Sunday, 9 September 2018

09/09/2018 - Big Dummy Sidecar Shakedown ride!

Finally got a break in the weather this weekend and with the base fitted to the sidecar frame Caleb and I then got it mounted up and adjusted before we took it out for a shakedown ride for a few miles. First half of the ride Caleb rode his own bike and as we made a few stops and tweaked/aligned/tightened things a bit and generally made sure it was safe and sound but also that I was used to the handling as it is very different to the norm. Having ridden motorcycle sidecars in the past I had some idea of what I was in for and sure enough those memories cam flooding back pretty quick, not all of them were good memories I might add. This sidecar can be set up two ways, and they are very different ways that require very different riding styles and adjustments to how to handle the bike depending whether your turning left or right. Now first off I set it up how you would a m/c sidecar with making sure it is aligned level or almost and making everything rigid. This results in a very direct steering machine that is hard to turn left as you can no longer lean and you need to learn to steer and needs a bigger circle to do it in and it also takes a bit of effort, then to turn right you have to steer again but try and weight the sidecar side to stop it tipping, so far similar to what I know but haven't practiced in a very long time. The other way to set this up and I would imagine the best way with a light load such as Spot our dog who this is being built for, is to take the tension off the mounts, effectively loosen them so that the sidecar will swivel up and down, thus keeping the wheel in contact with the ground for most if not all of the time. This means you can ride almost normally as the bike will lean on both sides when turning. You are always aware of the weight on the left side, but a almost normal ride for the most part. The sidecar can also be mounted on either side but UK law states that any sidecar must have the rider on the right hand side and sidecar towards the curb. Certainly on the bicycle I would want it this way as I wouldn't want to hang it out into traffic. Caleb soon let it be known that he wanted a shot on it. Told him to use his footrest as a hand hold and keep his left hand away from the wheel. While we have fitted the base there is no body or box on it yet, nor hand holds and had to remind him it is for the dog :) We had a few rides on it this afternoon. :)
Now to pull the base back off, sand it, varnish it and then look at building a body for it.
Happy riding indeed. Jamie

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Friday, 7 September 2018

September 7, 2018 - Parts for wheel build for Big Dummy and LHT.

The plan early last year was to build a new standard front wheel for the Big Dummy so we can go back to a normal size when we go touring or on overnighters etc to take away some of the drag from running the fat tyre up front. I didn't want to just put an old 26 back on as I wanted to build one with a dynamo hub so we didn't have to always make sure we were carrying battery lights and we could charge the power box for the phone and camera etc.
So sometime around new year I bought a SP PD8 dyno hub and a pair of Ryde, formerly Rigida, Sputnik rims, 26' 36 hole heavy duty touring rims. I have known these rims over the years to be pretty solid, heavy duty rims that seem to be bomb proof. I suspect  the fact they weigh a fair bit is one of the reasons they are so tough.
I started thinking about building these again back at the start of summer but still I only pulled them out the loft this week and double checked the measurements so I could order some spokes. Not sure why it is taking forever to do but I do think it is because the Dummy runs fine as it is and we haven't been doing any distances on it lately that it seems there's no rush.
While I got a pair of rims I am only going to do the front for just now as I like the big Hookworm tyre on the back and running with slightly lower pressure makes for a more comfortable ride for Caleb. For this front I am hoping to put a Surly ET 2.5 tyre on.  While this hub is for disc brakes to suite the Dummy, the rims are also suitable for rim brakes which means I can use the dyno hub on the Long Haul Trucker as well, will be a big benefit on there for when I'm away for even a few days at a time.
So measurements done and hopefully order the front spokes in the morning. This should let me build them up in the next week or so. I have my standard Dummy forks hanging on the wall of the shed ready to just drop straight on so not a big job to swap it over at all.
Will post when there is more to show.


