Yesterday was my birthday. Lisa and I agreed a few weeks ago that our gift to each other (her birthday is April 24th) would be the long coveted Madsen bucket bike. The bikes sell directly from Madsen for $1299, plus $150 shipping. They also sell "dinged" models for $999 plus shipping. I looked around a little bit on the internet, and found a guy on Craigslist selling one in Philadelphia for $900. Then finally I discovered Cycle 9 in North Carolina, which had the Madsen on closeout for only $770! The only catch was that the price was only good in their retail store, in Carrboro, NC. Road trip!
Ellie was sick over the weekend with strep throat, and yesterday, she was still recovering, so she wasn't going to school anyway, so she decided to join me.

Four hours in a car (at least), thank goodness for portable DVD players!
We left a little before 6am, and Ellie slept for the first hour and a half. We only stopped for a drive-thru McD's breakfast and one bathroom break, and just over four hours later, we had arrived.

The Cycle 9 bike shop!
By now, my Twitter followers were confused. Where the heck were we? Some random building in North Carolina? Huh? Luckily, the bike shop guy knew exactly why I was there.
"Hi, I'm Brian, and I'm here to test ride the..."
"Madsen bike! Right, let me get that set up for ya."
Service with a smile, gotta love it! He unlocked the bike, pumped up the tires, and we were ready to ride.

Ellie in the bucket, and me in the saddle.
Having a giant bucket with a kid in the back of your bike takes some getting used to, but overall, it's just a bike. You just have to be sure to leave yourself plenty of room to slow down and to make wide turns. It's a much more upright ride than I'm used to, but it isn't exactly built for speed. Ellie took some pictures along the way.


The flowers were blooming down in NC. A few times, we literally drove through pollen fog! Thick stuff.

Passing the dog walker. The bike even has a little bell. "On your left!"

A view from inside the bucket, of the inside of the bucket.
We told the bike guy we'd take it. Then came the big surprise: the slightly used floor model was priced even lower than $770. Try $500! So, for driving down to North Carolina, we saved about $950 over a brand new bike shipped to us. Crazy? Like a fox!
We popped into the little coffee shop next door for a snack while they fixed up the seat belts and got the bike ready to go.

Smoothies at the coffee shop. It was just getting hot out around this time.


It took a little help from Ellie to keep the handlebars straight, but the bike just fits in the back of the van, as long as Evan's seat is taken out.

Confirmed: the bucket can hold a case of beer. (New Belgium beer is unavailable in Virginia, so of course, I had to buy myself a birthday present of four six-packs.) Throw some ice in there, instant portable party!
It took a while longer to drive back home, thanks in part to idiotic Washington traffic (which apparently extends all the way down around Fredericksburg). But, we arrived home 11 hours after we left with our new family bike.

Lisa goes for a test ride. I probably should have showed her how to shift before she took off.

A really bad blurry picture of the two kids in the bucket. We're going to have to train them on not wiggling around too much and throwing off the balance!
So there you have it. That's how I spent my birthday. Ellie and I actually had a good time driving down there together, and we got an awesome deal on the bike. (Seriously, if you live in North Carolina, go to Cycle 9, they are awesome!) We'll be sure to post many more pictures over the summer of our Madsen exploits.

(You can view all the pictures from the road trip on my Picasa web site.)