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Thread: Pedals of Fire: Pedal for Hire - Episode 1

  1. #1
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    Default Pedals of Fire: Pedal for Hire - Episode 1

    <<Working Title?>>

    Yesterday began my first day as a part time pedicab driver. I would describe it in one word - "Humbling".

    My day started as it always does, with a quick bike/bus/bike ride from my house to the pentagon, then across the 14th street bridge but this time I continued around the basin for a quick run up 15th in front of the white house, then up 17th to Farragut Square to get the pedicab. I was a little nervous, this being my first time, so I did a thorough check of the cab, in fact it took a good bit of time to find a rentable bike among the reserved coaches. By 8:30 I was back on the streets in my fancy yellow chariot.

    I learned that it's quite easy to throw the chain and I had to stop infront of M.E. Swings for a quick fix. I would go on to throw the chain a few more times that day, but found easy ways to get rolling again without to much dificulty.

    I knew there were a lot of people going to the white house for the easter egg roll, but didn't really get the hang of where they would be coming from, so I just headed down 17th to get to the mall. You can't take a pedicab across the front of the white house, they are too wide. I also learned that you can't turn left on Constitution during the morning rush so I guessed the tidal basin would have to do. I got the hang of pedaling an 185 lb bike at about 5 miles per hour around the bridges on Independance, then did a quick tour of the deserted tidal basin - no blossoms yet. I parked at the Jefferson, then the MLK, and then the Lincoln waiting for fares. Lincoln was a little busier and after about 20 minutes I had my first fare. A trip from Lincoln to the Smithsonian Metro. We agreed to $15 bucks and I was on my way. I hope I wasn't huffing and puffing too much but made pretty good time down to 15th street (I took the route around the back of the Lincoln and then down Constitudion to give the father and son a view of the white house. Once on 15th, the subtle hill up to Jefferson Drive proved to be pretty tough, but I made it and we were on the mall. It took about 25 mintues to bike the 2.5 miles a slow 6mph, much slower than I am used to, but I couldn't have done any faster, pulling about 300 lbs of bike, chariot, and people.

    I hung out on the mall and almost had a fare back to the Lincoln, but I was determined to leave for Nats park before 11, so I turned down a fare back to the west.

    30 minutes later I was along M street waiting for fares just outside of the Navy Yard. I work M street for 2 hours and picked up about 10 fares going between the Navy Yard (Nationals Parking lot "W") and the ballpark. By 2:30 it was drizzling, and the winds were picking up. I know we have all had a lot of wind to deal with this winter and "spring" but wind in a pedicab is absolutely brutal. Wind and hills are nearly impossible. My last fare was from 1st and M. The two men wanted to go up 8th street to the Matchbox restaurant. I realized that in the wind I wasn't going to make it up the slight hill on M up to 8th. I offered a half price fare to the Navy yard and gave them directions for the last 3 blocks.

    Tired, sore, and cold I drug the bike the 3.5 miles back up to Farragut Squre.

    All in all, it was fun, but difficult. Much more difficult than I imagined. I was encouraged by the warm and friendly greeting I got from the other Pedicab Drivers (no matter which company they worked for). I never felt that I was in competition with them for fares, and I never felt that I had to prove myself. I still feel bad that I screwed them over a little and took a fare from the end of the Pedicab line, but I now know how to work the stand.

    If you have tickets to a Nats game this summer, look for me. I'll have my Bike Arlington Scarf somewhere on me.

    -Now off to take some more Ibuprofen.
    Last edited by Mikey; 04-05-2013 at 09:59 PM. Reason: 80 lbs who am I kidding?

  2. #2
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    I bow down to you. No way in hell I could make it through a day doing that.

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  4. #3
    TwoWheelsDC's Avatar
    TwoWheelsDC is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Nice job! If my wife and I are downtown and need a pedicab, we'll look for you.

    FWIW, just as a tip for future Nats Park>Barracks Row fares, if you cut up 1st to K, then over to 5th and up to Virginia, then over to 8th SE, it's more of an even grade than if you take M directly to 8th. It's also slightly more sheltered from the wind.

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    Thanks for the interesting peek into a day in a life.

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    Fascinating. Do you have any photos to share?

    What did you do for food, water and bathrooms?

    Was the money you made pretty average for a driver?

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  10. #6
    rcannon100's Avatar
    rcannon100 is offline Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!
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    So..... did you make any money or have you eaten all of your profits??

    Did they cut down the number of days you are furloughed? I have heard ppl are getting revised notices, significantly cutting down the furlough days.

  11. #7
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    This is awesome. I'm curious - how is your chariot geared to haul 300 lbs? And where do you store it?

  12. #8
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    In my opinion, the pedigaps have been great for the downtown and mall areas. Some are also great tourguides -- I can hear them explaining what goes on in each building they go past. Wishing you the best!

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  14. #9
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    Your story confirmed that I could never do that job. When our furlough days start in June (probably) I'll have to be content to ride my own bike not making money. I'm looking forward to reading future episodes.

    Will you be tracking your pedicab mileage with Strava? That could be interesting? Make sure to note that the bike + passengers etc is like 300 pounds and your wattage and suffer scores will go WAY up.

    This past Sunday I did a lap of HP and as I turned west on E. Basin Dr I passed a pedicab. The guy was chatting away to the passengers who looked like they were enjoying themselves. Being a good guide may really help your earnings.

  15. #10
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    I totally forgot to post to the 1/8th thread yesterday! I'm pretty certain that I saw you on 15th right by the Washington Monument. Red shirt, if I recall.

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