Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Using My Airstream Basecamp as a Toy Hauler for My Folding Bicycle

The Montague Allston, folded up and in its case, inside the Basecamp
With its backdoor and anchors, the Airstream Basecamp can haul a variety of recreation "toys" such as bicycles and kayaks. I decided to try out my Basecamp toy hauler on my most recent trip, taking along my bicycle, and can say that it worked great--easy to strap down, and I even chose to use the front door of the camper to get my Montague Allston folding bicycle inside.

The Montague Allston, manufacturer photo
Montague manufactures a variety of bicycles that all fold in the center and are full-sized bikes. Here's how the company describes the Allston: "The Allston is a folding bike that combines standard 700c wheels with a Gates carbon belt drive and Shimano Alfine 11 internal gear hub. Grease-less and virtually maintenance free, it’s perfect for urban riding and can be stowed until your next ride. Hydraulic disc brakes provide superb stopping power, a RackStand offers cargo carrying capacity, and extra wide 38mm tires make it comfortable on even the roughest roads."

My wife and I have both owned Montague folding bikes, the Navigator, and have taken them with us on camping trips when we owned our tiny standy trailer, the Green Goddess. I used a bike rack with my RTTC Polar Bear and was able to take my main bicycle, a Tout Terrain Amber Road, along with me on most trips; however, sometimes for security reasons, I would bring along my folding bike, which I could pack in the back of my tow vehicle or in the travel trailer itself. I got rid of one of my wife and my Navigators, though, and bought an Allston because I think the internal gear hub and Gates belt drive will allow for much cleaner packing. 

Because I bought a carrying case with the Allston, it was easy to pick up and carry into the Basecamp. Prior to bringing the bike into the camper, I had folded back the two sections of the seat bed and collected most of our sleeping equipment into a net bag. The bicycle fit easily into the space between the seats, and there was even enough room for a bit more equipment, such as a small folding aluminum camp table. I unzipped the bag a bit so that I could strap down the bike more securely by centering the two adjustable straps around the seat post. Four elastic straps secured the bicycle, which traveled the forty miles with no problems.

Montague Allston inside its travel case

Assembled and ready to go (my Instant Pot lunch on timer in the background)
Once I arrived at camp, I brought the bicycle outside and chained it while still in the bag to the skid rails at the back of the Basecamp. I squirreled both zippers so that they were together at the bottom of the bag and then opened them a bit to allow for the bike frame to be securely chained.

The next morning I assembled the bike, strapped on my bike bag, and took a two-mile spin around Indian Lake, my home for a week. There is also a state forest (which in Iowa mostly means small packets of forest surrounded by farmland) that has some great gravel roads and multi-purpose trails. Fun awaits! 

A bit of the lake trail

A white oak beside the trail
My trip around the lake was fun and easy, although I had forgotten about the three steep spots where I got off and pushed. It's been a couple of years since I've camped here with a bike. Everything worked well--brakes, gearing, shifters, and overall performance--and I made quick time around the lake and perhaps dodged a few chiggers by being able to travel across grassy spots without kicking through the grass. Hope so, anyway. One beautiful view I always enjoy at the end of the trail that loops the lake is to see two beautiful, ancient white oak trees at the end of the trail. These oaks are over two hundred years old and are truly majestic. 

I've thought a bit about how the travel would be with the bike inside if I were traveling multiple days with a series of overnighters, possibly some in free parking sites such as Walmart or Harvest Hosts. The bicycle unstrapped quickly and easily, so getting the bicycle outside for a short time would be easy, such as if cooking inside and a dinner table were needed. At night, I could bring the folded, bagged bicycle back inside. It fits easily in front of the refrigerator, allowing access to the bathroom during the night. If my wife and I were traveling and we were taking both the Allston and our second Navigator so we could go on rides together, I believe both bicycles would fit side by side between the Basecamp's seats. I think we would probably choose to pack one in the SUV, though, in order to simplify our use of the Basecamp while on the road. 

I have read about the after-market bumper that has recently been designed to fit the Airstream Basecamp, one that is set up to take a bike rack. Since I've already owned and used a bike rack behind a trailer, I have no problem with such a solution. The truth is, though, securing the Allston folding bike inside the Basecamp and utilizing the trailer's toy hauler capacity was really easy. Greater security, ease of use, and easy access to opening the rear door are all factors that are making me happy right now with this trip's bicycle transporting solution. 

So happy trails! My iron (aluminum, actually) steed awaits!

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