This site has been static for a while, as I have traveled to Ghana to start a school for the modification of bicycles. Here are some pictures of us freakin' it up in Africa. Check back often, I'll update this post with more pictures.
This picture was taken on our first Rat Ride. We rode four miles to a nearby village called Adomfe where one of the students, Sekyere, has a blacksmith's shop. What a grueling four miles! Mile-long hills over rutted dirt, with a creek at the bottom- you invest effort on the way up AND on the way down. In rural Ghana a bike is simply a tool that you push up one hill to let you coast down the next- if the roads are good. The roads and hills are so bad around here that I've taken to walking everywhere. Perhaps I shall return with massive Gluteus Minorus and join a pedestrian gang.
On the left that's Emelia in the hat, riding on our Mule (afunumu). Then there's Kofi on 3nwa (the snail), an ice-cream-cart style bike. Then there's Isaac on our tallbike Akranty3 (cane rat), Sekyere with his own tallbike, Eugene on the chopper Okusea (rat), Nana on a shortbike, and Asante with a trailer we were using to haul extra wheels. The rest of the kids are just part of the crowd of 100 or so that gathered to see the whitey. This village was remote enough that they didn't start with the OBRUNIOBRUNIOBRUNI taunt, they just looked on with awe and fear.
3nwa, Twi for 'snail'. A slow bike suited only for town! On rutted roads it jerks to and fro, and even with 18 speeds and a stump gear it is no use against African mountains. Still, by taking turns, we rode it to Adomfe and back.
This is Okusea, or Rat. That front-only brake sure is scary to sit on top of like a pole vaulter comin down those big hills!
This is my giratte, or ratty giraffe unicycle. Everyone here calls it a 'one-tyre'. I knew I would never find a unicycle wheel in Africa, so I made a giraffe out of an old British 16" commuter with a two-speed kickback hub that was probably worth hundreds to collectors.
I switched the wheel for a freewheel and made it into a fixie, the easiest weld in the world. For the seat I cut the nose off an old BMX seat and duct-taped it to another one.
The first version taught me that the rider's center of gravity on the seat, on the pedals, and the axle must all be in line. On a unicycle the latter two are the same and so this happens automatically! The second version taught me that the gear ratio has to be low to give you some control. The third one was rideable!
Chain tension really effects reaction time. As you can see from the shadow of my flailing arms, I can ride it around but I haven't hit that zone that unicyclists use to juggle or drink beer or whatever while up there. I wonder how much of my inability is the rough ground, the tiny wheel, the sluggish reaction, and the shabbily balanced bike.
This hugenormous bulldozer was left behind at the gold mine last time it shut down. Here we are hanging out on it before jumping into the quarry after a hot and sweaty rat hunt in the bush.