This is a long-ass post. I'm just telling you now. Bail if you want. But if you get all the way to the end and you're all pissed off about how much time you just wasted, don't come whining to me.
So anyway, a while back, buried in a post, I hinted that I was ready to haul some cargo. The desire has been simmering for over a year, but has come to a boil in the last few weeks. Jerry in Illinois apparently picked up on this, and commented with a generous offer to sell me his Xtracycle.
We are all taught that unsolicited internet offers like this are mostly too good to be true. But I have always been a slow learner and this seemed like a no-brainer (my specialty), so I followed up.
Jerry forwarded some digital pics which proved beyond a doubt that he is a super-good guy and that this was the real deal. See for yourself:
Despite my supreme confidence in my ability to judge human character over email, I spent a few restless nights wondering if the reason Jerry offered me such a good deal was because the kids were included.
And it was for this very reason that I didn't open the box with a razor blade. Kid blood stains are the worst.
Anyhoo . . . thanks to Jerry's packaging, the Xtracycle arrived in primo condition. Zero kids in the box. I was all kinds of relieved.
If you're not familiar with the Xtracycle, it's basically a sub-frame that you bolt onto the back of your existing bike. It effectively lengthens your frame and provides a bunch of space on the back of your bike to carry things. That amazing world wide web is chock full of pictures of people carrying all kinds of crazy shit with their Xtras.
I would have loved to put this thing together myself, but I am thankfully, just barely smart enough to know that it would just fall on top of my giant pile of things that aren't getting done. So I relied on the folks at Wheel Sport South to make it happen. Jim and Ryan were excellent to work with, and in the midst of bike shop crazy season, no less.
I really don't need any more bikes and so I decided that the "donor" should be my neighborhood utility bike since that's how I'm going to be using the Xtra anyway. It's a Specialized Hard Rock from the late 80's. I love this bike. Here it is, pre-surgery:
And here, recovering in post-op:
I decided I wanted to do a few upgrades to the bike while I was at it, so I replaced the stock rear wheel and it's 6-speed freewheel with a new Rhyno Lite wheel, 8-speed cassette and Shimano derailleur.
I've always wanted to be hip, so I ditched the gross stock bars for these Nitto Albatross bars from Rivendell and the even-grosser friction thumb shifters for some Shimano bar end shifters:
The bars ends were too long for my liking, so I wacked about an inch off the end.
You will turn from hip to major dork if you don't put the right grips on your Nitto's and I wasn't taking any chances, so I went with cork. First, you have to glue them onto your bars. Then you have to file a groove in the bottom of each grip for the shifter cable . . .
. . . and then you have to file a wider groove around the circumference of each grip so that you can wrap it with twine to keep the cable in place.
No one said hip is easy.
If you're extra, over-the-top hip, you use hemp twine. (I thought the hemp twine was for catching a buzz while you install your grips, so I smoked it. I didn't catch any kind of buzz and wound up with a screaming headache.) I ended up using regular old jute twine, which is still plenty organic, as far as I know.
Once all that is done, you shellac the whole thing:
And this is what you end up with:
The shellac dried overnight and whadya know - Jacque had a yard sale ride scheduled for this morning. I decided it was the perfect maiden voyage.
Jacque, Jeff, Rick, Judy and I headed out from the Scoop at 10ish and rolled up to our first yard sale a few blocks later.
We proceeded to take the South Hill yard sale scene by storm.
Good thing my sister Mary wasn't along. She . . . ummm, well . . . she has this thing about boxes and would certainly have added to her already overly-abundant collection.
2 or 7 yard sales later, we caught up with Greg and Niki. Greg's been riding an Xtra for a couple of years and pretty much said they could take it from him when they pried his dead, cold fingers off the grips. Well, okay. He didn't say it exactly like that.
It's painfully obvious that I'm an Xtra-newb, because I wasn't carrying any long-load flags. Greg pulled one out of his Xtra stash of standard operating equipment and made sure I was legal.
As if that wasn't bad enough, I wasn't carrying any bungees, either. What kind of a dumb-ass takes off for a yard sale ride on his Xtra without a single bungee? Never again, I swear to you here and now. Jacque bailed me out with a bungee out of his trailer stash. By this time my nerves were too frazzled to even figure out how tie my load down, so Jeff took care of it.
There's no way you can't call this day a success, but it's clear that I need to get it together before my next trip out.
Here's the loot I drug home. There are two significant points about this picture:
1. The great thing about yard sales is that you can compensate for all you male insecurites by buying gobs of manly stuff, whether you need it or not.
2. Now, in addition to my main edger, I have a primary auxiliary edger and a secondary emergency backup edger. Pretty much the only thing that can possibly keep me away from edging at this point is a cold beer. Or in other words, this doesn't necessarily mean that I will be edging, just that I can.
I've only taken the one ride, but I already think this bike is Xtra-Special(ized).
Jerry, thanks a million. I'll give it a good home.