Camping Load Test

Alfred Loaded For Camping

Yesterday I ended up picking up small debris from Hurricane Irene in the yard and didn’t have time for too long of a ride. So I decided to try something I had been meaning to try, namely loading up for a weekend camping trip and seeing how things fit and how the bike handled. Most everything was waterproof. I used the two panniers you see, a dry bag and my Banjo Brothers seat bag (the only non-waterproof storage). I have some light to ultralight backpacking equipment so that helped. One pannier had my Hennessy Hammock, cooking gear, water filter, and repair kit. The other side had food and clothes. The dry bag had the sleeping bag. The seat bag had my normal tire repair, multi-tool and some snacks.

I left on a hilly 17 mile loop. The load handles well. I was even able to stand up on hills which I sometimes have trouble with when all the extra weight is on the back. I was feeling good. In fact on one steep hill I was feeling like Andy Schleck.

By that I mean I dropped my chain on a shift. But I had even more mechanical problems than Andy. The chain dropped inside the small chainring but the chain caught up somewhere (probably the old pulleys in the rear derailleur) and the rear derailleur pulled into the spokes. One spoke was snapped on the wheels I built almost two years ago. But these are touring wheels, 32 spoke on Velocity Dyad rims, that can get by with a missing spoke even with a load. I wrapped the broken spoke around the one next to it. The wheel was still true and road fine although I did turn back and cut the ride to 11 miles. So in spite of the broken spoke, or maybe even because of it, I fell ready for a local camping trip. I am thinking about 25 miles, overnight camp, 25 miles, overnight camp, and 25 miles home.

So now I am going to try and get a new spoke today and be ready for the last Monday night ride with the Spiritual Spinners. The timing could be tricky. I already did what I could, removed the cassette, removed the tire tube and rim tape, and got the old nipple out. If I don’t have any problems finding a spoke, I should have a shot of being ready by 6:30 ride time.


  • They have them at REI, at least online.

  • (argh) Wish I could edit these posts b/c I often think of something right as I hit “submit”. Anyway, I didn’t see stores where one could find these. So, I assume that the only way to purchase one is through their site or calling them?

  • Thanks for bring the attention back to the hammock. I glazed right over the link and wouldn’t have hit it if you hadn’t responded. That thing is COOL! We may get a couple of these for the family. One son is a scout (and the other eventually will be), and this would come in so handy for backpacking trips.

  • The Hennessy Hammock is not a typical hammock. You enter from the bottom and have netting like a tent over you with a rain fly over the whole thing.

  • greencannondale

    I would want a stronger rear wheel with 36 spokes or more to carry a load like that, but I weigh 250 pounds to start.

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  • Are you doing open air camping? (No tent?) You’re braver than I am, or is it just less “buggy” where you are?

  • I definitely know what you mean about standing up with a load. Even a trip to the grocery store can do that to me. I throw the bike around a lot (perhaps too much) when I stand up, and that extra weight on the back really changes the dynamics of stuff.

    Curious – you didn’t happen to weigh your stuff off the bike did you?

    I just got done merging two bikes into one built on the frame of my Cannondale R300 – which is normally my commuter. This resulted in a compatibility issue with the mount for my rack – so the rack is now bye-bye. Looks like I’ll be backpacking to for the foreseeable future.