Packrafting is the trend du jour in the paddlesports world. Yet, paddlers have been towing their boats to rivers on two wheels since the days of the penny-farthing.
If you want to travel gnarly singletrack through the mountains, then a space-age-style seven-pound packraft mounted to your fat bike is a perfect idea.
However, if you’re more inclined to pedal meandering roads and trails, explore environmentally-friendly options for getting to the water, or just want to expand your adventure horizons, you may already have most of what you need.
On a windless day, traveling flat and smooth-as-butter pavement, a cyclist will barely notice the weight of towing a canoe once up to speed. On a hill of any gradient, pedallers will gain a new appreciation for a lightweight layup.
The heavier your kit the more energy you must expend to overcome gravity—by the time a cyclist is faced with even just a five-percent gradient, 75 percent of pedal power is exerted combating gravity alone. Go light.
Constructing a canoe trailer is a feasible weekend DIY project for handy folks. For the rest of us, Wike’s 13-pound unit ($220 CAD | www.wicycle.com) does the job admirably. The compact unit sets up and takes down in two minutes.
The trailer consists of two components—the Towing Tee connects the front of your to the bicycle seat post with a universal joint, and a two-wheeled cart supports the boat midship for ultra-smooth sailing.
Wike’s Canoe Trailer has an adjustable width up to 36 inches. See it in action on page 76.
The only enthusiast group more particular than paddlers when it comes to gear is cyclists.
There are many good reasons for enthusiasts to wear sport-specific apparel, but for day-long and weekend adventures, there’s no compelling reason why your boardshorts ($79 | www.patagonia.com) can’t double as cycling shorts, or why you’d need sport-specific fingerless gloves ($25 | www.trekbikes.com).
Leave the Lyrca behind. Simply abide by the tenants of dressing for outdoor adventures everywhere—layer up, and leave cotton at home.
You could throw all your gear into the canoe to rattle along behind you, but I bet you won’t pedal far towing that racket. Panniers are an efficient way to carry and distribute load on your bicycle frame—whether it’s snacks and an extra layer, or cooking pots and camping gear for an overnight excursion.
Waterproof panniers can do double-duty on rainy days and river runs. Arkel’s Orca 35-liter pannier pair ($209 | www.arkel-od.com) can be mounted on most front and rear racks, feature welded seams and the Cam-Lock mounting system will keep bags on the rack, regardless of the load and rough road conditions.
Any bike—even a skinny fixie—can tow a canoe. However, you’ll enjoy the ride to the water more if you roll on tires a couple inches wide. Wider tires offer more traction, which will help you pull, and are needed for rougher roads.
A solid rear rack like Topeak’s Super Tourist ($40 | www.topeak.com) will carry your panniers and larger, oblong objects—say, like a packed tent—on the top of the rack.
6. Repair Kit
Bring the basics for tire repair, just in case. For peace of mind, pack along a spare tube, small hand pump, puncture patch and tire levers.
You’ll need either the skills to use the items or a data connection to stream a how-to video on YouTube. Your dad would recommend the former.
Though it’s more likely your strange load will attract attention and passing motorists will give you wide berth, mark the stern of your canoe with a red or orange flag.
8. Cam Straps
A jack of all trades. Camp straps ($6 and up | www.nrs.com ) are perfect for securing your canoe to roof racks at the beginning and end of the journey, your tent to your bicycle rack while pedalling, and your disassembled bike frame and wheels to the thwarts in your canoe while paddling. Never leave home without ‘em.
Disclaimer: Towing this 75-pound relic is not editor recommended | Featured Photo: Alexandra Cousins