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Trailer Talk

I was driving around with a friend the other day when I saw a moped pulling a trailer like the one I have for my baby, only I use it as it was intended – attached to my bicycle.

“Oh. My. God.” I said. “I really hope there is not a child in there.”

He looked at me incredulously and laughed.

“Does that not seem dangerous to you?!” I asked outright.

“Do you hear yourself?” he asked me.

So I thought for a moment. Was he saying that the moped pulling a child was not dangerous? No. The moped putted by at about 15 miles an hour. When I descend Town Mountain Road, even with the baby, I am probably going more like 25 miles an hour. We even go through the drive-thru at the bank.

I guess I also take the contraption to the woods, where when the trails narrow, the larger rocks tend to tip the trailer over. At least then I’m not going all that fast, and the thing IS equipped with five-point restraints. It’s safer than any ride at the fair, as far as I’m concerned. Plus, while in the woods, there isn’t any traffic to run us over when I have to stop and right the thing again.

When I’m on the road with it I stick to the side roads as much as possible to avoid too much traffic. The baby wears a helmet, and the whole thing has a roll cage on it. Besides, it’s orange, with a tall orange flag. When people see it, they pretty much hit the brakes so that they can wave, yell, or talk to me at intersections.

“Is that thing hard to pull?” a guy asked from a work truck. “Yes, but only when I’m climbing UP the hill,” I tell him.

While road riders here are often greeted with vulgar words, enthusiastic sign language, and are occasionally used as target practice for fast food garbage, I am treated with the opposite when I’m pulling the baby. “GOOOO MAMA!” is what I usually hear. People are more surprised and amused by the tiny parade than anything else.

The trailer I have now attaches to a longer skewer that goes through the rear hub with a swiveling ball. The old one I had clamped onto the swing arm. If it got squirrely back there it was possible to take the whole bike down. Now even if the bike goes over, the trailer remains upright. How do I know this? I promise it was a calculated fall…despite the scrape on my arm. Of course it was while I was taking off and slipped off of the pedal at slow speed. The riding itself is actually safest. Especially when going downhill. Momentum is your friend.

I admit that it takes a lot more mental energy to convince myself to go for a ride when I know that I have to tow an extra 60 pounds behind me. It’s those days that I think of the girl in the bike magazine ad who goes for a ride either towing a trailer or dragging a truck tire. However, the truck tire doesn’t become irritated and whiney when I am slow climbing the hills.

But a moped? You wouldn’t even hear the baby’s screams…wait a minute…

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