My work commute consists of 10 steps through my house, to
my home office. Plus, I do not have children. Still, I find myself jonesing for the Cascade Flyer, a
bike that is a commuter-cargo-tandem-kid-carrying hybrid and the brainchild of Portland, Oregon-based
bike builder Alistair Williamson.
There, I said it. If that makes me seem like a childless
person inexplicably pining for a minivan, fine. If a minivan could fit on a bus
bike rack, if it could easily be carried up the front stairs into my house, if
it had a Brooks saddle and a highly functional rack, then I’d probably want a
For Williamson, who launched Kinn (a take on kin and kinetic) Bikes
in 2012, the Cascade Flyer solves a perplexing problem. "I have grandkids and
they’re only around a day or two a week," he says. "If someone called me at
work and asked me to pick up Max at daycare, I would have had to ride home, get
in my car, and then go get him. Now, I can go straight to him."
Purpose-built cargo or "longtail" bikes, such as those made
by Xtracycle, are markedly longer than conventional bikes. This adds stability
and strength and accommodates more cargo carrier options. The downside of a
longtail is that it’s difficult to haul up stairs and impossible to stick in a
conventional rack, such as those on city buses.
Today at Interbike, North America's largest bicycle trade show, Thule, leading manufacturer of bike,
ski and cargo carriers, announced two new bicycle fork roof-mount
carriers—the Thule Sprint and Circuit. We’re most enamored with the Sprint because it has features designed specifically to solve real-world problems that many of us have experienced with similar carriers.
We're pretty committed to covering the newest, most innovative gear here on The Gear Shed, but every now and then there is a product, out for a while, that has evolved over time to set the standard in its class that we feel is deserving of a mention. Such is the Ally Canoe.
Introduced by Bergans of Norway in 1972 and last updated in 2000 with a new bow and stern design, the Ally foldable canoe is a PVC-skin canoe made from an interlocking skeleton of light, tubular aluminum stays and ribs held together with spring-loaded shock cords. The skeleton is laid over a closed-cell foam mat for insulation, floatation and extra layers on the bottom of the boat.
The combination of the stiff but flexible frame and soft but tough skin make this boat superb in fast, technical rivers as well as riding waves—it resists jarring and getting hung up. But it was just as fun in flat water and swift water—with excellent tracking, admirable speed and plenty of carry capacity. The spacious Ally 16.5DR held three adults and a dog on one outing. On another, we packed in a week's worth of camping gear and food as well as a dog and two humans. Even when it sat low because of weight, the Ally's steering was excellent. And it was never sloppy or too flexy on the water.
Before we had kids, my husband, Steve, and I swore that we’d never be the kind of parent that neglects their dog when a baby comes along. We’d heard stories of people giving away their pets because of the mind-melding rigors of raising a newborn, others going days at a time without petting the poor animals. No matter what parenthood brought, we vowed, that wouldn’t be us.
Our chocolate Lab, Gus, taught us to be adventure parents long before we became actual parents. He came with us rafting, skiing, camping, and biking. He belly-rolled into snowdrifts in Crested Butte when he was a puppy and chased us down the mountain during dawn patrol powder days at our local ski hill. By the time he was three, he’d floated the Rio Grande, Rio Chama and the Green River. Through trial and error, we learned what to do when he fell out of the boat and how to keep him from cutting his paws on our ski edges. We figured out that swimming is his sport but mountain biking most definitely isn’t (it's way too fast and he's way too big), and that if we hiked 10 miles climbing a 14,000-foot peak, he’d easily go twice as far. Sure, he got into some scrapes, but we had pet insurance and he was happy and—except for when he was glomming food straight from a toddler's hand—gentle, and we couldn’t imagine a better outdoor companion, ever.
Dealing with your climbing
rope at the crag is often a tangley affair. Most rope bags are some sort of sack
that holds a detached tarp. While you’re climbing, the tarp is out of the bag
with the rope piled on top of it, protecting the rope from getting dirty or wet
or snowy. But when it’s time to move to a new route, the rope has to get rolled
up into the tarp, which then has to be stuffed into the sack. Often, wrestling
of said sack and rope and tarp ensues, which can cause rope tangle by the time you get to your next