Necessity is the mother of invention, as the cliche` goes. However, so too can a sense of adventure guide creative pursuits. Such was the prevailing motivation behind this “DIY” creation last fall: The Stealthy Stroller. Goofy name and source materials notwithstanding, this contraption proved to be a game changer for me last season.
Most block management areas in Montana are managed for roadless zones during hunting season. With most hunters sticking to within a mile of the truck, simply being able to get in quickly, easily and with carrying capacity can really open up new terrain with minimal pressure.
In the days before the trailer’s completion, I saw more hunters than game pretty regularly. Once I had a way to pack out my query hooked up to my steel-framed steed, I was able to get 3-4 miles past the gate well before first light and without a hunter in sight.
The idea was simple: I needed something cheap to tow behind my bike. A trip to Goodwill in Missoula, Montana yielded a $7.99 three-wheeled baby stroller with removable front wheel. Perfect. Then all I needed was to create an easy way connect/disconnect the trailer while the hitch allowed for vertical, lateral and rotational movement so that the hill-pumping and bank turns of the bike didn’t tip the trailer. The solution turned out to be a seat-stay “tow bar” of sorts that moved vertically along the stay-tube. This was constructed from leftover roof-rack tubes and clamps. This tow-bar also swiveled laterally, but was constrained by a looped bungee around the bike’s cargo rack so that it didn’t swing too wide. The real crux move was the use of a swiveling caster for Harbor Freight that was deconstructed with a hacksaw to hold an axle skewer rather than a rubber wheel. Using a short steel pipe from ACE that was cross-drilled and secured inside the tow-bar with bolts, I created a screw-in adaptor for the swiveling caster. With this addition, I could completely lay the bicycle on it’s side (as seen in the video) while the trailer remained upright. This virtually eliminated the possibility of overturning the trailer on hard turns, or pumping up hills.
No, hunting from a bicycle isn’t new. Yes, there are mail-order versions of my construction that work far better and can carry a much higher payload. You could even modify a pull-behind baby carrier specifically designed for bicycles. But for the handy and budget-conscious outdoorsman or the struggling college student like myself, this sub-twenty-dollar solution was ideal and available.
Besides, the time spent in the pre-dawn hours silently coasting down a Forest Service road by headlamp and scanning for tracks in the still-falling snow provided plenty of adventure for this DIY enthusiast. Even if it wasn’t necessary.