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Life in Madison

25 MPH on a Cargo Bike

I had an 8:30 AM meeting this morning, it was raining and I was running around looking for my rain gear (helmet cover, shoe covers, leg warmers, etc). It was 92 degrees F yesterday – the warmest day of the year. This morning, the remnants of Gustav rolled into town. They will go North with me up to Door County for my century ride on Sunday but that’s another story.

I finally race out of the house running about 10 minutes behind when I should have left. I get on my bike and I start cranking it out to get into work. I see a guy (Mike it turns out), riding past the house on a cargo bike.


He is going North on Gilbert (which runs on the West side of our house). I head out East on Dorsett. We are traveling perpendicular paths to each other. I turn left on Luan and I see Mike on Hammersly. I turn right on Hammersly and Mike is ahead of me also heading for the South-West bike path.
We climb the fly-over and head out on the trail proper. I pass him on the flats and say, “Good morning”. He says, “Good morning”. I ‘m still cranking away because I’m running late. I get to the first stop sign and I realize that he is in my draft. He says, “You’ve got fenders so I can draft properly” and we both laugh. We get a break in traffic, both cross Midvale Blvd and take off. Mike pulls out in the lead like he is going to pull for a while.
First off: this is strange. I get a lot of people who suck my back wheel into or out of work. Rarely to they swap leads with me.
Well, I’m glad for the help because it is raining and I’m late. He pulls for a while, I swap and take lead and cruise to the next stop. We cross Odana and Mike pulls out. I start to chase him down to get in his draft but he is flying. I look at my computer – 25.3 MPH. “Man, this guy is cranking on a cargo bike. He must be a monster.” I pull out the stop and get in his draft for while then it is my turn to take lead. I pull out around him.
(I will say that he looked surprised when I took the lead again.)
I’m thinking to myself, “well, if he is going pull us at 25 MPH, I’ll pull at 25 MPH.” I’m on my commuter bike with full fenders, a rack and a 12 pound pannier with lunch, change of clothes and all my miscellany in it. I’m working hard but if we’re going to do a 25 MPH pace, then dammit, I’m going to take my pull.
Suddenly Mike (as I later learn his name is) pulls along side and says, ” You do know I’m cheating don’t you? I mean, I hate to let people think that this is all human power. Have a look down there.” He nods his head, pointing back behind his legs. I look down. He has an electric assist motor. It provides 100-300 Watts of assist to his pedaling!
Ha! I’m killing myself to pull a guy with a motor. He does do a long commute as I learn (about 15 miles each way).
We had a good laugh and a good chat on the rest of the way in.
That’s what love about bike commuting – the laughs and camaraderie.

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About jimphelps

Chair, ITANA Enterprise Architect, Sr. IT Architect; UW-Madison

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