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Old 09-04-12, 02:58 PM   #1
BeSelfPropelled
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Panniers or Trailer?

I'm planning a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway from VA to NC, about 540 miles and my plan is to camp along the way. In May I did the 340 mile Great Allegheny Passage to the C&O Trail from Pittsburgh to DC Ride (videos) and used rear panniers only and stayed at Hostels, Camping Cabins, one night at a hotel and even one night at a bike shop in Hancock, MD:

I know that the weight distribution on the bike wasn't the greatest but I didn't carry a tent or cooking supplies so the weight was very reasonable. I coverted my Schwinn Home grown hard tail to be more of a rail trail crusier:

My road bike is a Torelli without a single braze on to mount anything and it is the bike I intend to use on the Blue Ridge Parkway ride.

After doing some research I found that I can get a front rack that will mount on these bikes but they are not optimal typically being low rider racks. My other option would be to get a BOB trailer and tow everything. I'm pretty sure that my wife would murder me if I suggested getting another bike (I have 6 now) so investing in a touring bike isn't an option. The cons I see of the BOB trailer are weight and the ability to carry the bike if I need to which I did on the C&O Trail. There were stairs in a few places and one set withont a bike rail.

Your experiences and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks - Johnny P - Be Self Propelled
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Old 09-04-12, 04:34 PM   #2
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I like My Carry Freedom City trailer .. it folds flat and tows by a hitch under the QR. I use it with My Brompton.. both fold..

big sling bag , will carry on your back, snap, buckle, off the bike, like a messenger bag.

Terms changed so US Importer did not re order from Scottish company,
but they will sell direct from the UK.
you can shoulder, the bike, and tow the 2 wheel trailer up stairs
if needed.

BoB trailers are popular for road bike tourists..
lots come thru here on the OR coast.

and the Xtrawheel... another 1 wheel trailer
uses a 2nd front wheel, same as your bike, if you wish,
to carry 2 rear panniers on It.

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-04-12 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 09-04-12, 04:53 PM   #3
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Panniers. Trailers suck, especially on downhills, they mess up the handling.

What's wrong with low riders? Those are better.

You can get racks that attach to bikes w/o formal rack attachments.

Example: Tubus Fly with a quick release adapter. I think Delta and Old Man Mountain have options too.

Talk to Wayne at www.thetouringstore.com he'll help you figure it out and sell you good racks at reasonable prices.
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Old 09-04-12, 05:04 PM   #4
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You do have that Beam rack already on another bike ..
use it and front panniers, for the heavier stuff,
and you are good to go..

trip aint that far..

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-05-12 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 09-04-12, 05:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BeSelfPropelled View Post
I'm planning a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway from VA to NC, about 540 miles and my plan is to camp along the way. In May I did the 340 mile Great Allegheny Passage to the C&O Trail from Pittsburgh to DC Ride (videos) and used rear panniers only and stayed at Hostels, Camping Cabins, one night at a hotel and even one night at a bike shop in Hancock, MD:

I know that the weight distribution on the bike wasn't the greatest but I didn't carry a tent or cooking supplies so the weight was very reasonable. I coverted my Schwinn Home grown hard tail to be more of a rail trail crusier:

My road bike is a Torelli without a single braze on to mount anything and it is the bike I intend to use on the Blue Ridge Parkway ride.

After doing some research I found that I can get a front rack that will mount on these bikes but they are not optimal typically being low rider racks. My other option would be to get a BOB trailer and tow everything. I'm pretty sure that my wife would murder me if I suggested getting another bike (I have 6 now) so investing in a touring bike isn't an option. The cons I see of the BOB trailer are weight and the ability to carry the bike if I need to which I did on the C&O Trail. There were stairs in a few places and one set withont a bike rail.

Your experiences and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks - Johnny P - Be Self Propelled
Is there a reason why you need a trailer?

Adding a tent, cooking set, sleeping bag plus thermarest won't take much space right.
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Old 09-04-12, 06:13 PM   #6
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I did the *** with a trailer. Since it is flat I never really felt it at all. I gave up on the trailer after I rode the dirt backroads of West Virginia. The hills were really steep with loose rocks. I felt the trailers weight the entire time. Now the BRP is smooth BUT is just as steep. I would go with panniers and pack lightly. A trailer with 2 wheels is easier on the downhills, more stability. That's what I use to use.

