I had a chance to try a variety of different bicycles from Bicycle Forest today, as part of the Kitchener-Waterloo Lion's Club Santa Claus Parade.
The regional Tree Huggers environmental action group, under the wing of dandelion-lover Susan Koswan, partners with Brent Curry's Bicycle Forest to add to the human-powered aspect to the annual parade.
Ironic it was to be waiting in our place for the parade to start, with one parade entry ahead of us idling its engine and another parade entry behind us idling its engine. Apparently, we were the carbon offset.
Here we are meeting at the Bicycle Forest HQ to pick a vehicle and do some basics: pump tires, etc. While we were each responsible for getting our selection to the parade start and back from the parade finish, it was expected that we would swap rides frequently through the parade.
The Rhoades car took some extra preparation before it was ready to hit the road. One taillight had come loose. I think the Rhoades Car is so well crafted to look like a car, that many people along the parade took a while to register that this, too, was a human-powered vehicle. Since it carried spare bikes in its box, it is possible that some people assumed it was a support "vehicle."
I liked the various trike recumbents, but opted for the Kick Bike for variety. I had a chance to ride both and appreciate the challenges facing low-riders. I was below eye-level of five-year-olds standing on the adjacent curbs. A flag would seem to be an essential for road riding.
The Couch Bike drew the most comments, including a pre-parade group of four University of Waterloo engineers who began explaining how they would install the electrical system to run the big-screen TV they felt was essential to attach.
I had a chance to ride the Strida, the Kick Bike, two trikes, the Varna handcycle and the Couch Bike. It was a great opportunity to try a number of bikes under road conditions. I certainly learned that I do not have the upper body to make handcycling much fun, but the Kick Bike was OK.
The reaction from the crowd was great. I've been in parades before, and participants don't get to see the parade . . . they see the crowd. So for us, the people in their crazy winter hats, wrapped in blankets, high-fiving us as we rolled along and asking to trade their (insert fave thing here) for our bikes, provided our entertainment.
To cap the irony of the parade's beginning, as we came to the end of it, one of the parade marshalls called out to us to "Get off the road now so we can let the vehicles go through." Of course, I felt obliged to call back, "We're bicycles. We belong on the road."
For more pix from the parade itself, you can check out the Record website here.