Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dung cart

The building of a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle being of No Interest Whatever to members of the BHPC who are only int'rested in recumbents, I shall generously dispense with further details. What is of vast int'rest is of course what happened to the sacrificial trailer after the wagon got finished, and what happened was this: it got turned into a dung cart. Now do not wince, oh denizen of Surrey. Dung carts have a long and respectable history. And I think they will have a long and respectable future as well, because sooner or later trekking up and down to Dr Brewer's paddock without using 38 mpg to gather fertiliser could have more merit than my wife imagines, she deriding my utterly brilliant and highly informed world economic environmental collapsnik diagnosis with the remark that I am an obsessive nut job.
'You wouldn't have me any other way' is what I plead, complacently.
'Except with a bit more hair.' Cruel she is, and heartless.

Your standard dung cart is pulled by a horse but I do not like horses. The only horse I ever rode regularly had a habit of walking as close as it could to the house knowing it would thereby grind my leg off from the knee down, and it did so deliberately on every occasion I clambered unwillingly into the saddle, and I knew for a fact that it knew for a fact that I knew it was doing it on purpose. Moreover there is something worrying about a vehicle that actually does have a mind of its own. And lest you imagine these concerns are misplaced, the British Medical Journal once published the statistic that horse riding is a staggering 20 times more dangerous, statistically, than motorbike riding. I once didn't meet Prince Charles when he was having his arm set in the university hospital in Nottingham after tumbling off his horse while a-hunting. I twenty times didn't meet him falling off his motorbike. So that proves it. - In any case, if I owned a horse the logical thing would be to bring horse to garden and dispense with both paddock and dung cart. I do not own a horse; Dr Brewer does, or at least his daughter does, and I am invited to partake of its ploppings and given that the stuff sells for two dollars a bag and I am a cheapskate beyond compare, a dung cart had to be adventured.

So, hacksaw and welder out, quick spray with blue paint so that Bob Knight thinks I've turned over a new leaf, and 406 wheels fitted to the old trailer which had been reduced to a stem. Plywood sheet from junk in the shed, scraps of willow from the wagon remnants, screws, glue, and a wooden boxy thing to fit two plastic dustbins. Leg to stop it falling forward, and small jockey wheel for no good reason that I can now think of. And came to regret. Because I kept thinking it would snag on road bumps. And therefore I fixed the hitch as high as I could to maximise ground clearance.

The trailer hitch is a bit of hydraulic tube. It was dreamt up and patented by K-k-k Wossname who built the first Bluebell but I blithely nick patented trailer hitches certain that he will never find out on the other side of the world. (Derek Henden. Bike Hod. I knew it began with K. and it's a dashed fine hitch too, the best I've ever nicked except for a bit we'll come to in a minute.)

So, off to the paddock and when 150kg of substance was gathered, a slightly self-conscious 7 miles an hour home past all the workmen who are needed to wreck a state highway. At one point the cycle path dips down for the convenience of a house driveway, and when I popped up on the slope opposite, I found the back of the bike lurching all over the place and peeping over my shoulder found the workmen chuckling as, with weight on, the trailer hopped from side to side, lifting each wheel in turn. And this is the deficiency of the high hitch. Any slight swaying of the bike gives vertical nudges to the trailer. When I got home I found the draw bar had been rubbing against the back tyre too, so I adjusted it lower and ignoring the possible grounding of the jockey wheel surprised my wife by going out again without unloading; it behaved a good deal better this time.

So we now possess a dung cart, two wagons, a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle and a large heap of horse manure. It escapes me why anyone might wish to know these things and so I shall spare you how many grapefruit fell off the tree last night in the rainstorm. (Twenty-six.)


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