Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dude, Where's My Kayak?



It was a bleak late-Autumn afternoon, when I found myself heading for the beach. I expected it would be too cold and windy to spend much time there, so the plan was just to see the waves and cycle back. But to my surprise, the air was warm and eerily still. The beach itself was empty. And a strange, angled glow illuminated the water, almost like a light in a photographer's studio. Standing beside the sea felt like being indoors in front of a backdrop, rather than next to the real thing. To shake the feeling, I left my bike by the dunes and walked toward the waves. It was then that I spotted something out in the water. A black figure, a surfer. I wasn't alone after all.



As I got closer, I spotted something else - a contraption that stood in the shallow water and, from a distance, was camouflaged rather too well against the sea-gray backdrop. From the angle I approached it at, the object resembled a long and weird sort of tricycle. But as I got closer still, I could see it in its full glory: a mountain bike connected to a long trailer.



It finally dawned on me that the bike must belong to the surfer I'd seen out in the water. How cool! The trailer looked hard-core, like something designed for a car rather than a bicycle, and rated to haul more than surfboards.



As I examined the setup, I could see that the tide was coming in and wondered whether I ought to move the bike, lest it get swept away. But I should not have underestimated its owner's vigilance, for soon the surfer was out of the water and moving his bike to safety. Then he noticed me, lurking, and he noticed my bike, and we got to chatting.



Turns out the cyclist was actually traveling light on this occasion. For the trailer's true purpose is to transport his kayak, which on this day he had left at home.

Was he happy with the trailer setup? Oh very. And he showed me how the surfboard attached and secured. Though the bicycle itself would benefit from being more weather-proof. We discussed the merits of internally geared hubs and hub brakes, for this purpose.



For some reason, the mere image of all this - of cycling to the beach with surfboards and kayaks in tow - made me tremendously happy. It's not that I didn't think it could be done. These objects are not especially heavy, just long, so why not. I've just never seen anyone actually do it.

"Oh you should see us in summer then," said the bicycle's owner. "There are three of us. All on bikes towing kayaks, it's a spectacle."

Oh I bet. And I pictured them, like some aquatic version of the Three Musketeers, cruising along the country roads in their wet suits, to the cheers of delighted farmers and kids playing ball out in their front gardens. It made me think of the bicycle's many uses. And of its seemingly infinite power to generate joy, even on bleak late-Autumn days.




22 comments:

  1. Reminds me of the time I loaned somebody my trailer for transporting her equipment to a hockey training camp. She loaded the trailer with the pads etc. and the sticks were attached to her top tube.
    You have a weird way of encountering cyclists in odd places. It's like that book "Meetings with Remarkable Men" (which I haven't read, yet) except with cyclists.

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  2. I have dreamed of doing this with a sailing dinghy (sunfish, rs aero, or equivalent). I live plenty near enough the water now, but lack the garage or yard space to keep a 12' boat in.

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  3. Brilliant idea. I wonder is it a home made trailer or where did he buy it?

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    1. IIRC it is a commercially available trailer, which he modified. A sign of early onset dementia no doubt, but I do not remember the brand/model even though I did ask. Note to self, to carry a notepad at all times.

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  4. Excellent! Sounds like something you'd find here in California. I've seen some interesting setups at the coast, especially around Santa Cruz. And as always the people are more interesting and enlightening than the gear.

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  5. That trailer could hold 2 or 3 kayaks, it looks like. Of course, that would be a prohibitively heavy load.
    In the Western US, side mount racks are pretty common.
    (I spent the summer of 1979 tooling around Oahu on a yellow Schwinn Stingray carrying two boogie boards. Sorry, no pics exist to my knowledge.)
    And yes, you see some neat surfboard carrying arrangements around Santa Cruz. The side racks work great on a longtail. Well, like most anything else on a long tail.

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    1. Velouria, that looks like a sensible build. Steel, and a roomy cargo rack. How did it handle on descents?

      Wolf.

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    2. Yes, yes, you did.;) .
      Where did you carry the laptop and bottles of wine?

      In full disclosure, I *was* 13.
      So, I too want to know if the surfer fella constructed, modified, or purchased that kayak trailer.

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  6. I'm sorry but I've seen bleak and these photos do not suggest a bleak late autumn afternoon. If anything this looks like an inviting late autumn afternoon for surfing, riding, and much more.

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    1. It really was a depressing day. But just as I arrived at the beach, a "hole" opened up in the clouds, casting a surreal glow over everything. It lasted 20 minutes then was gone again. But those 20 minutes were worth it.

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    2. Days are just days, they aren't depressed in the least, but rather just go about their business of existence, indifferent to our feelings. Or so I thought, sounds like this particular day had it's eye our for you ;)

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    3. Glad you got out during a day in which you felt depressed. Many just close the blinds and choose to remain in a down state. Twenty minutes of air and nature and surprises can keep one going and hopes alive. This is non bicycle related.

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  7. Surfboard portage by bike is quite normal here in Los Angeles. Some folks use beach cruisers with curved metal brackeets on the side, while many use trailers. such as the one in this photo:

    http://bicyclefixation.com/images/header_art/header_28.jpg

    Sorry for the odd crop, but it's a header images for my website.

    There's even one family that parades up and down the beach with mom, dad, and several kids all pulling trailers, with dad's carrying a stack of surfboards for all!

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  8. I would have worried less about the bike being weather-proof, and more about being sand-proof.

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  9. Beautiful photos and great story; I admire these people who are so innovative and are able to include their bikes as a functional part of other interests.

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  10. No doubt he works up a pretty good sweat while pedaling in that wet suit. And looking at these photos got me thinking about the need for a new piece of specialty gear: neoprene booties with built-in spd cleats.

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  11. I live on the coast and made something to get my SUP to the local beach in Shoreham. It started out very DIY and then eventually I developed it into a product 6 months ago. Anything to prevent me from having to take the car! Here's the product - www.shoreride.com. Would be great to hear what you think.

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  12. It looks like he also knows how to surf a bike! Confident, in control and, of course, standing ;)

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  13. I suppose it is difficult to make a bike sand-proof. Internally geared hubs, hub brakes and a belt drive can help but other things may go wrong. I use only old bikes on Mallorcan beaches.

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