I managed to give the new wheels a decent test drive on Saturday, and they're so much better it's ridiculous. It also helps we're finally having some decent weather, though a touch too sticky.
I ended up parked in the further of my two regular parking spots in Rochester, which is about 700m from our regular Saturday haunt on the High Street, so a decent but not excessive push, with a helpful downhill slope going (the height difference is about 40ft). So it's about 50m on the road I park on (no handy kerb cuts to get on the path), across a busy junction into the Vines, a local park, 200m on its paths, which are tarmacced but not exactly flat as the avenue of trees has some major roots under them. Then out into the precinct at the back of the cathedral for about 250m on bricked roads (the paths are partly possible, but the heritage flagstones make them worse than the road and there's one stretch where neither side is passable for a chair), then out onto the main road between Castle and Cathedral, a quick cut through the disabled car park (which you can never park in - only 6 bays, and which they now want to sell for development - grr!) and on to the High Street
I'd realised the chair was significantly better than either the clown chair or the eBay chair as soon as I pushed out of Wheelchair Services on Thursday, but this really showed it off. I'd expected it to be better than the clown chair, that was the whole point of moving to a rigid frame, but not that it would be markedly better than the eBay GPV, which is another rigid. I'm tentatively putting that down to inflatable tyres vs solids (which were an unpleasant surprise on the eBay chair, but at least I didn't end up paying for them). Rolling resistance appears to be significantly less, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres seem to have quite a narrow contact area, in fact I was a bit worried about slowing down at that first junction, which has quite a sharp descent into it. It was fine in the Vines, though I nearly lost it coming out of the park and onto the road behind the Cathedral - there's a driveway I've been using as a kerb cut, but if I'm hitting it that little bit faster then I need to be taking it at closer to a right angle, which means slowing down however I do it.
I'd say the ride on the bricked road was actually better even than the GPV. In the clown chair (which is now back with Wheelchair Services, presumably to be refurbished as a fleet chair) it was literally tooth-rattling, the GPV smoothed that out to a rumble, and with the XLT it's barely even that. Not much to report on the ride past the Castle, apart from motorists who see a wheelchair on the road and freeze like a rabbit in headlights, nor really on the high street, though people who erect scaffolding on the pavement and then block the way through it with barriers for no reason are not my favourites! One definite advantage to the new chair is that I don't need to fold it to get it through the doors of the George Vaults, I still need to get out, two steps up inside the door, but the XLT is light enough to pick up and lift in if I want.
On my own for lunch unfortunately, one set of friends are in France, the other has a sick family member, but no problems getting a table, and I took a chance on the special (a chance as the waitress's description was a bit garbled) and oh, boy was it worth the wait - chicken breast (the bit I heard) on a bed of freshly made ratatouille, with a smear of pesto (the bits I didn't). The ratatouille was absolutely gorgeous.
Back to the car was a bit more of a chore, 40ft uphill rather than downhill. On the bright side I made it almost all the way without stopping, the first time I've actually managed that, though I was close last week. It's pretty clear my shoulders are a problem on even fairly slight upslopes, though there's a slow improvement. And the 'almost' is effectively a mandatory stop, there's a 10m stretch of path that's too steep to safely wheel going uphill. Especially if you've forgotten to put the anti-tips out....
I'm still figuring the best way to fit the dismantled chair into the boot of the car, there may even be a way to do it without dropping any of the back seat (the boot in my Yaris is pathetically tiny), but I need to spend some time experimenting.
Next stop was PC World, checking their ink prices - £10 more than HP? Thanks, I'll pass. I've actually taken all three chairs to PC World to try them out on a decent-sized flat surface almost as soon as I've gotten them, and the XLT is just a pleasure on that kind of surface (so long as salespeople don't step out in front of you!).
And at least I didn't have to demolish any displays to get into the aisles this time, he says innocently ;)
Then up to Asda for some grocery shopping. Thankfully the XLT will connect to their wheelchair trolleys, the GPV wouldn't, the vee front is too narrow and I was worried I might have to revert to online orders only if the XLT wouldn't fit them. Of course they were a) in the middle of restocking, with pallets of stuff blocking my way everywhere I went, and b) they'd decided to rearrange all the aisles so no one could find anything, which made it a thoroughly irritating experience. But at least the chair was a non-issue; well, until the trolley broke free as I wheeled to the car and pivoted out into the roadway. So only just connects, I guess.
Back home after that, and asleep on the sofa from 7PM til Midnight, sigh. My body is all too predictable in its reaction to exertion.