Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hopefully now if everything goes according to plan, I can really start driving my soon upcoming ride across America. This is so because I finished the last rewrite of the last chapter of “How America Can Bike and Grow Rich, The National Bicycle Greenway Manifesto”. Soon, instead of writing, my very early morning hours will be occupied with ride training on this amazing Eagle HiWheel bike I have the privilege of riding. Of which I am coming to learn that unlike the regular HiWheel where the front wheel is the big wheel, there were very few of these made.

This is so because in 1891 when some number between 100 and 200 of the of them were produced, they went out of business with all the other HiWheel bikes the next year. This was due to the pneumatic tire and improvements in the chain that gave two equal sized wheels a performance advantage they had not before enjoyed. Word has it that if you can get one of those bikes, they are usually worth well over $10,000 dollars! The **exact** reproduction that father and son Jim and Jim Jr Spillane made a hundred years later looks and performs like the crowned jewel that it truly is.

Because of all the storms we have had out here in CA of late, I have not been able to really get it out and roll the miles. I am getting better at mounting and can usually get on after a couple of failed attempts. Today I achieved a couple of firsts on the bike. I did a 6 mile ride between storms and carried about 10 pounds of groceries on my back. Why this is noteworthy is because this bike is extremely sensitive. The more weight you carry, the more you have to make up for it to keep the front wheel on the ground by leaning forward or changing where you sit on the seat. The extra weight also requires small adjustments in the way the bike is mounted.

The other first was stopping at a fence and staying on the bike. I did this at a busy intersection close to my home where I rarely get the light and am often times there when a train is on its way through. Even just stopping an Eagle this way is tricky. And then getting going again equally as tedious.....

Keeping my hands from going to sleep is another small gotcha I am learning how to move through. While two days before non stop rain arrived, I did my first hill on the Eagle. Wow, what a surprise. Almost too easy. Or at the very least, compared to my standard Ordinary. It climbs hills like a regular bike!! Still getting used to how far I can lean **over ** the bars (which is probably unlimited) and look forward to being proficient enough with my bike handling skills to release the seat clip so that I can use it for leverage.

And then there is legs over the steer tube. What an amazing sensation!! In such a way, when gravity is forcing the pedals to spin out of control, faster than what your legs can manage, you just cross them over the steering shaft in front of the wheel. And oh my God, the Spillanes did such an incredible job on this machine, it feels like your are floating above the road below.

A high performance HiWheel, I look forward to learning no hands, how to lift the front wheel over curbs and how to float the front wheel as I ride the giant unicycle that it almost really is!!

THX 4 letting me share this excitement with you!!

THX 4 all of U!!

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