This site runs on small donations- thanks!
Full list of articles
« bikewalking #2 | Main | quit or do what you like right now »
Sunday
Jan032016

Bikewalking

A good while ago my good pal desert photographer Richard Head showed me the picture above. It's from the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam war. Using bicycles, thousands of kilos of supplies were transported down narrow trails in the jungle. Because it wasn't a road it was hard to see from the air. If the Americans bombed one section the bike pushers just found another narrow trail.

The key thing is the stick poked into the end of the handlebars. It means you can push the bike while walking upright and without getting your shins barked by the pedles. It allows a bicycle to become a real beast of burden. 

If you've ever ridden with a load on the bike you'll know what a pain it is to walk it. In fact its a pain to walk with any bike. You have to lean over and stand slightly twisted. You have to watch out for the peddles, but they always get you eventually. By extending the handlebars that all changes. Now you can walk the bike very easily, even with a big load on the bike. I decided to make an extendable bar that you could slide in out of sight when you wanted to ride. Then it would be possible to have the best of both worlds. You could ride when the going was easy and walk easily when it wasn't.

The bar I attached is from a brush extender- aluminium, strong enough, with an inner pole that extends out.

After fixing it with cable ties I sawed off the ends.

Here is the bike with the bar extended.

You stand behind that and walk. It's actually easier than walking as you have something to lean on and add balance- useful when pushing through mud on my own Ho Chi Minh trail:

The great thing is that such terrain- awkward to ride up is a pleasure, kind of, to walk up. Here is the bike with the bar retracted when things got worse (better really, more fun) later on:

I envisage having a quickly releasable set of panniers on the back making it possible to tackle any trail and carry camping gear at the same time. I once walked the GR10 along the length of the Pyrenees and there was only one twenty foot section along a narrow cliffside path that I'd be nervous taking a mountain bike along. You could find a way round that section or rope up to be safe. Mountains are possible and so are deserts- carrying 20 litres of water on the bike make a five day desert trip a doable proposition- you push/walk over sand and ride along the gravel bits. The important thing to emphasise is that this is NOTHING like your old irritating experience of walking a bike. This is enjoyable, easy and comfortable.

 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend