Author Topic: trailer pulling and old guys  (Read 31590 times)

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Offline Geezer

trailer pulling and old guys
« on: December 15, 2007, 12:56:34 am »
I'm sixty years old and planing a long tour in 2009 and wondering about pulling a trailer verses racks and panniers. Anybody in my age bracket have any experience in this and can offer advice?

This message was edited by Geezer on 12-15-07 @ 12:35 PM
Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.

FredHiltz

  • Guest
trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2007, 08:13:00 am »
Hi Geezer,

I cannot imagine age affecting this choice, which is probably the single most active topic on these forums. Do a search for trailer and one for pannier to read plenty of opinions and experience. Also read the experts at the ACA web site, where you can find articles like http://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/panniersversustrailer_03.pdf.

It all boils down to this: both work well and the choice is one of personal preference. No one else can make this call for you.

Enjoy the trip!

Fred


Offline Geezer

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2007, 11:44:10 am »
Fred,
Thanks for your input. I read the link and found it to be very helpfull. It is just the kind of thing I have been looking for.

I don't know how old you are, but I have to say that there comes a time when you reach the age where you realize that you cannot quite do what you once did. Along with that comes the fact that your body just plain won't go past some limits for very long at all. Extra weight has a big effect on this to me. Since I never pulled a trailer on a bike I wondered about the effect of the trailer had on the effort of peddaling, especially up hill, since age and COPD make this one of those things that is much more limited than it was a few years ago. The article you pointed out addressed this in terms I well understood. One thing the the young don't know yet. AS a young guy I coul dsay I just have to get stronger to compensate and do that. As an old guy I know that I'm not as likely to get that much stronger and more likely to get somewhat weaker each year. That is where age has its differences in just about evreything you do. When you get old and it gets harder you have to want to do it much more.
As a geezer taking his first ride of this type I figure that I'll find it pretty challenging to say the least. Readinig about a few extra pounds and whether one should pack this or that becasue of it makse an old guy like me wonder what the best way to pack it will be. I want to be able to make it up  some of those hils in the Blue Ridge, not die on them. I figure it is going to take me a long time to make this trip as is so I'm not putting a time limit on it, but I would like to get'er done before I die of old age too.
I've included this little narative on age only to let those that have never thought ot it be aware ...Age makes a difference on everything after a time. If you want to keep going you have to find a way.
Thanks again Fred,
The Geezer

Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.

Offline staehpj1

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2007, 12:04:40 pm »
I am a bit younger (56) but don't think age is much of a factor.  I have tried both and used panniers on my TransAmerica.   I would make the same choice if I were going again, but you will find folks who like either.

One thing to consider is what do you do with the trailer if air travel is involved.


Offline ptaylor

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2007, 02:38:34 pm »
Geezer.

I started doing self contained tours at age 40. That was 27 years ago. I completed a coast to coast tour last year. As I age, I compensate by getting lower gears, riding more slowly, decreasing my daily mileages, and walking up a few steep hills.

But it's just as much fun now as it was 27 years ago.

Paul
Paul

Offline Geezer

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2007, 04:33:52 pm »
I like hearing that there are others out there my age and older biing all over the country. I figure that gears and slower and walikng are all going to be a big part of my trip, but I'm wondering about the peddaling part and if trailers seem to be harder to peddal with than panniers to older riders in general. I kind of lean to the idea that they might be, but if I am wrong about that, I'd like to hear and know why.
As to age and riding.. I'm hoping to be doing this for sometime to come, but how long it lasts will be seen as it goes. I have to wait a bit before starting out for various personal reasons in volving familly health. I plan to use that time to plan and build my bike up and aquire the gear. I guess the thing with the trailer is the thought of buying one and finding out that pulling it is harder than packing on the bike. In that case a harder trip and shorter one. I don't plan on having a place to just ship it back to and buying a different system, since I probably won't be financially able to do that. I also probably won't have a home until the trip is over. Just a mailing address. I,m figuring on many months at the least and possibly a couple yeasr or more at the best. In this light a decission about trailer or no isn't one to take lightly for me.
I'm starting a bit later than Paul, but the idea that I might still be able to do it at his age sure makes me feel hopeful that I can keep it up too. My thinking is that the easier it is the longer and farther I'll go and the more I'll see and the better I'll be. Hence, trailer or no.
So far the no's are wininng, but the votes are not all in yet. Or maybe they are...

Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.
Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.

Offline Geezer

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2007, 04:54:08 pm »
I think maybe I have somehow confused the question here. I know that I would normally pick up, say forty pounds and carry it on my back in a pack if I were walking rather than pull it behind me in a wagon. But, a heavier weight would be ungainly without the wagon. I'm not sure how this works when on a bike when it comes to on the bike or behind it. The article in Fred's reply showed me reasons and situations where the trailer could be a hinderance rather than a help. It also gave me some insight leading me to beieve the pulling the weight might be more strenous than carrying it on the bike. That is the point I am trying get straight in my head. Face it, starting out at this age both ways will be hard and take some getting used to. I'm looking for the easiest of the two.
Thanks for the information. All appreciated greatly.

Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.
Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.

Offline whittierider

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2007, 08:42:34 pm »
It sounds like you have not been riding long.  Building up speed takes years, and you can do it even at your age.  I'm 47 and, in the last 16 months, have been faster than ever before, even climbing the local canyons 20% faster than I could 25 years ago.  The reason is partly experience, but mostly better training-- not harder overall, or more, just better.

In Joe Friel's book, "The Cyclist's Training Bible," he says that dis-use and other self-imposed training limitations account for 3/4 of the losses normally attributed to age.  He says that if training intensity is maintained, aerobic capacity and other selected measures of fitness decline as little as 2% per decade, 1/3 to 1/5 as much as is found in sedentary people.

As for the trailer, I pulled a neighbor's child in their trailer once, and I couldn't even tell the trailer was there.  I looked back a few times to make sure it hadn't somehow become separated and left behind.


Offline staehpj1

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2007, 10:25:40 pm »
My impression is that the trailer is harder to pedal only by the amount of extra weight.  With that being a factor mostly on the climbs.  I think the rolling resistance difference is minimal and aerodynamically it may have an edge.

There is a tendency to carry more stuff too since you have room for it which can make the weight even more of an issue if you aren't careful.

Bottom line though, either will work.


Offline Geezer

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2007, 11:31:09 pm »
"As for the trailer, I pulled a neighbor's child in their trailer once, and I couldn't even tell the trailer was there.  I looked back a few times to make sure it hadn't somehow become separated and left behind."

That is the stuff I'm looking for. I am new to riding in the sense that I haven't done it since a kid when I would ride anywhere and not think of it. I have surprised myself to find that sity-five miles in a day doesn't seem to bother me unloaded. Hills are getting easier al the time, but they bother me. I know I'll get stronger over the next year, but I'm still new enough to this not to know how much. You all are giving me points to consider an that is what I need. Asking dumb questions is how I learn. Thanks a lot for all the imput.

The hills are my biigest concern about all of this. Guess I need to work on them. I was a swimmer and a cross country runner in the day, but the day was a long way back. Have to start thinking like that again, if I can remember how. lol

Thanks all


Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.
Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.

Offline valygrl

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2007, 12:04:15 pm »
I'm 42, started touring 4 years ago, and I can see what you are talking about coming.

I see a LOT Of older 60-70 y/o people touring.  That's when most people get enough time in their lives to do it.  I met this one guy in Leadville, CO who was on his way back to Florida from Alaska.  He was 82.

Geezer, in terms of the backpack/wagon analogy, it doesn't really work that way, in neither case is the weight on your body, it's on a wheel.  So weight is weight, but packing and handling come into play, too.

1) handling - some people (me) experience very bad downhill handling issues with a trailer "tail wagging the dog".  I actually crashed because of this.  If you have any way of borrowing a trailer and trying it fully loaded on some downhills before you commit, that would be a great idea.  You can buy trailers from REI, who have an amazing 100% satisfaction guarantee policy, even on used items. (I'm not suggesting abusing this policy, but do use it if you need to).  My pannier-loaded Trek 520 handles exactly like a bike - a big heavy one, but no shimmies, no wagging.

2) packing - think about how you will pack - does your body like the idea of carrying 4 little light bags or 1 big heavy one?  Does your body like the idea of kneeling beside the trailer and packing in the items, vs either packing onto the bike (stooping to get into the panniers) or packing the panniers one at a time while either sitting in your tent or panniers on top of the picnic table or kneeling on the ground if you don't have a table.

3) once riding uphill, weight is weight.  you have to get it up the hill on the bike or on the trailer.  Add up the weight of the trailer and it's bag and compare to the weight of the racks and panniers.  It DOES matter which panniers and racks you buy, the choices have very different weights.  If you are OK with non-water proof panniers, I would check out Lone Peak (www.thetouringstore.com) they are a great combination of light weight and good quality.  They are not "the best" at anything but they are more than adequate and quite light.  I have about 8000 miles of touring on my front ones, and they are doing OK except where a squirrel chewed through one to get to some food.  I got some Arkels because the features look so great, and really dislike how heavy they are.  I haven't weighed in on Ortliebs, b/c I like side-loading, but not everyone cares about that.  A lone peak/light rack combination can come out to maybe 6 pounds lighter than a trailer, and that is totally noticeable.  but if you get heavy racks and the biggest Arkel panniers it's about even weight.

Do be very weight conscious of what you pack.   This goes for panniers and trailers alike.

4) for the weight calculation, remember you are going to have to carry a different size spare tube (and maybe tire, if you are going somewhere remote, but not in the US) for the trailer.  Make sure your trailer and bike tubes use the same valve, or you'll have to switch your pump every time you fill up.  

