Harrowing Experience

We want to thank Mark for letting us know that he’s alive, safe and well, and that the Ridekick survived, too! What a tale…

On Sunday morning July 7th at 10:00 AM I was coasting to a stop sign at an intersection in rural Wisconsin. It was a perfect morning for a ride – sunny and quiet with little traffic. I had just completed 19 miles of a 22 mile ride and was excited because my Ridekick battery still had a ½ charge left.

My Ridekick is attached to a long frame recumbent bicycle. This combination really works for me as I use the trailer to help push the bike up steep grade roads that lead up and out of Mississippi river valleys and coulees in the area. It is fun to see how far you can ride using your Ridekick as an able assist for hills and to pick up pedal momentum on the flats.

And so it comes…straight at me… a pickup trunk turns fully into my oncoming lane. There was no time to think or yell or do anything to get the attention of the driver. He simply was not looking being more interested in his cell phone I suspect. I stood and jumped as hard as I could up and to the right. The pickup hit my still upright bike head-on lifting it with my left leg still clearing the top tube. It spun me around in the air and I dropped horizontally onto my upper back and shoulders. I realized the truck itself had not hit me and my helmet protected my head. So I stood up immediately. The recumbent was still hopping around down road and the trailer lid was in the air dropping down from some height. Both batteries were tumbling down the road too [I bought a spare battery when ordering my Ridekick].

What follows is an ambulance, the police, ER and a broken shoulder. The 21-year-old driver was driving without a license, in his father’s truck, on probation with 23 previous arrests.

After three weeks of recovery it was time to inspect my gear. The recumbent was bent, broken and totaled. The trailer appeared to have initially flipped over, been pushed down the road, righted again whereupon it exploded. The battery tie down strap had actually pulled apart. The frame was dented, body work was scraped down and the lid hinges and lid fastener were broken.

After more weeks of recovery I wondered if anything in the trailer was operable. I plugged in the spare battery. The controller turned on! So I put that battery on the charger and it took a charge. The other battery appeared dead. I opened the fabric battery case and found one lead pulled off a connector. Once repaired it, too, took a charge. I put the trailer on top of a shop stool with the wheels off the floor. After connecting the throttle wire the power wheel turned perfectly and was still in align. The other wheel tracked straight too!

The Ridekick is now powering one of my other bicycles. I have yet to fashion a new lid that will fit the dented trailer frame but that won’t be hard to do. It just won’t look as good as the original. As it is, this event really gave me confidence in the reliability of a “Long Haul” Ridekick which, incidentally, is now connected to my Surly Long Haul Trucker.

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Bicycle and Book Collaboration to Support Love of Reading

Three countries, millions of books

Fort Collins, Colorado – Six local, national and international organizations are coming together to encourage children to read.

In celebration of World Book Night, April 23, 2013, over 30 bicyclists will pedal more than 325 books to students at Putnam Elementary School.  The bicyclists, representatives of Overland Sertoma and members of the Fort Collins Bicycle Industry Alliance are supporting the work of Ride for Reading, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote literacy and healthy living through the distribution of books via bicycle to children in low-income neighborhoods.

World Book Night was established to share the love of reading person to person.  Through the organization, individuals can apply to be a “book giver”.  If selected, the individual receives 20 donated copies of a title chosen from a list of books offered by World Book Night.  The book giver is charged with giving the books to other people who know how to read, but aren’t excited about reading.

Local resident, Caroline Tu Farley, was selected as a book giver and chose to give copies of The Phantom Tollbooth.  When she learned that a local chapter of Ride for Reading was starting, she decided to distribute her books through that effort.

In addition to the new books provided by World Book Night, gently used books have been donated by EcoThrift.

Making sure all kids have an opportunity to own books.

As a recently retired person and member of Overland Sertoma, Rob Stumbaugh was looking for ways to be involved with local literacy activities.  From his involvement with a book fair and distribution event in December at Irish Elementary and his knowledge of the United Way of Larimer County Smart Start for Kids initiative (SSFK), he learned about the Ride for Reading program and decided to look for ways for the organizations to partner.

The recently established Fort Collins Bicycle Industry Alliance (FCBIA) is a group of about 20 companies that contribute products and services into the bicycle industry.  As bicycling enthusiasts, the members look for ways to work together to market their companies and Fort Collins as a great place to have a bicycle-related business.  A love of bicycling led to their support of this cause.

Ridekick Co-owner, Dee Wanger, participated in a Ride for Reading delivery rides in 2011 and 2012 at the national bicycle trade show, Interbike.  A former elementary school teacher, she was inspired by the experience and offered to be the Northern Colorado program coordinator for Ride for Reading deliveries.  A member of the FCBIA, Dee and Rob have worked together to organize this first book distribution.

“This is such an exciting collaborative effort!” Wanger said.  “It’s bringing together people who like to bicycle, people who like to read, people who are giving of books and their time…all for the purpose of instilling and enabling a love of reading in children.”

Steve Apodaca, principal at Putnam Elementary School, is honored to be the first Ride for Reading delivery site in northern Colorado.  “We are so thankful to Ride for Reading and support organizations for bringing their literacy and healthy living mission to Putnam! Building lifelong readers is such a powerful message for children. Our kids are very excited about reading their new books, building their personal library and celebrating World Book Night.”

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