Try, Try Again

August 30, 2010

It seems somehow emblematic of my uppity middle-class suburb that (1) people would own $759 strollers and (2) when they no longer needed said strollers, they would simply throw them away. (Now I can remember a time – in my early 20s, probably – when the notion of car ownership was so foreign to me that I likely wouldn’t have been able to guess the cost of a new Corolla to within an order of magnitude, so I recognize that the following bears mentioning: $759 is an absurd amount of money to pay for a stroller.) And indeed, a few weeks ago I came across a perfectly good Bugaboo Frog at the kerb, awaiting garbage pickup. I like to think that it is emblematic of my sometimes difficult relationship with said suburb that I should take this cast-off and fashion it into a useful item of a sort that one never sees in use here, so that is what I attempted to do: with some basic stuff from the hardware store, I made the frog into a bicycle cargo trailer.

Unfortunately, while I seem to have a surplus of self-congratulory bike smugness, I’m running a lot lower on engineering skills. So, while my trailer seemed like it would do the job when I headed out on the inaugural mission to the grocery store yesterday . . .

trailer

. . . and even seemed ready once I’d loaded it with $130 of provisions . . .

trailer

. . . I quickly discovered the following facts:

1. The wooden shovel handle I used to connect the trailer to the bike was definitely handy, in the sense that I had it lying around, but was not the ideal material for this job, because it was too flexible.

2. To counteract the flexibility of the wooden shovel handle, I should have cut it as short as possible.

3. The farther the weight on a trailer is from the axle of the trailer’s wheels, the worse.

Basically, the weight on the trailer made the front wheel of the bicycle come off the ground unless I pressed down hard on the handlebars while riding, which is not so comfortable. Also, the front of the trailer dragged intermittently on the street because the wooden shovel handle meant to keep the thing level was warping.

So, back to the drawing board (I actually started working on Trailer 1.1 last night). On the positive side, I discovered yesterday that nothing lends gravitas to an ordinary grocery list like typing it on a mechanical typewriter. I definitely need to keep that thing out for such tasks.

Grocery List

P.S. I know that “mozzarella” is one word. That’s just a coincidentally syllabic typo.

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6 Responses to “Try, Try Again”

  1. Kerri said

    I had no idea there were such high end strollers. New goal: scoop up discarded material embodiments of riches from the curbs on garbage night and resell them on EBay. Or just redistribute them to poor mothers in my neighborhood.

  2. For a guy complaining about the uppity suburban strollers, it surprising that you use kerb:

    Definition of KERB
    British : curb

    I know for damn sure you didn’t get it from your father.

  3. One, that should be “it’s surprising.”

    Two, your too hoity-toity to soak your own beans?
    canned black beans
    canned garbanzos

  4. El Prez said

    Kerri: Anna had the same notion, and actually felt I was being immoral by simply taking this cast-off for my own purposes rather than saving it for the needy. It gets into that whole line of argument advanced by that one philosopher about how we should eschew everything not absolutely necessary, because when we have the power to save even one starving child and don’t, we are complicit in that child’s death. It’s an interesting notion, but its contemplation must take a back seat to the construction of bike trailers.

    Bill: (1) I had no idea “kerb” was British. I just thought it was a more precise way to distinguish between the general notion (a limit or restraining force, as “a grumpy old man sitting on his porch with a shotgun serves as a curb on neighborhood children’s natural impulse to trample his lawn”) and the specific concept of a sidewalk edge.
    (2) I’m not too hoity-toity to soak my own beans – I do so frequently. But I do have a job and two ravenous children, so sometimes I must elevate factory-processed expedience over the class-solidarity (or whatever) of traditional slow food preparation.

    • Kerri said

      Back in my day, kids ate beans that were not thoroughly soaked, and we didn’t complain. It helped us to build character and we thanked our parents for it.

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