Jun 27

BikeBok to the Seventh Power

Seven Reasons I Love My BikeBok

Now that the rains are less frequent, my bicycle excursions have been more frequent, and so has the thought, “I really love my BikeBok!” So, recently, I decided to document seven days’ worth of reasons why I love it.

Day 1

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My BikeBok easily and safely carried three heavy glass half-gallons of Twin Brook Creamery non-homogenized Jersey milk and two glass pints of heavy cream (no thickeners or additives!) along with the rest of the morning’s run to my favorite store, the Goose Community Grocer. I’d never been quite brave enough to transport so much hefty glass and liquid before, but it worked splendidly, and now I do it all the time. It’s just a matter of balancing the weight. DSCN1700 DSCN1701The bottles fit nicely into the depths of the Bok.

 

 

Day 2

The simple yet sturdy safety strap allows me to open and load my BikeBok while it is mounted securely on the bike. A quick click of the buckle, and the bike is ready to roll with its loaded BikeBok.

Actually, I love the buckle even more than the safety strap. It’s only a small component, trivial in both size and cost compared with the BikeBok as a whole. However, Peter’s decision to use a high quality, durable buckle instead of saving a dollar or two on cheaper alternative is, in my opinion, of make-or-break importance. If the buckle and strap were bothersome or insecure to latch and release, my BikeBok would mostly sit in the garage. Instead , it’s in near-daily use.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3

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My BikeBok, unlike an open basket, keeps my cargo enclosed and protected in this changeable Pacific Northwest weather. A gust of wind won’t blow my mail away; my library books will stay dry in a sudden shower that wasn’t in the forecast;

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4

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I can take the short cuts through the busy parking lot at my other favorite grocery store, the Star Store in downtown Langley. My bike-with-Bok went easily between these cars without bumping, scratching, or triggering any alarms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5

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Plant starts from the Bur Oak Acres farmstand!  – and if you’re ever on Whidbey Island during the summer, stop by Bur Oak Acres for their delicious heirloom tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and free-range eggs that I enjoy second only to those from my own hens.

 

A Jet Star tomato, a White Cherry tomato, and two Sunny Smile dwarf sunflowers made it all the way up the long steep hill home (I love this island, but it’s FULL of hills) without spilling the pots or breaking any leaves.

DSCN1732I paused at the top of the hill to add a handful of pink and purple roadside wildflowers to brighten up our table.

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Or, as may be, to brighten up the top of the BikeBok. Before planting the tomatoes, potting the sunflowers, and plopping the flowers into a vase, I put them all on display on the upper surface of my BikeBok, where I could admire them in the sunshine.

 

 

 

 

Day 6

I can readily lift a heavily loaded BikeBok with the robust molded handle, whose width distributes the weight comfortably on my palm.

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The opening accommodates the slim hand of my youngest daughter, with her graceful and deft violinist’s fingers…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…as well as the broad sturdy hand of my oldest son, who can wield a chainsaw with ease.

(No stereotyping intended. He also changes diapers and makes awesome bread.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Day 7

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Mud and crud? No problem! I can simply wipe the BikeBok off or hose it down.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Better yet, I can get my two year old grandson to do it for me.

 

 

 

Sep 03

Seattle to Portland with the BikeBok

Will the BikeBok perform up to expectations for the long haul in real life situations? Peter gave his a challenging test in the July 2013 STP.

The Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic is a 200 mile annual bicycle event  in which 10,000 cyclists ride, well, from Seattle to Portland. People of all ages and sizes  pedal their bicycles (and unicycles, tricycles and other human powered devices) along city streets, country roads and bicycle trails.  It’s a fun event.  It’s

Peter, rider # 8729, with his BikeBok mounted on his carbon fiber road race bike with 23 mm tires at 110 psi

Peter, rider # 8729, with his BikeBok mounted on his carbon fiber road race bike with 23 mm tires at 110 psi

an endurance event.  And its successful completion requires proper training and good equipment.  Most participants take 2 days, spending the night camping out at the half way point where their supplies have been delivered by trucks.  The more courageous, including Peter’s South Whidbey-based training group, attempt to do it in one day.

 

This is the story of that day, beginning on the evening before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 12, 8:30 p.m.

The ferry churns across Puget Sound from Clinton to Mukilteo. Matt’s van is full of cyclists and overnight gear, the roof rack full of bikes.

Unload at the church in Mukilteo. Check STP packet, review plans for tomorrow, munch on Beth’s freshly baked bagels. Spread out sleeping bags and try to calm down and get to sleep by 10 p.m. The floor is hard; the ambient light and city noises proclaim we aren’t on Whidbey any more.

July 13, 3:30 a.m.

Someone’s cell phone sounds the alarm. On our feet, yawning. On with shorts, socks, jersey, cycling jacket, STP jacket, arm warmers, leg warmers, gloves. Back in the van, down to Seattle, unload and meet the rest of the group in the Safeway parking lot.  Cycle half a mile to the University of Washington parking lot. One-day riders will be released in waves between 4:45 and 5:15 a.m.

5:05 a.m.

