Life with four wheels

In-depth discussion of the Carry-Freedom Y-frame trailer, which is thoroughly excellent (if not completely perfect).

Sliced bread usurped as best invention ever

I’ve now put a hair under 50 miles on my Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer, so I thought it was about time to post a quick update on four-wheeled living since the introductory post.


Continue reading “Life with four wheels”

PBP via Tweet

Paris-Brest-Paris, the pinnacle of amateur cyclesport, boiled down into forty-four text messages of at most 144 characters each. Now this is a ride report that isn’t too hard to get stuck into! 🙂

Paris-Brest-Paris, the pinnacle of amateur cyclesport, boiled down into forty-four text messages of at most 144 characters each. High points in green, low points in red.

Now this is a ride report that isn’t too hard to get stuck into! 🙂

(If you’re not familiar with the route, you can take a look at the following map:)


August 16th

  • 1am. So much for getting rid of my sleep debt!

August 17th

  • 23:11 Last chance not to forget anything for #pbp2011… Nope, think that’s it. Argh!
  • 23:48 Ok… Off to bed for the last time before #pbp2011. So much for an early night again!


August 18th

  • 16:50 enroute to #pbp2011 – can he get on to the very British rail network?
  • 18:00 … So far, so good! Suspicious train guard evaded.


August 19th

  • 06:08 “Is that a body, sir?” “No really, it’s a bike. Look, there’s the wheel bag.” #straighttoxray
  • 09:00 Languishing at only 190mph on #eurostar. Makes #britishrail look a bit embarrassing really.
  • 14:19 #pbp2011 – j’arrive! Now ‘just’ the 1200km to get back here!
  • 19:35 Have just ridden the first half hour of #pbp2011 while trying to ride to versailles. Whoops! It’s very nice though…
  • 19:44 Palace of Versaille is ENORME. #thatisall\
  • 20:45 Sacre bleu! My impeccable high school french accent is fooling nobody at #pbp2011!


August 20th

  • 13:15 Roasting hot at bike check #pbp2011. Hope it’s not like this in the week!
  • 21:07 Artisanal pizza and tres cher lager biere at sosta bar, #pbp2011 . Genial!


August 21st

  • 05:26 Enormously epic thunderstorm at #pbp2011. Slept like a log though. Wetter than #pbp2007?
  • 11:09 All at campsite studiously re-re-packing. Shockingly hot and humid again. More thunder tonight? Still, everything’s dried off already!
  • 11:31 Meal in 3 hours then proceed straight to ‘go’! Getting nervous now!
  • 13:50 First of the fast boys are lining up. Some pretty minimal bikes on show. Scorching. 110% humidity.
  • 16:10 Official meal quiet. Giant portions, feel sick! Soon to be en route though- little bit over an hour.
  • 16:12 30 degrees, windproof reflective gilet. Four hours to sunset. Surely not!
  • 23:04 #pbp2011 off to a good start. Surfing tandems to Mortagne in rapid time. Knees holding up so far. No appetite as usual though 🙁


August 22nd

  • 03:15 First control. Feeling pretty wasted. At the front of the bulge i think ? Need to get turned around.
  • 07:36 Next control. Fastest 200 miles ever. Now light but looking grim, good wind though. Way up on schedule. Knees sting. Only 900k to go
  • 15:15 Loudeac, 480km. Knees mostly ok and 9 hours in hand. On for sub-70 obviously (ahem!). Suddenly roasting again.
  • 15:27 Drat. Sleep. 44k to st nic but ~1730 too early. 76k to carhaix, but ~1930 also early. Not going to brest in a day or ride in dark..
  • 21:10 Can the intrepid audax ecosse posse make brest before sleeping?


August 23rd

  • 03:15 93km, 6 hours. Terrible riding. Worst. Decision. EVER.
  • 06:51 Well, on the bright side, only 600km to go. Also the downside. Legs feel good for about 6km at a push.
  • 06:53 Scenes of great suffering at Brest. Even the sun is not rising as it seems it should.
  • 12:50 Carhaix. 7/12ths done. Mad riding over le Roc in thick fog. Much traffic, diesel, moist, cold. 84’s starting to pass, looking a bit moist
  • 16:05 Frites, crepes et cafe at some place I know not where, en route to loudeac.
  • 18:05 Replan working well just now. No queues at loudeac.
  • 18:07  Lesson learned. Instead of riding off through the night for sleep, sleeping here then riding into the night. Thanks to the things.
  • 18:25 Nazca Gaucho 28 is doing the business at #pbp2011 . Picked up an extra hour in hand on the hills between carhaix and loudeac…


