The Big 3-0 for Big Nellie

Lots of people ride their bikes more than me. In fact, there are several members of the elite Friday Coffee Club here in DC who ride more.  I just tend to ride the same old bikes forever. Ten years ago, in search of a touring bike that wouldn’t destroy my back I made the leap to recumbentcy.  (It looks just like the leap to light speed only not.)

I bought a Tour Easy recumbent that I named Nellie because of an unexpectedly fast ride down an aptly named hill in western Maryland called Big Savage Mountain. As I zoomed past 45 miles per hour fully loaded with touring gear, it occurred to me that one false move and I was doomed. So I yelled “Whoa, Nellie!”, hit the brakes and the name stuck.  (After reaching the bottom of the hill in one piece, I returned to Dagobah for additional training.)

I’ve been beating on this bike for ten years and after some unpleasantness this spring (a crash, snagging a friend’s pants in the chain, a broken chain), I finally reached a milestone that, I have to admit, leaves me chuffed.  Four miles into today’s commute Big Nellie hit the big 3-0. Now if I knew how to operate my crappy little digital camera I would have a good picture to prove it, but you’re just going to have to believe me. Maybe someday the picture can be digitally enhanced when they induct Big Nellie into the lawn chair hall of fame.

No Decimals, I Swear

My plan is to switch over to Little Nellie (no relation), my Bike Friday New World Tourist, while I contemplate some serious TLC for Ms. Big. 

Here’s the to do list.

Fairing with Black Duct Tape Trim
Scratches in My Line of Sight

Replace the fairing.  The fairing or windshield is entirely optional but it makes the bike ride like a missile on downhills and helps hold the front wheel down on slippery roads.  This fairing has about 27,000 miles on it because I bought it after about nine months of riding naked. (Nellie, not me, that is.)  It’s made out of Lexan and it’s pretty expensive.  North of $250 last time I checked.  I have had so many crashes and tip overs that the fairing is literally held together with duct tape. It’s scratched so badly that I can’t actually see through it anymore. 

Wearing through the Seat Cover
Torn Seat Back

Replace the seat: There are several parts to the seat. Most of them are shot to hell.  The seat base comprises a dish or pan (the bottom part), three layers of foam, and a seat cover. The pan is in good shape but the foam is no longer cushy where my tushy goes. And the seat cover is wearing through at the front.  The seat back has an aluminum loop that’s squared off. Tied inside the loop is a mesh seatback. Zip ties are used to secure the mesh to the loop.  The loop is in good shape but the mesh is all torn up and stretched so that it doesn’t support my back much any more. It’s cheaper to buy the whole seat rather than individual pieces so that’s my plan. In the bargain, I get a parachute cord to replace the zip ties that seem to break whenever I push back into the seat for power.

Replace the seat bag:  The seat back slips over the seat back. It holds a whole bunch of stuff but mine is torn top and bottom.

Tears in Top of Seat Bag

Install the underseat rack: Mrs. Rootchopper bought me an underseat rack several years ago. It will allow me to put panniers beneath my seat, and well forward of the rear axle. This shifts the weight distribution of the bike forward and greatly improves handling.

I think the tab for the three new parts will run about $700.   A new bike would cost $2,800 or so.

So now I turn my attention to getting the new saddle on Little Nellie set up just so. And to going to see Norah Jones at Wolf Trap tomorrow night.

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3 thoughts on “The Big 3-0 for Big Nellie

  1. Have you tried a SWB recumbent? I could ride the bike through slush and slippery stuff without the front wheel sliding out. Although once the slush was deep enough such that the front tire couldn't actually touch a little bit of pavement. Otherwise, I've never experienced some of the sliding you describe with the lightly loaded front wheel. As always … YMMV.

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