I was planning on this trip this fall but a friends sickness has put a hold on my adventure. Might still go.
I did a lot of research on the route and was stunned buy the climbing. Some very serious hills. Sometimes the downhills are worse than the ups when fog shrouds the area. Fill up on water whenever you can, when leaving the parkway to refill be ready for steep returns. You can take a train to Greenville SC, bike(1 day) to the BRP and bike back home. Enjoy
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Old 09-04-12, 06:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Panniers. Trailers suck, especially on downhills, they mess up the handling.

What's wrong with low riders? Those are better.

You can get racks that attach to bikes w/o formal rack attachments.

Example: Tubus Fly with a quick release adapter. I think Delta and Old Man Mountain have options too.

Talk to Wayne at www.thetouringstore.com he'll help you figure it out and sell you good racks at reasonable prices.
+1 on The Touring Store Wayne was a huge help when I was setting up our Truckers.
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Old 09-05-12, 07:29 AM   #8
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That is a tough choice because your Torelli frame is not designed for touring so the stays are probably too short and the frame not designed for carrying loads. The short stays mean that you might very well be kicking the rear panniers when pedaling. Even if you can find a way to mount panniers front and rear, the frame is likely to be noodly -- particularly if you don't balance the weight well front and rear. I HAVE a touring bike but was rudely surprised by how poorly it handled when loaded just using the rear rack and panniers.

I would be inclined to try the trailer route rather than adapting a frame not designed for carrying loads. Do you know anyone who would let you try out a BOB trailer to see how the bike handles? I have read reports from many cyclists who have toured successfully on non-touring bikes using BOB trailers. You obviously won't be able to ride as fast and carefree as unloaded, but that would be true with a touring bike as well.
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Old 09-05-12, 10:25 AM   #9
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After having tried panniers on my MTB-> tourer I am going more the trailer plus front panniers route because I just hate kicking my heels into panniers. I have tried mounting them further back, but then the handling is all screwy in front and the bags flap around a lot more. I got the idea for a BoB type trailer and front panniers from the Three Wheel Journey guy (he has a blogspot blog that will come up if you search for Three Wheel Journey) and so I am giving that a shot. I got a trailer from CL and I am looking at putting some lowriders or similar on my front forks. So far, pulling the trailer with a dummy load seems to be working well for me. I have pulled both two wheel trailers with a curving arm and now this BoB, and I will say that the two wheeler trailers mess up my handling more and plop back and forth on me a lot more.

I think, like saddle choice, it's really a matter of personal prefence and fit. If I didn't have size 13 feet I'd probably be keener on the idea of rear panniers.
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Old 09-05-12, 10:44 AM   #10
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That is a tough choice because your Torelli frame is not designed for touring so the stays are probably too short and the frame not designed for carrying loads. The short stays mean that you might very well be kicking the rear panniers when pedaling. Even if you can find a way to mount panniers front and rear, the frame is likely to be noodly -- particularly if you don't balance the weight well front and rear. I HAVE a touring bike but was rudely surprised by how poorly it handled when loaded just using the rear rack and panniers.
I will comment that a stiff road bike with short stays may just be less noodly than some touring bikes because of the short stays. My 1900-ish vintage Cannondale crit bike is very stiff and I happily did the southern tier from Sandiego to Sarasota on it albeit with a light load.

BTW, I have found mounting a rack with P clamps to work well if you keep the load light and maybe even if you don't.

Whether that will all work well for the OP will depend on a lot of factors including how much they carry.
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Old 09-05-12, 10:47 AM   #11
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I'm curious where you had to carry your bike on the C&O.

