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Sunday, April 1st 2007

17:05

A Weekend of Quadracycling

Adam writes:

It has been a good weekend for quadracycling! I had to work most of yesterday doing a trade show, but when I was done late in the afternoon the weather was warm and the sun was shining. So I decided to take the quadracycle out solo for the first time, around the neighbourhood.

Solo Quadracycling

After having been out several times with Ruth, being out on my own was interesting. There is no doubt that it takes more effort to produce less speed than on a bicycle. Solo on my 12 speed mountain bike I can hit 20 km/hr without any effort and 30 km/hr with some work. Solo on the Rhoades Car 4W2PCP I was seeing speeds of 15-17 km/hr on the same roads that I tried the bike on, so probably 25% slower on average. Of course there are some advantages over the bike, like cargo capacity and comfort!

I did head off road a couple of times and tried a dirt ramp over a high curb that connected to a new neighbourhood bike pathway. I took the ramp on the diagonal and, being made of dirt, it was not very level. At one point the quadracycle was balancing with only one front wheel and diagonally one back wheel in ground contact. I could feel the effect when this happened but there was no control problem and the steering worked fine. Also, thanks to the posi-traction rear end, the quadracycle kept moving as I pedalled. Without the posi-traction I probably would have had the drive wheel off the ground at some point and would have stopped. I think that all recommends the posi-traction option!

All in all I did 6.6 km on the GPS and averaged 11 km/hr which isn’t too bad with all the stop signs, etc in the area.

Dual Comparison

When I got back from that early evening trip Ruth was all dressed to go cycling. She had regained a bit of energy after a rest and wanted to go out together. So pooped as I was from the day we headed out and did another short 3.5 km jaunt. It was interesting that on the same streets, under the same weather conditions, we were able to get 20-22 km/hr on the GPS without much effort. So it seems that the quadracycle dual is about the same speed as solo mountain biking and about 25% faster than solo on the quadracycle – at least with the two of us. Ruth is pretty fit, but with two stronger men quadracycling together the speed would undoubtedly be higher.

Sunday

Today we decided to do a longer trip and see how we did together. We had originally planned to make it a picnic trip, but with rain on the radar moving in around lunchtime convinced us to change that to a morning ride to be home by noon. We followed the route that we normally take on Alcatel Bike Sundays, except that we didn’t bike on Colonel By Drive itself, as it isn’t closed to cars on Sunday mornings until the Victoria Day Weekend in May.

It was just 3C outside when we started out and biked up Hunt Club to McCarthy and then to Walkley to Riverside to the bike paths through Mooney’s Bay to Hogs Back and then on to the bike path parallel to Colonel By Drive. We went as far as U of O and parked there for a coffee break at Second Cup on Laurier at the University. Then we came back the same route. The total distance was 28 km and with stops, photos and such we managed to do it in under three hours, which isn’t too bad. Without the stops we could have done it in two hours.

That is one advantage we have found with the quadracycle – if one person wants a break they can just stop pedalling and the other one can gear down a little bit and keep you both moving.

So what else did we learn today?

Bike Paths

Here is something I didn’t know – the city bike paths are of greatly varying widths. At some points on the bike path parallel to Colonel By Drive we had lots of room and could easily stay on our side of the yellow line. At other points the lanes narrowed greatly and we had to slow down a lot and time passing opposite direction traffic carefully. I just never realized that the bike paths all seem to be constructed without a width standard.

I think that I would avoid that particular bike path in the future, particularly when it is busy, like Sunday mornings. Cycling on Colonel By Drive, once it is closed to cars, will be great, but we are still seven weeks away from that. Cycling on Colonel By with car traffic wouldn’t be popular as there are very few opportunities for cars to pass a quadracycle on that road and we would end up with hundreds of cars piled up behind us.

We kept the speed down on the bike paths. The NCC recommends a maximum of 20 km/hr, but we held it to about 15 km/hr or less, just because of the crowds of joggers, cyclists and the space available on the variable-width pathway.

Hills

We did okay on the hills on this route, none of which are long, but some of which are fairly steep. I did shift us down into first a couple of times, but generally found that a bit too low. Fiddling with the gears resulted in finding a gear combination that worked okay. Even on the steepest hills we were still showing 10 km/hr on the GPS, so that isn’t bad!

Going downhill we managed to hit a leg average of 37 km/hr on Walkley and a peak of 40 km/hr. We were in 36th gear and doing some pedalling! The quadracycle was stable enough at that speed, but I kept both hands on the handle bars.

We actually used all 36 gears during the trip, but we hardly needed to use the bottom ones for the hills that we were on this time.

U of O

We did cycle through the University including tackling the switchback bike route that cuts through the steps from the bus stop. It worked out fine, though we had to stop and let a cycling family go down the route.

The university is actually a nice shortcut to avoid some of the busier routes through downtown, although on Sunday morning all of downtown was no where near as busy as the bike paths were!

While stopped at U of O for coffee I locked up the quadracycle with the cable lock to a steel sign post just to take some photos of how it works. The cable is quite long and it worked fine and is quite flexible for security options.

Wind

Coming home the weather system was moving in, we had lost what little sunshine we had and the wind was picking up from the east. The airport weather office reported it as east at 26 km/hr that time. We were partly shielded from the wind by the surrounding houses, but we could feel the effects on the large frontal area of the quadracycle and had to work pretty hard getting up the hill on McCarthy into that breeze!

We took a break at the top of the hill to take a picture of the quadracycle with the latest gas price Cdn$1.025 per litre (that is about US$3.38 per US Gallon). No fill up required, thankfully at these prices!

Public Reaction

Once again this was interesting. We had comments or some kind of communication from at least a couple of hundred cyclists, joggers, skaters, pedestrians and car drivers. All of them were very positive (“That is so cool” being the most common comment) except three. The negatives were all from car drivers.

The first was on Riverside Drive, a wide road that cuts north up to Mooney’s Bay. We were only on the road from Walkley to the parking lot at Mooney’s Bay, a distance of two blocks. Turning off Walkley, I stayed well over in the right-hand lane and the traffic just zoomed by us as we pedalled up the hill. After a block of cars had gone by I checked to the rear and that there was only one car, way back about 400 m. I signalled and moved to the left turn land. I guess he was doing about double the 50 km/hr speed limit on the road because he felt it necessary to brake hard and honk at us, even through he was still 200 m back at that point. Note – look out for speeders.

The second one was a driver who passed us on a wide road and just decided to shake his head at us disapprovingly. Not sure what that was about.

Coming back up the hill at Hunt Club and Airport Parkway we were tucked over to the right curb and by the “Cars Share the Road with Cyclists” sign someone decided to honk at us, as I guess they through we were in their way. Oh well.

Otherwise, overall the response was overwhelmingly positive – we got lots of smiles.

Stowage

We have been carrying one single 68 litre bin on the quadracycle when we go out. For this trip we put in lots of tools, spare inner tube and patch kit, sweaters, camera, light kit, drinks, lock and cable and a bunch of other stuff we thought we might need. The bin was hardly half full and there is room for two more bins. A single ratchet tie down holds it in place quite well.

So overall a successful trip and definitely lots of exercise for us both. My total distance for the weekend was 38.4 km.

The quadracycle did well mechanically – no complaints. After we got back I wiped off the mud that we had picked up and cleaned the chains and oiled them. Everything seems to be in good shape.

Photos from the trip are in the photo gallery.

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