Friday, July 20, 2007

Band on Wheels

A recent post on one of the many biking blogs I read mentioned how the writer had just ridden to a community band performance. With a quick wardrobe change, he was ready to play.

(I wish I could remember where I read it. I'll keep looking, but if a reader remembers the post, or maybe wrote the post, please leave a comment with the blog name.)

I play in my local community band, and I'd love to ride to rehearsals and performances. The problem is that I play trombone. With the big wooden case, it is too large and heavy to carry on the bicycle. As always, I have some options.

trombone gig bagThere are some special trombone cases that can be worn as backpacks One brand looks like a small golf bag and runs about $100, while the fancier leather models can reach $350. There are those that worry that the soft cases (gig bags) can't adequately protect the slide. One small dent in the slide can ruin the performance, and maybe the instrument. However, since I'm 45, and not 12, I think I should be able to take care to protect the horn. Plus the leather ones look pretty snazzy! My bigger worry is the weight. How much can I comfortably carry on my back, and how will my shirt look when I get there?

bike trailerMaybe some sort of trailer would be a better idea. The case is 3 feet long, which may require a longer than average bed. I haven't done any research on these to know what is common. The nice thing about a trailer is that I could use it for other things besides the 'bone transport, such as grocery shopping or other errands. Plus, I would be able to carry my mutes, trombone stand, music, and other items. I'll have to find out some prices and configurations.

I'm sure that an Xtracycle setup would work well, but that's a whole new bike, and probably the most expensive of the options (especially since I have no mechanical skills that would allow me to build my own). Maybe someday.

What other ideas are out there? Maybe my son and I could ride side by side and carry the case between us (much like two swallows carrying a coconut). Let me know how you carry large, heavy objects.


Blogger Apertome said...

The image at the top is fantastic. Why not just play while you ride?

Seriously, though, I don't have any experience carrying large objects on my bike ... yet. I'm sure it's just a matter of time. I saw someone on a bike recently with a violin case strapped to their back, and as a sometimes-violinist, it seemed risky. I'd do it with my cheaper violin, probably, but not my good instrument. Even with a hard case, I'd worry.

That said, carrying it on your back seems like the best option to me. The trailer idea is cool, too, but one other advantage to having it on your back is that your body would act as a shock absorber.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Isn't that a cool shot? Click on the photo for a little back story on the bicycle band.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Stormcrowe and Crazylady said...

The trailer is really useful, Dan! I use a kid trailer for touring and errands and the only problem I have is the tendency to carry too much weight, just because you can!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Dr. Logan said...

I'd get a xtracycle, yuba mondo, or big dummy. Cargo bikes are the wave of the future my friend. Plus, you could stick the hard-case in the built in pannier-system on the xtra and not have to worry about denting it. I too play the bone, but not regularly anymore so I've not yet had to transport it on my bike. Take care.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also a trombone playing bicycle commuter. It's great to see others trying to bike to rehearsal! I've tried a few methods for carrying the 'bone. The backpack style case on both shoulders wasn't so comfortable - the instrument hangs below the seat (or did for me, anyway), so the rear wheel/rack got in the way. Then I rode with the case configured to have one large strap instead of two, slung diagonally over my shouder messenger-bag style. This works better because the instrument is off to the side of the rear wheel/rack/etc. The best setup I've found is to use those large non-foldable wire rear panniers that resemble mini-shopping carts. The narrow end of the case goes into the basket, and the strap/bungee/other device secures the top to the seatpost - not tight, just enough so there's no danger of the case falling out if you hit a bump. And the basket on the other side does have room for mutes, folding stand, etc. It takes a little trial and error, and the panniers aren't removable without tools - but they are also really useful for groceries, briefcase, etc. I'm considering trying to turn my cloth case into a pannier by adding some kind of hooks to hang it directly from the rack. Good luck!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine does a great job using a Chronkite separable bag and puts the slide in one panier, the bell in another.

5:39 AM  

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