For a long time now, I've wanted to turn bike riding into something practical. I don't like for it to just be exercise.
Shortly before Father's Day, I had a chance to get a B.O.B. Yak Trailer. The possibility of taking it out for a ride has been burning in the back of my mind ever since. The first place I thought of to take the new trailer for a spin was the local grocery store (of course! Where else?).
My lovely better half, Ms. Adventure, looked at me as if this was a crazy idea (She does that a lot... usually guided towards me... ^_^). She began to very methodically disassemble my argument. I just got it. I don't know how it's going to react once it has weight on it. How is it going to affect the bike when going uphill/downhill in the many hills we ride around our neighborhood... Fine. I'll start with something small.
I took the trailer by itself around the block a couple of times. If it wasn't for the semi-constant flapping of the flag, I wouldn't know the trailer was attached to my bike. OK. A fully loaded trip to the grocery store is completely out of the question... for now. Baby steps, I promised my better half that I would do incremental loads. What to load next bugged me for days. Then the idea came painfully obvious when I was changing the five gallon water bottle. I could just go get water! Water is really heavy for the amount of volume it takes. That stopped me, but just for a short time. We only have 5-gallon bottles. Fully loaded it's 40 pounds. 40 pounds! Not the incremental weight increase I was looking for. If I was to fill a 5-gallon bottle with less water, the water would just slush around and really throw me off balance. The solution: 3-gallon bottles.
Last Friday, I took advantage that my better half was taking a nap (she can't talk me out of it if she's asleep). The two things that threw me over the edge were reading this blog post, and watching this news piece. I attached the trailer to my mountain bike and bungee corded the 3-gallon bottle as secure as I could with the cords.
Off I went on a new adventure.
I learned that once the 3-gallon bottle was full, there was little to no difference in the way it handled. The one wheel on the B.O.B. trailer tracked the rear wheel of my bike flawlessly. I didn't feel the additional weight on the uphills (oddly enough!). The one time I noticed the extra weight was on the downhills. It almost turned my mountain bike into a freight train. It went straight. Dead straight, and fast. The trailer is also a very unusual addition to a bike in this parts of
civilization, that every motorist gave me a W I D E berth around. I even got a couple of thumbs up from a couple of motorists. I made it home safe in one piece, excited, and soaked in sweat (more because I chose to go out close to noon in the south Texas relentless sun, than from being tired).
So what is yesterday's lesson?! You are rambling on about last Friday!
I know. I know. Bare with me here. I'm getting there.
Yesterday I decided to get water once again. But I felt it was time to kick it up a notch. This time I carried a 5-gallon bottle. The thing I learned yesterday is that the difference in handling the trailer in tow is massively different between a full 3-gallon bottle and a 5-gallon bottle. As a first impression, the difference is almost exponential (Who'd a thought a 16 pound difference in weight would be so pronounced in the handling of the bike). The freight train effect was the most enhanced. You ever hit 27.5 MPH on a mountain bike? It gets a little scary at that speed. And just in case you are wondering, this time I did feel the additional weight going uphill.
In conclusion, exercising by riding a bicycle while doing something practical is possible. Ms. Adventure was right (credit needs to be given where it's due), I would have probably broken my neck if I had gone out with a fully loaded trailer my first time out with it. I need to continue with the incremental weight increases on the trailer until I can ride comfortably with a fully loaded trailer. Last but not least, I feel that carrying the 5-gallon bottle on a bike with a trailer is far more practical and efficient than if I was to carry that same bottle and cover the same distance walking. The best part, my truck stayed tucked away on my driveway, not burning fuel.
Be Safe and Be Green!