I imagined, when i finally committed to getting it, that i'd spend a ton of time documenting my new bicycle. That's not exactly what i did with the cruiser, but i at least forced my sister to take pictures of it with me in close proximity.
It isn't for lack of excitement, however, that i failed to take more pictures. Quite the opposite. I've been far too excited to spend any time taking pictures, and have opted to spend the extra minutes on the bicycle, rather than photographing it (or writing about it). I got up extra early this morning to rectify this.
Sometime last week i stopped in to my favorite bike shop to get my brakes adjusted and mentioned having an interest in putting together a Big Dummy. As luck would have it, they had one frame left in stock and it happened to be sized correctly for me. There was a back and forth exchange about the minutiae and parts were ordered. There was the usual "your bike will be done today or tomorrow" (repeated for a few days, understandable given the bike-to-work mania last week). Finally, last Friday, i called at three and was told that it would absolutely, unequivocally, be done that day. Just not until seven (when the shop closes).
I weighed the risks (being stuck in Oakland away from my usual public transit routes home) and thought it worth it to get the bike that night. A kind colleague offered to give me a ride, and, should the bike not be ready, a ride home (he lives in my neighborhood). Upon arriving at the shop, i am reassured by the helpful staff (who all seem aware of the work in progress) that the bike is almost done, and that the shop's owner, Richard, is out test riding it at this very moment. I proceed to wait till around eight thirty with Richard as he puts the finishing touches on it.
There were a few finishing touches:
sidestand, seatpost, saddle, grips, peapod childseat. It took a little while, but it was a pleasant enough wait. I had originally had the fantasy of spending the time to visit the shop while the more important bits were done to get a feel for how things like brakes, crank, and derailer are installed and tuned. So the wait provided some of that.
In any case, the bike was finished that night, i paid the nice gentleman for his wares, let him take some pictures of me with the bike, and i was on my merry way.
It rode as i expected, like a bike, and miraculously fit into all of the elevators on my perilous BART trip home. It started two conversations on the trip home. I did some grocery shopping and found the xtracycle bags quite handy.
Saturday, i put the peapod childseat through its paces and loaded a bag with weight almost up to its maximum carrying capacity. I strapped the bag in and rode a route similar to the one i normally ride on the way to work at full speed, not slowing down for or avoiding bumps in the road. It weathered the test fine, not shifting at all or bending permanently, though i did notice a bit of flex, which seems to give the child (or simulation thereof) some amount of shock absorption if the bike doesn't have any. Two more conversations were started via the bike's novelty.
Sunday, I swapped out the bag of weights with the child, loaded up the bike's bags with a small tent city and picnic lunch, and headed out to the park. We met up with big A at Duboce park and he hopped on the back for the short ride to Dolores park. With little A, big A, and all the food and tent stuff packed, we were at close to the maximum rated cargo weight of the bike. I certainly felt it in the steering, and probably won't opt to ride like that in traffic again (but the park is fair game!). The bike was the subject of two more conversations with random people that day.
Yesterday i rode the Dummy in to work so Tara could have a look, and also to do grocery shopping on the way home. I had at least one coworker take it out for a ride, and got a few comments about it (all positive). On the way home, with three full bags of groceries, i discovered that Surly's advice about the snap deck needing a strap to hold it on was entirely accurate. I suspect that the next iteration of the freeloader kit will correct this design problem.
I am thrilled with this vehicle; possibly more so than with any other to date.