to Tallahassee

Submitted by Ben on Sat, 02/12/2005 - 00:00

My plan for the day was simple and elegant: I would ride north to Tallahassee and stay at a campground west of town.  Rather than follow the most direct highway route, I would go a few miles out of my way to the rail trail that connects Tallahassee to the Gulf shore town of St. Marks and enjoy the peace and quiet away from traffic.

One small problem: I got another flat, on the same wheel that had two flats yesterday in two different tubes and tires.  The problem was on the wheel rim, not the tire, so no amount of changing tires would keep the tubes from getting punctured; I put a patch on top of yesterday's patch but it was torn through in less than half an hour.  I had to stop every 15 minutes and pump more air into the leaking tire... needless to say this slowed me down, though it did get me some upper-body exercise for a change!

Another cyclist stopped and asked how he could help.  I told him I was headed for a bike shop in Tallahassee, and the only thing I thought could help me get there would be flat-fixing slime.  He rode ahead and bought a can of automotive flat-fix which specifically said it shouldn't be used on two-wheeled vehicles, but we rationalized that the risk of a blowout was negligible at the speed I was going -- and away from traffic.  The tires I use are meant to run at 80-110 PSI, and I need that much pressure on the rear tire because of the weight of the trailer, but the can could only manage about 60 PSI, so I had a spongy ride all the way into town, but at least I didn't have to stop every 15 minutes!

I got to the Organic Engines workshop about an hour before sunset.  Organic Engines makes recumbent bikes and trikes, notably a heavy-duty utility trike that can carry over 1000 pounds!  The owner, Dan, and his assistant were expecting me, and they quickly fixed the rough spot on my wheel and gave me some new tubes.  I explained that I was headed for a campground west of town, and Dan invited me to stay at his house instead.  I was exhausted from riding with a low tire, so I gladly accepted.  Since I didn't have to hurry to the campground, I got to test-ride all the different vehicles.  I wanted to try the utility trike under load, so Dan (175 lbs) climbed in the back.

Dan is from Nova Scotia but married an American woman and moved down here.  He had been doing custom welding for local customers but got into building recumbents at the same time the Internet came of age, so he was able to skip all the traditional marketing hurdles and go straight into the custom bike business.  He's also involved in trying to improve the neighborhood where he lives and works, so he bought a local coffee shop that was serving as a community gathering spot but was having management trouble.  I took him out for dinner at an amazing pizza place (modestly named Decent Pizza) and we talked about community building and ecovillages and human-powered vehicles.