Monday, September 28, 2009

Flying Boat & Bike

We bought "Tippy Canoe" the inflatable Sea Eagle 330 "pro" kayak, inspired by our recent trip to San Miguel Island (see the Photos & Words links). Today we took her for "sea trials" on Lake Los Carneros. Anne doesn't like her "tippy" personality, and the "pro" in me didn't like how hard she is to hold on course. But Tippy did ok even with a fairly strong breeze, and she's probably the best affordable inflatable (I did dream for a moment about those intrepid bush pilots who fly with a cargo canoe lashed to the plane, but I woke in a sweat). I think we can make her less tippy by putting less air in the seat bottoms and floor, and if not she's tolerable as-is.

Now we're thinking about bringing Tippy along on the flight, even though she gobbles 40 pounds of our precious target weight. We're aiming 100# below maximum for performance margin, but that means not much luggage. Tippy was advertised as 26#, but maybe that was without seats and paddles. We decided she's the last thing we'll decide about bringing, after we've weighed and loaded everything else.

Another 40# item we're "weighing" a decision on is "Bluey" my old bike (have you noticed how we name everything?). He's a klunker 15-speed we bought at Alpha Thrift for $50 or so, and I've ridden him occasionally for probably at least 10 years. Now I'm trying to figure out a way we can both ride him. Turns out he's a Diamondback mountain bike that was quite the ride in his day. For the weight he's incredibly strong. We test rode him by putting Anne at the front of the rear rack and me at the front edge of the seat. With my feet on top of Anne's he rode better than "Rosie" the Bike Friday Family Tandem we'd been trying to like. Anne could never get used to riding Rosie feeling like "hanging onto the tail on a kite" as she put it; assembly was rather daunting and took a bit of time; Rosie weighed the same as Bluey; she always felt unstable for both of us; and she had twice as wide a turning radius. Anyway, if I can figure out a strong toe cage or some way I can pedal full-power without mashing Anne's feet it would be easy to get Bluey ready for flying along with us. I've figured out a way to have two comfortable standard seats, and he will fit in the plane with both wheels (and maybe one pedal) removed.

If we bring both Tippy & Bluey, we'd have a lot more exercise (and fun) on this long trip. Often the small airports like those we plan to mostly use, are 3 miles from town. It would be great having a way to get to & from a hotel or campsite (we're bringing tent and airmat). If the airport's near a lake, river or ocean, we can probably manage a few miles on the bike with Tippy in two backpacks either on us or hopefully somehow secured to Bluey. Might we even add the 20# of tent and airmat? Of course if the overload annoys Bluey we might end up carrying it all back to the plane. I'm hoping Bluey might put up with us because we're buying him lots of new stuff like bulletproof Kevlar tires (for thorns, not hostile gunfire from outraged mobs).

We've nearly given up on this whole madness about Boat & Bike (and Tent) many times, but keep returning to our yearning for Exercise. I also wax lyrical on the experiences we might have with these extra options. Imagine tenting and canoeing on some placid lake just a short bike ride from the airport. Besides, we could always just end up leaving it all in the plane and getting taxis to 5-star hotels until the credit cards run out.

Should I add a Poll so folks can vote on this? Do we fly fast and light, gradually making up the 110# by eating ourselves senseless in fine restaurants? Would you like to see a blog from the other half of this aerial expedition, to get her perspective? Anne reads this, so let her know.

1 comment:

Nancy Oster said...

Leave Tippy at home for future adventures and get a bike for Anne. I have a bike frame you could borrow but it needs tires and probably some other gear to make it workable again.