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  1. #1
    rhm
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    a little experiment in multi-modality

    I had been wanting a trailer so I could tow my 17' canoe behind the bike. For a while I was thinking I'd have something custom built, but then I found an old steel Gerry baby jogger in a dumpster. It had two 16 wheels and one 12.5" wheel, and it folds up. The plastic and nylon bits were all ruined, so I discarded them, and removed the front wheel, leaving me with a folding frame with two 16" wheels. This, it turns out, can be inserted into the cockpit of a kayak or strapped to the front seat of the canoe....

    So yesterday I finally got around to something I'd been meaning to try for a while.

    I attached the canoe and two paddles to the former stroller, connected the other end of the canoe to the seat of my Downtube Mini with a strong chain, and packed a lunch in my rack trunk.

    I did not invite my wife on this expedition, because her bike --an old lady's bike with 26" wheels-- will not fit into the canoe. My son's bike is too big as well, and anyway, he was up to his ears in the new Harry Potter book, and didn't want to come. My daughter, however, is still on 16" wheels... so we headed out on our bikes. We rode about 5 miles to Carman River, which is a creek that turns into an estuary flowing into the Great South Bay of Long Island. The ride was uneventful, but we took it slow, typical cruising speed about 9 mph. The last hundred yards were off-road, and we had to walk the bikes separately from the canoe; but no problem. I folded up the Mini and the trailer, and stuck them, and my daughter's bike, into the canoe; we switched our helmets for sun hats; and off we went. We paddled down the creek and into the bay and kept going all the way to a marina where we pulled out, unfolded the bike and trailer, and rode home. We saw herons, egrets, geese, ducks, a turtle, some fish... nothing really thrilling, but it was nice to be out on the water, and especially nice to be able to put in at one place and pull out at a different one without worrying about the logistics of getting back to the car.

    Total time elapsed, somewhere around three hours. About 7 miles on bicycles, about 6 miles in the canoe.

    The jogging stroller is not quite ideal for this purpose. Its wheel base is a bit too narrow, so it can tip over on uneven ground (though this did not happen yesterday); and since the wheels were far to the back end of the canoe, it put a lot of weight on the seat. It would be better to put the wheels a little closer to the center of the canoe, but that too would have its drawbacks. I had to accelerate slowly due to the Mini's natural tendency to pop a wheelie, which is exaggerated by the weight of the trailer mounted to the seat. At one point, going up a sudden incline, the end of the canoe scraped the pavement for a second. All in all, though, this was a success; and maybe after a little tweaking, I think I'll try it again.
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  2. #2
    Life in Mono
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    Fantastic project ! - and what GREAT scenary on the Carman river - thanks for posting - makes me want to get out of the smoke !

  3. #3
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    That's a spectacular trip with the Mini! Lovely activity to do with your daughter! Congrats, too, on your creativity with the trailer and adapting it to good use.

    The pictures should be on the Downtube website!

  4. #4
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    I like this story and the pictures for so many reasons... Kudos for such an audacious success!

    Now all you need is some wings...


  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Very interesting. How was braking, and on a related note how hilly was the route you took?

  6. #6
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Amazing. You could have compromized with an inflatable raft, but went for the full deal. Nice!

  7. #7
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by larryfeltonj View Post
    Very interesting. How was braking, and on a related note how hilly was the route you took?
    At 10 mph, braking was fine, but if you brake suddenly, you feel a canoe pushing you... which is not real pleasant.

    The hills on Long Island tend to be on the north shore. On the route we took, changes in elevation were maybe ten feet elevation maximum, sometimes pretty sudden, usually very gradual.

  8. #8
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Great idea. I think after some of my canoing experiences I'd have been worried I might lose the bikes overboard. Very original idea though and all self propelled. Well done.

  9. #9
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    Good post.

    It reminds me of what these two men did on a Bike Friday Tandam several years ago.


    http://www.bikeforest.com/canoe/index.php

  10. #10
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    Quite the little master plan you've hatched there.

    Sounds like your family needs a few more 16" folders.

    Did your daughter have fun, or did she feel like she was humoring her crazy old man? Just curious!

  11. #11
    Cries on hills supton's Avatar
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    I think you should have used one of those A Bikes, or some other bike with even smaller wheels! Way cool idea; well done.
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  12. #12
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supton View Post
    I think you should have used one of those A Bikes, or some other bike with even smaller wheels!
    Those small wheels on the A-bike would not have worked on the trails, though...

  13. #13
    rhm
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    Thanks, guys, for all your words of encouragement &c.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
    Sounds like your family needs a few more 16" folders.
    That's crossed my mind! I actually do have more -- a Strida, and one of those Kent cheapies, which is still in NJ. Maybe I'll bring it out to LI next summer....

    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
    Did your daughter have fun, or did she feel like she was humoring her crazy old man? Just curious!
    She did, actually. I was all set to do the thing by myself, so it was entirely her decision whether to join me or not. It was her first experience paddling a canoe, and we stopped at a beach so she could go swimming for a while, so it wasn't too boring for her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Supton
    I think you should have used one of those A Bikes, or some other bike with even smaller wheels!
    Hey, great idea! Send me one, and I'll give it a go.

  14. #14
    Cries on hills supton's Avatar
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    I meant it as a joke--I thought the first pic looked somewhat comical, such a small tow vehicle for such a large boat. Ergo, something with even smaller wheels, for more effect. It wasn't meant as an attack.
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  15. #15
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by supton View Post
    I meant it as a joke
    Oh, I knew that, sorry! I must learn to make my meaning clear with one of these, or, better yet, a toast. Cheers!

  16. #16
    Cries on hills supton's Avatar
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    Not a prob, wasn't sure if I communicated clearly that it was joke myself.
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  17. #17
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    After the shuddering demise of the fossil-fuel age maybe we'll all get a chance to do travels as you and your daughter did. Maybe multi-modal transportation, without having to dodge a million cars, will be even more fun and peaceful than it already is.

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