Musician Ben Sollee and His Band are Touring by Bike - Cello, Drumsets Included

© Kip Pierson. Ben Sollee's Surly Big Dummy utility bike has an Xtracycle’s longtail modular loading system.

Guest blogger and musician Ben Sollee is contributing a series of articles from the road about his Ditch the Van tour. He's traveling by bike, unsupported, throughout New England.

Gear

The first ride day of our Ditch the Van tours by bicycle are often challenging. In the 3,200 miles of touring over the last three years, we’ve discovered success centers around working with the right gear. The number one question I’m asked about the music tours by bike is, “How do you haul the cello?” Well, the key is having the right gear.

LISTEN TO BEN SOLLEE HERE

Day 1: Newport, RI to Fall River, MA (28 Miles)

I ride a Surly Big Dummy utility bike. It’s a 40+ pound bike with mountain bike gearing and massive hauling potential. Using Xtracycle’s longtail modular loading system, the Big Dummy can easily carry around 200 pounds. It’s a comfortable touring machine considering it’s designed to be a human-powered urban assault vehicle. But, you’ve got to take care to balance your pack and watch your tire pressure to maintain stability.

Now, I used to use the more casual toe clips but more recently I’ve clipped in. As someone who was a skeptic, I am now adamant that they are essential for efficiently trucking a lot of weight. And more than anyone else on this tour the drummer, Jordon Ellis, has recognized their value -- since he is hauling a whole drum kit.

© Kip Pierson. Drummer Jordon Ellis uses a Univega to pull his drums, packed in this Burley Nomad trailer.

The drums are packed on to a Burley Nomad trailer that Jordon has modified with high-pressure tires. These help reduce the rolling friction and pick up less debris that can cause time-sucking flats. He also connects the trailer to his steel frame Univega with a homemade frame hitch assembly as opposed to the rather sloppy stock mount that integrates with the skewer. With over 100 pounds of gear on that trailer, it and Jordon get a work out.

© Kip Pierson. Tour Manager Katie Benson halls band merchandise in a B.O.B. trailer.

Since we choose not to have a support vehicle, our tour manager, Katie Benson, also hauls all the merch. She is using a B.O.B. trailer. I wish we could say it was super solid, but the truth is that it’s a little wobbly and any time she stops it’s a project to secure the bike so the trailer doesn’t pull it over. We actually spent a good portion of the morning trying to fashion some type of kickstand out of scrap wood. We got something to work, but it’s still a little precarious.

When you're hauling lots of equipment it’s really important to invest in robust, high-quality gear.

Follow the whole series here.

Tags: Activism | Bike Accessories | Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Biking | Music