We closed the shop for a couple of days to take advantage of the holiday weekend and the last warm days of summer. Our destination: Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. With R & R our priority for the holiday, we decided not to travel light on this tour. Since the distances we needed to pedal were short we put the e-assist Bullitts to work.
Result: we ate and slept very well thanks to a larger than usual bike touring tent, cast iron skillet, lots of fresh food from home, and several bottles of bubbly. And I must say, we made a few more new friends than with our usual touring bikes – the cargo curious among other travelers proved to be wonderful, interesting, and gregarious. If you met us, and are reading this, be assured, it was our pleasure to meet you and chat about bikes, politics, food, farming, knitting, and travel.
Here’s a little travelogue in annotated pictures:
Bikes loaded onto Rocky Mount tandem mounts, gear loaded, ready to head to Canada.
Parked in Tsawwassen, B.C., packed up the bikes, ready to ride to the ferry terminal.
Bullitts and trailer fit with lots of room to spare on the big BC Ferries.
Lots of room on the smaller inter-island ferry as well.
We arrived in camp after dark, this is the scene as the sun rises our first morning in camp.
A Bullitt transforms into a dish washing station with aplomb.
We took a little day trip to visit some local galleries and farms. This is Kizmet – a serene spot with superb Espresso poured over locally made goat milk ice cream. Yum!
Meet Harry Burton of Apple Luscious Organic Orchard
– he’s farming on a scale consistent with our approach to simplicity. Not a lot of mechanization is used in the orchard. No roadways exists at this time through the orchard, but only paths for wheelbarrows.
Getting ready to pack up and say farewell for now. Salt Spring, our next visit will not be soon enough.
So, how did those cargo bikes do bike touring?
1. Overall, I was most impressed with the BionX PL350’s performance. Even with a full load and very hilly terrain, I returned home with power in the battery – about 1/3. Not knowing exactly how much juice I’d use up on the trip, I was fairly conservative initially in using the power. However, I was proportionally aggressive in using the regeneration mode and found that the hilly terrain really worked to my benefit in recharging the battery. So, to camp and on our day trip I was able to hold the battery charge at about 75% full. On the homeward trip to the ferry and Tsawwassen I used more power and recharged less just to see what I’d get, and still had plenty of juice. If I’d been traveling light as I usually do on a bike tour, I would expect to get even more distance from one charge.
2. The EcoSpeed also proved a worthy traveler. Without it we wouldn’t have had the power to haul a fully stocked full-sized cooler, cast iron skillet, large tent, hammock, camp chairs, fishing gear, and other extras over the big hills of Salt Spring Island. Since this was a short trip this worked in our favor, providing additional luxury that we might not enjoy on a longer trip. Even with 30 miles of hilly, heavily loaded travel its battery still had 5 amp hours remaining (about 1/3 of battery capacity).
3. We essentially had the same amenities in camp that we would had we traveled by car BUT with much less expense. Not only did we save on gas, but the ferry fees
are substantially less for a bicyclist than they are for an automobile.
4. Cargo curious people all along the route were the most gregarious and pleasant group. We made a couple of friends that might not have been met had we brought our usual touring bikes.
5. Our side trip took us down a steep hill onto a gravel road. The long wheel bases, low center of gravity, and overall stable handling of the Bullitts really smoothed out the washboard road making for an enjoyable detour.
1. um, hmm, uh, I dunno….perhaps being tied to the electricity grid would be a con…but the electric assist on the Bullitt’s is what made the trip possible to climb the very steep hills of Salt Spring Island.
To summarize both Joel and I were glad to have taken the Bullitts on this tour. I can imagine taking on other short bike tours in the future and perhaps, with some planning, some longer trips too. The San Juan Islands would be very doable on a e-assist cargo bike, maybe that is our next trip?