Best Laid Plans…

Best Laid Plans…

This post is mostly about our equipment, so, you know, none taken if you want to skip over it… TLDR: I broke my bike accidentally on purpose and it caused medium panic but it’s sorted now.

Some time ago we started thinking about the set up we’d need for this tour. Last summer we had both kids on bike seats behind us. Anita had rear panniers and I towed the double trailer for the luggage. It worked pretty well and the kids liked it. But I always get a bit anxious about tipping the bikes over as the centre of gravity is quite high. Plus it’s tricky swinging your leg over to get on and off without kicking a child in the face.

The twins are a year older and bigger this summer, and really coming to the upper limit of the weight that child bike seats are designed to take. So we figured we’d look for a new set up.

The double trailer (Croozer kid 2) is awesome. We use it most days for getting the twins to and from nursery and occasionally we do longer rides to town with it. Plus, it has a jockey wheel which you can swap in to make it into a double buggy, and a big front wheel attachment which transforms it into a three wheel off road buggy. We’ve used it loads at festivals too. But having both kids in it for more than half an hour often results in fighting. And if we used just the double trailer for touring, whoever was pulling it would be taking the vast majority of the weight… We are using it, but we’ve also bought a second hand Weehoo trailer. Which is like a recumbent seat with pedals and drive chain which hitches to the seat post of our bikes. They are pretty awesome. And you can (just about) use them with panniers.

So, we’re taking the double trailer, the Weehoo and panniers. Towing one kid each. Which we reckon will work. Plus, it gives us the option, if the weather is awful, of putting both kids in the trailer sometimes. With a plan in place and all the gear purchased, we needed to give the bikes a decent overhaul and clean up, plus get them set up for the new Weehoo. Which is where the problems started…

The Weehoo uses a hitch which sits around the seat post and we wanted both mine and Anita’s bike to be set up with hitches for the double trailer and the new Weehoo, so that we can swap things around if we feel like it. Which requires taking the seat post out, sliding the hitch on and the reinserting into the bike frame. And, guess what? My seat post has not been moved since we first set the bikes up seven years ago. And when aluminium oxidises inside a steel tube, it expands and basically bonds together. I spent a very long time over several days trying all sorts of methods for removing the seat post, including rapid heating and cooling, lots of WD40 and lots of brute force. In the end, I decided to accept that the seat post would be destroyed and hacksaw it out… This involved cutting it just above the frame, and then painstakingly sawing slits down inside the seat post until I could, hopefully, kind of fold it in on itself, away from the steel frame tube and extract it. But, it was reeaallly stuck. After a full day of swearing, crying and cutting, this is what I ended up with:

A completely mangled seat post which is definitely not coming out. My only option now is dissolving the post using caustic soda which should leave the steel frame in tact. This requires completely stripping down the bike and probably a couple of days of careful chemistry. A job which will have to wait until later in the summer.

So, with just a few days until our planned departure, I found myself without a bike. Or rather with my trusty touring bike, which I love, pretty badly knackered and definitely un-rideable…

Luckily Andy, from our brilliant local bike shop, High Tide Cycles, has hired me a second hand tourer, which he happened to have in stock, for a very reasonable price. I’ve since kitted it out with my Brookes saddle, front pannier rack and a few extra bits and pieces. Including, critically, the hitch for the new Weehoo…

After all that, I think we have our set up pretty much sorted for our first proper bike tour with the kids. Phew! Now we just need to pack…

The new replacement bike with Weehoo attached šŸ™‚
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