As you may have read, I’m planning the Post Pepin Peregrination, a three day, three speed camping tour after the Lake Pepin Tour this year. This isn’t the first time I’ve attempted a three speed camping tour, of course. But I’ve been putting some more thought in the whole “cartage” thing.
First things first, since people are going to ask: No, this isn’t going to be a “vintage” camping trip. While in theory that sounds like a good idea, there are two things that stop me from doing that:
- I don’t own vintage camping gear, so I’d have to go buy a bunch of new-to-me stuff.
- For the most part, that stuff is heavy! Canvas tents? Wool blankets? Folks used that stuff in that era because they had to. And I’m not saying that stuff is bad, per se. But I’m pretty sure if you gave a cycle camper in the 50’s the choice between using the stuff they had or our modern, lightweight equipment, I think many would go for the latter.
But the bigger thing to ask is: How am I going to carry everything?
On my ill-fated Three Speed Tour of the Iron Horse Trail back in September I tried to go as minimal as possible. I used only three bags: my Carradice Camper saddlebag, a Jandd frame bag, and a Velo Orange small handlebar bag. I got everything in, but just barely. Bless the Camper for coming through; I really tested the limits of its longflap! But jamming most of the things into one large saddlebag is just a tad unweildy, especially when I needed to get anything out of it. So this time I’ll be using my smaller Carradice Nelson longflap saddlebag and a set of panniers, my custom North St. set that I’ve had for several years. (They came with me on the Cross-Con Tour!)
So this leads to the question of racks. What rack is appropriate for a classic three speed?
While you might find some “factory option” luggage racks on some, the rack you’ll see most often on a three speed is the venerable old Pletscher aluminum “mousetrap” style. This was the most common type of rear carrier for a long time. While the spring loaded “mousetrap” is definitely functional, they suck for carrying modern panniers. In the era the Pletscher rack was designed, panniers were usually two side bags connected at the top that simply draped over the side of a rack. Modern single-sided panniers need a lower anchor point, something a single-strut rack cannot provide.
There are more modern Pletscher racks though, most notably the “Clem” rack designed and sold by Rivendell. This one features the classic mousetrap but also has double struts with loops for pannier hooks at the bottom, and an optional side rail to easily hang panniers. It would definitely look good on a three speed.
But the one I have is the Linus rack, which I purchased a few years back. It’s able to hold modern panniers, but its minimalist polished aluminum design doesn’t look out-of-place on a vintage bike. And it shall do me well on the coming tour!