Thursday, August 1, 2013

Czech tour, summer 2013, with Lola in the bike trailer - index

This index (in chronological order) is the same as what's in the archive on the left: might be easier to navigate.

Czech Republic - early summer tour. How do we get all this stuff over to Prague? And what kind of summer is this, anyway?
Písek. Lying low. Making the most of the floods, stuffing ourselves with home cooking
Vepice to Konopiště. A castle with a bear pit.
Which way now? South east to Blaník mountain.
Blaník to Pelhřimov: broke my frame, and visited Hell.
From Pelhřimov into 'Czech Canada'.

Which do I use, old school maps or tablet? Do any of these bloody apps work? (not yet written...)
Chariot Corsaire 2 bicycle trailer - reviewed. Not a gift. No sponsorship.

I borrowed this format from this excellent bike tour journal - was looking for an easier way to navigate around each trip.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chariot Corsaire 2 bicycle trailer - reviewed

The Chariot Corsaire 2 seemed to be the biggest trailer around, and the one best suited to touring, so that's what we ended up getting. We paid five percent under retail price for it.

I carried Lola (13kg), and in the storage compartment our tent (4kg), two sleeping bags and mats, cooking gear, food stash and other bits and pieces. We took it 800km around Czech Rep. and Austria, on all kinds of tracks, including quite rough dirt tracks.

If you need some sun protection, you'll have to sort it out yourself. These trailers clearly weren't designed in Australia. Here, the back flap is folded over the front to provide a bit of shelter.

The waterproof cover and mosquito netting for the front, on the other hand, are excellent ( the Canadian heritage shows!)

The Corsaire 2 has quite good ventilation through to the back, but only Velcro to close up the storage space. They could have come up with something more secure.

Note hi-visibility flag can only go on the right of the trailer. This is an oversight if you want to sell these in left hand traffic countries.

A closed cell foam mat comes in handy as a prop for sleeping on.

The Chariot head support (above) is not very useful for a kid with a helmet on, in our experience. We stopped using it. It needs redesign.

The suspension works well generally but has flaws. Firstly, part of it pushes into the fabric superstructure when under load and damages it.

Secondly, the adjustment bolt shown above tends to come loose, and the weight range indicator tape underneath is not attached firmly. When we lost one of the nuts I had to file the replacement down so that it would fit underneath - a bit annoying. Locktite or a nylon lock nut might be a better option.

Those bolts you can see on the inside of the frame in the storage area have sharp edges. It took me a little while to work out what was ripping the tent stuffsack. Also, the fabric floor of the trailer is a bit vulnerable to damage.

The hitch to the back hub quick release works well. With a big load, on rough roads, it can come loose, so you need to keep an eye on it.

The whole thing folds up well and we transported it in the box it was shipped to us in - about 17kg with hitch. There's room to stash more in the box, as well. The wheels (no issues with these) come off and fit inside.

Chariot's support materials appear to be aimed at casual suburban users rather than serious long distance users. They really could do a better job of this. Also, our Czech friends (dedicated hard core users) had serious problems getting any warranty support when their undercarriage broke. They weren't impressed.

All in all, the Corsaire 2 does the job very well, but still has a few design flaws.
It's arguably overpriced at around $US1000 retail - but there aren't many other options!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

From Pelhřimov into 'Czech Canada'

On our way out of Pelhřimov we popped into an excellent bakery and then headed steadily uphill to the little mountain of Křemešník (785m), complete with guest house, mini ski resort, spring and pilgrimage site!

Below the castle of Roštejn we camped in forest.
Next morning we found a primary school festival on! 8 or 10 different small primary schools were watching a whole range of different performances, from clowns to trained dog performances to tours of the castle. Our favourites (below) were the Divadélko Romaneto troubadours, brilliant entertainers who clearly loved what they were doing.

Heading further south through Telč, we reached another epic castle dating back to the early 1200's, Landštejn, dominating the rolling forested hills of Czech Canada.

Near Landštejn we decided to try a Czech style camping ground for the first time. Cyklocamp pod Landštejnem ('below Landštejn') turned out to be an old communist era youth camp now trading on the massive popularity of cycling in Czech. Registering to camp for the night took about half an hour and required passports - but the manager forgot to tell us we needed to buy tokens for hot showers.We'd been hoping for a few Czech families, but it turned out only overexcited school groups were staying there.

Beyond Slavonice, tucked away in the forest off a forestry trail, we found the hraniční kámen Trojmezí, or Dreiländerstein - a border stone marking the intersection of Bohemia, Moravia and Austria.
From here, we were travelling east along the Austrian-Czech border, once part of the Iron Curtain.