Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
In preparation for a week-long self-contained bicycle trip in a couple weeks, Astro and I re-scheduled our 'shakedown' overnight. The purpose of a shakedown ride is to figure out anything that might not be working logistically or mechanically with the bike and if there is any additional equipment needed. For ours, we went down into the Bitteroot to Bass Creek, camped for two days, then rode back. 

Day One: Getting there

I was very worried about the weight I'd be pulling around. My bicycle without gear probably weighs somewhere between 15-20 lbs. I carry 15-20 lbs of gear, not including the weight of the trailer. The trailer weighs 22.1lbs. Astro weighs 55 lbs. And I weigh 160. That's 272 lbs that I have to push/pedal up hills and across many, many miles. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit trepidatious. 

I'm a little disappointed in myself for doubting my own strength as a cyclist. We got over the set of hills just as easily as when I ride with no gear. Coming into Lolo, I wondered if I'd see any other loaded touring cyclists on the road, and, as if in magical response, a voice from behind me said 'hello'. A young man was traveling the TransAm headed toward Seattle. We stopped in Lolo and chatted with him for a few minutes. Of course, as we chatted, a motorist stopped by to talk about bicycle touring with us, as he had done the TransAm a few years ago. There's something about this crazy thing called bicycle touring that we do that seems to fascinate people and draw them to us. 

As we left Lolo, with the temperature cooled off a bit, I decided to let Astro burn off some energy and hooked him up to the side of my bike via the Springer. He ran full force (giving me a break and pulling us all) for about two miles, then slowed down and we worked together for another 3. After a break to rehydrate the pup, I offered him the opportunity to ride in the trailer some more, which he eagerly accepted. 

Even though I had friends meeting me at the campsite with food, etc., we still wanted to simulate being out on our own. So in Florence I stopped into an IGA and bought supplies to make dinner. Then a few miles later we hit the steep incline Bass Creek Road, which is a tough two-mile climb--and I'm fully-loaded, to the campsite. So I let Astro out of the trailer and said "Let's hook up!" Astro immediately stood next to the Springer hook-up, and together we pulled our rig up the hill. 

Tomorrow: Day 2!



Eric W
08/19/2012 21:39

Sound like adventure! And I admire your testing approach to touring.

If if was me - I would try to get all the gear possible into, or onto, the trailer. With these qualifications:

The trail has to balance w/ and without Astro, so there's only a tiny little downward pressure on the hitch.

Gear can go on top, behind, in front - aerodynamics hardly matter. Water resistance, and visibility are more important. I'm thinking there's room for a floor a few inches deep under Astro. That's a good place for the heavy stuff.

OK, frequently / important stuff like maps and camera go in a handle bar bag. And water bottles in the usual places.

Ditch the racks, and the panniers bags, which will save more weight than you think. Your bike's handling will return to normal, too. All you have to deal with is the weight of the trailer, which is almost nothing at cruise, and only an issue, due the weight, on uphill and downhills.

I think this approach will make for much more comfortable touring.
As always, your mileage may vary - keep up the blog!

Eric W

09/24/2012 04:37

Just do not forget the condoms. You never know what you love can happen on the road.

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