We have had a pretty good winter so far here in the Northeast. Above average snow and well below average temperatures. Unfortunately, we have also had thaws and rain that keep decimating the snow-pack. We get to a good place and then shortly there after, the weather swings wildly the other direction.
Last week we got a great little storm that put us back into great shape for winter activity. Cathy and I spent a good solid three days enjoying it with first, an XC ski breaking trail in the local woods ant Foss Farm in Carlisle and then two days of good solid Nordic skate skiing at Great Brook State Park. Conditions were good and it felt great to be out and doing something different.
We also had the chance to do a great fat bike ride on Sunday. Earlier in the week, before the snow storm, conditions were pretty poor. All of the snow that we had enjoyed before Christmas in the form of XC skiing and snowshoeing had turned to ice from the warm and rain we had during the week. This was treacherous on a bike without studded tires. No fun at all. However, by Sunday the new fallen snow had packed in enough that we were able to get a great ride out the railroad bed into Concord and then out through Estabrook Woods. We were out for a few hours on top of the 25km XC skate ski we had done that morning. This made for some tired, but happy folks come the evening.
Anyhow, I'd been thinking how stupid it is to drive the 8 miles to Great Brook State Park to XC ski or the 2 miles to the Bethel Inn Nordic Center only to then have to go out an do a bike ride at some point. It would be much greener and cleaner to just ride to the ski. The challenge is how the heck to carry the gear on the bike. For some time I had been designing a rack system in the back of my head. Yea, you know how that usually goes. As with many of my designs, they remain in the back of my head and never see the light of day. Probably not a terrible thing as many are kind of sketchy.
Well this one finally made it past the cob-webs and into reality. I'm sure it isn't all that different than other that people have built but this was what I came up with using easy to source parts that leaned toward inexpensive and light weight. The rack itself was just an old Blackburn rack that I stripped down to the frame only. I used 1/2 plywood for the deck and PVC gutter and gutter clamps for the ski and pole storage tubes. The mounting brackets are hand made from 1/8" x 3/4" aluminum bar that I twisted and bent into the appropriate shape to mount from the frame to the rack. I also used some alloy angle iron to mount the upper PVC bracket to the deck. The lower bracket mounts to the rack frame via a new hole that I drilled and tapped. I leaned toward solid tubes rather than just open slots for the skis and poles to sit into such that the gear would be mostly covered from slush. I don't really want to get my nice skate skis that are freshly waxed all crap on the ride to the area.
The only frill was that I used stainless bolts and Nylock nuts to hold it together. I got everything right at the hardware store and cost for two racks was about $30. Design and build time for the prototypes was on the course of six or seven hours, way more that I'd have guessed but then again, it always is. I'm miscalculated and am missing two PVC gutter clamps for the second rack but it is set to go otherwise, I just need to assemble.
Now if we get some darn snow I will try it out. Oh, the skis and poles hang out quite a ways but the bike seems to handle OK. Will see what it is like on the road loaded up with a bag of boots, gear and a lock as well.