Sunday, November 21, 2010

RV “Toad” Alternatives

If I had a large Class A motorhome, there’d be no question I would tow a car behind it (affectionately called a “toad” or “towed” by RVers).  Driving a 40’ RV around a crowded grocery store parking lot, or down a narrow city street is not very fun and sometimes impossible, so that’s why almost all big rig owners bring tow vehicles to do their exploring once they arrive to a new destination.

But small motorhome owners are faced with a dilemma—to tow or not to tow?  My View is 24’ feet long (only slightly longer and wider than a large pickup truck), so it is quite nimble enough to navigate strip mall parking lots, small gas stations, tight corners, and so on.  It’s also a fabulous day-touring vehicle when sightseeing (never need to worry about finding a restroom when you need one, or finding a nice luncheonette with a scenic vista). If you drive past an interesting roadside attraction and want to turn around and go back, it’s a small enough rig to back up or do a u-turn (you can’t do that if towing a car).  But on the other hand, if you’re staying parked and in one place for a number of days or weeks, having an extra vehicle sure beats having to pack up the RV every time you need to run to the store or want to go to the beach!

My current car, an AWD Subaru Outback, can only be towed via a car trailer, and that set up would be way too heavy and cumbersome for the View.  So, I utilized a few other “Toad” alternatives for my month-long stay in Florida:

1. A Rental Car

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There was a Hertz office just a few blocks from the RV park and they offered great weekend rates from around Thursday noon to Monday noon (about $20/day).  Since I was working during the week anyway, this was a great solution to get out and see the sights when I had the time to do so.

2. An e-Bike

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This is my main form of toadless transportation whenever I’m RVing.  It’s a Giant Freedom DX electric bicycle.  I like it because it doesn’t look that different from a normal bike (hopefully less likely to draw attention).  But if you look closely, the front wheel hub is chunkier than normal (that’s where the electric motor resides), and behind each of those rear saddlebags are 2 large Li-Ion batteries capable of providing enough oomph for a 40-mile bike ride!  Now, before you think it’s a total lazy girl’s bike, you still do have to pedal the thing (it’s only an electric-assist, not a moped), and going up steep hills can still be quite a workout.  But it’s a great solution for bike-friendly Florida with it’s wide sidewalks and flat terrain!

The bike was great for riding around the resort and tooling up to the corner strip mall.  But what about grocery shopping, you ask?  Simple.  Just attach the ultra-light,12 pound  Burley Cargo Trailer!  Here’s my shopping setup:

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But I still had one more problem to solve—the RV park was 4 miles from the nearest doggie swimming area, and Millie as you know, LOVES to swim.  For a week I tried training her to ride on the cargo trailer (to the great amusement of my RV park neighbors!).  She’d sit on the trailer bed just fine, but as soon as the wheels started turning, she’d jump out.  So, a trip to the pet store found me the perfect solution—a pop-up kennel that fit the trailer just perfectly!  Millie still wasn’t too thrilled with this (just look at her face below!), but she’ll put up with any temporary annoyance if swimming is the reward!

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3. A Real Toad!

Well only in Florida I guess!  One night after my bike ride, I returned to the rear of my motorhome to find this little guy hitched up to the back of my rig…a real toad!

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3 comments:

  1. Great information here about how you and Millie get around. I wonder if I could crawl into the kennel and have Steve haul me around :) Is it very hard to lift the electric bike up to carry on the back of your View?

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  2. The e-bike weighs about 60 lbs, so it's a little heavy, but not too bad, and I could always remove the batteries first if I ever needed to (which would reduce it down to about 45 lbs). Even with the hitch-mounted bike carrier, it's still less weight than a moped (I think it comes out to about 120 lbs of hitch weight once I've got the cargo trailer, bike, and cover hitched up).

    From the research I did before I bought mine, it appears eBikes are extremely popular in the UK (and likely all of Europe). Even my USA-model bike came with a European charger with a US plug adapter on it. So, if you get over there and feel the urge for some extra wheels, you'll probably find a much better selection of bikes over there than here.

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  3. Great blog! I love your RV too! I hope you don't mind but I borrowed a few of your pics and used them on my blog. Let me know if that's ok. thank you

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