As I’ve mentioned here a few times before, I really enjoy it when I get an opportunity to use my trike for actual transportation - for a practical purpose. There’s nothing wrong with riding for pleasure and/or exercise, of course, and that’s what I do most of the time, but there’s a special, bonus level of satisfaction when one can achieve that exercise and enjoyment while doing something that actually needs to be done. One of my more frequent ways to do this is when the opportunity presents to ride to my PO Box. This is especially true because the box is often empty, or just full of junk mail (does anyone want the penny saver paper any more?), and when that occurs, I can at least feel like I got some exercise out of it.
I was gearing up to take advantage of this very opportunity when a thought occurred, a realization that maybe, just maybe I could stack up that practical ride accomplishment by killing two birds with one stone!
Ok - it’s the little things, right? That, or maybe I’m just a little dull...
But bear with me. A weekend or two ago I ran out of gas for the grill. This is one of the firstest of first world problems, I realize, but it was my problem to solve nonetheless. As you’d imagine, this typically involves throwing the cannister into the car and going into town to one of the half-dozen locations that allows you to do an exchange. And it’s been a couple of weekends since it happened because I keep forgetting to grab the empty and put it in the car. But maybe, I thought, just maybe, I could take it with me on the trike...
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There were a couple of potential problems with this idea. First, I’d have to figure out exactly how to attach the canister to the trike. If I had a trailer for the trike that would be a simple thing. But while I do plan to have a trailer for my trike, my progress on that project has been somewhat less than rapid. So I’d have to find a different way.
The other problem was that I wasn’t actually 100% sure there would _be_ a place by the post office to exchange the canister. When I mentioned taking it into town above, I was referring to Mendota - a small town, to be sure, but a big enough place to have a grocery store, a few gas stations, a CVS... you get the idea. But that’s not where my PO Box is. It’s in a little slip of a village that’s considerably smaller (but where the post office offers 24-hour access to the PO Boxes so, you know, a dork on his trike doesn’t have to worry about arriving before it closes).
I decided this second problem was a minor one - if I came up short on LP opportunities, and least I’d have had a ride; and, in fact, I’d have a ride with a bit of extra weight to enhance the workout.
So I set to strapping the tank on.
A 5-gallon LP tank doesn’t seem like a very big thing, really, when you are just setting it in the back of your car (even when that car is a Honda Fit). But like a moose, they are bigger than you think. I used the three strand elastic strap that comes with the Utah Trikes rear rack, supplemented it with a couple of additional bungee straps, tied it all to the rear rack on the Expedition, and headed out.
Shortly into my ride I realized that I had not brought along my wallet. However, I do always try to bring along a small amount of cash so that I have options if, say, I ride past an interesting looking location that offers adult beverages. It’s usually about $20, so I mentally crossed my fingers and kept pedaling.
Thomas Jefferson apparently did not say "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it", but I’ve always identified with that saying because it’s typically rung true for me - as a general rule if I just strike out doing nothing but hoping for the best, I generally just strike out.
Which is to say that I was expecting to find either: A) No LP tanks available at my destination; or 2) that the price for 5 gallons of LP was somewhat north of my $20 budget. Not to mention: iii) the very real possibility that my tank attachment arrangement might fail and leave me pedaling furiously trying to catch up to a runaway canister...
But I kept pedaling.
There’s a general store (yup - rural Illinois) a couple of blocks down from the post office, and sure enough, they had the telltale cage of cans out in front of the store. I double-checked the existence of my $20 bill and there was Andrew Jackson staring back at me (probably contemplating acts of oppression). So I went in and asked the young man at the counter how much I’d have to give for an LP exchange.
The price: $16.99
So I had enough, even with tax, and got a little change back too. The young man and I chatted briefly about the trike - he’d never seen one of them before - and the fact that another man in town has a Tesla, which also wasn’t anything he’d expected to see. And then I strapped the new, full canister to the back of the trike.
According to this site, an empty 5-gallon LP tank weighs between 17 and 18 lbs empty, and between 34 and 35 lbs when full. I could absolutely feel it over the rear wheel - there was a mild wobble to the back end that isn’t typically present. As you might expect, the additional weight slowed me down a bit as well - Cyclemeter tells me I brought in my slowest time for this route ever on the Expedition.
But I wasn’t trying to set any speed records - practicality was the name of the game for this ride. And there, I feel like we have a winner. The rack on the Expedition absolutely worked as designed, and the trike dutifully lived up to its name. I couldn't have been more pleased with that or with my luck for the day.
Well, that’s not entirely true. There was one more thing:
As I rode up into the driveway it started to spit just a bit of rain. And after I pulled the trike into the garage it started to pour.
So: bonus luck!
Thing is, I’m a little afraid to leave the house now, because I’m worried I may have used up my entire allotment for the year...