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Surviving an Encounter with The Rack

There has always been an air of mystery surrounding Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Whenever a new tour of the grounds of the 2700 acre estate owned by the wealthy Duke family was offered, we seized the opportunity to see what was behind the stone walls and guarded gates. The strict security and limited access during those tours have always left us wanting to be able to linger and explore more of the natural beauty of the estate. So when the Duke Farms Foundation revised its interpretation of the wishes Doris Duke left in her will and opened 1,000 acres of the estate to the public, Oregano and I were excited to visit. Accessing the 12 miles of biking trails would be a great way to see the gardens and woodland areas while getting some exercise. Little did we know that before we could begin our aerobic exercise, we’d need to warm up with an exercise in frustration by trying to install a trunk- mounted bike rack to our car. During medieval times, the rack was used to torture people. While the use of that particular type of rack fell out of favor hundreds of years ago, Oregano and I have discovered that the modern-day trunk-mounted bike rack could be classified as an instrument of torture.

With the hope of sparing someone from the same torture we experienced, I offer you this user-friendly guide to surviving an encounter with a trunk-mounted bike rack.

**Photos are re-enactments for illustrative purposes. We were unable to find the humor in the situation during the 3 hours it took us to prepare to leave for our bike riding adventure at Duke Farms.**

  1. Purchase bike rack to make traveling to new and exciting bike trails easier.
  2. Attempt to attach the bike rack to your trunk by yourself.
  3.  Untangle the straps you’ve managed to wrap around your body during multiple failed installation attempts.
  4. Place your new bike rack in the garage preferably in a place where the numerous straps attached to it will not trip you every time you walk past it.
  5. Ask your spouse or a friend to help you install the bike rack because your poor visual-spatial skills have led to confusion and frustration.  NOTE: You may need to ask your spouse more than once. In my case, this single step took an entire year.
  6. Hunt through the garage for the installation manual which was right next to the bike rack, but must have been moved over the course of the year it sat unused.
  7. Decide to install bike rack without using the manual that you weren’t able to find.
  8. Return to the garage to search for the instruction manual with renewed vigor after several failed attempts at installing the bike rack to the trunk.
  9. Locate instruction manual after an exhaustive search.
  10. Read instruction manual.
  11. Begin installing bike rack to trunk.
  12. Curse.
  13. Repeat steps 10 through 12 as needed.
  14. Call the bike shop to see if someone can install the bike rack for you.
  15. Accept the fact that the bike shop personnel are too busy on a Saturday morning to assist you.
  16. Repeat steps 10 through 12 as needed.
  17. Celebrate the successful attachment of the bike rack to your car by chugging a vat of ice water and wiping the sweat from your forehead.
  18. Stop celebrating because you realize that you aren’t done yet. The bikes still need to be attached to the rack.

    Step 18: The rack is finally attached to the trunk. Now we just need to figure out how to attach the bicycles.

  19. Attempt to attach the largest, heaviest bike to the rack without reading that section of the manual because it looks self-explanatory.
  20. Consult instruction manual because attaching the bike is not as easy as it looks.
  21. Attach the man’s bike to the rack.
  22. Marvel at your success and give thanks that you are almost done.
  23. Attempt to attach the woman’s bike to the rack.
  24. Remove the man’s bike from the rack because you think it is interfering with your ability to attach the woman’s bike.
  25. Turn the woman’s bike in different directions as you try to attach it. Be careful not to get tangled in the brake cables or jam a handlebar into your ear.
  26. Scratch your head as you begin to realize there is no way to attach the woman’s bike because of its configuration.
  27. Google how to attach a woman’s bike and learn that you need a special adapter which you do not have.
  28. Break the news to your sweat-covered spouse/friend who is desperately trying to make the woman’s bike fit onto the rack.
  29. Relegate yourself to the idea that you have to go buy a $50 adapter because we live in a male dominated society.
  30. Drive to bike shop to purchase adapter.
  31. Celebrate the fact that the bike rack, albeit empty, remained affixed to the car for the duration of the trip to the bike shop.
  32. Drive home.
  33. Reattach the man’s bike to the rack.
  34. Place adapter on woman’s bike then attach it to the rack.

    Step 34: After a trip to the bike store and $50, the woman’s bike is ready to be mounted onto the rack.

  35. Step back to admire what you were able to accomplish with hard work and persistence.
  36. Realize that the front tire of the woman’s bike is dangerously close to the ground.

    Step 36: The jubilation of step 35 was short lived when we realized that the front tire of the woman’s bike was nearly touching the ground.

  37. Remove the woman’s bike from the rack.
  38. Remove the front tire of the woman’s bike. NOTE: Don’t forget to place the front tire inside the car or all of this work will have been for nothing when you reach your destination and have a bicycle with only one tire.
  39. Re-attach the woman’s bike to the rack. By now, you’re a pro at this. Practice makes perfect.
  40. Back out of the driveway to embark on your bike riding adventure.
  41. Pull back into the driveway when you feel the front tire of the man’s bike brush against the road.
  42. Remove the woman’s bike from the rack to gain access to the man’s bike.
  43. Remove the man’s bike from the rack then remove its front tire. (See note at step 38.)
  44. Re-attach the man’s bike to the rack. You should be really good at this by now.
  45. Re-attach the woman’s bike to the rack.
  46. Forget how sweaty, exhausted and cranky you are and hit the bike trails for some exercise.

This beautiful meadow of poppies at Duke Farms was the reward for our persistence.

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