A Review of My Daughter's Cold-Weather Bicycle Plan

It started to snow — just a little — while I was out on a ride yesterday, which is not a big deal unless you’re a sissy.

Which I am, but that’s not the point of today’s post, so let’s just keep moving, OK? Thanks.

I returned from my ride to two worried little girls. The idea of dad riding out in the snow was very troubling to them. And the worry didn’t stop even after I let them know that I was reasonably certain I would keep all my fingers and toes.

By the time I had cleaned up, Katie had designed a solution the problem. She presented me with her invention:

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As you can see, it’s me, on a bike, happy and comfortable in spite of the fact that it is cloudy and snowing (it’s so bad outside that even the (partially obscured) sun is sad). The primary virtues of this bike are as obvious as they are practical:

  • Heater vent: Clearly labeled, it is blowing nicely at me. I like the way that Katie has thoughtfully placed it behind, rather than in front or overhead. This way, it’s not likely to dry out my eyes or leave me feeling uncomfortably hot in front.
  • Roomy, Weathertight Enclosure: As evidenced by the drawing, not a single snowflake is getting through. That’s remarkable, but not as remarkable as the fact that the whole contraption is large enough for me to get up and walk around in. I needn’t worry about sudden attacks of claustrophobia in this!
  • Easy Access: The windshield doubles as a front door to get in. Multipurpose functionality like this cuts down on weight, and that’s going to be important when I use this thing for my next TT to the top of the Alpine Loop.
  • Two-Wheel Drive: Once the snow begins falling in earnest, I’m going to be really glad that the chain goes to both the front and rear wheel, making it possible for me to get out of deep snow and over icy patches. Frankly, I didn’t expect this kind of functionality in a first-pass drawing from a seven-year-old.

Problems

All that’s well and good, but here at the Fat Cyclist household, I expect a certain level of excellence from my children. And in several key areas, Katie’s invention falls short.

  • Moose Antlers Are Heavy: It’s evident that in lieu of normal handlebars, Katie has elected to have me steer using moose antlers. Have you ever tried lifting those things?
  • The Seat is Too Low: I can see why she has the seat in a low position like that: to enable the weight savings that come with a low ceiling. But as is readily evident in her drawing, I am not going to be able to get optimal leg extension with the saddle where it is. Furthermore, if I were to raise the saddle, my head would bump against the ceiling. “You know my axle-to-saddle measurement is 74.5cm,” I said. “Everyone in this house does. Don’t go trying to cheat on your designs and build me a snow bike that won’t accommodate that saddle height.”
  • The Wheels are Too Small: I can see that Katie opted to go with 22″ wheels. She knows good and well that I don’t have a single tube that size, and that it’s almost impossible to find good, lightweight rims in that diameter. “Go look in the garage,” I admonished her. “Do you see any 22″ wheels out there? No? Why do you think that is? That’s right, because it’s not a common wheel size. Now go back to the drawing board and re-do this with 700c — or at least 650c — wheels.
  • No Shifting Mechanism: I appreciate the fact that Katie acknowledges my current fascination with single speeds, but this is ridiculous. There is no way I am going to get that thing up and over a mountain pass with the current gearing. And if I don’t miss my guess — and as an internationally beloved and award-winning internet cycling blogger celebrity I rarely do — she’s set this thing up as a fixie. Not only is that impractical, it’s downright pompous.  

I of course gave my daughter all of this constructive feedback and sent her on her way, pleased with my parenting skills, and confident that her next drawing will be better thought out.

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