First ride

16 June.

What’s that expression: The Best Laid Plans of Mice & Men?

In other words: I can plan all I want but that don’t mean it’ll work out as I planned.

For one The Man With The Plan joined me in Rotterdam with his Prius. I am not going to ride the Santos to Den Haag afterall. It also means we godda get a large sturdy bike in the back of a Prius. The Man With The Plan is confident. I’m wondering whether indeed I’ll ride it home afterall.

Then there’s the small detail of the handlebar stem. Jos of Bikers is of the opinion I need a longer stem. A quick test ride and I’m inclined to agree. Another couple of days. The final work on the bike can’t be completed until the stems in place.

It fits in the Prius, much to my surprise and clearly to The Man With The Plan’s smug contentment. Actually, it fits with room to spare.

Back in Den Haag we unload it. Then admire it. We compare it to The Man With The Plan’s 7 year old Koga Miyata. Light years separate these bikes now, technology advancing as technology does.

The inaugural ride has to be done.

The Ziflex is attached. Simply and easily. Matt black the Ziflex complements nicely the black components on the Santos, and contrasts nicely with the metallic orange of the frame, and the ‘grass green’ of the Rohloff and the power-hub on the front wheel.

It all looks great.

We do a couple of kilometres in and around the dune areas which lie between the Vogelwijk and the North Sea. The Man With The Plan follows me to see what it all looks like. He starts making concerned noises  “… something’s not right. The wheels are not aligned”

“The wheels aren’t aligned? What do you mean the ‘wheels aren’t aligned?”

“The trailer wheel is way out of alignment in comparison to the bike”

Sure enough … the wheels are not aligned. We try inserting the trailer’s wheel the other way. No change. We test the trailer’s wheel in the drop-outs. Perfect. We test distance between the trailer’s wheel and the forks which hold it. Centred.

We take a step back and contemplate it all.

We see the problem.

The trailer’s forks are secured to a bracket which is welded to the trailer’s frame. The forks are steel. The frame aluminium.

It is clear the fork’s bracket has been welded at an angle to the frame. Resulting in the alignment of the forks being to one side of the frame. The trailer’s wheel wants to role at an angle to the bike.

Permanent left-hand turn
Permanent left-hand turn
somewhat miss-aligned
somewhat miss-aligned

Them plans them mice continue to be laid askew …

It takes Mathias of Cyklorama, who manufacture the Ziflex trailer, a good couple of days to respond to my email.

It is the week of midsummer in Sweden.

Midsummer Sweden, Christmas in the UK, Thanksgiving in the US, Easter in Australia, Koningsdag the Netherlands … there are some periods of the year when a whole country basically shuts down and does it own ‘thing’. Midsummer is Sweden’s such period. Nothing to expect during this period.

There are simply not enough days for Mathias to ship a new frame to me in the Netherlands. It would likely arrive the day after I leave.

The trailer is in the hold of Malaysia Airlines MH 019. The hope/plan is to find someone who can weld aluminium and realign the trailer’s wheel forks such that they track true.

Not quite what I expected from a brand new bike trailer. Mathias claims it’s the first time he’s encountered such a manufacturing fault.

The one long ride I did in the Netherlands was from Den Haag to Amsterdam. About 70 kms since I took a bit of a long way. Head winds. Of course. But an easy ride. Frequent stops to tune the bike: position the saddle better, different positions of the ergo-grips on the handlebar, the brake levers at different angles until the feel is right.

It is a joy to ride. The bike snug and secure on the path. The mammoth 50 mm Mondials means cornering is more reminiscent of a motorbike than a bicycle: with that amount of rubber you could as low as you dare and still not slide out. It’s heavy but carries the weight well. The 46-22 of the Rohloff means a top speed (peddling, not going downhill) is pretty much maxed out around 28-30 km in gear 14. I’ve plenty of low-end torque to get me plus 80 kgs of bike trailer equipment and water up long steep hills. Or so at least I hope.

For a first ride it went as well as could be expected I guess. I did not expect a perfect set-up. I did not expect the base equipment to be flawed either. So I got what I expected. Am sure some handy Aussie tig-welder will see the Ziflex returned to flawless health.


Den Haag

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