An Idea Grips Hard

August 2, 2010

Sometimes I get an idea in my head and it is so pushy and full of bumptious energy that it just about jostles everything else out of the way. The result is that I walk around gazing dreamily into the unfocused middle distance, forgetting to bring my bike lock keys to work (as I did today), and generally being a mess. Not every idea has this effect on me: some ideas, although good, are too distant in their possible fruition to bristle anxiously in my brain. This category includes the plans I hatch to go on marvelous family trips when the boys are teenagers – you just can’t hurry the growing up of children. Others, also good, just aren’t exciting enough to merit passion – like fixing the screen on the back door or trying a new recipe. I know I’ll get to those things, and I’ll enjoy doing them or the results of doing them, but I don’t feel like I want to interrupt other things and hasten to them. The ideas that really rattle around are the ones that are unusual, require some work to reach reality, but might well be accomplished – or partially completed to a satisfying degree – in a relatively short time frame, like two weeks. (This is probably why I like writing and reading short stories more than novels.)

So what’s eating me now? I am going to build a cargo bicycle. And it will not be any ordinary cargo bicycle. No sir, it will be a modular cargo bicycle, in the sense that it will be an enormous bin (formerly a shopping cart) with two wheels on the front of it, and you will be able to connect any bicycle to the rear of it to create a three-wheeled cargo trike on which the handlebars of the bike connected to the back steer the wheels on the front.

The inspiration is the bakfiets, which is Dutch for (unimaginatively) “box bike.” (Here’s a typical one.) Apparently, in Holland people use these to carry all sorts of things, children foremost. I want one because I like riding my bike and I like taking my children places. You can get them here in this country (because that’s the promise of the internet), but they cost a wicked lot of money, like, at least $1,000, which is at least $973 more than I have to spare right now. So build I must.

Luckily, my friend Kenny dropped an abandoned, wheelless shopping cart and two front bicycle wheels at my house for us to build a cargo bike at some point in the future. That was about six months ago, but I have lately devised a plan, which is a good one, and next week my wife and children will decamp to Cape Cod for vacation (the down side of my great new job is that it is new, so no vacation yet). So soon, so soon! I went to Home Depot yesterday and picked up a few things, and today I drew up a rough diagram of how the bike will work, which I reproduce for you below, dear reader. As you click on this diagram and examine it, keep these things in mind: (1) As far as I know, no one has yet manufactured a cargo bike that works in conjunction so easily with a regular bike; (2) I have a plan to put brakes on the front wheels, but that plan was too hard to draw, so it is not included in the diagram.

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3 Responses to “An Idea Grips Hard”

  1. Alice said

    You do amaze me. The box bike looks nifty, but that phrase – that phrase! – “bumptious energy” is just the bee’s knees. (Or the bees’ knees, depending on how many bees there are.)

  2. Amy Bergquist said

    Ironically I was driving by your house today running an errand and saw something in your driveway. “What the heck is that?” I thought. Well, now I know!

    Glad to find you again, via a Lucas Twitter post. Hope all is well.

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