We had a long and harrowing trip through the Virgin River Gorge. We were left little choice but to use the Interstate (I-15) to get to our next destination, St. George, Utah.
The State of Arizona listed the route as high traffic volume but with a shoulder of greater than 4 feet (1.2 m). That description was fair, but the State Bicycle Guide & Map failed to mention that the multiple bridges in the gorge, DO NOT HAVE A SHOULDER AT ALL.
We made several white-knuckle bridge crossings by walking the bikes, with us sandwiched between the concrete wall and our bicycles, gingerly treading along the white line. The bicycles were acting a comforting but ineffective shield between the tractor-trailers, rented RVs, cars, trucks, towed boats, and us.
Apologies for not stopping to snap some photos.
We arrived in St. George, Utah with the purpose of shedding some more weight. The first thing to be shipped out was the borrowed BOB trailer. We both rode with it for a few days and there were pros and cons to using it.
My bicycle protested that it made its butt look big. Seeing that my vulnerable bits are intimately connected to the bicycle via the saddle, I thought best to take the bike’s request under consideration. An angry bicycle can spitefully buck at the most inopportune time, with the uncomfortable effect of creating what feels like two additional Adam’s Apples.
The things I liked was that it did make me more aerodynamic. I never encountered bike-stopping headwinds but I did notice less drag. This is a plus. When Elliot was riding with us (on a recumbent and BOB combination) he easily finished at least an hour before us each day.
One thing that people report liking about the trailer is that you can jackknife it to park the bicycle. I did not like this. First, we have kickstands that work extremely well for parking and packing the bags. Additionally, once jackknifed, the weight on the trailer makes it difficult to simultaneously right the bike and trailer. It usually took two of us to efficiently perform this maneuver.
There is a weight penalty with the trailer and dry bag combination. When I weighed these before packaging, they were a little over 18 pounds (8.2 kg). My four panniers (empty) weigh 7.3 lbs (3.3 kg). On flats and downhills I did not notice a much of a difference (without wind), however when I climbing hills I felt that I was dragging additional weight.
With the trailer, there was a loss of agility. With panniers, the bikes are nimble, which makes avoiding potholes, road debris, etc. easy. With the trailer, quick maneuvers are near impossible. On a downhill, quickly avoiding something in the road results in a residual fish tail effect where the trailer feels like it is moving the bike.
Agility also takes a hit when trying to stealth camp. Moving off the paved road onto a dirt, gravel or sandy side road makes riding more difficult. Pushing the bike on these surfaces feels more like wrestling than rolling, due to the shifting weight.
Along with the agility issue, the turning radius is wide with the trailer. Not that I’m playing bike polo on a fully loaded bicycle, but I appreciate the ability to make a tight turn.
With panniers, organization is easy. Everything has its place and accessing tools, food, etc. throughout the day is easy. Packing everything into the large dry bag loses this convenience Of course, things could be organized using stuff sacks (one for food, another for tools, etc.) within the dry sack and items needed throughout the day could be placed in a bag and strapped to the outside of the dry sack. I prefer the organization and access options of the panniers.
So BOB, it’s not you, it’s me. Let’s be friends. I need some time apart and to think.