Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr Turkey's Last Ride

About ten years ago today I was faced with the job of shopping for everything needed for Thanksgiving dinner. I was planning on 6 people, so moving the goods was going to be best done with a trailer.
My Bicycle of choice was my workhorse Vision R40 Recumbent. The R40 is a short wheel based, Under Seat Steering all steel framed bicycle. Your feet and pedals are out in front and above the 20" front wheel. Your hands are along side of you below the surface of the seat cushion. The bicycle is super comfortable and really fun to ride. Heavy and solid. I could spend hours on it steering with one hand only. The bicycle was fitted with a rack and fenders.
My trailer of choice was a single wheeled trailer called a B.O.B. I was told by the designer years ago that to be "PC" they advertised that BOB meant "Beast of Burden", but what it really stood for was "Beer on Board". (we got along well!)
The trailer cleverly clips on to two little spools at the end of a special rear wheel skewer and can be attached to the bike in about 5 seconds. Easy enough to be done in the dark.
To move what needed to be bought, I also brought panniers and bungy cords.
For those of you who know my town, Dover,Ma. know that grocery shopping is best done in one of the surrounding towns because of the better selection and prices. The town of choice for the days shopping adventure was Needham.
Needham Center is about 6 miles from my home and a really nice ride. You pass a really beautiful horse farm and large lots of woodlands. Crossing the Charles River is the town line.

I bought everything and then some. I also picked up a large bag of bird seed to fill my feeders for the Holidays as well as a box of fire starters for the fireplace.
With the panniers filled and the trailer bag over stuffed the grocery's alone weighed in at about 80 Pounds. To lift the rear wheel of the recumbent was difficult.

Starting off with a heavy load with a BOB trailer is only an issue for the first 25 feet. After that its easy going, or so I thought.
The ride back to Dover from Needham starts with a small hill climb and then a high speed decent to the Charles. The road for the most part on both sides of the bridge is smooth, but for some reason, the bridge has not been repaved for a while. I'm not sure if its a question of who is responsible or they just don't want to fix something that's not broken, yet.

Descending with the holiday load had me traveling at about 28 MPH, well under control. The traffic was light so I could have most of the road to myself.
When I reached the bridge, I hit a bump. In total control, I looked ahead and saw my pedals almost hitting the ground.

When I hit the bump my rear wheel came off the ground about twenty inchs. I rode the front wheel of the Recumbent with one hand for about what seemed to be twenty feet.
Somehow, I took my left hand out of my pocket, grabbed the other handle grip and got the bicycles rear wheel back on the ground. To this day I have no idea how I saved the bike, trailer and the Turkey Dinner.

It took me about a week to figure what exactly happened that allowed the wheel of this super heavy loaded bike with a trailer to come off the ground.
The only thing I can figure is that when I hit the bump, the rear wheel because of the pressurized tire came off the ground about an inch and slowed the bike down just a small amount, but at the same time the trailer kept coming forward at a slightly faster speed. The difference of the two caused the trailer and bicycle to "Jack Knife"

I still to this day have no Idea how I got the wheel to come back down and not crash.
I made it home safely but shaken.

We had a great Thanksgiving that year. We laughed for a while about the story of Mr Turkey's Last Ride.


  1. Great story!
    Points out how we can get little on-the-spot tutorials on the 'laws of physics' when we least expect them. :-)

  2. Thanks Doug for your comment. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. Hello? Thats 5 miles from your house to the srore in Needham, Not 6. Isnt that like calling 80 miles a Century? 5 miles, Got it?

  4. Jeez, that's a scary story! I can't imagine how you avoided crashing. Another reason to take the BoB skewer off my R40!


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