June 7, 2009/ Jim Parker
North Carolina, June 6th 2009. Maria and I headed out at 6:34 am in a light rain, rear lights flashing on the small packs attached to the backrest of our Silvios. We headed southeast into Columbus County, then north through the entire length of Bladen County, into Cumberland County, then west through Robeson County, then south into Hoke County, before heading west and home again. We covered 133 miles (214 km) in a total time of 8 hours. Our average moving speed was 17.4 mph. Some roads were smooth, some quite bumpy, but tolerable with the Silvios’ suspension. We passed through a few small towns, and many miles of beautiful expansive farm land, with amber waves of grain, and green oceans of young corn. We sailed by many horse and cattle farms. While the cows seemed not to care about our presence, the white cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) perched on the cows invariably took flight and retreated a safe distance.
Our long distance technology is evolving. In the past, we have used water bottles attached to the backrest as the primary source to drink from. We have found a very inexpensive alternative that works well. 1.8L plastic jugs from Wal-Mart attached to the TFT with zip ties, and a straw provides a very easy hands-free way to drink. The jug sits between your thighs, with no encumberance. You can just lean forward and drink. The straw is two-part. The part in the bottle is a rigid plastic straw, and over that fits a larger diameter floppy plastic tube, that is soft and safe to have sticking up in the air.
Here are two photos of the setup. The zip ties are white, and it takes two combined zip ties to reach around the jug. The black rubber band is just for temporarily tucking items against the jug.
A disadvantage of the system is that the jugs can’t be removed for refilling on the road (unless you want to carry some spare zip ties). We just used our water bottles to refill the jugs, or purchased a gallon of water at a convenient store, and refilled them with that. Also, when the jugs are full, water can splash out around the straw when you hit a bump. We solved this problem with some tape around where the straw enters the jug. It may not look very fancy, but its affordable and makes staying hydrated very easy. -Jim