Wreck-Free Sunday on a Monday, or how I spent my spring break

I got back from my camping trip late last night nearly exhausted from my adventures and somewhat the worse for wear. I’m nursing a sunburn on my scalp again because I had to remove my hat to be able to see where I was going during part of the campout, and in spite of wearing long sleeve shirts every day I managed to get some sun on my back and arms somehow.

This was Francis/es public debut as a working bike, and I couldn’t have hardly picked a better demonstration ground than where I was. Spirit Haven is ~100 acre semi-primitive camping area about halfway between Austin and Houston, about 2 miles north of Flatonia and 26 miles west of LaGrange, just east of TX 95. There is one “road” that loops around the grounds that is about 3/4 of a mile around from the front gate to the point where the loop comes back to itself (AKA “the end”). This “road” is actually more of a double track with some mud/dust, some gravel, lots of ruts, and washboard. IOW small enough to make riding a bicycle easy and pretty much a wash over going on foot, but rugged enough to make riding a cargo bike a challenge. Photography was limited to your own camp site so I can’t show much in the way of pictures, but I did get a few.

This one is a typical load I moved around from Vendor’s Row to a camp site.
not very heavy, but hard to steer around

My best customer as a passenger, she took like 5 trips to or from Vendor’s Row.
Passenger service
As you can see a Clyde can be used for passengers. It just isn’t as easy as a dedicated pedicab.

This was not without complications. The roughness of the road and the geometry of the bike combined to have me wind up with blood in my shorts twice in 4 days of working the event because of bad fit. I really need to raise the handlebars about 6-8″ from where they are in the pictures in order to have the hardened parts of my butt resting against the saddle, and probably a broader saddle to absorb the bumps. Riding around getting blood in the shorts from resting against the wrong parts of the butt is a highly sub-optimal condition for making money on a cargo bike.

Speaking of making money I did make a few bucks at $1/ride or delivery anywhere on the grounds. Delivery was for anything that fit in the cargo bed and less than 300 pounds, and I had a wood delivery that came very close to those maximums. I also had a passenger run that did likewise 😉 Running close to max loads caused the front tire to deflect a lot bouncing over the washboard “road”, but the ride was smoother with a bigger load. Launching caused Francis/es to live up to hir name as a stubborn mule especially in the open field of Vendor’s Row, but I never lost a load or rider on launch. I did dump one rider at the end of her ride when I pulled off the “road” and into a hidden hole that caused me to lose my balance. Because of the way the bed was built it was a “no harm no foul” kind of a dump, but I still felt pretty bad about the rough end to the ride, especially as she was recovering from a really bad car wreck (a semi running near DOT maximum GVW T-boned the car she was riding in from the driver’s side at 70 MPH, killing her husband instantly and putting her in hospital for 3 months).

The group I was camping with blesses their camp fire at the beginning of the camp, than never lets it go out until either the end of the event or some weather emergency requires all open flames to be extinguished. The evening fires can have flames over 8 feet tall from a stack of wood right at 4 feet tall, and let me tell you it can be quite a sight. Having a fire going that long and that hot causes a lot of heat to get down into the ground under the fire pit. This picture shows how much heat there is after burning for more than 4 days continuously.Boiling water in the fire pit
That water is boiling furiously 5 minutes after the fire was put out. Yes it really was that hot.

Now that I have this post almost done I have 5 days worth of e-mails to sort through and file before I can get my online life back in order. Not to mention 5 days worth of comics to get caught up on so I don’t lose the threads of the plots.

PSA, Opus

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