Part One of this series told the story of how a 1987 Specialized Rockhopper Comp came into my life, and then, somehow became an integral part of my life.
In the Spring of 2006 the Rockhopper had been retired from commuting duties. I now had a Surly Cross Check doing my main commute duties. I would do most of my commuting from 2006-2014 on one of two different Cross Checks. The first Cross Check I kept until 2010. It was set up as a fixed gear in the summer and with a internally geared hub in the winter.
All of a sudden I didn’t have a purpose for the Rockhopper. It didn’t get ridden much after the Spring of 2006. I never considered getting rid of it. I had become very fond of it. But, I just didn’t ride it very often.
During the summer of 2006 we joined a local CSA. That meant we had to pick up a big bin of farm fresh vegetables once a week. I had tried to do it on a bike. It didn’t work very well even with several panniers. When you get heads of broccoli and cauliflower combined with big bags of greens and large summer squash, it was all too awkward to fit nicely in panniers. Susan had to pick it up with the car. But she never knew when her workday would end from one day to the next. There was a time window we had to make the pick up. It was a bit stressful for her to do. Yet I knew exactly when my work day would end, and I rode right past the pick up location. It made sense for me to make the farm pickup. Sometime in the summer of 2006 is when I first started reading about Xtracycle. A way to convert an existing bike to a long tail cargo bike. I began to realize the Rockhopper would be the ideal donor bike. An Xtracycle would be my answer to our farm share pick up dilemma.
During the late winter of 2007 I decided to make it happen. As long as I was doing the conversion I decided to make the Rockhopper all new again.
It really needed to be freshened up. I packaged it up and sent it off to a industrial powder coater in Plymouth, Minnesota.
In May of 2007 Jim Thill at Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis ordered a Free Radical conversion kit for me. This was the unpacking when I got it home to Duluth.
About a month after I sent off the frame, the finished product was shipped back around Memorial Day 2007. It had been dipped and chemically stripped, followed by a powder coat finish. It was looking really good! Nothing like the frame I had sent off.
In early June of 2007 I started building the bike when I had time. It would take me several weeks. I had multiple other home and work projects going on all at the same time.
This bike was long. I was building it in my basement and wasn’t sure if I would be able to get it out of the house because of it’s length. I was able to get it in and out of the house, it just took some precise maneuvering.
It’s now July 3rd and I’m just getting around to the final assembly.
July 5, 2007 the Xtracycle sees daylight for the first time. It felt like I was opening the barn door and bringing out Chitty Bang Bang for the first time. It just happened to be pick up day for our farm share. The first errand and the first ride is our weekly farm share pick up. It performed the task flawlessly
Over the next seven years it became my new truck. The last vehicle I had owned was a blue Toyota truck. I told people this bike replaced that truck. Since it was also blue, I told people this was my new blue truck. I began calling it the Blue Truck/Xtracycle. I hauled everything imaginable with it. I hauled our farm shares, grocery runs, home center errands. You name it I hauled it.
When a co-worker offered to give me some raspberry bushes for our yard, I hauled them across town with the Blue Truck/Xtracycle.
Lumber? Heck yeah!!
In July of 2011, I loaded up my backpacking gear, rode to a Wisconsin State Park, and backpacked into one of the backpack sites for a night. Hiked out the next morning and rode home. The Sate Park employees were very confused when I rode up on a bike and asked to register for a backpacking site. They tried to explain to me you can’t ride a bike to the backpacking sites. I told them I had a backpack. They eventually got it and let me park my the Xtracycle by the maintenance shed.
By now you are probably thinking, why did I sell this bike? After 28 years it became a part of my life, why sell it now?
The answer to that question I mostly answered in a blog post yesterday about my new bike purchase. The way I use bikes has changed since 2015. Because of job changes and aging I stopped commuting by bike in 2015. After 15 years without a car, I bought a car in 2017 because my new job required it. I don’t use bikes for transportation anymore. Any errands I used to do on the Xtracycle I can now do on my way home from work with the car. The Xtracycle just wan’t being used anymore. I think I used it three or four times each summer the past two years. It has become the bike I use the least.
Another reason is we have a small home with no garage. The Xtracycle took up most of the floor room in a small backyard shed. I have agreed to a home rule that says the max number of bikes I can own is five with a one-in, one-out rule. That means if I bring a new bike home, one bike has to go. It’s a good rule. Five bikes is too many to maintain anyway. Last summer I came to the realization the least used bike was the Xtracycle and I was contemplating my next bike purchase. In August I cleaned up the Xtracycle and started advertising it. I knew it might take awhile. I advertised it through the Fall and then stopped. Last weekend I posted it again at a much lower asking price and got two bites right away.
This past Thursday Andrew drove the 2.5 hours up from Minneapolis after work and took it home. There was a big “small world” moment when we started talking. I had written in the ad that the bike had hand built wheels. I told him Jim Thill, who used to own Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis, built all my wheels for me when he had that shop. I had also purchased the Xtracycle Free Radical kit and many of the parts on the bike from his shop.Turns out Andrew knew Jim. They had gone to grad school together and Andrew lived near the shop and had been a customer at the shop also.
Andrew and his wife and kids are a one car household. Andrew plans to use the Xtracycle to transport his kids to their neighborhood school. I think it’s gone to a perfect home.
A beautifully written account of your relationship to a very special bike. I particularly like that it got so many ‘lives’ while you owned it. While it must have been difficult letting go of the old workhorse, the new owner will surely grow as fond of it as you did.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks. I didn’t realize this until I started writing these blog posts about the bike. The story of this bike is completely intertwined with my own life story over the past 28 years. The bike evolved right along with me and all the changes I went through in my bike lifestyle.