White Rim Loop: Unsupported Tikepacking Trip

The Plan: Park camper on Mineral Bottom Road the night before.  Sleep.  Wake up at 4AM.  Get dressed, eat, leave camper by 5AM.  Baby should sleep until her usual time (7 or 8AM) and give us a good 2-3 hours start before having to make frequent stops for baby.  When baby wakes from nap, stop to let her out to play and to switch trailer from Tyson’s bike to my bike.  Stop every 20 miles or so to let baby play and to switch trailer.  Ride to campsite at base of Hardscrabble climb (~80 miles).  Set up camp.  Awake in morning and  finish the last 20 miles (with 2 big climbs) for our second day of riding.  Sounds, simple.  Right?

But, things rarely go according to The Plan.  

White Rim
The view of White Rim from atop the Island In The Sky

The Planning

I went into this thinking it would be just Adalynn and I doing the ride.  I put an invite onto Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join me, but I’m sure everyone thought I was crazy.  100 miles of White Rim Trail  with a baby would seem crazy to most people.  In fact, within hours of reserving the backcountry permits online, I received a call from the National Park ranger.  The ranger sounded genuinely concerned about the itinerary I had just submitted and wanted to confirm that I was 1) bringing a baby, 2) on a bike, 3) without vehicle support, and 4) onto the White Rim Trail in the middle of the desert.  He inquired about my knowledge regarding the ruggedness of the trail, the fitness that would be required and how there was no potable water available along the trail.  He was anxious about my plan to ride 80 miles to reach the campsite in one day (many people do this in 3-5 days with a tour company after all).  I felt guilt for having caused him so much worry, but did my best to reassure him.  I shared my previous experiences, my familiarity with the trail, my prior adventure racing experiences and Tikepacking adventures.  I also let him know that I had a SPOT device available to call for help in case of an emergency.  Despite my best efforts to reassure him, he was inconsolable.

His concern seemed a bit silly to me at the time, but it was not totally unwarranted.  The trail itself is an enormous undertaking.  Like any wild place, the desert can be very unforgiving.  Everything in the desert is hot, dry, sharp and inhospitable.  Initially, even Tyson was hesitant to join Adalynn and I, preferring to ride bikes with his friends planning to be in elsewhere in Moab during the same time.

However, months later, Tyson did finally decide to join us.  Mostly, I’m sure, he did this out of concern that I might just take his daughter off into the desert, forget to give her water and fall off a cliff onto a cactus or something.  Then, with less than a week before the ride, my best friend Teresa (that is, aunt T-Rexa) decided to join us as well (woo-hoo!).  And there you have it.  Our own little family tikepacking trip came together perfectly.

The Journey to White Rim

We decided to take our T@B teardrop camper to Moab with us.  We left Fort Collins as soon as I got out of work on a Thursday evening.  We drove until we got too tired to continue and pulled off at a truck rest area just west of Eagle.  We slept very cozy with the 4 of us in one king-size bed in the camper.

On the Road
View from the back window of our truck.

After a restful night, we journeyed on and made it to Moab by the afternoon.  We parked our rig at the Navajo Rocks trailhead.  Tyson and I took turns riding and then watching Addy.  The area near the parking lot had lots of rocks to climb which kept Addy very entertained and happy.

 

After our quick rides, we made a stop at the grocery store in town, then headed out to the dispersed camping on the BLM land on Willow Springs Road just north of Moab.

Willow Spring Road
Camping on BLM land north of Moab. Amazing sunset.

We awoke the next morning, detached the camper and took an adventurous drive up near Gemini bridges.  Tyson dropped T-Rexa and I off near the Gold Bar trailhead and we rode our bikes on Gold Bar to Portal Trail (which was a bucket-list item for me).  After our ride, Tyson picked us up at the bottom of Portal and we shuttled him up to Gemini Bridges where he did a similar ride.  Thats when Adalynn, Aunt T-Rexa and I explored Gemini bridges and then played at the Swanny City Park in town.

 

We turned in early that night and set up the camper just off of Mineral Bottom road.  We set up on BLM land, but tried to stay as close to 313 as we could.  We found a good spot just off the road.  We spent a good deal of time outfitting our bikes with bike bags and loading our gear.  We also spent time disagreeing about how much water to bring.  Tyson wanted to bring way more water than I thought we needed and I was worried about carrying too much excess weight.  I reasoned that we could always fill up from the Green River (70-80 miles into the ride) if we needed to.  Anxiety got the best of me and I conceded to bring the extra water.  We brought a total of 23 liters total for the two of us and the baby, which weighs about 50 pounds (if my math is correct).

