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Wednesday, September 5th 2007

12:18

Last Alcatel Lucent Sunday...but not least!

By Ruth

We were blessed with sparkling blue skies, moderately warm temperatures and not a breath of wind. Here in Ottawa, various parkways and roads are closed to motor traffic between 9:00 am and 13:00 (1:00 pm) each Sunday between the Victoria Day weekend and Labour Day. It goes by various names, from the rather formal sounding Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikeday to “doing the Colonel By Drive”. Whatever you call it, we think it's a great idea. We get to see so many different types of non-motorized vehicles as well as get some really good exercise.

Plus, it's a lot of fun!

We left around 8:35 on Sunday, September 2nd and were through the barricade and onto Colonel By Drive shortly after 9:00. The first thing we both noticed was just how deserted the road seemed to be, which struck us as odd considering just how gorgeous the day was. Maybe people were just sleeping in because it was the Labour Day long weekend or maybe some thought that it would be too crowded already and thought they would wait until a little later in the morning. We assumed (read: hoped) that the numbers would pick up as the morning wore on. We cycled, heading into town, and exited Colonel By Drive at the University of Ottawa.

This is where we found a crowd of people, although not fellow cyclists so much as newly arriving university students and their families. Another sign that summer is coming to an end – the great moving into residence!

We wound our way through the campus grounds and parked across the street from The Second Cup where I tried to get – well – a second cup while Adam stayed behind with the quadracycle. The lineups in the coffee shop were pretty long, comprised mostly of parents taking a break from helping their kids move into residence. We could see students hauling bulging suitcases, sleeping bags and pillows around the streets; good thing the weather was good. I can't imagine trying to do anything like this in the pouring rain!

In the end, I didn't get my coffee so I returned to the quadracycle and Adam and we then left and headed back home.

By the time we got back onto Colonel By Drive, the winds had really begun to pick up from the south so we would be cycling into a headwind. That slowed us down but so did having to negotiate around other cyclists who had now appeared, so we weren't inconvenienced at all. As usual, whenever we stopped for even a few minutes, other people stopped, too, to ask us questions about our quadracycle.

We got home around noon, which is pretty typical for us, and said goodbye to another Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikeday...and season. But, make no mistake, we will not stop our quadracycling until the snow falls and that shouldn't start for another few months!

Photos from this trip are in our gallery.
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Wednesday, September 5th 2007

11:52

Gordon Koppang's Rhoades Car Seat Upgrade

Rhoades Car Owner Gordon Koppang sent us the story of switching the "standard" plastic Rhoades Car seat on his 4W1P single seater for something better. We thought we would share his experiences with you here.

The photos that illustrate his article are located in our photo gallery.

Rhoades Car Seat Upgrade
by
Gordon Koppang

The last ice age and centuries of erosion have scoured deep valleys around Lethbridge (we call them “coulees”). The change in elevation from the bottom to the top of a coulee
can exceed 300 feet (96 meters). If you’re going to ride a bike in Lethbridge, you gotta climb hills!

When I bought my Rhoades 4W1P ordered the optional “36 gears” for going up hill and the dual brakes for going down hill. I also ordered the positraction because I wanted to be able to ride in winter. We don’t get a lot of snow here, but we do get nasty cycles of “snow-thaw-freeze” that leave sidewalks and parking lots sheeted in ice for weeks at a time. The optional gears, breaks and positraction added $373.00 US dollars to the base price of the bike. The best money I ever spent! Those options have allowed me to tackle steep hills, rough terrain, mud and show. Unless you intend to ride exclusively indoors – in a factory or shopping mall or something – don’t buy a Rhoades Car without them.

Having chosen my options, (including a spare wheel and tire) there was still freight to pay for. Money was tight, so I opted for the no-extra-cost “standard seat.” instead of the optional deluxe seat, which would have added another $119.00 US dollars to the purchase price. A review of the Rhoades Car by Lightfoot Cycles insisted that, The ‘standard’ seats of our RC were so floppy there was no back support whatsoever.” This was a review by a competitor, after all, but I figured if the seat was really bad I could come up with something better for less than $119.00 US.

