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A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Beer Run Tour Training

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Jandd Grocery Panniers

Another beautiful day, 62 degrees, sunny and windy. The perfect day for my first ride on the Slipstream this year, a great day for a trip to the grocery store to buy beer.

The Slipstream shines on this kind of ride. It is built to handle a load and does it without any of the problems you often encounter when riding loaded on other bikes. The Slipstream remains rock steady when loaded and with mountain gearing will get you up those short steep hills on the way home with a load.

I had a great ride so much better than yesterday on the diamond frame. Yes, I was very slow but no pain or discomfort. I also felt much more secure and in control on the Slipstream. Of course, I have been riding recumbents almost exclusively since 1990. But the comfortable seat and closer to the ground riding position made me feel more secure.

I discovered that my Jandd grocery panniers can handle two twelve-packs or four six-packs of beer very easily. The six-packs fit in sideways so you can place two six-packs (or one twelve-pack)  at the bottom of each pannier. You could double that but I’d save that for later. The four six-packs and a few groceries weighted about 32 pounds. Eight six-packs or four twelve packs would fit but it would put the load above normal touring weight into the weight range we had for Newfoundland.


32 pounds is about perfect weight for a self-contained touring load. What a great way to get ready for touring or to try riding loaded if you haven’t done it before. Anyone else for my beer run tour training program?

Usually the first loaded trip is a bit of a shock to the system and a surprise for the new tourist. Many bike become squirrelly handlers when loaded. The Slipstream just seems to hunker down and handle it. I had no problem when my climbing speed on steep hills feel below 4 MPH. Part of that was because I have done it before but most of that capability is a result of carful bike design.

I have riden several recumbents that just don’t handle well a very slow speeds. If you plan to self contain tour this is a very important capability and a skill you should practice. Many scenic towns in France and Italy are at the top of amazingly steep hills. You will want to be comfortably steady and in control as you ride into them to enjoy your tour.

Riding loaded is also a test of how well your wheels were built so after you do it make sure you check spoke tension and that the fasteners on your rack are still tight. That reminds me … I better do both before my next ride.

Riding a loaded Slipstream and maybe even an unloaded Slipstream is a lot like riding a tandem. Firm and steady – slow going uphills and like a luge going down hills.

The bottom line is that the first ride was slow but felt very good. Even with 32 pounds of groceries the Slipstream felt good .. solid and fun to ride. At this point in the year I don’t worry about speed, speed will come with miles. It is the time to just enjoy being out and on a bike after a long winter.


Written by Roland

April 10, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Training

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