By: Brian Szklarczuk & Prairie Velo
In the glorious months of the summer of 2019, I covered almost 3,000 miles through the breathtaking and peaceful landscape of the Canadian Prairies. The riding was carefree under the endless prairie skies. I wasn’t alone. Following me all the way, was my friend Burley. Burley Coho XC to be exact. He was attached to my proverbial hip the entire way. I don’t quite remember when he started to complain, but Mr. Coho was getting cranky.
I was oblivious to his suffering and his groans (my hearing impairment probably didn’t help). But during one of my many trips, those around me, one mechanical engineer, one retired Olympian and a cast of bikepackers reminded me, on a regular basis, that Burley was obviously struggling. One only had to hear the creaking sound coming from… somewhere back there.
After an ill-fated plan to add air suspension to inflate Coho’s ego, and the persistent mocking that I was a bad trailer owner, I decided to ask the big guy, Burley Design, for help.
The first text went something like this, “I am probably the worst trailer owner in the world and can’t figure out why on earth my Coho is squeaking after only 3,000 miles of punishment.” After a rather colourful exchange (it seems the Burley folks have a sense of humour and an abundance of patience for odd customers with improvement ideas), I was pushed along from customer relations to marketing and finally engineering.
After talking about my persistent squeak (which we finally nailed down), and my interest in pulling weird things, like bags of gravel and sacks of potatoes, the conversation shifted to Burley’s other products such as Coho’s cousin, the Travoy, which unfortunately suffers from an identity crisis. Their words not mine. Despite being a great trailer for bikepacking and urban hauling, the Travoy has been stuck in the lesser category of “grocery getter.” Rather than fetching adventure, its image is tied to fetching lettuce, radishes and toothpaste. Burley asked if I could help them change that mindset.
That’s the backstory. Now, to my plan of putting the Travoy to the test. The goal: to use it in new and unusual ways across the great Canadian Prairies and hopefully, get the Travoy out of the grocery aisles and into the wild.
Soon after this discussion, a non-descript Burley box arrived at my door. I guess the stone is cast into the proverbial pond. Now that the trailer is here and I’ve overcome my fear of disappointing Burley, I can start planning the rigorous testing the Travoy will undergo in 2020: hauling suitcases and full-sized barbeques at long distance bikepacking events (within the weight restrictions, of course). Delivering potatoes (because I can). Volunteering for some Random Acts of Bikeness (in the spirit of Burley). Delivering coffee. Kickstarting e-bike tours in Manitoba’s French-speaking communities (with my favorite partners at Bonjour Manitoba).
These are just a few of some rushed ideas that come to mind (note: my editorial deadline for this article has already passed and I’m now in quadruple overtime). If anyone lives in the “muddy water”, otherwise known as Winnipeg, and is in need of a helping hand this season, we’d be happy to help out. From time to time, our coordinates will be live thanks to our snazzy Boomerang GPS tracker.
One last thing, if you come up with great idea for the Travoy, send a note to Kim at Burley or myself. I realize Burley is the quintessential beacon of goodness, so let’s get some community ideas that is in their spirit of making the world a better place, one trailer ride at a time. Oh, I should add that I don’t like to go out past 10 p.m., so no late night beer runs for thirsty bike adventurers. Sorry.