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Driving While Loaded

Maiden Training Ride Loaded with Panniers and Tent

surly arkel

Sold the road bike, bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker, and think I’m becoming a gearhead and obsessed with the idea of a bicycle tour.

Last week, I got the Adirondack park loop maps from Adventure Cycling Association.

Bought Arkel T-42 panniers earlier this week at Trophy Bikes in Philly. They are not my local bike shop but the nearest dealer who carries both Surly and Arkel, so I checked them out. Highly recommended. Great service from knowledgeable guys who have toured cross country.

Took my first partially loaded ride today with the panniers (simulated a ligth touring load with 5 lb weights in each) and ultralight Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 on rack. Will start to add sleeping bag, camping gear, and clothes as I train.

The ride felt great. The bike handles about the same, in fact I felt a slight improvement in holding a line down hill and in curves.

But the 20 lb load creates lots more work on the uphills and into a headwind (Sourlands loop today). I expect about 40 lbs fully loaded and gradually will start training to ride with that weight.

I noticed there were other benefits of riding with the panniers:

First, the cars consistently gave a wider berth. Some slowed almost to a stop and passed safely! I could almost hear the drivers thinking: “This crazy bastard is working his ass off – and he might be going to or coming from Yellowstone. So I’ll give him a break.”

Second, the load prompted me to use lower gears and higher cadence, which is a more effective way to ride for endurance and aerobics.

Third, the load dispelled any expectations of keeping up a decent average speed. I’m still adjusting from the road bike, where my tendency was to try to go faster than I was capable of or fit for. But today, I was far more relaxed and actually enjoyed myself much more.

A couple of guys blew by me on road bikes. In the past, I would have tried to keep up with them and end up feeling awful when I couldn’t. But today, that thought never crossed my mind!

The tour begins in late May!

surly arkel2

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