We’re off! It’s still dark and chilly. Hundreds of bike lights shine as we stream through the Seattle streets along with the early motorists.

The BikeBok contains supplies: tool kit, wrenches, spare tires, spare tubes, a little equipment belonging to teammates. Also food: peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, leftover bagels, homemade granola bars. Also empty space: storage for layers of clothes once the day warms up. Altogether, the BikeBok and its contents weigh around 25 pounds.

5:30 a.m.

Sunrise! Clear skies, fresh breeze, Mt. Rainier etched pink in the early daylight.

All day long

On and on, at a brisk and fairly steady pace. Can’t help hitting the occasional pot hole or road crack. The BikeBok takes the jolts securely.

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The BikeBok fits snugly behind the rider’s legs, providing significantly less wind drag than standard panniers.

 

Official food stops are available about every 25 miles along the route, with mini-stops in between. We pause at some for food and bathroom breaks of 15 minutes or less. Midday break of half an hour at Centralia. Rest stops are easy with the BikeBok, which opens while remaining mounted on the bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In high speed descent the BikeBok leads another cyclist in the aerodynamic time trial position.

 

 

Up hills and down hills; top speed 40 mph.

At 20+ mph, and coasting down hills, the BikeBok appears to give an aerodynamic advantage.

 

We’ll put the aerodynamics of the BikeBok to scientifically controlled tests sometime in the next few weeks, with help from Phil the aerodynamic engineer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something

The red BikeBok contrasts a modern mobile storage device with the traditional red barn of yesteryear.

 

 

Our group of about 10 stays together only loosely throughout the day. Yellow ribbons on our helmets help us identify each other among the multitudes of cyclists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pacelining on a rail trail.

 

At many points along the trip the Whidbey Island group would form pacelines to reduce energy expenditure. The BikeBok remained agile and maneuverable in these configurations.

 

 

 

 

 

On and on, all day long. Perfect weather, clear skies, crisply visible mountain ranges. Our progress toward Portland is measured by mountains: Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Hood, in their changing angles as the hours go by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7:30 p.m. 

Across the finish line at Holladay Park in Portland!

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Euphoria at the finish!

 

 

Fourteen and a half hours and two hundred miles later.  Group reunion at the finish line. No mishaps, injuries, or flat tires among us. No adjustments needed to the BikeBok. A successful conclusion to the day’s challenge for bike, rider, and BikeBok.

 

 

 

Time to start thinking where to take the BikeBok for its next challenge….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great ride with a great BikeBok

A great ride with a great BikeBok

Mar 21

Metamorphosis

A prickly brown caterpillar becomes a spectacular black and red butterfly. A stalk-shaped polyp clinging to the ocean floor becomes a bell-shaped free-floating jellyfish. In my personal favorite instance of biological metamorphosis, a wiggly water-bound tadpole becomes a hoppy amphibious frog.

In my personal favorite instance of creative engineering metamorphosis, an ordinary mass-produced household item became a precisely designed custom-assembled BikeBok. Indeed, the BikeBok in its tadpole stage had no apparent connection with bicycles. Many years ago, it hatched out of the fertile resources of Peter’s creative mind when our family undertook our first cross-country trip.

IMG_0830 - Copy (2) How could we carry camping supplies while allowing comfortable room in our VW Eurovan for six people, four of whom were bouncy kids aged ten and under? Peter’s solution involved two thirty-two gallon plastic wheeled garbage cans and a system of PVC pipes and nylon straps to secure them to the rear of the vehicle.

 

The result was durable, roomy, and weatherproof, stable under any road or wind conditions, easily mountable and removable, easy to wheel between parking space and tent site,

 

The need for an analogous carrier system for bicycles became apparent when our middle son Jonathan, then seventeen, undertook a bike trip from Connecticut to Colorado. He and Peter, who accompanied him for the first 500 miles, were dissatisfied with commercially available carriers. They improvised their own from double mop buckets with homemade vinyl covers, metal pipes, and zip ties.

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This experience sparked Peter’s desire to create a carrier system for bicycles different from anything already on the market: rigid, durable, lightweight, waterproof, easily mountable and removable without a rack or frame, spacious enough for utility or adventure cyclists, functional as roller luggage when off the bike. But turning a well-drafted idea into a well-crafted reality requires extended time and attention, more than his demanding professional career allowed. And so, for years, the idea remained merely an idea.

 

The pace of the BikeBok metamorphosis accelerated considerably, though, when Peter’s daily work  underwent a temporary metamorphosis of its own. His longstanding career was sidelined for some months during 2010-2011. As a result of the abundant time newly available to him for creative thought, research, design, and experimentation, the BikeBok began transforming into its ultimate shape.

 

Peter carefully sculpted layers of foam board into a model…100_0400

 

…from which he molded a fiberglass prototype.

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He refined the designs and materials for connectors, wheels, and handles…

 

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…and located a rotomolding company within our state to produce the models which he assembled and distributed for beta testing.

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He took the feedback from the beta testers and made further enhancements to the configuration of the BikeBok and its components…

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…and the BikeBok attained the final stage of its metamorphosis into a  robust, elegant, and functional bicycle accessory ready for the public.

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