber actually is enough to make the trike go over - a long way off it - but it still felt rather dangerous. I wonder if this is just a psychological problem due to having the children on board, or whether it is due to Michael being a large and high weight that is not leaning in the "right" direction (although I don't think he was actually leaning the wrong way!).

Anyway, it is really nice to be able to talk to Michael (even if often he doesn't respond much!).

Tuesday is Michael's afternoon for going swimming, and he just about always falls deeply asleep on the way back to the nursery to collect Thomas, so we'll use the car - I don't fancy trying to lug a deeply asleep Michael onto the child seat, and it would probably be a bit unfair to him as well. Wednesday is bike-to-work day, so we'd better be cycling then, I guess!

Sunday 13 June 1999

It was a nice sunny day, so we went out for a trial run. The childseat fit into the trailer OK (we'd looked at it briefly Saturday evening), if a little squint. We did the "tip the trailer on its side" test, without Thomas in, and that looked OK, so we did it again (slightly less aggressively!) when we had inserted Thomas, and that looked OK as well.

Michael did his normal moan about putting his helmet on ("it's too tight") - this happens periodically, but meant for the first part of our journey he was loudly repeating his lament - until he got too interested in what was going on and forgot about it.

Basically, I rode the trike with Michael in his child seat behind me, and Thomas was in his car seat in the trailer behind us. Joan rode her upright.

We started off with what is now becoming my "standard" little test route - along Wulfstan Way, right at the end, then right again and back to the Perne Road/Cherry Hinton Road roundabout. We then carried straight on along Perne Road, and turned left at the next roundabout onto Radegund Road, so I could test the "hill" there. I was doing well enough at the next crossroads that we decided to head for the Carter Bridge, for a real test. That went OK (I was in my second-lowest gear for the upwards stretch), although the road works at the bottom were a bit inconvenient (I had to bump my left wheels over the edges of the traffic cones). We then turned left and then left again towards the railway station, and then out to Hills Road, over the bridge and back home along Cherry Hinton Road.

I managed without needing to go into bottom-most gear, although definitely a bit slow for Joan to follow when going uphill (!), and at no point did my legs explode. I had a little bit of buttock-ache, a small amount of foot-tingle, and a few warnings from my knee while cycling, but I probably only really noticed because I was watching for problems, and after I got off the trike everything seemed OK.

Michael seemed OK in his seat (although he didn't in fact talk much) and Thomas fell asleep after a little while, so he was presumably OK.

Thursday 10 June 1999

Joan was at home for work again today, so volunteered to do the nursery run, so that I could "test drive" the trailer.

One thing I hadn't mentioned is that because my trike has smaller wheels than the upright (indeed, than the trailer!), the front of the trailer does dip down a little when attached. I don't think that will be a problem.

The journey in went OK. I fit through all of my gaps with no problem. I can't "feel" the trailer in the way I could on the upright (when it felt like an extension of the bike - I felt I was on a longer vehicle), but I can at least see its sides in the mirrors. I'm glad to have two mirrors, though - it definitely increases my blind spot.

As to increased effort when cycling, it's difficult to tell, since I'm so out of shape. Mind you, when I add children (next week?) I think I'm going to be bottoming out on the gears (particularly on the Carter Bridge over the railway).

Going home I need to check the "curb bump" where I leave Victoria Road to get onto Midsummer Common - I always dismounted for that with the upright, so I need to prove that the trailer will be OK when I ride up onto the pavement.

At work I've parked along the old-fashioned "front wheel breaking" racks so that I can use a car parking space for the assemblage and still have something to chain to (there are Sheffield racks round the side of the building, but they're mostly on grass, and I think would be a pain). What I've done is probably OK, but I'd like a longer "chain" to allow me a bit more leeway in placing the trike itself.

Oh - and no knee pain this morning, which is good.

Later - rode the "caravan" home with no problems, and the curb-mounting went OK as well. After getting home I uncoupled the trailer, and rode off (only a short distance!) to vote (European elections). I left the trike out front with someone collecting a petition to save one of our local schools, and afterwards had a short conversation with her, another lady (who says she's seen me out on it), and her child, who was fascinated. When I got back home, Joan took the machine back so she could vote, which I gather was much appreciated by the same three people who were still talking!

It sounds like Joan will need the car next Monday, so that may be my first "use in anger" - let's hope it's fine, so Michael doesn't mind going on the child seat...

Saturday 5 June 1999

Perhaps I should point out that at no stage have Burley been consulted about any of the modifications I'm making, nor should they be considered to have any responsibility if anything I do adversely affects the trailer or its characteristics. Also, although the matter was discussed with Kevin at D.Tek, it's not his fault if I get it wrong, either!

Today was the day for finishing the trailer mangling.

Having prepared the "mock" boom from plastic piping the previous weekend (see Sunday 30 May), I started work by finishing off the plastic so that I could attach it to the Burley hub widget (this meant (a) removing some of the plastic so that the (too wide) fake-boom would fit through the boom-retainer at the front of the trailer, and drilling some appropriate holes to attach the plastic connecter to the boom - I used little holes and some wire for the testing, rather than trying for a proper nut and bolt approach).

