Three isn’t better than two..
“Why do people find this bike funny?” asks a little voice at the back of the triplet (a bicycle for three in case you don’t know). At speed with the wind on our nose it’s hard to hear Hannah from the front of the bike, especially if middle-man Cameron has his mp3 on and doesn’t relay her messages.
Three may be better than two in a tandem vs triplet sprint challenge but there are downsides to this bike; like communicating up and down the drive-train, trying to turn on anything less than a dual carriageway, and dealing with the instability when a fight breaks out between stokers. It’s also a big attention magnet.
What are they looking at?
I thought I’d got used to stoppers and starers while touring on tandems pulling trailers but we’ve moved into another league now, attracting attention where we once passed relatively quietly, even in Scando-European countries where everyone rides and unusual bikes are an everyday sight.
What are they smiling at?
“Why do people always smile when we cycle past?” Hannah raises her voice, honking her horn to try and get my attention, generating the very effect that intrigues her so.
It’s not just the bike that attracts attention; she’s part of the effect too, hand on horn, flaxen hair trailing in the slipstream, rising up and out of the saddle, her little legs doing their bit to power us along.
First to pass onlookers I’m first to see the smiles start to break as this image of a family in motion unfolds before them. Father, son and daughter, going somewhere together, legs turning in perfect synchronicity. It’s a potent image of family harmony, even when we’re sulking or fighting.
A family adventure machine: a bicycle for three
But they’re not just looking at us, there’s something magic about the bike that makes looks linger. Bright red frame, and shiny gears, fat panniers and rucksacks on racks, water bottles, flasks, pumps and saddle bags filling in the frame.
And then behind this cycling behemoth, a bright yellow trailer with rainbow flag bursting with tent, food, sleeping bags and dolly. It’s not a funny bike; it’s a cycling juggernaut, our family adventure machine.
What are they saying?
“What is it are they are saying Dad?” shouts Hannah, ringing on her bell, answering back anyway, as if she understood. From the front it can be hard to make out, for by the time onlookers speak I’m already way up the road, while Hannah is just passing by.
But while Hannah cannot understand, the team of two following tell me, that whatever the country, whatever the language, the gist of it is always the same; “Eins…, Zvei.., Drei!”