Thursday, July 09, 2009

Big Dummy Canoeing

Monday morning had all sorts of errands for me to run. There was the trip to the bank, I picked up some groceries, and I had to run some errant EZ Up tents around town. All of these tasks were easily handled by the Big Dummy/Bikes At Work combo. I finished the errands at about 9 o'clock or so. I had an hour or so to kill before Meg and I were to have brunch, so I set about putting a plan in motion I've been mulling over for a long time.

For years I've loved canoeing. There's just something about being on the water that is a whole different experience than you get on land. It's movement in a completely different way, and a hobby I find utterly relaxing. Much as I like the actual paddling, I hate the necessary BS the comes with it. Loading it onto a car, shuttling it up river, paddling down and then shuttling both canoe and second car back to a point. It ends up being 3 hours of driving and messing around for 4 hours of canoeing. If I had to do that every time I went biking, I'd guess that I'd not like bike so much either. The simple idea to haul the canoe with the bike seemed a logical way to increase my paddling time while making the execution much easier.

Since getting the Big Dummy and BAW trailer I've said that they are like gateway bikes. They are not necessarily the kind of things that most people would buy to fulfill a particular need or use. I've found them to be tools that once you have them, the possibilities of what can be done with them are endless. Looking at what a canoe is as cargo, it's actually a pretty small thing. Weighing in at around 65lbs for our old Alumicraft beast, it's not particularly heavy. Paddles and other accessories don't weigh much either. For comparison, we then have a trailer and canoe package that weighs less than two children in a Burley.

The trouble with a canoe is it's size. At 16', it's a rather bulky item. Enter the 96" BAW trailer. With how I have the hitch mounted on my BD, the yolk adds about another 8" of usable length to it. With its movable axle, it's designed to be able to center the load over the axle for optimal weight distribution. In this case, I needed to drill 6 holes to properly position the axle. This will of course only have to be done once, so now 6 bolts are all I need to change it easily.

Though the fenders on the trailer are rather sturdy, as I envisioned using a ratcheting tie down strap the force would be a bit much for them. I wanted the keel of canoe to be supported in the middle of the trailer. This I accomplished simply by cutting a 4x4 post down to appropriate lengths and notched the middle for the keel to rest in. This raised the canoe above the level of the fenders, while balancing it on the center of gravity. By looping a tie down strap under the front of the trailer, and looping it through the canoe it more the secured the two pieces together. 2 bungee cords keep the back bouncing in check, and this was more than secure enough for the crappiest roads at some speed.

All that done took about 45 min, and we were off.

Easy enough to do one handed talking on the phone. I've also decided that pulling a canoe is the best way not to get hit by a car. Most people who passed me were so scared they were in the opposite gutter!
An idea of scale. 8'+16'= a hell of a good time, and a wide turning radius. Surprisingly, with the added stability of the longer Dummy wheelbase, turning around in a standard street is not problem at all. With those short turns, the trailer simply rotates in place around the axle!

It carves corners rather well. The load rides so well, it's almost possible to forget it's back there. Really.
The crew. Meg and my brother John.
On the water.
Yup, after a long weekend that's exactly what I want to look at for a few hours.
So there you have it. It's now possible for me to load up my canoe in less than 10min, ride 1.5miles to the river, canoe for 2-3 hours, and come home all under my own power. It's easy, fun, and actually relaxing. Anyone in the area that would like to give this a try just give me a call, I'm always looking for someone to go with.

Looking forward to Monday morning, both this and another rig will be parked down at Goodbye Blue Monday in downtown Northfield. A bike powered regatta of sorts. More on that later, but stop my and check it out! Cheers.


Sean Noonan said...

how fast can you go?
raaaaah raaaaaah


Ben said...

Fast, 48t big ring baby! Ha!

Cellarrat said...

That is soooooo sweet!

JeffOYB said...

Hey! Cool rig... Here's mine: My goal is to use a folding bike and folding trailer so that both will go into the canoe--I'm close! I'm all about simplicity and lightweight. See what ya think! Thanks... JP

Griff Wigley said...

I've blogged you and Eric Johnson on Locally Grown, Ben.

Whither the internal combustion engine?


JeffOYB said...

Hey, that "Locally Grown" pic of the lightweight kevlar boat rig is much more up my minimalist alley. Maybe it could get some coverage, too, in another Big Dummy Canoeing report?

Now maybe to somehow turn the boat over so some (picnic) stuff can be hauled in it... See, I picture using the boat AS the trailer, so the boat can haul stuff in addition to being hauled. If it was a kayak it would even be aerodynamic in crosswinds...

Ben said...

I will be getting to that. My purpose is just really to have an in town destination concept. I have thought to go to the extent that you have, we just really don't use the canoe in that way. I will be posting more pictures of that morning early in this next week, and will have some shots of Eric's set up. Cheers.

frankenbiker said...

Just design a pedal powered canoe and leave the bike and the trailer at home.Don't laugh, I've actually thrown the idea around a little,a recumbent quad with all of the wheels on the outside,the rears connected thru a differential and jack shafts.Ala Atomic Zombies quad racer, Now that would make drivers go right of of the road!LOL!

JeffOYB said...

Frankenbiker, it's easy to be tempted by such bike insanity because fiberglass/carbon-fiber boat-building and HPV-fairing-velomobile building are done exactly the same way. Hot race HPVs today are made "tub-style" with no bike frame, just all parts epoxied into a fiber "hull." Way boatish. ...It gets crazy people to thinkin'. Then there's the SpinFin and Kawak Drive Units and other pedal-prop "drop-in" units that are dangerous for tinkerers to find out about...

Griff Wigley said...


Can you respond to the question posted by Dr. Patrick Enders at:

frankenbiker said...

Why do you tempt me thus?The spin fin drive is pretty cool,now the idea of aa amphibious carbon fiber canoe is invading my dreams.I hope it doesn't stay there long,I might acctually have to build the thing.

Litter Patrol said...

Cool! Do you have any closeup pics of the baw trailer/xtracycle hitch attachment? I'm thinking about getting a Baw trailer and would like to see how it attaches. Thanks!