The final hours of my PBW folding bicycle, April 24, 2018

Posted: May 17, 2018 in Central North Carolina trips

Many of you remember seeing pictures of me on the blue bicycle with small wheels. I bought this new in 2002 for about $1800.00, custom made by Peregrine Bicycle Works of Chico, California.

This bicycle was fun to ride.   It performed almost as well as many conventional “road” bikes; it only weighed 22 pounds; it felt stiff and fast.  I had ridden it for so long that I was used to its eccentricities.  I rode it even when I did not need its folding capabilities.

 

It would fit in a suitcase for air travel.

 

On Amtrak I could just fold it up and lug it onboard without a case.   Getting off the train, I could reassemble it in less than a minute and bike away from the platform.

I have been in quite a few foreign countries and many states of the USA with this bicycle during the past fifteen years.   While I own a couple of other bicycles, this one has always been my favorite.    I have had a lot of maintenance done to it over the years, but I never would have predicted what happened three weeks ago.

I was out for a fifteen mile spin on country roads near my home in Chapel Hill NC.     Three fourths of the way into the ride, the bicycle started feeling “funny.”   The frame felt slightly wobbly.    I stopped about three times, shaking the bicycle and looking for problems, but could not find any.

Going slowly because it was uphill,  on Dairyland Road coming back towards Chapel Hill, just before the turnoff to Union Grove Church Road, the bicycle suddenly snapped in half, dumping me on the road.    I may have passed out for a moment, I remember thinking that I was now on the road and my shoulder was messed up.

Luckily no car ran into me and a couple cars stopped to help out.   One turned out to be my friend Brian Stapleton, who scooped the bicycle and me up.   We called my wife Tootie on the phone and she met us at our apartment and we drove to the urgent orthopedic clinic.

I have a nicely broken clavicle (collar bone), broken ribs that have been extremely painful, and a substantially bruised hip, which has resulted in swelling called a hematoma.   The hip may take months to completely heal.   Three weeks later I am walking around but still in pain.

My bicycle guru Gordon Sumerel says that this kind of structural failure should not happen ever, anytime, on any bicycle.  It was not something that I should have anticipated.   Am I angry at the manufacturer?   I have trouble getting angry at people, so not especially.   This was a hand built machine by a small business that no longer makes this kind of bicycle.   I get the impression he is almost a one man shop.   I am a small business person myself so I can understand his situation.

 

I have not decided what type of bicycle I will get to replace this.   I want to think about it for a while.

For the moment I can reminisce about just some of the places this bicycle went with me.

With Henry in the Netherlands 2006

 

 

The Netherlands 2007 (photo by Henry)

 

Northern Italy 2014

 

Rioja Valley, Spain 2015

 

with bikers in rural Spain, 2016

 

rural Spain 2016

 

 

outside Nancy, France 2017

 

Indianapolis 2016

 

rural Indiana 2016

 

Maine 20152620 Trapp Avenue, home of Tootie and Paco 1983

Outside our 1980’s apartment in Miami FL 2014

 

 

Assembling the bicycle on the streets of Paris, France 2017

 

Rural Northeast Pennsylvania 2017

 

Along the Rhone River, France 2017

 

My sister Betsy in Grand Central Station, New York City, 2017

 

Detroit MI, 2017

 

With my friend Lyman and my son Jack outside a Walmart, just south of Miami FL 2014

 

Just north of Fort Lauderdale FL, 2018

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In front of Trump’s Mar a Lago, Palm Beach FL 2016

Among the bikers, near Daytona Beach FL 2012

 

 

 

Comments
  1. Andy says:

    Oh no! I am very sorry to hear about your injuries, and also sad that your now-legendary bike has bitten the dust for good. I have enjoyed reading this blog for months. Hope that your healing goes quickly and that you will soon be back on the road, sharing your 2-wheeled adventures and cultural observations with us! Have you decided to go with another folding bike next time?

  2. Thanks for reading, and no, I have not yet decided what kind of bicycle to buy.

  3. Tracy W Korman says:

    Wow Paco – that is such a bummer – both that you are injured and that such a steady part of your riding life is gone. I would think you would be wise to check out the Bike Friday’s as an option but it seems like there is a real expansion of folding bikes on the market now. I still tour on my Surly Disk Trucker but I totally love the idea of a super portable bike for both fun and business travel. Let me know when you are back around Princeton.

  4. Thanks for reading Tracy. My other bicycle is a Surly Long Haul Trucker. My problem is that it feels like, well, a truck. I am looking at all options including Bike Friday.

  5. steven arnerich says:

    the only bike i’ve ever had that broke in half like this was also a folding bike. i did abuse it though. i’m about 200 lbs, and i would let my kids ride on it with me when they were little, and i would go over curbs etc. i had the local hell’s angels club house weld it back together, but it didn’t last. long ago i was a welder, and i could tell they had not done such a great job.

  6. stevenarnerich says:

    the only bike i’ve ever had that broke in half like this was also a folding bike. i did abuse it though. i’m about 200 lbs, and i would let my kids ride on it with me when they were little, and i would go over curbs etc. i had the local hell’s angels club house weld it back together, but it didn’t last. long ago i was a welder, and i could tell they had not done such a great job.

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