Today we tested cycling with all the gear we will bring on our upcoming Upper Mississippi River Cycling Tour, including camping gear. We’re pretty good at packing light for a long distance trip, but adding tent, sleeping bags and sleep mats was new. So we thought we ought to figure out just how we were going to carry it all on our bikes, and find out what it will be like cycling with it.
We each took one sleeping bag, and divvied up the rest – the tent to Rich, and the sleep mats for me. Strapping them down over Rich’s panniers was not too difficult. At 6’2″ his seat is so high it easily cleared all the paraphernalia with room to spare. For me, at 5’1″ the trick was to leave room to sit on my bicycle seat without being impeded by gear. But we ultimately prevailed.
Walking the bikes or getting them to stand up on their own was a challenge. They were awkward and heavy, and very tippy. But once we started cycling, we moved along easily, barely noticing the extra weight once we were rolling. Hooray! I admit we picked an easy route for the test. We rode up the North Shore to Stony Point and back. With little traffic, flat terrain, no wind and nice big shoulders, we had few worries. Add beautiful sunshine and a sparkly flat blue lake, and it was easy to forget we were toting all that equipment.
And there were other distractions. Apparently, the Kamloops rainbow trout were running. Approaching French River, we could see an army of fishermen lined up across the mouth of the river. The photo opp was too good to pass up, and worth the added effort of getting our bikes balanced.
We unanimously declared that we passed the test. Tomorrow I intend to take it to the next level, and load up for a longer and hillier route. Here’s hoping I can make the grade.