Anyway, my personal preference is a BOB trailer. Front panniers can help with weight distribution and give you some more space.
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Old 09-05-12, 11:16 AM   #12
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I now have a couple trailers , for the utility at home..

when I saw I could use my folded up Brompton, sitting on top of the
CF-C trailer I had to get one , with visions of taking it in places I had to Bypass
on previous trips when the security of places with parking attendants
denied any courtesy of, let alone,taking responsibility for,
keeping an eye on my loaded bikes gear while I went inside..
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Old 09-05-12, 01:37 PM   #13
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That is a tough choice because your Torelli frame is not designed for touring so the stays are probably too short and the frame not designed for carrying loads. The short stays mean that you might very well be kicking the rear panniers when pedaling. Even if you can find a way to mount panniers front and rear, the frame is likely to be noodly -- particularly if you don't balance the weight well front and rear. I HAVE a touring bike but was rudely surprised by how poorly it handled when loaded just using the rear rack and panniers.

I would be inclined to try the trailer route rather than adapting a frame not designed for carrying loads. Do you know anyone who would let you try out a BOB trailer to see how the bike handles? I have read reports from many cyclists who have toured successfully on non-touring bikes using BOB trailers. You obviously won't be able to ride as fast and carefree as unloaded, but that would be true with a touring bike as well.
The length of the stays make no difference in terms of handling as long as the loads are kept low near the center axle of the rear wheel, except your heels will kick panniers. The only issue with a road bike is its dynamic load bearing characteristics (how well it can dampen torsional vibration caused by side by side movement of panniers) and the dynamic load bearing characteristics of the rack. The only few rack makers that publish dynamic load capacity is Old Man Mountain. Other rack makers; well I take them with a grain of salt. Also keep in mind that a $150 OMM Sherpa rack is not only lighter than a $40 Axiom Streamliner DLX axle mount but a heck of lot stiffer too. Mine survived and protected the rear wheel from being tacoed after being ran over by a heavy 18 wheeler truck when my then full suspension touring off-road bike came off my friend's rack and got turned in pretzels!

The problem with the handling issues is actually not with the bike, but rather with the rider! So your touring bike is not to blame. The reason handling issues became apparent when loaded is due to side to side movement of your heavy panniers that resonates through the frame. What causes these side to side movements? Everyone pedals the bike with some sort of side to side movement. But for experienced riders like those in the Tour De France with a smooth pedalling motion, this side to side movement of the bike is dramatically lessened.

There are 2 things a hard linkage trailer will expose you to.

1, Your pedalling motions aren't circular and smooth.
2, Your lower core is weak (namely the Traversus Abdominus) and thus you have excessive side to side pelvic motion which causes hips to move inwards your bike during the down pedal stroke, causing excessive side to side motion. Best is when your hip and entire leg move down in a straight line like a piston engine.

With #1, you will feel a tugging motion when you are towing a trailer. In fact, any trailer you tow will do this (forward and brake motion). This is due to dead spots during your pedal stroke. It's actually a good thing because the trailer forces you to pedal smoothly with consistent power input. It's bad when you tour when the trailer keep kicking in the rear every time you pedal poorly.

With #2, you will feel a fishtailing effect at a much much more grandeur scale, because the side of the road or highway is not flat, it's curved either camber or canter depending which country you bike in (Australia or North America). A hard linkage trailer, like the BOB Yak or Nomad, will pull the bike towards to curve edge of the highway due to gravity. If you have excessive side to side pedaling motion however, this will exacerbate the fish tailing effect. It's apparent especially on the downhill portion as you need to use your strong lower core and hips to stabilize the torsional forces being acted upon the frame of your bike by the trailer by clamping both legs on the top tube.

I can tell if a rider is strong and experienced by the experience of them towing a trailer. If they have a good experience, that means the rider's pedal motion is smooth and he or she has a good core base. People who have a poor experience with a trailer don't. I own both a 2 wheel Burley trailer as well as a single Maya Cycle trailer and have no problems with handling at all at high speeds going downhill.

I just like to warn the OP before he gets into trailers as there are certain issues, positive ones, that he needs to be made aware of.

