Monday, November 27, 2006

What a weekend!!

As has become a bit of a routine with this project we met for our Friday debrief to run through what had happened this week and what we have planned for the next 7 days. This week was slightly different as not only did we have Ghandi but we were lucky enough to be joined by Ben’s other brother Luke, a masseuse on a cruise ship. Luke was only home for a couple of days so it was great to get his views on the project. By the time he’s back from his next cruise we’ll be up and running!

News from this week is all good, Ben continues his correspondence with the council and I’ve been holding my end of the bargain. Saturday was to be our first business trip, down to Bath to see some Pedicabs for real. To say we were excited was an understatement.

We left Hereford at about nine ish and headed out guided by Ben’s man map (a device kept deep inside Ben’s head which enabled him to navigate to Cape Town on a recent expedition). Our Goal was to be in Bath for 11 to meet Steve Harvey from Cycles Maximus. The plan was to see the factory, speak to Steve and try out a pedicab.

We arrived on the dot and Steve was there to great us, even better, Steve was there to great us with tea! After a chat about our journey we were ushered upstairs to the office! The office was ace, just as we expected, mugs here and there, pieces of paper with ideas scribbled on them, and the best thing, it was raised above the rest of the workshop. It was a really nice place to be, and Steve was a nice bloke, it made me think straight away that a lot of time and care goes into these contraptions.

A chap called James turned up with two ladies, he was interested in buying some bikes as well, for a mobile soup stand. We all chatted for a while and bounced questions off one another. Steve answered all of our questions, James and the ladies seemed really nice and there was a great atmosphere, something about this whole venture just seemed right.

After we’d had our tea we all had a tour of the factory, we saw new types of lights and fittings, new frames for advertising boards and various different types of bike, some with electrical assists, some cargo bikes and some contraptions up in the roof that looked very interesting!

Then came the bit we had all been looking forward to!! Steve took us for a little ride! It was great, really really great, then after a while Steve let us take the pedicab out. Ben rode it first and then I rode it, we took it in turns for about an hour and tried lots of things, what its like with one, two and three people in the back, uphill, downhill, tight turning. We tried everything we could and it was fantastic, throughout the whole thing we all had massive smiles! From a more serious point of view I have tried to be realistic and take an objective view on this whole project, how feasible it is, how the people of Hereford would take it. The second I got on the pedicab it all changed, I knew that this could work, my perception of it as a vehicle also changed, gone were the thoughts of zipping though town, I could now see the enjoyment and purpose of this vehicle. Its fun to travel on them, its green to travel on them and it’s a nice way to really be part of the solution to all of the eco type problems we all face. Ben and I screamed about on the bikes and then it was time to go, we had by that time thought of loads more questions so Steve stayed and answered them before taking the others to the station.

Lots of the questions were about the practicality of our business proposals, insurance, registration and also about the build of the bikes. Ben and I noticed a few things that would of course over time fail and asked questions about problems they may have and pre-empting them. All in all they make fantastic machines, that are a real blast to ride! And to think we are going to be the ones who enable 1000’s more people to try them out and to have as much fun as we were having.

On that point I’d like to say that it’s great fun to ride one of these for other people, it brings you closer, you have a conversation with them and they appreciate the effort your putting in to getting them up the hill (or down the hill as fast as we could in our case!) all of a sudden you're making friends and having fun, something which not enough people seem to do nowadays!

We were sad to leave but grateful for 3 hours of Steve’s time, it felt like 10 minutes! Steve pointed us in the direction of a lovely pub and we headed for chat and something to eat.

Over lunch we asked some serious questions and gave each other some serious answers, this for us was make or break, were we going to do this? There was no hesitation, with the great feeling of riding the pedicabs still in our limbs we agreed.

And we are going to keep you posted every step of the way!