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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Sun 28th August 2018 - Randonneur ride Kingussie - Drumochter Pass - Long Haul Trucker

This is why we love the Scottish Highlands. We used the day as a scouting mission for a few other rides that we had been talking of lately and for this ride we knew we weren't getting the early start we would need and we also had no idea what the weather would do as so far this long weekend the forecast had been less than accurate.
I had managed to wrangle the Monday off as I was supposed to be down in Yorkshire for the Jack Taylor ride but after being away in Germany and then away last week for work I just couldn't get all the way down for the weekend. Not to worry as I had some great rides out on the Dummy and thankfully Brian was back from Glasgow and we were able to plot a run down the national cycle route 7, the section from Kinguissie south to Drumochter Pass, from which we then deviated onto the dirt that ran 90 degree to the A9 and up into the hills.
The cycle route has some really nice cycle paths with the first section to Newtonmore only leaving the cycle path when into Newtonmore itself, then it was local quite road to Ralia, crossing over the Spey several times. We stopped at this piont and had some lunch at the Ralia cafe before rejoining the cycle path that while running close to the A9 was really quiet and peaceful as is sheilded by trees and bushes so you don't notice the traffic at all. Further on before Dalwhinnie we joined a very quiet road that runs on the oppsite side of the glen from the A9, it's a nice open road that seemed to be channeling a pretty steady headwind so not as easy as we thought it should be, but hey, no rush.
We stopped at Dalwhinnie village for a coffee as we knew there wasn't going to be much else south of here unless we kept going to Bruar which was also a bit further than we planned. Just out of the village where the road joins the A9 the cycle path starts again and from here on ran along side the A9, sometimes close, like footpath close and other times deviated away into woods or followed the old road, crossing over little narrow wooden bridges here and there with a surface that was very smooth tarmac in places but for the most part it was gravel, rough in a few spots but I thought it was pretty good considering the alternative was to ride the A9.
We took the usual photos at the Drumochter sign and then headed further south to explore a dirt track we had seen many times running up into the hills before Dalnaspidal. It was a nice peice of dirt road, rough due to the big rocks embedded but rideable. We stopped at a small creek crossing and took a few photos and Brian ventured slightly further up the hill to confirm that it just gets better. So a plan was hatched to head back here to investigate this track some more as we think it would go right over the hills and certainly looked rideable for as far as we could see it snaking it's way up the valley. We couldn't go too much further as time was getting well on by this stage and so we rode back to the cycle path and turned back north and hoped that headwind would now be a tailwind.
Safe to say we made good time back on the cycle path to Dalwhinnie, for quite a few kilometres I was  sitting on a steady 30 -35 klmh over the gravel and skimming through the narrow bridges, just one of those little bits of a ride that feel like a steady effort and a steady cadence for mile after mile, great fun and certainly quicker than the run down.
After quick afternoon tea at Ralia around 6pm we hit the road for the final few miles back through Newtonmore and onto the car. On this stretch we could see to the east that it was bucketing down with rain on the Cairngorms and thankfully we made it back dry and only got the rain when driving back past Aviemore. Certainly a late night for me by the time I dropped Brian off and then drove back north it was about 10.30 or so. Well worth it though as it was another great ride out. No rush, just riding our bikes in a nice part of the world, no real destination we had to get to, just out to enjoy the ride and the company.
We have found two good off road rides to head back for so it was successful on that front as well.
Cheers Brian for a great day.
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Sunday, 26 August 2018

August25th 2018 - Big Dummy solo and Dunnet Head

As Caleb was away at a Beaver campout last night and I also didn't make it down to the Jack Taylor ride in Yorkshire (very sadly). Gutted to miss it as Ken Taylor was in attendance and was looking forward to meeting up with everyone, but after a long month with being in Germany and then a couple of nights home then down to Edinburgh for work and only home Thursday it was just a bit much, this plus Heather having car issues sealed it. Will hopefully get away with Brian for a ride tomorrow down south of Rothiemurcus following the cycle route #7 down to Ballinluig but over the Drumochter pass.
Anyway, I went out yesterday afternoon for a ride on the Big Dummy, minus my co pilot, minus the sidecar. It was late on and after being out already on it with Spot for a walk so he gets used to it for his sidecar, I thought I would roll round the coast and aim for Dunnet Head. Weather stayed nice for me which was good though the wind from the north was pretty strong. As can be seen there is not much in the way of trees or hills to stop the wind so there is no hiding from it. Forecast was not good so someone got it wrong, lucky for me. 
Left Heather studying and gave her some peace for a few hours.
Hope everyone else is having a decent weekend and hope the weathers good where ever you are.