My test drive round the drive showed that I could use lock on the trike without any danger of the trailer boom impinging on the rear wheel, so I prepared to do the real work (drum roll and trepidation).

Although I had figured that the 45 degree angle in the plastic boom was good enough for testing (saving me the bother of holding it over the gas ring to try for a correct angle), I still determined to go at the possible destruction of my aluminium boom with some caution. Thus I hacked off a largish chunk (gosh, the precision!) of the boom with my hacksaw, but left about 4 inches more than I expected to need. I then tried the new, shorted boom on the trike, and inspected visually to see if the trailer was more-or-less in the right place. This allowed me to decide on how much I wanted to take off with more precision (I could "rest" the end of the boom between the rear wheel's spokes, above the attachment point on the hub, and draw on it from above where I thought the exact point was, using the bricks on the drive as a guideline to place the trailer directly behind the trike and centred on its midpoint).

For safety I then removed an inch at a time (approximately) and retested it, actually inserting the plastic attachment into the tube each time and attaching the trailer. For the final iteration, I did two steps of about half an inch each. I was rather pleased (perhaps I should say smug!) to find that my initial estimate was actually where I ended up.

In all, I took about 15½cm off the boom.

The final step was to drill the attachment holes on the upper and lower sides of the boom. Earlier on (before cutting) I had drawn lines along the boom from the centres of the existing holes. I mounted the shortened boom parallel to the ground in my workbench, measured the distance back for the hole using the plastic attachment (i.e., figured out where the hole needed to be), and drilled the top hole (small guidance hole first, and then the real hole). I then drilled an indentation into the inside of the tube on the other side, inserted the widget and looked down through the hole through the widget to see if it was in the right place. Not quite, so I removed the widget and remade a new indentation, which I checked - yes, that was OK, so I drilled the final hole, and it all fit (I know this is probably obvious and trivial to most people with any degree of technical competence, but this is me we're talking about here, and this was the part of the job I was most worried about getting right, so I'm really pleased at how easy it was).

Finally, I assembled everything and took a quick trip round the drive again - everything seemed to work, and the trailer seemed to be centred quite well (certainly as near as I would get without doing technical drawing and calculation!). I can still circle the trike on full lock in either direction, with good clearance from the trailer and boom, so it should be safe enough.

Fitting the trailer to the trike and removing it are both as quick and easy as one would expect from a Burley product, and I just need to make sure I have the right hex spanner for taking the rear wheel off if I ever have a puncture (but it is, of course, one of the standard sizes, which I have with me in my travelling tool kit, so that shouldn't be a problem). The unfolded trailer plus the trike do take a lot more space in the garage, so I now really need to do that garage reorganisation, but that's how life goes. Oh, and a little experimentation showed that if I stand between the trike and the trailer, I can manouevre them backwards as a unit reasonably well - this had been one of the minor worries I had, since sometimes one just has to go backwards, and it's obviously a bit more problematic with a trike and trailer combination!

Unfortunately, that took all day. Sunday I had hoped to do the trip to at least Mitcham's Corner and back, without children, to check that I could indeed get through all of the route with the trailer (which I really want to do before doing it properly!), but given Joan had had to look after both children most of Saturday by herself, this didn't seem fair, so it's been put off until next weekend. Of course, that also meant I avoided getting soaked as well, but that was just luck...

Thursday 3 June 1999

Joan was working at home again today, so took the children to nursery and I rode in on the trike (vague thoughts of taking Michael on the child seat died when I realised that without the trailer I had no easy way to carry all the luggage I wanted to tote today).

Nothing special on the ride in, except that my left knee was definitely happier, presumably because of the slightly longer "reach". It seemed to me that the slight ache it was having could well be no more than the residual problem I've been having all week when (for instance) pressing the accelerator pedal in the car, presumably due to the "damage" I did last week.

At least, that was my thought until I got off the trike, and discovered a sharp pain just below and to the right of my left knee whenever I put weight on the leg. Incipient real worry has dissipated somewhat since it actually got better within a few minutes (i.e., walking up to where I work, with a short period standing talking to someone on the way), and now it's back to how it was before I cycled.

Last night I started doing my "shiatsu" stretching excercises again (for general health, since they're not keen specific), and I shall keep going with them, and see if that helps as well.

Later: well, going home I concentrated on the left knee a bit more. I was actually quite worried, because I thought it was feeling more "odd" than it had earlier in the day when it caused me problems when I stood up. Strangely enough, though, I got off the trike and, well, just walked normally - no pain at all. Maybe it felt funny because I was "watching" it.

I think that a degree of caution is a good thing with respect to the knee, but that it is quite likely that the residual problem I'm having is as much to do with overstressing it the other day. We'll see how doing the shiatsu stretching helps when not cycling, and what happens when I start to pull the children with the machine.

Author: Tibs (

Last modified: Thu Apr 26 16:29:39 GMT Daylight Time 2001