I love trailers much better than 4 panniers with a rack setup. I can attack hills standing up with less interference from the heavy panniers as long as I keep my core engaged and cycling form smooth.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 09-05-12 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 09-05-12, 02:07 PM   #14
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So you have 6 bikes? You only showed us 2. What are the other 4? If 6 is your magic number, I'd sell one & buy a touring bike. Keeps you at the same number. Tell your wife it was either that or buy a trailer.
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Old 09-05-12, 08:13 PM   #15
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You will need some low gears to pull a trailer or a loaded bike up some of the climbs on the BRP. It is not flat like the GAP and C&O
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Old 09-06-12, 05:01 PM   #16
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I wanted to thank everyone for all of the detailed advice. I really appreciate it! You helped me to clarify what my trade-offs are and like most questions there are multiple options and personal preferences. I've decided, for the short term, that I would go with a rack and front paniers and use my converted mountain bike on the parkway. I can always get a trailer if I decide to do really long rides but the paniers give me options for the future. Putting cargo capability on the Torelli just felt wrong. It's like towing a trailer and putting roof racks on a sports car. You can do it but you just shouldn't. The mountain bike is geared well for lots of climbing and the urban tires allow it to handle well on the road. The top end gearing is limited but I don't expect that to be much of a problem on the parkway where the terrain is constantly rolling. If I beat up the bike a bit I won't be heart broken like I would with the Torelli. I called Wayne at http://www.thetouringstore.com/ and left a voice message. Finding someone who is knowledgable and willing to talk to you is awesome. Thanks for the recommendation. Chicken Man asked what my other 4 bikes are. I have a Schwinn Home Grown 4 Banger MTB that I call Bad Betty. Bad Betty provides a level of confidence off road that can really get you in trouble. I broke 2 bike helmets in Moab on that bike and tore my ACL in Winter Park, CO when my cleats iced onto my pedals. I have a vintage 12 speed Trek 400 that I used for commuting. I work from home now so I'm thinking about converting it to a fixie just for fun. I have a Santana Tandem that I ride with my wife and last but not least a Dyno Roadster which is a beach crusier with the wheel base of a tandem. It is not the least bit practical with a single speed and coaster brakes but I can't help but smile when I ride it. These are photos of Bad Betty, the Trek 400 and my son riding the Dyno (click to enlarge the photos):

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Old 09-09-12, 02:50 AM   #17
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Hi i ride a Tonaro Bighit E/Bike and i too could not make my mind up as what to use ,panniers or trailer so as to take all my camping gear on a 4 day trip and after much thought i bought both ,heres a short holiday vid showing my set up iknow i used a E/Bike but i have to say the trailer was brilliant and really good to pull and would hold max weight 30kg which was plenty for my tent, cooking and most of every thing else i would require , heres the clip http://youtu.be/TOlmvCK71o0
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Old 09-09-12, 06:58 AM   #18
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The reason handling issues became apparent when loaded is due to side to side movement of your heavy panniers that resonates through the frame. What causes these side to side movements? Everyone pedals the bike with some sort of side to side movement. But for experienced riders like those in the Tour De France with a smooth pedalling motion, this side to side movement of the bike is dramatically lessened.
Sorry, not always true. I commonly experienced a "death shimmy" on downhills w/ my LHT, no pedaling involved. Granted, I'm a clyde and was carrying ~45lbs of gear, but still.
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Old 09-09-12, 09:09 AM   #19
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Sorry, not always true. I commonly experienced a "death shimmy" on downhills w/ my LHT, no pedaling involved. Granted, I'm a clyde and was carrying ~45lbs of gear, but still.
This is called front end shimming or front end speed wobble and is induced by the front wheel gyroscopic forces which is obviously speed dependent -- going dowhill will do that. This is different from what I was discussing earlier. This is due frame geometry -- longer larger frame with a higher saddle height will be more noticeable than say a smaller frame and low saddle height. What most people do not realize is that the death shimmy is actually attributed mainly to the death grip that people cling too hard to the handlebars going downhill that your shivering action due to the colder air if you are coming down from the mountain pass almost equates to the harmonics of the front end shimmy thus exarcebating the problem. Which is why it is known as the death shimmy. The only fix is to loosen your grip and relax your hands on the bars and steer accordingly. This will reduce or eliminate the shimmy. Others have suggested replacing the headset with a Stronglight A9 and some others have suggested front fat tire with lower tire pressure to slow down the steering.
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Old 09-09-12, 02:15 PM   #20
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What most people do not realize is that the death shimmy is actually attributed mainly to the death grip that people cling too hard to the handlebars going downhill that your shivering action due to the colder air if you are coming down from the mountain pass almost equates to the harmonics of the front end shimmy thus exarcebating the problem. Which is why it is known as the death shimmy. The only fix is to loosen your grip and relax your hands on the bars and steer accordingly. This will reduce or eliminate the shimmy. Others have suggested replacing the headset with a Stronglight A9 and some others have suggested front fat tire with lower tire pressure to slow down the steering.
A pilot friend of mine refers to it as a PIO (pilot induced oscillation).
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Old 01-24-15, 09:23 AM   #21
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You will need some low gears to pull a trailer or a loaded bike up some of the climbs on the BRP. It is not flat like the GAP and C&O
Amen to that.... I have ridden both and the hills on the BRP will drive even the toughest cyclist into church. I personally converted to four different religions climbing and decending them.
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Old 01-24-15, 09:37 AM   #22
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Extra Wheel

