The title sounds like it’s out of a Disney movie, and my apologies for that.
But today I was reminded again of why the Xtracycle was so inspiring and revolutionary when I first got it.
My daily load hauling machine: An Xtracycle carrying 8’X10′ carpet, office chair, and other miscellaneous items, for a 7 mile ride. It handled fine.
I went by a friend’s house to drop off something I borrowed from her. She is (sadly) moving out of town. When I got there, she had put together a big bag of food that they don’t want to move across the country. No problem, it fit right into the expandable Freeloader bags on my Xtracyle. Then, I called home before heading there, and found out that we needed a few groceries, and that we had a pickup of our food share from the
. Two stops later, I had a well loaded bike with the equivalent of four large grocery bags stuffed full of food and other items like laundry detergent, books, and clothes. I rode merrily on my way home.
In the past before my Xtracycle (now a distant memory) it would have gone something like this:
Go by friend’s house. She offers me food and items. I accept a few items and stuff them in the remaining space in backpack or pannier, but I can’t take the big jug of laundry soap and big box of detergent, nor the books, nor several of the other large items. Then I call home, find out that I need to pick up groceries and stuff at Farmer’s Market. So, I ride home (7 miles), drop that stuff off, and then because it is late already, I get in the car and drive back to pick it up (there is no way that a big bag of groceries and the whole farm share would fit in my backpack or pannier, or even a big basket). Then, all that money and CO2 saved goes right out the tailpipe. That is how my bike life used to be before the Xtracycle. It was frustrating at times, to say the least.
And the thing is, the Xtracycle, though it looks a bit odd, has little impact on the feel of the bike. It still rides like a normal bike, and in fact, it is more stable than a normal bike. Sure, it is 7 pounds heavier – but it is a 7 pounds that has saved me from extra trips many times. It has freed me of paying for an expensive University parking permit (the cost of which could buy a new bike every year). This thing is incredible.
Sometimes, when I show it to people here in the Southeast, they kind of say “cool” and then quickly move on. They don’t know what to make of it. There are no “celebrities” they’ve seen on TV riding one. Their friends don’t (yet) ride one. So they just see it as an oddity from the “Left Coast” and dismiss it. Sometimes it makes me sad, I want to tell them in a loud voice: “this thing could change your life, it changed mine!” But pushy proselytizing never works.
But, if it weren’t for the Xtracycle, Cycle 9 would likely not exist. It was this one single product that made me realize how much more a bike could be a part of everyday life. I really long for the day when more people are riding bikes like this, realizing they don’t have to be financially chained to their car. Do I hate cars? No. They are great in certain circumstances. But I love not being dependent on one every day. Not being dependent on foreign oil, on gas stations, on insurance people, on auto mechanics (I do all of my own bike maintenance, it is not very hard). It is freeing. So, my personal goal is to share that sense of freedom with more people. And that is one of the important reasons why we created this little venture.