Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Will Anybody Do RAGBRAI on a Brompton?

During the “Tour the Raccoon” ride last Saturday and Sunday, I saw some interesting bikes.

Posts on Brigid's Facebook wall.  The "breeze," by the way,
was a 20 mph headwind. Trikers are clearly a little crazy.
Two of the more unusual vehicles were ridden by my sister and brother-in-law—Brigid and Eldon Rocca, who are, as the exchange with Chuck Offenburger on Brigid’s Facebook wall shows, happy bikers. (Click on the image if you want to see it larger so you can read the exchange.)

Except, they are not bikers.  At least on the Tour the Raccoon ride, they were trikers—they have a pair of recumbent tricycles, with one drive wheel in back and two wheels to steer in front.  They are much shorter and wider than bicycles, which makes them more practical trail vehicles than road vehicles, but they seem to do well on trails.

Brigid and Eldon claimed to be slower on their trikes than bikes are—but that proved untrue in the case of Cate and Joe.  They could catch up with or pass us whenever they wanted to.

Anyway, the picture shows something like what they ride, but imagine two, each with a large plastic fairing (a curved windscreen) and red, rather than blue.

A tricycle, like one ridden by Brigid or Eldon.
Image is from hostelshoppe.com--and it's a folding
trike, don't know if it's their brand.

I liked the ride, but they seemed to really, really enjoy it.  At one point, we were travelling downgrade, going around 20 mph, and came to a little bridge.  I didn’t see it, but I heard it—when Brigid and Eldon triked over the bridge, they became, briefly, airborne.

It sounded like two consecutive overlapping loud “wheeeee”s.  Eldon says they made 3-point landings.

Yeah, I’ll stick with my bike for RAGBRAI, but if I were a rich man, one of my other bikes would be a trike.  With Brigid’s fairing, by the way, just because it has a sexier curve than Eldon’s more straightforward windshield.

And a trike wouldn’t be the only extra bike that a rich CR Biker would want.

On Sunday, at breakfast, John Brunow, owner of AllAbilityCycles, the bike shop in Jefferson, Iowa, was at the Jefferson Depot to show off a Brompton.  A Brompton is a British folding bicycle, and he invited me to take a test drive.  It might have been a shameless plug.  I think Eldon had told him I’m a bike blogger, and he might have been hoping for a mention.  Well, it totally worked.

The Brompton is a hoot.  It looks totally redonk, but rides smooth and fine, and is geared so that it’s not too far from a “real” bicycle—I think on flat terrain, a Brompton rider, like a Rocca triker, would have no trouble keeping up with CR Biker.  I didn’t investigate the gearing, so I don’t know how many speeds the Brompton has, and I suspect Old Blackie (my regular bike) would be better in hilly terrain.  According to the web, the Brompton usually features 3 speeds, not enough for Iowa terrain, but certainly enough for flat trail riding.
From gallary on Brompton company web site.
She's in Lenin Square with her bike.
The one I test rode was black.  But I totally looked
just that cool.

The Brompton web site lists a 6-speed option, by the way.  Yeah, I want one.  Anybody using a six-speed Brompton on RAGBRAI?

One nice thing John does with his Bromptons is add some skateboard-like wheels, which means the folded bike rolls along like a piece of luggage.  Yes, it makes me want one even more.

A Brompton would be totally fun.  
So let’s see, CR Biker would like a trike, a Brompton, and anything else?  Oh, I’m sure a tandem to ride with my sweetie would be cool.  She would look neat upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.  Even if her name is “Audrey” and not “Daisy.”

A biker can dream!


  1. I still want a hovercraft!

  2. I don't know if I'd do that kind of ride on a small-wheeled folder, but I've done RAGBRAI on a folding bike before - I have a Montague bike that I've ridden in RAGBRAI when I've had the chance to do the ride. This year doesn't look like it will happen, but I'll try to plan for next year, maybe.