August 24th

  • 03:04 It’s all going off. Loudeac to tinteniac in ~3 hrs including the secret control. 85km. Not sure what’s going on, not complaining.
  • 06:33 Fougeres. Flaked pretty badly at the end. 7 hours in hand still. Might sleep but busy. Big effort for a surprise sub 80?
  • 10:13 On a wall somewhere in the sun, sampling the baking. Wishing paris was a bit closer. Although at least it’s not getting further away.
  • 12:00 Narrowly avoided certain death with a spot of recumbent cyclocross. Not an ongoing risk fortunately. Otherwise tres bon.
  • 12:18 We need to average 9.4 to finish in time, but 18.5 to in sub 80. Nobody is sure what to do. There are plenty of hills left, too.
  • 17:59 80km in 5h30 with exploding knees. Mortagne. Still 7.5h ahead of the chop and 17h to get the last 140k in the bag.
  • 18:03 XXL harsh. Ruined husks of men litter the verge, controle, road. never subjected to 90h hell, don’t, or do it with people in worse state than you!
  • 23:40 Knees very bad. Got it in the bag though- 5 hours sleep then off to find a cafe near the finish to wait and torment the statistitions!


August 25th

  • 05:56 Morning coffee, croissant, ready for the last leg. Definately in dreux contrary to the #pbp2011 website. Bon courage tout les monde!
  • 10:17 Argh! Failed by ~30 minutes to join the 89 hour club. 88:20 something I Think. FINISHED. Still got one leg that works, too.


August 27th

  • 17:45 Feeling a bit anticlimatic without a control to chase! Is it really 4 years until #pbp2011 becomes #pbp2015?

To be continued…

Carry Freedom Y Frame trailer review

The excellent Carry Freedom Y-frame trailer… a superb load hauler for your bicycle, and it flat packs in seconds!

According to the AA*, the marginal cost of a mile driven in Edinburgh is 22.8p, meaning that after somewhat less than 750 miles, I will have spent as much driving around town as I would have buying a Carry Freedom Y-frame trailer.

Needless to say, this is convenient as I’ve done just that, and already ridden it 25 miles that I would otherwise have driven! (So it’s 3.3% paid for itself in the first day…)


Quite apart from that, the trailer also offsets the purchase of a pannier rack and panniers, which I otherwise wouldn’t use (except for touring, but we do plan to go touring).

The cheapest imaginable pannier rack and panniers cost £80 from the LBS, about half the cost of the trailer – but you can’t easily carry random bike frames, boxes, or the recycling on a pannier rack, and the rack is always on the bike (unless you have a lot of free time on your hands).

On the other hand, we already have good-quality drybags and other luggage that will fit right on the trailer.

FYI, Chain Reaction Cycles are selling both large and small Y-Frame trailers at a large discount. This is how I bought mine, and I can only recommend it (get it delivered to the office, put it together and tow the empty box home!)

What’s great about the Carry Freedom?

From the first moment I hitched it to my bike, I knew this was one purchase I wouldn’t have many second thoughts about:

  • it doesn’t feel like you’re pulling anything 99% of the time
  • you can still go up hills just as slowly as before (as demonstrated on the ‘Hilly Tuesday’ group ride last night!)
  • because you can’t ride in the gutter, you don’t. While I ignore dangerous or inconvenient cycle facilities as a matter of routine, the nice thing about the trailer is that it’s easy for drivers to understand why you’re not riding 5cm from the kerb.
  • when they do eventually overtake, everybody gives you a wide berth, perhaps rightly afraid of having the side of their car torn apart. No taxi is going to try skimming past in the bus lane with this on the back – it’s almost like having a recumbent.
  • you can still filter on occasion (route dependent) because it’s only a little wider than your handlebars. Mine is 70cm wide. Sure, you can’t skim down tiny gaps, but it’s surprising how little it holds me up in central Edinburgh.
  • it packs completely flat for easy storage in the smallest of bike cupboards. Not only that, it packs flat in literally ten seconds – that is GREAT.
  • You can still steer at full lock in both directions thanks to the flexible hitch. If the bike falls over, nothing gets damaged hitch-wise. I have tested this already!
  • you end up with a ~100g connector on your QR, but otherwise after taking 10 seconds to unhitch, your bike is just as fast/slow as it was before you bought a trailer.

What’s annoying about the Carry Freedom?

  • Although it comes with two reflectors, these hit the ground when the trailer is unhitched, and I don’t think they’ll last long.
  • There’s no obvious place to put the legally-required tail light, although a number of bodges suggest themselves.
  • Sometimes you want to fly between stationary vehicles like the urban transport ninja you are. Having a trailer definitely makes you more vehicular.
  • The trailer rattles like a demented castanet player on the cobbles. Who cares in town, but before going on tour you’d want to fix this.
  • I didn’t buy one earlier, it would have paid for itself ten times over by now!

So far I haven’t had anything remotely heavy on it, but the trailer is rated up to 90kg (or more precisely, safe braking on the tractor unit is the limiting factor here. Jack-knifed bikes holding up traffic in town would get the Evening News frothing!

I’ll post an update on how I’m getting on in due course, and pictures/video of course.  Update: see my growing collection of trailer adventures elsewhere on the site.

* for us. Assumptions available on request.