Huge chunks of weathered gray rock jut skyward from the gentle tumbling waters of Fall Creek as I roll over the bridge, about to disappear under a thicker canopy of trees as the scenery changes ever so subtly. Those rocks are more submerged during the wetter months, and show why the creek makes a dramatic turn at this very spot.
Big Fall Creek Road narrows at this point where I could call it a day and roll into Cascara State Park to set up camp along the reservoir that reflects the rather dry winter we endured. We camped there 10 years ago, one of our last stops before driving into Eugene permanently to make it our home. I know there are vacancies, which make it tempting.
The feeling of “Been There, Done That” triumphs over any nostalgia rippling in my head. That was then, this is now.
Instead of our popup camper and the SUV filled with gear and my girls, I’m gliding across the bridge effortlessly on a Bike Friday Haul-a-Day cargo bike loaded down to get me through a night of camping.
Up the road a number of small campgrounds dot the edges of Fall Creek, and my heart is set on the solitude they offer. The softening of the afternoon light reminds me that, this being Friday, camping sites get snatched up in a hurry. This could be a lot of extra pedaling for naught.
Yet I’m in no hurry. The images of Fall Creek that pop in and out of view behind the lush green forest calm me. They also make me wonder why this has taken so long.
The last time I packed up camping gear on a bike and headed out with my buddy Jack, we were just hitting high school back in Wisconsin and didn’t have driver’s licenses to accommodate such desires. We had to load up backpacks with our gear, and wobble our way out to Eagle.
I’m thinking back to that because it is exactly why our cargo bike has been so popular. There are a lot of people out there who want to leave their cars behind. A cargo bike offers that type of freedom.
That type of freedom delivers peace on a number of levels. That’s the overwhelming feel on this day. What, Me Worry?
More than anything, this is my personal quest to know the Haul-a-Day better so I can do my job better. That’s just the reason for this adventure. The satisfaction is an added, pleasant bonus.
I’ve got the Haul-a-Day packed up with about 50 pounds of gear which, if you attempt to pick up the bike, feels like quite a significant load. I’m not the biggest dude on the block, running about 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, so having the Haul-a-Day itself start out at 33 pounds is a true benefit.
Having tested my strapping skills to make sure my cargo stays put and felt the weight of the full-loaded bike, the time had come to see how challenging this effort might be. With a solid push on the pedal, the Haul-a-Day responded quickly with a straight launch. No wobbling left and right to get it under control. It zipped forward, like an arrow.
As I’ve done more than few times in my five years of personally testing Bike Friday gear, I find myself shaking my head thinking, “Can it really be this easy?”
Three hours later, as I leave Cascara behind and continue into the Oregon wilderness, I know the answer is a resounding yes.
Although I tend to spend most of my riding these days on bike paths, trails and protected lanes, this venture brought me back to the reality of riding along a busy road with nary much of a shoulder. The feeling of complete control of the Haul-a-Day eased my mind when a logging truck would zoom past.
The gearing on this Haul-a-Day (it’s the same Haul-a-Day that Adam Newman used for his review in Bicycle Times) has 24 speeds and more than enough on each end for me. The two-mile climb from the dam wasn’t too steep, instead long and steady. I handled it with no problem.
As I roll into Broken Bowl campground and see open spots, I think that I should be more tired than I am. I’m lugging around an extra load, yet I could probably continue on if I had to. I see one spot still available on the creek, and realize I don’t need to go any farther. This will do just fine.