How I stopped worrying and learned to love the trailer
When I bought a MEC kid’s bike trailer last year to carry my young daughter around, I didn’t think I’d be hauling it to and from work every day. But after a few weeks, not only was I used to it, but I most days I’m actually glad to have it.
In the early spring, I was still able to park the trailer inside my daughter’s daycare each morning; there was a reasonable amount of space and evidently I was the only person commuting with a trailer in the fairly crappy weather.
But one beautiful afternoon it all came to an end. When I arrived at the daycare, there were four trailers just inside the entrance, prompting a new ‘no trailer’ rule.
So I had to decide whether to lock it up outside each day or just ride it back and forth to work. I decided to try out the latter option for a while, because there was no cover outside the daycare and I didn’t relish the idea of picking it up on those soaking wet days.
Having been at it now for a few weeks, here’s why I’ve come to like it.
If it wasn’t for cycling, I would get almost no exercise at all most days, so my daily ride is a life-saver. Now, this is a little like the ‘you should hit yourself repeatedly with a hammer because it feels good when you stop’ argument, but I’m getting even more exercise with that trailer — it’s the equivalent of jogging with leg weights on.
Not that this doesn’t become a bit of a drag now and then, particularly when I’m pedaling into a head-wind or struggling up one of the hills in my neighbourhood at the end of a long day, but it’s a small price to pay to get legs like Curt Harnett (plus a little PhotoShop work).
I usually don’t have a lot of time between leaving work and picking up my daughter from daycare, so if there’s shopping to be done I have to do it en route. But as most cyclists know, a couple bags of milk and a box of cereal can fill up a backpack pretty fast. But you won’t believe what you can get inside a trailer. I recently cycled home with some beer, wine, cat food, toilet paper and some produce tucked into the back. (I did have to drop these items off before picking up my daughter. But the rear compartment holds a lot of stuff even with a child in the front.) On another occasion I stopped at the hardware store to pick up a large container of deck wash and two long brushes. Try that with a panier.
And there’s the locking potential. I’ve stopped at the grocery store many times only to find no available lock racks. When this happens, I just lock my bike to the trailer with a cable and U lock. I wouldn’t leave it overnight like this on Spadina or anything, but I just can’t see somebody trying to make off with a bike and trailer locked together.
A trailer can also be a good way to keep your wilder side in check. Like sailing off curbs at top speed? Or zipping through intersections or parking lots? Not with a trailer you won’t. Let’s just say that a trailer helps you avoid temptation.
We all know that the relationship between cyclists and drivers can be a bit heated, but drivers seem to cut you a lot more slack when you’re pulling a trailer. This is hardly surprising, since they presumably infer (correctly, most of the time) that there’s a child inside.
Either way, it’s nice to see cars giving you a little more room or slowing down a little more before passing you.
It’s nice to travel lighter on days when I don’t have to drop my daughter off. On the other days, I’m more than making the best of it.