Well, the standard seat was really bad, and I found something better for only $74.19 (Canadian dollars).

I’m 5 foot 8 and short legged. The first problem I had with the standard seat was that it was too deep. Even with the seat as far forward as it would go, the seat back was still too far back. This required me to ride in a “hips-forward” slouch. It wasn’t too bad on level ground but on long grades and hills, all the work of holding me upright was done, not by the seat back, by my forearms and grip strength. After a few months of riding like that my finger joints were aching badly! I knew the standard seat would have to go.

I found a boat seat at Canadian Tire that works just fine! The mounting holes in the new seat were the same size and pattern as the holes in the old seat. I removed the swivel from the new seat and set it aside (I’ll use it somewhere else). Then I removed the upholstery and seat foam to fasten the new seat base to the bike. All easy work. The new seat was a big improvement but it wasn’t perfect. The new seat base (“hi-tech” ribbed plastic) still deflected in heavy going, allowing the seat back to push away from my back. The solution was to replace the plastic with ¾ inch plywood. Now I can put all the weight and force I need to against the seat back and it doesn’t budge! Now the seat back holds me upright, not my forearms and fingers.

Here’s how the two seats compare:



Rhoades Car Standard Seat

Wise Seat WD140LS

Molded Poly Fishing Chair


New Seat

Action Products Company

#210 Grey/blue.

5996 series with black steel hinges.

Width:

17”

15.5”

Depth:

19”

14”

Height:

16”

17”

A Note on the cost of Rhoades Car Options:

The Wise Co., Inc., (Memphis, TN) supplies both the standard and deluxe seats fitted to all Rhoades Car recumbent models. Here’s the URL: http://www.wiseseats.com/wise_marine_fishchair_hp.html. The Wise Company sells only to OEM dealers and distributors, so you can’t buy a seat directly from them. The cost of the deluxe seat offered by Rhoades Car has gone up from $119.00 US to $149.00 US. I checked a few marine supply websites and the price charged by dealers for a Wise seat ranged from $59.99 to $73.25 US. Have a look at the American retailer Outdoor Superstore http://www.outdoorsuperstore.com/. In the search window, type “Wise”.

Here’s another example: The headlights that Rhoades Car charges $57.00 for can be purchased from the good folks at Niagara Cycle (Lewiston, NY) for about $36.00 US. (“Pyramid Lowrider Light. Bullet Type” $17.83 per light last time I checked).

It’s tough to make a living selling quadracycles. Even in Europe, builders like ZEM and AVD have ceased production. I give Rhoades Car credit for being one of the few quadracycle makers to stay in business while still offering an affordable product. Lightfoot Cycles in Montana has been building high-end bikes, trikes and quads for a long time, but few of us have $5750.00 US (base price) to spend on Lightfoot’s “MicroCar” two-seater.

If money’s an issue, buy a Rhoades Car, but “Just Say No” to the options you can buy elsewhere for less.

I heard a statistic recently: Half of the people in North America are too young, too old or too poor to own and operate an automobile. That’s a lot of people! I knew a young mom with three kids under the age of five who used a shopping cart to carry her kids and laundry to the laundromat. One day she lost control of the cart on a hill and kids, laundry and all rolled out into traffic! No one was hurt, but geez Louise! Eventually Tammy got a second or third hand Ford Escort….

The initial cost of that Ford was probably about the same or slightly less than the cost of a Rhoades Car two-seater, but two years of insurance, registration and gas add up to paying for a used Ford Escort all over again. Then in year three, let’s say, the water pump bearings fail. Now the true cost of the automobile comes into focus: The initial purchase, plus three years of insurance, registration and gas add up to at least $5000.00 – and that doesn’t include the cost of repairing the water pump! The Rhoades Car pulls ahead as the true bargain.

The quadracycle connects us to fresh air, sunshine, exercise and fun. The automobile is just a liability – as heavy to own as it is to push.

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