A great way to transport yourself from point A to point B on a kayak river trip is by bicycle. Especially if you’re paddling solo. Here’s a rundown of some tips and tricks for a successful bike shuttle.
One way traffic
On a down river trip, where the current is too strong to paddle back the way you came, using a bike is a great way to shuttle. Here’s how to run it… Drop paddle gear at the putin, drive to the take out, park, and ride the bicycle back to the putin, where your kayak is waiting rigged and ready to paddle. Some folks even ride a paddle/bike shuttle from their front door having special bike trailers for their kayak and paddle equipment. Other folks bike ride to the launch with paddle gear from their front door and then break down their bike and load it on their kayak. At the end of the paddle trip they reassemble their bike, load up their paddle gear and pedal home.
Why bike shuttle first?
It’s best to get the bike shuttle portion of the dual-sport mission out of the way first, if possible. If your paddle trip turns into longer than you thought or you encounter unexpected delays, it’s refreshing and a relief to have the shuttle out of the way. Some paddlers find that biking is the most exhausting portion of the shuttle (depending on the terrain) and it’s nice to get it out of the way on the onset.
In addition to the usual paddle gear care, be sure to maintain the bike. Before you take it to a remote trail or road and depend on it for transport, be sure the brakes, gears and crank shaft are all in good shape. Air up the tires and carry a pump and patch and/or spare kit. It would be a shame to have the shuttle disrupted by an avoidable maintenance issue.
"Do not disturb" note
I like to bring a handwritten note that I leave with my paddle gear at the putin when I am in shuttle transit and it’s unattended. The note reads something like, “I don’t have a lot of financial resources and I love paddling. Please don’t take my gear. I am in the midst of a shuttle and will be back to start my paddle trip shortly.”
Let someone know your plan
You always need to let someone know where you're paddling and what time to expect you back, especially if boating solo. Be sure to give them directions as to what authorities to contact. Land managers, local rescue crews and boaters that can help find you, in the worst case scenario.
Other Resources for a down river paddle trips
Check flows: USGS(An example for Oregon)
Check maps and beta: American Whitewater
Local hazards: Search out local forums on Facebook and info at paddle shops