Monday, July 14, 2014

The Fourth of July and the Tout Terrain

I hope everyone enjoyed their fourth of July!  The parades, the fireworks, the family and friends, and here in Texas, for those meat eaters out there, lots and lots of hotdogs and burgers (or veggie dogs and veggie burgers for my fellow veggies out there).

It's hard to believe that last year at this time, Neva and I had biked about 1000 miles on the Great Divide and were in Aurora, Colorado visiting friends.

 Fourth of July, 2013 spent with the Branson's in style, a rooftop view of the fireworks (shown above).

Since our family likes to do things the bike way, and we are preparing for another Great Divide bike tour later this month, we decided it would be a great time to take out the Tout Terrain Single-Wheeled Trailer and see how it handles on different trails in the area.  Our friend and upcoming tour companion, Laurie, joined us for the festivities and mayhem of biking around a new spot.

Meet Laurie, she's awesome.

The destination was Lake Ray Roberts, which is about 15 miles outside of Denton downtown.  It's a state park that has miles of equestrian, biking, and hiking trails, and every now and again, you might bump into a Lake.

You are here...ish.

The Tout Terrain Single Wheeled Trailer (which from here on out will be termed 'the Single'), is a little awkward to attach to the bike by yourself, but doable, and just takes some getting used to.  You have to finesse the bike being upright, and straddle the Single which has a center of gravity much lower and further back than where it attaches to the seat post, so it wants to tip to one side when you're trying to mount it.  This is standard with all single-wheeled trailers such as the B.O.B. or the Extrawheel trailers, but those cargo trailers are mounted at the axle instead of at the seat post so it's easier to stand over.

So the hitch is that silver thing on the bike post, and the hitch arm is the long black thing which has an articulating knuckle that slides over the hitch and is secured by a lock pin and quick release.

My small, frame mounted Greenfield Stabilizer Kickstand will not hold bike, kid, and trailer up.  The Single has it's own kickstand, but with my bike frame being so small, either my back wheel lifts off the ground and crosses the hitch arm, or the trailer wheel lifts and is quite precarious if a child is in it.  I think taller people (with bigger bikes) would have more space on their seat post, and mount the hitch higher, making the trailer kickstand more effective, lifting the rear wheel of the bike and acting like a double kickstand (without the interference of the hitch arm, of course).  My suggestion would be either get a double kickstand (which needs the appropriate flat bottom bracket to mount, and mine is round) or use a Click Stand (which I tried in the past on the Troll, but it wouldn't stay put since my triangle has such a steep angle to it). Leaning against trees is what I'll do for now, until I can figure out a better kickstand method.

You can see how the rear wheel of my bike interferes with the hitch arm when the kickstand is up.

Okay, now that we're all set up, now we can ride! After toting around the Chariot CX1 for so long, weighing in at 35 pounds by itself (Neva adds another 30 pounds), weight felt like weight to me, whether using two wheels, or one.  Then we climbed some moderate hills (for Texas) and the trailer followed behind like a trusty puppy dog.  At only 19 pounds, I was thinking I may be noticing a slight difference on the pavement. But then we went off-road...

And the difference was obvious.  The load (being trailer + Neva) felt so much lighter.  I felt so much more sleek and capable, and climbing up and over rocks was hardly noticeable.  I felt for the first time that I've ridden with a child trailer over dirt, that the trailer was an extension of my bicycle, rather than an anchor. It was reminiscent of riding with the Extrawheel trailer which is basically a 26" wheel with a rack attached to it.  The turning radius is as tight as you can make it, as it's easier to turn a U since backing up is a little bit of a chore without practice.  After a few hours of fun, we stopped for a snack and some rest.

Wait, did I say rest?  I meant : we decided to stop, shove some food in our mouth quickly, and right when the feeling of calm overtook us, were dragged by a precocious four-year-old into the extremely crowded Lake Ray Roberts for an hour of swimming and sandcastle-building. Luckily, we had come prepared with all of our food, swimsuits, and towels under her seat which has a good amount of space to fit a medium-sized backpack filled with stuff.

So, after sun and sandcastles, we explored more trails, trying some single track after warming up on the gravel paths.  I asked for trailer feedback from the little rider as to whether she noticed the bumps, she replied, "Not reay-ye".  Shortly thereafter, I find this...

Now, I do recommend the child wear a helmet with this trailer. She had one with her, but we forgot to put it on after lunch.  The trailer also has a pillow attachment which we didn't bring this trip, but is shown in the kickstand picture above, which is also a good idea.  The Chariot trailer was not equipped with adequate space for Neva to wear a helmet, and the helmet bulge would push her chin near her chest and she would be looking down. When asking Neva whether it was comfortable to ride in the Tout Terrain with her helmet, she said it was "good" and she looked very comfortable in the cockpit. She remained asleep for the rest of the ride while we took pictures near bikes and trees.

Laurie showing off her muscles!

Okay, maybe we biked a little, in addition to picture taking...

Taking some of the single track paths, I noticed right away that the trees were very narrow for such a long load.  Impossible with a 2-wheeled trailer, and iffy with a single-wheeled trailer if you don't know how dense the forested area is. Capability-wise, I think the Single trailer can handle anything a single-wheeled cargo trailer can handle, but I personally feel more comfortable with scouting out an area first before trying to ride single track. 

After a full 6 hours of play, and only 12 miles of riding under our belt, we left Lake Ray Roberts happy, tired, and a little sun kissed.  Until next time Lake Ray Roberts...


  1. Good job of describing a good and interesting outing.

  2. Beautiful place to ride and not very far from Austin. At 80 now, if allowed to live and remain strong long enough, I'll try it next time I visit family in Austin.