Posts tagged ‘bikamping’
It’s that time of year again … festive lights, festive bikes, winter riding, wishlists, and all of the riding that goes along with the holiday agenda – from the baking to the shopping to the shipping. And there is no other bike that can get it all done-with-fun like an Xtracycle.
There has been a lot of chatter in recent months about the growing selection of cargo bikes on the market. And kind of like the great Pillsbury Bake-Off, the cargo bike discussion seems to be taking on elements of a “Hauls(bury)Bike-Off”. From Xtracycles to bucket bikes to bakfeits to beer-on-tap bikes, it’s a great discussion to be having … for in my opinion, any bicycle that enables someone to substitute bike for car is a wonderful thing – and nothing does that better than a cargo bike.
However, if we ever get down to casting votes, I cast mine without hesitation for Xtracycle. If I could only own one bike, it would be my Xtracycle. No question, no debate. It is my favorite bike above all others, and the one I could not do without. And as I’ve looked at and contemplated some of the other contenders, I’ve been able to reach a few conclusions about why Xtracycle rules the cargo bike contest….
- No other cargo bike can accomodate irregularly-shaped loads as easily as an Xtracycle. You want to haul a Christmas tree, a kayak, a weed-eater, a vacuum cleaner or another bicycle? On an Xtracycle, it’s a piece of cake. We’ve hauled them all; easy to load in a variety of ways, easy to secure, easy to ride with. Even for a silly old lady like myself.
- I like the fact that my cargo sits behind me. Other cargo bike enthusiasts might like that Christmas tree or preschooler directly in front of them, but I like to have an unobstructed and distraction-less view of what’s ahead, thanks.
- You won’t out-grow an Xtraycle. While kid-hauling bikes like the Taga or the Feetz might be a fun way to carry your pre-schoolers, I can’t help think this is a short-lived use of a pricey bike. Kids grow – quickly. Why not carry your pre-cyclists on a PeaPod (or two) on the back of an Xtracycle for that short period of time? In the end, you’ll continue to love and use an Xtracycle for countless things, rather than being stuck with a limited-use stroller-bike after a few short years.
- If I need to take my Xtracycle somewhere else (out of state, or beyond timely riding distance) I can carry my Xtracycle on my vehicle. Using an extended rail on our Thule roof rack, we’ve transported our Xtracycles out of state for vacations and other weekend cycling trips. I can’t see putting a Madsen or a Bakfeit or a Feetz on top of my car nearly as easily, if at all.
- Affordability. The ability to convert an existing bike (from road to commuter to mountain or whatever you might already own) to an Xtracycle requires minimal investment when compared to buying an entire dedicated cargo bike. And of course, if you’ve got some spare cash, the Xtracycle Radish or Big Dummy are beautiful, quality builds and very competitively priced – and the folks at Xtracycle are among the friendliest, most generous and helpful bike people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. (And they’re not paying me to say this. 😉
- But the biggest reason of all to own an Xtracycle … it is beautiful bike just to ride. Even when I don’t have to haul anything, I love being out on my X. It’s a beautiful ride – on the back roads or in traffic, in town or on the bike path. I don’t have to make a conscious decision when I head out – like, “do I need to take the big bucket bike, or utility trailer today?” I ride my Xtracycle like other folks ride a road bike or a commuter – and if I get a phone call along the way telling me we’re out of orange juice at home, I always have the easy ability to stop and pick some up. I just can’t imagine that I would ever do the same amount of non-cargo everyday riding on bucket bike or bakfeit.
If I were Santa, I would bring everyone an Xtracycle … But in the meantime, I’ve combed through my pile of Xtracycle photos from the past few years to give you idea of the fun that you, too, could be having on the best cargo bike EVER. Put one on your wish-list … because you never know what Santa has in his bag 😉
Happy Haulidays* and Happy Pedaling!
