Bike trailer test at the first hungarian zero waste festival
Gyüttment festival - far far away in wonderland
As many of you know, I am trying to live as zero waste as possible, with a lot of emphasis on avoiding disposable plastic. That is why I am a member of the biggest Hungarian zero waste group on Facebook, and there is where I first heard about this festival. (Sorry, the program is only in Hungarian). This festival is for people starting a life in the countryside, and generally about sustainability and environmental awareness.
This year they were determined to make the festival totally waste free, not even recycling bins were put out (only in the kitchen), just places and bins for composting. This was even true for the toilets, which were so called dry toilets, and the material was directly transported for composting from them. You had to bring your own plate, mug, water bottle and cutlery set, and also a cigarette stub holder if you were a smoker. Of course you could buy or rent these in limited numbers at the festival too. When I heard that they were searching for volunteers, there was no question about it that I would want to participate. I loved every minute of it, although I didn’t attend too many programs, I was mostly working in the kitchen, and got a lot of new friends among other volunteers. I put a photo gallery at the end of the post for you to check out, so you can get a bit of the feeling and atmosphere.
Besides volunteering and zero waste, the festival came in handy with two other things. First of all I could finally test my tent, mattress and sleeping bag in a wild camping setting. The new mattress from decathlon is pretty lightweight, can be blown up by mouth and really comfy. Naturally I will have to test in colder weathers also, the lowest it got to was around 14 degrees. Secondly, I was able to try out a bike trailer I had at that time. But why the heck did I have a bike trailer?
Going with a trailer or not, that is the question
It began with me thinking about bringing a trailer on the bike tour, instead of panniers and a rack. It can hold more, a backpack on top is no problem so I can hike wherever I want to. Also I only have to take down front racks before a race when it comes to that. Although I think this is not that important, I don’t plan to race that frequently.
Because I never cycled with a bike trailer attached before, it was obvious that I had to try different versions and set-ups, so I can find the best fit, or even if I really want to do it like this. By chance I got to use a borrowed self-built one-wheeler, and I tested it without any extra weight and also with full package.
For the first occasion, I took it to a small ride to Szentendre, just for 50km. At first it was not too easy to attach it to the axis, but I’ve found that this way it was quite easy to control the bike afterwards, I didn’t even feel the trailer at times. But I was a bit afraid for the quick-release axis, and uphill, even that minimal 6kg could be felt.
After this test I wanted to give it ack to my friend, but eventually there was not enough time before the festival, so I thought I may as well test it with camping equipment. I used my reliable 40l backpack, with the tent and sleeping bag hanging from outside. All in all it was 17kg. I had a lot of stuff, so I also packed my small everyday bagaboo backpack and took it onto my back. (Just a sidenote, I solely used this small one during my tour last year to Brussels, but there’s gonna be a separate blogpost about it later). Getting to the campsite was adventurous, to put it nicely. 🙂
So let's test
I wanted to get down with a train starting at half past 4 to Oszkó, to the festival place, which is basically almost at the end of the world, out in Vas county. My original plan was to travel by train to a nearby village, Zalabér, and cycle a short but meaningful 15km to the site. Of course at the end I could only reach a later train, and I’ve found out at the train station that I would have to wait an hour for connection with this option. Because the connecting station was 40km from the site, I quickly decided not to wait, but cycle that, anyway I had two good front lights. What can happen on an unknown road, with a road bike heavily loaded with 20+ weight, in complete darkness?
Of course for getting on the train I had to get some help, luckily as a girl, I always find a helping hand 🙂 After two and a half hours I arrived to the completely empty and dark station. I assembled the bike and cycled off into the darkness, putting in a gps navigation.
The road itself was quite ok, I only had to cycle on a main road with usually higher traffic for around 10km. There was not even high traffic, although I had to grab onto something with speeding trucks beside me. Accustomed to road bike speed, it was hard to swallow that 20km/h means a good speed now, and an otherwise easy hill seems like the Himalayas with the trailer attached. I felt a bit ashamed that at times I even had to just push the bike uphill, because I couldn’t get back on it with so low speed. A further problem was that I felt the trailer was a bit wiggly with so much weight on, and really dragged me a lot of times.
The only advantage for the one wheeler was that turning felt seamless, and I could fit in really small places. And it’s true that I can pack shitloads on it. But all in all I think I should work on my minimalistic side, and in return climbing the Pamír highway will be no problem 🙂 And just the other day I hosted two Indian bike travelers who also discouraged me to get a trailer. They even told me I can easily put my backpack on top of the panniers, so at last this argument failed too. Let’s stick with common practices 🙂