On the 3,300 mile South From Alaska bicycle trip this summer I plan on riding a ‘trike’. I will be taking a TerraTrike Rambler instead of the Bacchetta Giro 20 that I used on the 3,600 Oregon to Maine ride last year.
Why switch bikes, you might ask, considering that I really loved riding the Giro 20. Well, between some of the expected rough roads and significantly more hill climbing between Prudhoe Bay AK and Montana I decided to try a three wheeler this time around.
Trikes are somewhat lower to the ground and a little more compact so preparing one to carry all of the gear can be challenging. Some people use a trailer to carry their gear, however, trailers add additional ‘things’ that can go wrong and tires that can go flat, so I decided to try and carry everything on the bike. Well, let me present what I now refer to as My Well Appointed Trike.
“Wow”, you must be saying right about now, “what is that in the picture, and is there really a three-wheeled bicycle buried up underneath all of the stuff?” Yes, Yes, and Yes.
#1 – Safety Flags: Safety on a bicycle is of prime concern regardless of the type of bicycle that you ride, and visibility is one key component for safety. I was concerned that car drivers might not see me since this trike sits a lot lower than the Giro 20, sooooo, I decided to add some height and movement with two sets of safety flags. The bright colored ones on the ends of the poles are Hi-Vis Safety Flags. The other flags add some decorative bling fluttering in the breeze. I used Office Max small Binder Clips on the fiberglass poles in order to separate the flags and to keep them from coming off the ends of the poles.
#2 – Solar Panel: Electricity may not be readily available on many sections of this trip, so I elected to add a Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel. Last year I carried a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus power pack, which came in very handy, but required a wall outlet to recharge. Hopefully the solar panel will work its magic and keep the Guide 10 charged up between electrical outlet stops. The panel is held in place on the trunk bag by three small bungee cords looped around the rear rack. The power pack is plugged into the solar panel and then wedged between the panel and the trunk bag when riding.
#3 – Rear Panniers: Arkel RT 60 panniers worked well on my trip last year, and I plan to take them on this trip, also. The panniers are very well constructed, have numerous compartments to separate things, and easily lift off the rear rack with the included handle. For those looking at panniers sizes, these have 3,650 cubic inches of storage space. The RT 60 model comes with 2 storage tubes attached with Velcro to the back of the panniers, however, I found that I didn’t need the additional space so I am not taking them along. I will be taking the optional Arkel rain covers for this trip.
#4 – Water Bladder: I am taking a Camelbak Lumbar 2.0L water bladder this time around. Water bottle locations are not near so accessible on this bicycle, so I opted to carry a bladder. I decided on the lumbar style because it sits horizontal instead of vertical which fits better behind the seat and rests on top of the rear rack support straps. I made a custom heavy duty nylon ‘bag’ to protect the bladder and incorporated nylon straps on the top which are attached to the headrest bar. I will make a separate post to discuss the custom bladder bag and tube clips.
#5 – Side Panniers: Radical Design Racer panniers were added to increase the storage space by 1,500 cubic inches. The two bags are ‘tied’ together with two adjustable straps (in the middle and at the bottom) which go across the seat (I added a third across the top), and a smaller adjustable strap which, in my case, goes around the headrest post and holds the bags up and in place. Overall I like the bag design and the way they fit; the single large compartment in each bag easily stores larger items like a tent and sleeping bag. The bags stay in place while riding, the seat straps don’t affect my back, and the bags can be easily removed by grabbing the top strap and them lifting off. The fabric material and zippers are not as heavy as Arkel’s bags, but they seem to be of quality materials and incorporate a rain flap over the zipper. Radical Design does not make any sort of rain cover for these bags so I created ‘custom designed’ nylon covers for them. I will make a separate post to discuss the bag and rain cover modifications.
#6 – Bear Spray & Bear Resistant Container: Riding/camping in remote Alaska/Canada has the very real potential to involve bear encounters. I installed a UDAP brand bike mount on the right handlebar upright using two Minoura LW standard clamps. This mount allows me to carry UDAP bear spray within easy reach while riding. Some areas, particularly along the Dalton Highway, in Alaska, have few trees for suspending food bags, so I am also carrying the smaller style UDAP bear resistant container which I keep stored directly behind the seat using two bungee cords.
#7 – Seat Saddle Bags: I wanted to carry smaller items such as my camera, wallet, munchies, cellphone, and other ‘stuff’ close at hand while riding but did not find any ready made bags that worked for me. Soooooo, necessity being the mother of invention, I purchased two Red Oxx Lil’ Roy bags and fabricated a bag carrier which is slung across the seat in a similar fashion to the Radical Design bags. These two bags add an additional 325 cubic inches of easy to reach storage. Red Oxx Manufacturing is not in the pannier business, but they do make many different high quality travel bags and carry products. I will make a separate post to discuss the ‘Lil Roy bag system and rain covers that I fabricated.
#8 – Rack Bag: Under the solar panel is an Arkel TailRider Trunk Bag. Arkel makes some great products, and I elected to use their trunk bag on this trip. Besides adding an additional 700 cubic inches of storage it fits nicely behind the reclined seat/headrest, and it provides a soft platform for the solar panel. The bag has a built in rain cover which will go over the solar panel, as well as the bag and the zippers have rubberized self sealing closures. There is a carry handle on the bag top. If additional space is required the top will expand to add an addition 200 cubic inches of storage. The TailRider is attached to the rear rack by reflective Velcro straps. Arkel also provides a reflective strap on the rear of the bag, and I decided to attach an additional red blinky light there. One can never be too visible.
The bicycle: The original trike was a base model TerraTrike Rambler. I elected to modify/upgrade it in such areas as gear ratios, tires/rims, lights, brakes, and rear rack. The finished product is now very similar to the GT Rambler model. I will make a separate post about the TerraTrike Rambler bicycle and the modifications/upgrades that were done.
I am comfortable pedaling this stuffed to gills three wheeler around town and look forward to putting on the mileage during the upcoming trip.