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Saturday, 25 August 2018

August 25 2018 - Special Delivery! Xtracycle Sidecar arrives for the Big Dummy

Postman delivered a package yesterday that starts a new chapter for the Dummy and for hauling the dog about, as well as cargo.
I had put a wanted ad up on a couple of cargo bike social media platforms looking for a sidecar frame, base, fittings  etc, virtually any parts I could get to either buy or get ideas from. While these are still available to buy new in the US they are not carried by any of the usual Xtracycle dealers/importers that I could find anywhere in Europe. Not saying they aren't out there but I certainly couldn't find any that would bring in a sidecar frame. After a few replies about building my own I had a message from William Gradwohl in the US saying that he had a frame and fittings, new still wrapped that had been sitting in his garage for a long time if I would like it. Now William is regarded as a friend as while we know of each other from various cargo bike groups, he had also generously given me my Xtracycle Freeradical bags for the Big Dummy when I switched from P racks back to normal V racks and got rid of my panniers from it. The shipping was expensive but well below what I actually thought it might be and the price for the sidecar was extremely generous so that allowed it all to happen very easy and seamlessly. The excitement on Calebs face made it worth it already :)  
Caleb and I couldn't wait and had to get it together and mount it. Am away today but hopefully by Monday will have a wooden base in and then build it up from there.
A huge thankyou again to William Gradwohl in the US who was so helpful in organising this and for going to all the trouble to ship it to Scotland, very much appreciated. Been such a help with the development of the Dummy. I will endeavour to pay it forward where I can. 
Such a great cargo bike community out there.
This should be fun.

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Monday, 20 August 2018

Sunday August 19 2018 - Big dummy to the beach ride

Weather was far better this afternoon than yesterdays wind and cloud. 
So it was back out for a leisurely cruise round on the Big Dummy, met the family at friends in Dunnet for a cuppa and then I headed for the beach before looping back home for about half seven.
Not too many miles but certainly a nice leisurely ride just enjoying a relaxing day. 
Really been getting into the Big Dummy again lately and it is getting something a bit 'xtra' in the next couple of weeks to make it more fun, so all's good on the cargo front. 
Have found myself wondering now and again what to do with it now that Caleb is getting bigger/older and spending less and less time on the back and more and more time riding his own bike. It is used for human cargo more than groceries etc so trying to figure out it's purpose or redefining what that now might be. Not a big deal I suppose but some of the thoughts going through my head lately as I ride along. I love riding it and I suppose for a while it will haul the cargo/camping gear for both of us even when Caleb is riding his bike. It does justify it's place in the stable by the amount of fun it brings to our riding together and on my own. It tends to be relaxing to ride as most other rides have this feeling of having to get somewhere and so you tend to go quickly where as this is long and heavy and likes a more relaxed approach, a bit like your not getting anywhere too quickly so you may as well sit back and relax. Don't get me wrong, it can hustle when needed but it responds best to a relaxed unhurried approach, If you start out like your on your racer from the start your legs will soon fade and you will pay the price. The smoothness of the slick Alfine 8 hub gear also makes it feel a bit slower than it actually is, I don't know whether it's the smoothness or the simplicity but it is definitely a nice hub to ride. 
I also still have to build my new front wheel with the PD8 Dynamo hub before the autumn. I have a pair of Rigida Sputnik rims to go with it so just need to order some spokes and we will be all set. 
I am back to work tomorrow after a couple of weeks off :( I know, it's sad but I will struggle on. I have had such a great holiday from being in Germany with the family to just enjoying my riding for the sake of riding.
Hope the weather and riding was good for everyone else. 
Happy Trails

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09/09/2018 - Big Dummy Sidecar Shakedown ride!

Finally got a break in the weather this weekend and with the base fitted to the sidecar frame Caleb and I then got it mounted up and adjus...