A Family [business] Affair
The buzz began months ago.
Check that. It began a year ago.
Back in October 2013, a couple of Bike Friday employees rode some prototype Cargo Bikes in the Eugene Disaster Relief Trials. Engineer Willie Hatfield was first across the finish line. Michael Macemon was fifth.
You could say from that moment, the race was on.
Over the course of the past year, Bike Friday moved aggressively to get its Cargo Bike, the Haul-a-Day, into production.
All the while, the list of employees hankering for a Haul-a-Day grew. So did the list of those who wanted to spend a Saturday riding around Eugene, hauling challenging loads up to 200 pounds, and just testing the limits of our bike.
When they lined up for the 2014 Eugene Disaster Relief Trials on Saturday, October 11 at Eugene’s Alton Baker Park, no less than 10 Bike Friday employees straddled Haul-a-Days.
When all was said and done, Bike Friday Engineer Willie Hatfield won the event. But not without some extra challenges thrown in.
The night before the event, Hatfield’s modified Haul-a-Day that he raced to victory in the Portland Disaster Relief Trials this summer was stolen.
At the last second, Willie switched to a production Haul-a-Day decked out in Gaylynn Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And he still won!
From start to finish, it was a Haul-a-Day event.
The wide range of Haul-a-Days showed off the custom designs available to all customers.
Bike Friday donated a Haul-a-Day to be raffled off at the event. And we loaned two Haul-a-Days to officials from FEMA, who competed to see what a real Disaster Relief might feel like.
Of course, the proud papa of the event was Bike Friday Co-Founder Alan Scholz. He worked closely with Eugene Safe Routes to School Coordinator Shane MacRhodes to design the Haul-a-Day. Shane’s wife Missy won the Women’s Class on a Haul-a-Day carrying three kids!
For Alan, who invented the Burley Trailer in the 1970s to transport his young daughter Hanna, it wasn’t just seeing his bikes everywhere that was inspiring.
“We had so many families out there,” Alan said. “That’s where my heart is. With families. So to see a lot of parents with their children was really rewarding for me.”
A lot of those parents felt the same way.
“The most memorable part is riding with little ones,” said Bike Friday Consultant Peter Berra, who rode with his three-year-old daughter. “You have to pry them off the bike when your done. Their enthusiasm is contagious.”
The heartfelt bond between a parent and child has been a driving force in Alan’s designs of tandems, and that translates easily to the Haul-a-Day. Bike Friday Production Manager Jordan Bishko enjoyed working closely with his five-year-old son, Eli.
“The DRT and Haul-a-Day allowed us to participate in a competitive event together as a team,” Jordan said. “I knew the stakes were high when I heard Eli mentioning the race to Mom and friends multiple times, as well as his expectations of winning. I was certainly engaged and excited, it was refreshing to see him as engaged.”
The fun unfolded over days, not just on race day.
“We practiced mounts, dismounts and talked about the various obstacles we might face,” Jordan said. “We even practiced the finish line salute and high five, if we were first.”
Although they didn’t get to do their salute, they did win! They were first in the Family Class.
“The Haul-a-Day set him (Eli) up right behind me during the event,” Jordan said. “We were able to chat a bit, as much as my elevated heart rate would allow. We both had a great time; Eli particularly enjoyed the variety of surfaces we traversed.”
For many of the Bike Friday entrants, the Disaster Relief Trials represent more than just a day of fun. They ride their bikes every day, and cycling is a key element in their lives.
Bike Friday Consultant Walter Lapchynski experienced a roller-coaster of emotion during the day as he described his time on his Haul-a-Day.
“Useful. Fun. Painful,” Walter said. “Saving lives is hard work, but rewarding. Springfield’s Washburne district and the path leading to it is darn pretty. It was an awesome turnout. It’s way better to be at a DRT in your community — it opens you up to opportunities to help your community be prepared for disaster.”
Seeing the various challenges a city like Eugene offers a bike proved to be educational for riders, and a good challenge to show off the Haul-a-Day’s features.
“I loved the off-road section,” Bike Friday Service Rep Kelly Humber said, echoing a sentiment shared by many of the Bike Friday riders. “I also really enjoyed getting to see parts of the city I’d never been to before. Anna, my girlfriend, accompanied me for a lot of it, which made it like a really fun ride all over Eugene/Springfield where you get it to wave at friends passing every few minutes.”
As for his Haul-a-Day?
“My Haul-a-Day performed excellently,” Kelly said. “Point it uphill and it goes like any other bike. I climbed up Skinner Butte no problem. Well, OK, it was hard still. The foot rails allow bulky weight to be carried low; it’s great for stability and handling”
Like Kelly, Bike Friday Sales Manager Robbie Dow was impressed with the Haul-a-Day’s ability to feel like a regular bike, especially while climbing Eugene’s challenging Skinner Butte.
“I was impressed with how well the Haul-a-Day handled, particularly on the off-road section,” Robbie said. “I climbed Skinner Butte on the bike, which was my first time ever climbing Skinner Butte on any bike. Even with 75 pounds of cargo, the bike handled the steep hill like a champ. The DRT proved that the Haul-a-Day is an indispensable tool for surviving a natural disaster or a zombie apocalypse.”
Bike Friday Webstore Manager Todd Reed has been experimenting with various electric assist devices over the years, and used an experimental prototype while winning the Electric Class.
“I used up almost my entire charge on three batteries I carried, so at the end was pretty much limping home,” Todd said. “One of my axioms for e-bikes is that they have to be good bikes when the power is off, so in that respect, the bike works pretty well.”
No, we aren’t quite ready to announce an electric assist Haul-a-Day is ready for production. Still more testing to do.
Bike Friday Consultant Michael Boggs summed up the event, which fits the Bike Friday mission statement and the goals for the Haul-a-Day
“The Eugene DRT was a wonderful event full of people trying to make the world a better place for bicycles,” Michael said. “It was so much fun seeing the things they wanted us to carry and to test your mind flexibility in packing your bike with water jugs, pumpkins, grain, and variety of smaller goods.”