July 20, 2009

How I Hauled My Bike and Gear Across 23 States This Month

The Suburban with the Stowaway2 on the back.

The Suburban with the Stowaway2 on the back.

Many of you know I was out for three weeks on a cross country trip our family dubbed The Epic Journey. I still have some posts to get up about riding in different states across and back, but I’ve had a bunch of folks ask about traveling with a bike, and wondering how and where the bike was, because they never saw it in the photos we posted. So for everyone who was curious, here’s what I took, and how I took it with me.

In the photo above you can see our Suburban with a large StowAway2 box on the back that our kids lovingly dubbed “the fanny pack.” There were six of us on the trip – 2 adults, 4 kids, (two teenage girls and two younger boys) and each of us were allowed ONE duffel bag, one toiletry bag, and a “carry on bag” of sorts…something you basically kept with you in your seat. In addition, we had some general bags of medical/health stuff, snacks, and pillows and blankets for everyone…all of which filled out the cargo space behind the third row with just enough room to see safely out the back window. We picked up the Stowaway to be able to haul anything additional, which ended up being some auto gear, an additional car seat for our youngest, and then all my bike stuff.

The "fanny pack" with bag of bike gear, additional car seat, assorted big gear, a folded Bike Friday, and some stuff for the Suburban.

The "fanny pack" with bag of bike gear, additional car seat, assorted big gear, a folded Bike Friday, and some stuff for the Suburban.

I considered just throwing a rack on top, and putting one of the bikes up on top, but I didn’t want to be concerned with weather for 22 days, or theft or vandalism everytime we were in a new city, or even forget that I had it up on top and shave it off at some parking garage. The fanny pack seemed like an easier, fairly secure method of being able to take something with me, and it proved to be perfect for our trip.

The Stowaway model we selected had 16 cubic feet of storage, which fit everything you see easily, and could have taken more if I needed to get creative with packing. The swing-away arm allows the entire box to move out of the way of the rear-access to the Suburban with a quick release and lock down mechanism that keep it securely attached during normal operation. It was easy enough for anyone to use, and we got in and out of the back of the Suburban multiple times a day.

For anyone who hasn’t read a previous post about the bike, or seen it folded up, the Bike Friday packs up nicely into a bag that’s not much bigger than a suitcase. Having it ready to go in the fanny pack was much easier than if I’d had it tucked in with all our stuff in the Suburban. Plus, there wouldn’t have been enough room with all our other stuff.

The Bike Friday, folded up in it's carrying case.

The Bike Friday, folded up in it's carrying case.

Folded up, and out of the case.

Folded up, and out of the case.

I carried one bag that had 2 jerseys, 1 pair of shorts, 1 bibshorts, 1 pair of gloves, 3 layers (1 long sleeve, 2 short sleeve,) 3 pairs of socks, 1 pair of shoes, 1 lightweight jacket, 1 rain jacket, 1 front light, 1 blinky light. When I got on the road I realized I had forgotten a pump of any kind! I rode without a pump for the first couple times and finally picked up a full sized pump in Tucson, a spare tube for the BF, and some CO2 and a attachment. Fortunately for me, no problems with flats before then, and nothing afterwards either.

The Bike Friday Sport, assembled and ready for a ride outside of our hotel.

The Bike Friday Sport, assembled and ready for a ride outside of our hotel.

Overall, I really liked having the BF with me as a riding option. It allowed me to keep my legs spinning on a three week trip, rather than return cold after all that time. It was a decent replacement for my normal road bikes, and the bigger tires made it easy to get off of pavement and take a path or gravel road here and there. Halfway through the trip I started picking up some ghost shifting issue that I never really resolved. I tried a few tweaks, but I think I’m just going to let the fellas at Bike Friday give it a look over. Will the BF replace any of my day to day riders? Probably not. Will I take it with me on future camping or vacation trips? Without a doubt, it’s perfect for that.

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