Even with 7 years of experience bicycling commuting, I still run into trouble from time to time.
I've heard that everyone should challenge themselves now and then. I sure challenged myself on the first cold day this year. I had a few errands to run involving heavy things. This definitely merits using the car, but I thought, why not use my bicycle trailer?
I had four errands to run. First, I would go to the library and return some books. I put the books in a bag.
Next, I would stop at the bank to get some cash to pay for the electronics recycling. I put my wallet in my rack trunk.
Then I would take a box of books to the used bookstore for store credit. I checked the website to make sure they would be accepting books that afternoon.
Last, I would go out of town to drop an old CRT monitor off at the electronics recycling and pay the fee.
I checked my route. I hooked up the trailer. I aired up the tires. I strapped the box and the monitor to the trailer and tucked the bag of library books in a corner. Away I went.
I stopped immediately because the trailer came unhitched! I made sure the hitch was tight this time and took off again. It was slow going with the heavy load, about 6 mph, and warm work on the chilly day.
I'd gone about a mile when the trailer came unhitched again! This time I realized that the load wasn't positioned correctly and was pushing the hitch off. It's been so long since I used the trailer that I have forgotten all the tricks. I pushed the box toward the front of the trailer. I set the monitor on top and strapped it all down again.
I made it to the library and put the library books in the drop box. My first errand was completed.
I headed downtown.
I made it to the bank and waited in line at the drive through. When I got to the front, the teller told me, "You have to come inside. I can't serve bicyclists or scooters." I didn't say a word but turned around and left. I was angry. My second errand had failed, but I could stop at the grocery store and get cash and water. I had forgotten water, and I was very thirsty.
Fuming, I headed north--and the monitor fell off. The D-rings are centered on the trailer, so when I moved the load to the front, the strap was no longer centered on the load. I turned the monitor upside down, hoping that would make it more stable.
I made it almost all the way to the used bookstore when the monitor fell off again. There was nothing I could do but strap it down again and try to avoid jostling it.
I made it the rest of the way to the bookstore. The strap had come off again, and the monitor was one bump away from falling off again. But once I got the books traded, I would only have the monitor to haul and I could strap it down more securely. I hefted the box and headed for the door.
"Moving Nov. 1," the sign read, "Not accepting books for trade." That detail wasn't on the website.
I set the box down. I sat on it. The third errand had failed, and there was no way I was moving another inch with that monitor falling off the box of books.
I called my husband, who was just getting off work. "Come pick me up," I told him. It took him a while to reach me, and I cooled off quickly, shivering violently by the time he arrived.
With the trailer inside the car, it was a cramped ride. We got water and cash at the grocery store, took the monitor to the electronics recycling and paid the fee. We donated the books to Friends of the Library. And we filed a complaint with the bank.