BikeWalkLee's Column in News-Press "Go Coastal" section, Sept. 4, 2014
|Dan Moser's fully loaded trailer.|
your cycling from purely recreational to more functional, integrating it into your daily routine beyond its fitness and fun benefits.
That will probably mean using your bike commuting and/or running errands — and that likely means being able to haul more than yourself on two wheels, to carry a variety of things to (or from) a variety of places.
To do that, you have a variety of choices, from the simple to the functional.
The simplest approach may be using a messenger bag or backpack to carry light loads. Sling it over your shoulder or on your back and pedal away. What could be simpler, particularly since you may already have something suitable to the task around the house?
The next option is to carry things on your bike itself, which opens up a number of options for you. Baskets are an obvious choice, either on your handlebars or mounted to a rear rack. You'll be limited in size to the basket's dimensions (and by weight unless it's well supported), but it's a convenient approach for the casual carrier.
Bike bags come a variety of sizes: The under-the-seat ones are best suited to carry essentials (repair kits and phones), while frame-mounted bags can accommodate more but can also impede your pedaling if overloaded.
Racks are a great addition, both to carry things directly (and bungee cords will become your best friends here) or serves as place to mount other carriers such as baskets and (for the serious carrier) panniers, which extend over the racks and along the wheels to offer some serious capacity (and water-resistance as well, if you buy right). Buy your racks based on how much weight you'll want to carry, since some of the basic seat-post racks have limits to what you can lash to them.
The next step after that — and one that takes some skills to pull off — is a pull-behind trailer. Critical components here are a secure connection to the bike and a stable base on which to roll since if the trailer starts to roll over, the bike it's attached to is not far behind if you're not careful. You can carry a lot with these, but you pay a price in speed and maneuverability for that hefty hauling.
The final option — and one you'll have to work to find outside major bicycling cities — is a cargo bike. They come in an astonishing array of shapes, sizes and functions, and they can be used to haul kids, cargo and even furniture and more. They're big, bulky and built like tanks — but, if you've got the legs, they'll get you and your stuff whenever it needs to go.
Interested? Check our your local bike stores to see what choices they offer — the advice that goes along with it can be invaluable to making the right investment. But there are some caveats when you're carrying extra cargo:
- Plan to go slow — at least slower than you're used to. You're pushing more weight, and it may be distributed in a way that's more unstable or at least uncomfortable for the average rider. Save the speed for your road bike, and ride for safety here.
- Know your limitations. Bags get heavy fast, and can make our already hot climate positive sweltering. Things in baskets can bounce around (or out), and things on racks can squirm under even the most diligent bungee-ing. And a little weight changes the bike's handling dramatically, so get used to it where you have some room to maneuver.
- Plan ahead. Running errands? Don't buy more than you can carry, or be prepared for some creative solutions. Not sure if you'll need to carry something? Assume you will and throw the necessary components in or on the bike. Know your trip will be slow or cumbersome due to the cargo on board?
- Pick a route that allows you the space to move, the time to do it at your own speed – and a place to take a break to rest your legs, back or other body parts.
— BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at BikeWalkLee.org.
• Sunday Oct. 11: Fort Myers Cops and Joggers 5K. Centennial Park, downtown Fort Myers. Race starts at 7:30 p.m., and proceeds will benefit the Fort Myers Police Department Fallen Officer Memorial Fund and the Brotherhood Ride. Registration: $20 adult, $15 youth on or before Oct. 9. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
• Saturday, Oct. 18: 6th annual Sanibel 10K 4 F.I.S.H. Starts 7:30 a.m. at Sanibel Community House 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Registration $30 by Oct. 11, $35 through Oct. 17 and $40 day of. (ftmyerstrackclub.com/Sanibel10k/13FIsh.html)
Cycling and other events:
• Saturday, Oct. 11: Project 10 Ride 4 Wishes. Cape Harbour, Cape Coral. 15-, 30-, and 62-mile rides. $35 registration, raises funds for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. (eventbrite.com)
• Sunday, Oct. 12: Trek Breast Cancer Awareness Ride. 10-, 15- and 25- mile rides. From The Bicycle Center, 3795 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. $30 before Sept. 1, $40 after. (eventbrite.com)
• Sept. 13-14: Fourth annual Galloway Captiva Tri weekend. Saturday is the kids' day with three age groups (6-8, 9-10 and 11-13) enjoying the fun of multisports. Sunday, the adults take to the water and roadways in a sprint triathlon (swim/bike/run) covering all of Captiva Island. All slots are filled, and the road on to the island will close at 6:45 a.m. Sunday. Information at captivatri.org.
• Sunday, Sept. 14: Paradise Coast International Triathlon, Duathlon, and 10k Run, Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. Triathlon is 1,500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run; Duathlon is 5K run, 40K bike, 10K run. (eliteevents.org)