Excitement in the Townmouse household as I have a new trailer – or rather, the Bigtown Cycling Campaign has a new trailer which is temporarily in my custody. I had already towed it briefly through Newcastle for complicated logistical reasons which needn’t detain us here, but I’d not had a chance to use it properly until today when I was due to attend the local university Freshers’ Fair to promote our forthcoming bike breakfast.
It’s not the smallest of trailers (although it’s actually not any wider than my handlebars) and I’ve never really used one in anger before so I was a little anxious about how it would handle. On the whole, it was fine – quite lively on the way down (it was hard to tell without craning my neck round, but I got the distinct impression that it was getting air over some of the rougher patches of road) but crucially stoppable, and it does follow the bike faithfully, making negotiating even the narrowest of chicanes a doddle, or at least about as much of a doddle as negotiating them on my bike without it.
It also has a distinct presence on the road – I definitely got treated as something with actual width by the cars, as opposed to something that can be squeezed past with impunity. It was quite the novelty to be approaching a parked car and needing to pull out and hearing the car that had been gearing up to overtake behind me decide that actually wasn’t the time to be blasting past the cyclist after all. Of course it has its downsides too – it’s not brilliant for filtering through traffic, and when I stopped at the shop to pick up a paper, I realised I was going to have to take up a parking space rather than just hop up onto the pavement as I normally would. I should probably also apologise to the driver who very courteously left a gap in the backed-up traffic so that bikes could cross at the toucan crossing in the town centre – and then had to wait for me to finish crossing the other half of the road once the traffic had started moving again. Oops. No good deed goes unpunished indeed …
Stopping off on the way home to hand out flyers to commuting cyclists, I also discovered that the rain cover is waterproof in Scotland, or at least waterproof in Scotland on a day that was forecast for blazing sunshine for most of the day, which in practice meant just the one short torrential downpour.
And then I got to tow it back home. Fortunately, students have a keen eye for a freebie, so I was hauling rather less in the way of assorted bike crap than I’d taken down. But it was still a long old ride back and I don’t think I’ll be using the trailer for the weekly shop or bringing home heavy building materials any time soon. As the old proverb has it, cyclists who live in high houses, shouldn’t tow stones.*
* sorry, I had a long time to think up dreadful punchlines on the way home and I don’t see why I should be the only one to suffer.