Has anybody used, or even seen, an ExtraWheel? The concept is intriguing to me and the slightly smaller maximum weight (compared to a BOB) is not a problem. I am wondering if the shorter wheelbase and having all wheels spinning at the same spread might improve handling. I have never actually seen one and don't where I can go to look at one.
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Old 01-24-15, 10:08 AM   #23
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Has anybody used, or even seen, an ExtraWheel? The concept is intriguing to me and the slightly smaller maximum weight (compared to a BOB) is not a problem. I am wondering if the shorter wheelbase and having all wheels spinning at the same spread might improve handling. I have never actually seen one and don't where I can go to look at one.
Yeah I use one, but i'm here in Australia so not much help to you.
Its a great unit and its purpose for me is off road touring.
One tip I can offer you is if you have fenders, the stays need to be high to allow the trailer to articulate up and down accounting for the terrain.
I had to move the position of my Gilles Berthoud fender stays for this reason.

For tarmac duty, I recommend like Fletsbob, a Carryfreedom Y-frame trailer and my tip for those is to carry anything heavy (water) down low.

You can see in the pic the original stay position of my fenders and how they limited the up/down travel of my Extrawheel trailer.
Once I moved the stays the improvement was around 13 inches of articulation, shown in the second pic.





What the second pic doesn't show due to compression issues is that all the wheels including the trailer are the same size as are the tires.
The trailer is sitting on a supermarket shopping basket to illustrate the new articulation ability as before i could only move the trailer up a few inches.

My Extrawheel is also armed with a Son28 dynohub and E-werk as is my Ogres front wheel.

In the next pic you can see the original holes in the rear fender for the stays and now their new position.



I'm a fan of both trailers and of racks/panniers and on occasions a mixture of both.
I'll never be a backpacker as I find the discipline too limiting for the comfort I require for motivation.

Last edited by rifraf; 01-24-15 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 01-24-15, 10:35 AM   #24
rifraf
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I owned a Bob for a while but found ownership too limiting for my personal use.
The Bob didn't work for owners of Sram Dualdrive rear hubs particularly well due to the hub having a click box on the drive side of the axel.
The Carryfreedom didn't suffer this issue due to being able to attach it to the non-drive side.

http://www.carryfreedom.com



Again.... Single wheel trailers are superior off road where there is more possibility of a two wheel trailer tipping over due to bumpy terrain.
Hard pac and fire trails are mostly fine but single track is not

http://www.extrawheel.com

Last edited by rifraf; 01-24-15 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 01-24-15, 11:32 AM   #25
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OK OP Is likely long done that short trip By Now.

just sharing further considerations on this theme..


A Trailer Bag with Back Pack straps (so you can 'wear the Trailer if Needed),
Vs 4 loose Panniers + a Handle bar Bag + the rear rack-top stuff sacks , is a big difference when Off the Bike ..

... and in places like.. a path you could walk thru But the bike + Panniers is too Wide & your stealth camping spot is a 1/4 Mile on the other side
or a stone fence with a stair way Up and over it is the only way in ..

or places like the Hostel in Warsaw PL which was up a High staircase to get to the front door (it was a old Stalinist designed Govt Building )
would require a a Lot of trips with panniers and Bags in your hands ..

So Where do you plan on Going and how will you cope with the way your kit is Packed ?

[my example: I just took an Overnight train to a SW Polish town, and rode into Prague the next Morning , instead]

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-24-15 at 11:49 AM.
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