(*Thanks to my friend Rick for letting me borrow his clever homonym (haulidays) :-D)
Day 61: Left on Friday for a 3-day bike camping trip, this time heading toward the Tennessee River and Harrison Bay – and a few points beyond. (Full set of photos on my Flickr page.)
The weather forecast was a little sketchy; scattered showers throughout the weekend. We decided to camp at Harrison Bay State Park, roughly 27 miles from home – figuring that if it did start raining, we wouldn’t be stuck slogging through bad weather for hours on end.
Fortunately, the weather cooperated and we had a dry ride all the way to the park. Quiet roads, nice scenery, especially when we approached the river. Managed to get a campsite along one of the inlets, and had our gear set up and stashed away under a tarp before the rain started. We headed over to the park’s marina to get some lunch, and while we were there, it started pouring.
Spent the afternoon dodging intermittent showers … had a swim, some leisurely time reading in the hammock, a little more riding around within the park. After dinner we found a nice spot with a swing across from the marina – lovely views of the water, the boats, waterfowl, people fishing. More rain finally sent us into the tent for the rest of the evening – reading by camplight, and sleep.
Day 62: Woke up to mist over the water, grey skies. Beautiful in its own way. By late morning, the sky began to clear and we decided to make our way down to the Chattanooga Riverwalk/Riverpark.
Parts of this ride were lovely, and other parts were pretty nasty – especially the 6-lane commercial stretch of Hwy 58 as we approached the Riverpark. Blech. The weather was really hot, and the humidity was smothering after all of the rain. Despite the heat, riding along the river offered some great views.
Just as we arrived at the Riverwalk, it started to rain – again. Fortunately just a quick shower. We followed the Riverwalk toward downtown Chattanooga, and stopped for a great lunch – alfresco – at The Boathouse along the river. Sat and enjoyed the shaded canopy and the breeze coming off of the river, lingering over our late lunch for as long as we could. Finally decided to start heading back.
Returned to the campground for a late afternoon swim. The weather had finally decided to clear up, and the evening was lovely. We had a campfire and stayed out under the stars ’till nearly midnight.
Day 63: Woke again to grey skies and the threat of rain. Packed up early and decided to head out for home. Passed through a few very light showers along the way, but nothing terrible. Humidity was pretty ridiculous, though.
Although it was nice to get home, cool off, clean up … I still wish it wasn’t over. I love these bike adventures, no matter how brief. Even in somewhat familiar territory, going by bike always manges to offer a new perspective – new things to see, roads to ride on. Rain and all, it was wonderful. Just makes me want to take a bigger adventure. One of these days……
So I guess today officially counts as #30daysofbiking (times) 2 … Day 60!
Only a very brief ride today. No paddling, no long road ride, no trip to town – just a quick spin on the Xtracycle and a day of digging out camping gear and packing up for a weekend bikamping trip. Hoping the weather will cooperate; scattered showers in the forecast. Fingers crossed.
Mark and I are heading down along the Tennessee River – Harrison Bay and surrounding places. Should be fun – and not a difficult trip home if the weather becomes too wet. Taking camera(s) – of course – and looking forward to a few days of new scenery, new things to see. I will not have a computer or way to post, although considering trying mobile WordPress on the iPhone. Maybe. More likely, my updates for days 61 through 63 will show up by Monday.
Now just trying to figure out appropriate sacrifice to the weather gods ….. (see you in a few!) 😀
Last weekend, Mark, Dillon and I headed back to Virginia to spend Labor Day weekend riding and camping in New River Trail State Park. The park is a 57-mile linear stretch running along the New River, with a packed cinder trail created on an old railroad right-of-way – part of the national Rails-to-Trails system. The New River itself runs south to north, and the bike path has many trestle crossings and two wonderful tunnels.
We decided to ride from north to south, and made plans to camp at the primitive Cliffview camground at the southern end of the park. After some a little difficulty finding the northern trailhead and parking just outside of Pulaski (Xaloy?) we got the bikes packed up and headed out – Dillon on my mountain bike (fitted with rear rack and panniers), Mark on the Big Dummy, and I was on my trusty Long Haul Trucker.