Hope any of this helps...

valygrl


Offline whittierider

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2007, 05:00:07 pm »
Quote
1) handling - some people (me) experience very bad downhill handling issues with a trailer "tail wagging the dog".  I actually crashed because of this.  If you have any way of borrowing a trailer and trying it fully loaded on some downhills before you commit, that would be a great idea.

Make sure the trailer attaches near the rear wheel's axle, not on the seat post or rack or a braket behind the axle, or anything else.  I can't speak from personal experience; but I was on the T@H tandem forum for quite a few years, and many of the 2,000 or so subscribers there had done a lot of touring with trailers, both for cargo and for kids; and although Burley had a lawyer-talk low speed limit on the trailer, these people had been running them up near 60mph on downhills with never a problem.  Granted, those were tandems, but I think it still shows the success of the attachment method and a good design.


Offline bogiesan

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2007, 05:36:07 pm »
Join a local club, you can probably find one for older citizens but look
for the words non-competitive and no-drop in the club listings. Ride
with them, don't try to race with them.
Enter every charity ride in your local area this season.
JOin a gym and start a rigorous but safe cardio plan after you've
discussed it with your doctor. Join the spinning sessions.

I'd suggest you investigate a recumbent bike for touring but I say that
to everyone. I'm about 55, I put 5k miles on my Tour Easy every year
and plan to keep doing so till I can't.

david boise ID

go, ristretto, FCP/AE
"Read the manual."
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Geezer

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2007, 12:57:34 am »
Thank you all. A lot of good information to consider in your replys.

Bill

Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.
Geezer..Ride till you can't no more.

Offline WesternFlyer

trailer pulling and old guys
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2007, 05:47:59 pm »
I am sixty years old (sixty one in a few months).  I pulled a trailer this summer down the Oregon coast.  Never again!  I have said it and others I have met along the road echoed it, but not everyone.  Some folks were as happy as could be with pulling a wide variety of trailers, both one wheel and two.  

I nearly bought US Highway 101 coming down steep grade in southern Oregon, when a strong side wind on a sharp curve hit me.  I was jack-knifing left and right going 40 plus kph and I was sure I was going down as I saw my bike frame flex violently under the strain.  I finally stabilized but the trailer attachments were seriously compromised.  I limited myself to 20 to 25 kph maximum from then on and eventually cut the trip short.  

My analysis is that trailers, especially single wheel trailers like mine need to have a drag brake something like tandem bikes have to keep the trailer from trying to pass the bike on steep down hills when they can start jack-knifing.  I have a Kool Mule and it doesnt look like it would be that hard adapt.  I havent looked that closely at the BOB, but it seems very similar.  Thirty five years ago I had a two wheel trailer that I used for work and errands.  It had its own set of problems, like flipping over at speed if you hit a bump with only one trailer wheel.  I still use my Kool Mule with new and improved mounts Kool Stop sent me.  Kool Stop cautions not to ride faster than 32 kph (20 mph). I ride around town often loaded to the gunnels with groceries and the like.  The Mule is rated at a 45 kilos (100 lb.) payload and I am sure I have approached that.  As long as I am careful to keep my speed down and immediately slow down on steep descents it does fine, but I wouldnt take it on a long trip again.  

When my trailer, loaded or not, reaches speeds above 30 to 35 kph the wind resistance starts to have the effect of a drag brake and keeps every thing lined up and steady.  I have hit 55 kph and the bike and trailer feel like a loaded semi-trailer truck barreling down the road even on curves.  The unstable speed for my trailer is between 25 and 35 kph depending on the load, wind and the incline.  And then there are the unexpected side gusts that almost did me in.

If you plan to take a large or bulky load and plan to go slowly a trailer could be just the ticket.  Latter in the summer I finished part of my aborted trip, but I read the ACA  Ultralight Cycling essay and road with just two panniers and I was much happier.  Trailers are heavy before they are loaded, even the BOB weight is about 6 k.  My mule, which is striped down, is around 9 k.  My new Tubus rack weighs 730 g.

The one trailer like system I have never heard an owner seriously complain about is the Xtracycle.  I have heard owners say, It can carry too much stuff.  My main concern is that unlike a conventional bike trailer it is a big deal setting it up and once it is on I think it pretty much stays on.  Surly Bicycles have a new Xtracycle-bicycle hybrid coming out that takes all the standard Xtracycle hardware and canvas.  They both put my Mule to shame with their potential carrying capacity, and have no potential for jack-knifing.  The Surly Big Dummy was reviewed in the Nov/Dec 2007 Adventure Cyclist magazine, but I am too old to pull that kind of load very far.

What ever you decide keep your sense of humor and smile when you see someone who made the opposite decision and is very happy with it.


Western Flyer
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden