Riding the rickshaw

It’s been quite an exciting week having taking the rickshaw out every day over the past couple of days and just building up the needed strength, experience and familiariaty with my method of transport before the grande departure in September.

The longest journey I’ve done so far without passengers is around 13-14 Mile flat circuit in around 2 hours. This is a pretty decent result considering I am only aiming to achieve 30 miles on average per day. Most days I’ve done a 6 mile loop with a one passenger in (both against and with wind) between Eastrington-Howden and Eastrington-Gilberdyke.

I even took my mother on a postage run with parcels to the post office – 3 miles each way and she even had a go for around 3/4 of a mile on the way back. Both her an I were pleasantly suprised of its ease.

Fascination with passers-by

The response from people both in cars and pedestrians on the side of the road has been fantastic. Most people stare quite mystefied at what this rickshaw is doing in a quaint place like this – I don’t particularly blame them. It reminded me of the time on the great bathtub adventure where there was never (excluding London) a face that could be provoked to produce a smile, a laugh or a chuckle of amusement. It’s a great feeling that I’m bringing the essence of un-ordinary into some stranger’s daily routine and even if they think I’m an idiot, hope it just makes them think.

I haven’t yet picked up any passengers and experienced a spontaneous encounter, but I plan on doing this on select events, including the upcoming

  • Sky Ride Hull
  • York Races

Thoughts so far:

As many riders of pedicab rickshaws have pointed out, they are not built as bikes or indeed ride like them. Three points on the ground mean that you don’t lean to turn. Instead you only have to push on the handle bar and it instantly follows the desired course. Such stability is actually quite great that you can take your hands off the bars for a moment.

One of the greatest annoyances I am struggling to get used to is the noticeable camber of the country roads – to remove water since there are no drains. Riding with one person on that side closest to the road verge further attentuates the effect. This is not noticeable on a bicycle with its gyroscopic effect. The tilt the rickshaw produces can be felt on the hip joint and is quite uncomfortable over a long distance. In future when there are no cars, I have decided to stay central on such roads.

The up-right position is taking a lot to get used to; most suprisingly more strain on the arms which are practically horizontal. At points I’ve found I just have to slouch with my arms on the handlebars to give my arms a needed rest. I’m still not happy with the comforta the saddle provides, but I haven’t worn my full padded cycling shorts yet.

Pulling both myself and passengers is not as hard as it looks!

Pulling the rickshaw around 80kg in weight (15kg for an average bike) along with two passengers (70kg each) sounds like an impossible task. It isn’t. There is enough range in the gears to make this comfortable on the flats and even with some wind but as you can expect is more tiresome up hill. The knack of riding a rickshaw is spinning your legs fast as possible and it’s something I’m still getting used to which my knees are less forgiving about.

Wind Power

can be both the enemy or an ally. The canopy acts like a huge sail. With the wind it allows very quick journeys to be accomplished. Against is a struggle, but do-able, but its magnitude of effect diminishes having two passengers in the back.

I will admit, that my legs were aching the day after, but unlike trips in the past didn’t drop completly dead. I don’t think training in the long run is much good other than maintaining and improving fitness and endurance. Riding a rickshaw instantly magnified riding one of these beasts and riding on a normal bike today I could already see differences.

Much more practice is needed but the realisaition that reaching my daily targets is realistically possible (atleast on flats) is very encouraging – atleast till when the mountains appear!