The trail runs alongside the river nearly the entire way, with an almost undetectable 1% uphill grade (average) running north to south. The upper half of the trail – Foster Falls being relatively the mid-point – offers nice views of a fairly wide and shallow river, with spacious lawns and farms along the banks. For the most part, the riding is shaded, running through the woods along the banks.
Foster Falls is probably the most developed area along the trail – with a river outfitter, picnic areas, day-use parking as well as another primitive campground. We stopped here, intending to find someplace to eat lunch, and were told by the park attendant that a country store was “just up the road”.
*Note to self for future reference: when kindly lady says something is “just up the road”, chances are it’s a pretty significant detour by bicycle, unlike via her Buick!”
We headed off-trail in search of the country store, and after some searching and backtracking, we managed to find it. We stopped for a sandwich and some snacks, and ended up rejoining the trail near Austinville – only adding an additional 4-5 miles to our journey.
Let me just say this … an average 1% uphill grade may seem fairly imperceptible for a long while – but after about 50 miles, your legs will tell you that you’ve been doing some work. Nearing the end, I think we were just all anxious to see sight of the campground, as we were all ready to be out of the saddle for a while. Thankfully, Cliffview campground is a few miles before the actual endpoint of the trail (53 miles on Mark’s odometer) – and it arrived none too soon! Felt so good to park the bikes, unload and take a rest in the hammock.
We spent a restful evening at camp, had a some dinner, and hit the sleeping bags a little early. Sadly, the campground has no shower facilities – which would have been greatly appreciated. But it was quiet and comfortable, Dillon sleeping in the backpacking hammock/tarp, and Mark and I in our little tent.
Sunday morning we ate some breakfast and broke camp to head back down the trail – welcoming the fact that we would have the downhill grade this time. Although we could definitely feel the difference in our legs, it definitely didn’t feel like a downhill coast – we were continually pedalling.
One thing to note about the trail, in general, is the fact that it is multi-use for cyclists, hikers and horses … with cyclists and hikers yielding to the horses. Sharing the trail isn’t too bad. My bigger complaint would have to be the divots in the trail surface created by the horse hooves. It made for some bumpy riding in places where the trail surface was slightly soft.
Once again we decided to make our lunch stop near Foster Falls – this time in the picnic area with food we had on hand, rather than venturing off-trail again. We enjoyed a nice lunch, checked out the rafting/bicycle rental outfitter, and pondered the darkening skies. It looked like rain was on the horizon.
At one point (near Allisonia?), we were making one of the few road crossings, when a truck pulled up near us and the driver said he really would like for us to stop so that he could check out our Xtracycles. We were happy to oblige. It was kind of amusing – he was so excited “to finally get to see an Xtracycle – in person!” He and his wife and another couple were doing the same weekend bikamping – but on some pretty spiffy tandem bikes. We enjoyed talking to him, and hopefully left him with a very favorable impression of the Xtracycles.
Just after we left them, we started to feel the first drops of rain. After the last rainy trip on the Creeper Trail, I decided to immediately put on my rain jacket. Mark and Dillon decided to forego theirs. A mile or two later, the downpour started. By that time, there was nothing to do but count down the miles until we reached the car.
Although I didn’t mind riding in the rain (I was pretty dry and toasty with my jacket on), Mark and Dillon decided to speed on ahead of me, as they were getting pretty soaked. By that point, it didn’t make much sense for them to even put their raingear on – once you’re wet, you’re wet. I just rode on at my own pace, and eventually we all made it back to the parking lot and the car. Loading the wet gear and grit-covered bikes was the least fun part of the whole adventure, once again.
In the end: three bikes, two days, one night of camping, and somewhere over 100 miles of fun. I highly recommend New River Trail – a lovely ride, regardless what section(s) you choose to ride on, lightly travelled, and great for families.
Complete set of trip photos are up on my Flickr page, here.
Until next time…