My travels with Bob (or should that be Beryl ?)….

24 09 2008

We’ve had our eye on a Bob Trailer for some time and not taken the plunge but, inspired by Rich and Donna’s recent Gumber Bothy tour, we fancied having a go.  Cheekily asking to borrow their trailer for the weekend, an even better plan was hatched, a Trailer Testing Tour.  Me, Rick, Rich, Donna, Ollie & Sally.  2 Trailers, 2 days of testing in the Surrey Hills and a Camping Barn thrown in for the overnight stop.

 

Plans were hatched, trails chosen, train tickets, food (and booze) purchased, camping barn booked, and with room for only the essentials of life left in the trailers, we set off to get a taste of what this towing is all about.

 

The train station steps were interesting, but not impossible, and once on the train it was a half hour journey to our stop.  Decanted at Shalford the rightful owners donned the trailers to start off with so we could watch and learn how these little beauties handled on the rough stuff.  Rich had, wisely or otherwise, decided to take his new spangly singlespeed so his was a different kind of pain to the rest of us on geared bikes, it looked tough and the feedback was ‘yes it hurts’.  Masochist!

 

Our Camping Barn was at Puttenham, not everyone’s idea of a good night out, but we all thought it was great fun.  Sleeping arrangements were a raised platform for 11 (it could get kinda cosy if you’re with strangers), with bare concrete floors, communal bathroom and kitchen.  As an Eco-barn all rainwater and sunshine is harvested and it runs really well.  Recommended if you don’t want to camp but still don’t mind a bit of roughing it.  Oh, and having to take no camping gear = more space for the wine box ! (http://www.puttenhamcampingbarn.co.uk/pics.html)

 

Back to the ride.  We started off along the River Wey tow path, flat and smooth the only worry being not to fall in the river (unlike Donna’s auntie Beryl some years back!).  Enough of this flatness though, we need hills for a proper test.  No worries there, Rich likes a hill or two and the trail had plenty to test.  Stopping at The Withies for a pint and power potato we swopped luggage about.  Jokingly, Ollie asked if I’d like to have a go, OK?, and riding round the flat car park I could hardly feel it on the back.  So foolishly or otherwise I was up for it, with Rick taking the other one off Rich.  I think there might have been some smirking behind me.

 

You know what though, I loved it.  On the flat you could hardly feel it behind you except for the odd tug as the slack gets taken up every once in a while (just like towing a car).  You don’t need to ride your bike in any special way, or take a different line, the trailer is amazing it plunders through everything we could throw at it, and we rode some pretty technical trails. 

 

My first trail was an interesting meander through a 6 ft high corn on the cob field, trail just about handlebar width, huge fat stalks grabbing at brake levers as we went.  How I managed to clear it was amazing, some without trailers were falling off behind me as the corn stalks grabbed their brakes.  Did the trailer help me keep on line & upright ?  I think so.

 

Rick then made it up a really steep incline with a rooty lip, nearly stalling at the cusp, but powering over the trailer dutifully followed.  We were wondering what the boundary to its capabilities was.  As a rule of thumb if you can get through up or round it, so will the trailer.  Only once did it get stuck as Rich tried to negotiate a very small gap from a standing start, although we knew it was probably impossible so was just for laughs.

 

Hill climbing is of course much much much more difficult than when it’s just you and your bike, but with the trailer’s lower centre of gravity it’s stable so fitness is the key.  Its up to you how much you take, and take it from me, dragging stuff up a hill focuses the mind and thoughts of minimalism all of a sudden become a fantastic idea.   (www.alpkit.com)

 

It was great to see both sexes having a go at pulling the trailer too and the quick release, easily-interchangeable rear wheel skewer makes switching between bikes very easy.  It also means you can ride it with full suspension or hardtail.  From a personal point of view, it was nice to get involved with carrying our stuff for a change and it gave me a laugh, a test of endurance, followed by a well-earned rest.  It made interesting trails, even more interesting and that can’t be bad.

 

In summary, carrying panniers on a rack makes the bike twitchy offroad and also means you can’t get your bum off the back for the technical bits.  And a huge rucksack puts loads of pressure on your arms and shoulders which fatigues you quickly.   After this weekend our preference is now a trailer.  There are two main types available the cult Bob Trailer and the Revolution Trailer from Edinburgh Cycles.  After a lot of thought we’ve for the Revolution.  It’s £125 instead of £300, it folds fairly flat, the Bob is rigid and for us, space is an issue, the Bob does have a fully waterproof bag though the Revolver is water resistant, but with Exped dry bags inside we reckon we’ll get by or you could have a go at taping the seams yourself.  Ours in on order, can’t wait to give it a bash on the trails.

 

So what’s the reference to Beryl.  Well, while climbing a hill Donna and I get chatting about their Bob Trailer needing a unique name, Bob is just so common! In honour of her Auntie who dunked in the river, Beryl was named and then christened with a Tupperware pot (it was all we had) of vino on the train home.  Big thanks go to Ollie, Sally, Rich and Donne for the fun weekend trailer testing.  Who knows where our adventures will lead us to next…I vaguely remember The Highlands being mentioned though !!!

 

Lisa

 

Photos:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/13519914@N00/sets/72157607427572603/

 

Video of it’s capabilities (er not actual footage of our weekend!):  http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ND0SERkAAtw

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