Ghana's National Tallbike
When I was riding a tallbike around Ghana, everybody kept telling me about this 'tintintin' (very tall) tallbike they had in Accra. I searched and searched for it. I asked everybody about it, and they all knew of it, but nobody knew where it was kept. I heard lots about it- it was made in China and imported by the government for use in Independence Day festivities (which I watched on TV but to no avail). Some said that Coca-Cola would use it to advertise. That they rode it on Occasion Day, which is any day that the Kumasi Kotoko (porcupines) played the Accra Hearts of Oak at football. Still, in six months, I could catch nary a glimpse of this elusive tallbike.
When I got back, I found a picture of it on the Village Bicycle Project website. Note that it is painted like the Ghanaian flag: Green for the jungle, yellow for the gold, red for the blood, and with a black star symbolizing the independence of the African people. Cool shit.
Johnny 9:17 AM
Okay, so these aren't HPVs. But they ain't in Chicago, neither. Upon my visit to the Rat Patrol UK in Ross-on-Wye, I noticed a curious concentration of three-wheelers, perhaps related to the fact that Morgans are made just up the road.
While most were nice custom jobs, these two stood out as being particularly ratty.
The first is ratty because RPUK member Tallmartin found it in the trash. He'd bought a garage for 200 quid with the caveat that he clean out all the garbage in there. And look what was among the garbage! This is a Rialto trike from the 80s. It's classified as a motorized tricycle even though it can go 65 mph for hours on end and is essentially a car. 850ccs, 4-cyclinder rear-wheel drive and a plastic body... we figured the only way to change that front tire would be to roll it up on its side, which one person can easily do.
We spent the day zipping around the orchard, spinning out on the slick grass, and trying to get it up on two wheels, which is particularly easy. The presence of a passenger greatly effects the handling of this plastic, lightweight, highly entertaining hunk of trash.
Folks in England tend to have very nice cars, and I suspect that the presence of many ratty-ass motorcycles is a backlash to that. This one is ratty simply because it's made from a VW Bug and scrap iron.
If you look, you can see how the chassis of the VW has been chopped and rewelded at an angle, then a headtube's been welded onto that. The highway pegs are just steel bar, and the seats and floor are all gussied up from angle iron.
Johnny 2:03 PM
Clunker Classic III
The Rat Patrol traveled to the land of King Arthur to compete in the third annual Clunker Classic. Four miles straight down, through four distinct environments, on bikes that must not be designed to do so. This year there were 25 racers, including representatives of Rat Patrol UK, Rat Patrol chicago, SCUL, Bikehotrod, and Klunkerleaguenow. We all wore black innertube armbands in memory of Amber Howard, a tallbiker with the BLBC who recently died in a tallbike accident.
I spenk the week in the Rat Cave designing a special secret weapon for the race. Here is the Hobby Chopper, a hobby horse or running machine. "Ought Speed" we were calling it. Screw you single-speeders, I got nothin! Its short fork is extra sturdy for boulder-hopping (Chunkolini's chopper having bit it 400 ft from the starting line last year) and its lack of chains to fall off or pedals to bite shins makes it a clear leader on the trail.
Most people showed up on rusty cruisers, being the original bike for the race. There were two posty bikes, a BMX, two folding shoppers, even some junky road bikes. And, of course four rat choppers and three bikehotrod choppers.
We started with the obligatory camping and drinking the night before. Then we got up and went to the pub. Then we pushed our bikes up to the top of the local mountain. It took us three hours to get up and ten minutes to get down, if that indicates the steepness for you. The top of the hill was covered in moss and heath, and you could look out over the Bristol Channel all the way to Wales. The weather was crisp and sunny.
The first quarter of the race was pretty easy, heath being a relatively inviting surface to crash into. But erosion had dug the trail into deep ruts, hindering those with pedals. Everyone I passed was passed on this part, my hobbychopper building up speed as I headed for the second quarter.
The second section was the most deadliest. Here is where the majority of the crashes occurred, though not the winner of Most Wrecked. Steep skinny trails filled with loose flat rocks. I tucked and bombed it, throwing caution to the wind. Every time someone caught up behind me, their eagerness would get the best of them and they would bail.
The third section was a mucky mire of muddy bridal trail, punctuated by gates and stream crossings. It was here that I fell, as my bike headed for some brambles and I bailed, suffering nettle stings on only one hand. This allowed Crash of SCUL to pass me, and although he was riding on a flat rear tire, I never caught up.
The last section was a lovely all-out downhill through your typical British valley- stone walls, hedges, little old cottages and barns. It was here that the hobbychopper showed its true colors, as no pedaling would have increased my speed.
Jarvis was the winner, and was crowned King of Klunk. I came in 11th of 25, which is pretty damn good for a bike with no propulsion whatsoever. I also won Furthest Traveled To Get To The Race, having come from Chicago via Africa.
This is the winner of the Best Mechanical. He rode the last mile or so on a flat, then a rim, then on his disc brake!
Elspeth of the Rat Patrol won longest bike. Martin of the RPUK arrived looking like this:
...and we thought he was a clear contender for Most Wrecked but then Ed showed up with his patella showing:
Squicky! Away he went to the hospital for five stitches. Away we went to the pub for more drinking.
Johnny 7:30 PM
images submitted by j'edel
Twang bang is a bandwagon named after the band it was designed to carry. It's pulled by a tandem and the rear passenger operates the "emergency brake" (if you have to use it, it's an emergency!) In these pictures it's all done up for X-mas. One time at a $60-a-plate bicycling benefit, it ran over some old lady.
Johnny 5:01 PM