An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Why my Surly is not the coolest Surly on the block

If you see a bean green Surly Crosscheck locked to a post outside Cafe Brenda in Minneapolis' warehouse district, you can be pretty sure it's either my bike or Dan Buettner's bike. If it's Dan's, that's a lot cooler, since he has ridden bikes (mostly custom-built Cannondales) from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, from the Mediterranean Sea to Cape Horn (pushing his ride 300 miles through the roadless Sahara, and seeing human roadkill), and across Siberia. All told, he's covered summink like 120,000 miles by bike.

So when I ran into Dan the other day, I asked him summink I've always wanted to ask him: Why did he ride all that way with panniers and not a trailer? He said there were two reasons: First, he didn't want the extra axle and wheel, and felt that the friction it represented would be more of a liability than it maybe seemed, in transcontinental expeditions.

Second, he described a certain effect of physics that comes into play with heavily weighted panniers. I forget the technical term, but basically the bouncing of the bags counteracts the bouncing of the bike on rough roads, and they cancel each other out. In other words, a heavy loosely bundled ride is a smooth ride.

Next time he hits the Sahara, he'll undoubtedly want to be looking at the Pugsley line.