The Gear

  • The trailer:  Adalynn, 2 bags of baby toys, trailer bag (food, diapers, sunscreen, repair tools, wet wipes, etc), tent poles (attached to the frame with velcro), Revelate Sweet Roll (attached to back of trailer and containing a Z-Packs sleeping bag) and a 6L Dromedary bag (fits under the seat).  We are estimating the total weight to be about 70 pounds.
  • Tyson’s setup: Ortlieb saddle bag with 2 sleeping pads (a Klymit Static V and a Therm-a-rest NeoAir 3/4 length), a thermal blanket and a SOL Escape Bivy.  On the handlebars, a Topo handlebar bag with our food and eating supplies.  2 Revelate Feedbags with food (Honey Stingers, Jelly Beans etc.).  He carried 2 water bottles on the frame and wore a Camelbak with his rain jacket and 7L of water (a 4L Dromedary bag and a 3L Camelbak bladder).  About 28 pounds (not including the bike frame).
  • My setup: handlebar Sweet Roll bag with our 2-person Ultralight tent, 2 Feedbags (Jelly Beans, LaraBars and Aquamira to treat water), Revelate Gas Tank  (toiletries, inhaler and cell phone), Revelate Frame Bag (2L water, repair tools, tubes etc.) and a Camelbak with 5L water (3L Camelbak bladder and 2L Platypus) and camping clothing.  About 22 pounds (not including the bike frame).
  • T-Rexa’s setup: whatever she usually rides with when she’s out adventuring for overnights.

 

The White Rim Ride

We woke a little later than intended because I goofed and set my alarm for 4PM instead of 4AM.  Luckily, the baby woke me around 4:30AM.  I cooked up a quick breakfast and we were out the door by 5:30AM.  Tyson was the first to take a turn pulling the trailer.  I kept my eye on Adalynn in her trailer, hoping she would fall back to sleep as I had anticipated.  However, she was too excited about what was going on and there was no way she was falling back to sleep.

Sunrise
Quick gear and baby check before starting Shafer Trail, just in time for the sunrise.

Regardless, she remained in good spirits and we were able to get to Shafer Trail in time to see the sunrise over the canyon we were descending into.  Shafer trail was the the part of the trail that I was most worried about because of its steep downhill grade.  I was glad Tyson agreed to ride this part with her.  He has better bike handling skills and probably takes much less risk than I do ;o).  Shafer Trail is a 5.5 mile, loose gravel, jeep road, with about 1500 ft elevation loss.  We had to stop several times to let the brakes cool down, but these were welcome opportunities to take in the scenic views and snap a few photos.

Shafer Trail
The view from the top of Shafer Trail. Look to the right and you will see the trail zig-zagging down the cliff. Look really close and you might see us with the trailer (we are small dots).
Shafer Trail
Tyson and Adalynn near one of the many exposed ledges along Shafer Trail. Still near the top of the Shafer Trail.
Shafer Trail
T-Rexa and Tyson still near the top of Shafer.
Shafer Trail
The Shafter Trail Road follows the ledge of this canyon (1/3 of the way down from the top of the photo). If you look closely, you can see Tyson and Adalynn’s trailer about to round the corner. You can see the Shafer Trail Road continuing on down in the lower left portion of the photo.
Shafer Trail
Stopping to let the brakes cool. Next to the giant cliff wall, Tyson and the trailer appear very small in the bottom left corner. The trail continues downward in the bottom right portion of the photo.
Shafer Trail
Continuing downward to finish descending Shafer Trail.
Shafer Trail
Finally, completed the descent down Shafer and about to continue on to the White Rim Trail.

After making our way down Shafer and then starting onto the White Rim Trail, our next stop was at the Airport Campsite (about 30 miles into the loop).  Addy still had not slept a wink, but remained cheerful and energetic.  She ran around finding rocks and sticks to bang on the metal walls of the pit toilet.  She liked the loud boom sound it made and spent nearly 30 minutes doing just this.  Then she tried to sit on a cactus (hey, she’s only 20 months old and that just what toddlers do).  While we played and ate, Tyson attached the trailer to my bike and let me pull for the next 40 miles.

Airport Campground
Our stop at Airport Campground.
Rocks
This baby loves finding rocks, and sticks.
Cacti
You gotta keep a close eye on her because this baby likes to try and play with cacti. And she is SO FAST!!
Houston...
Her onsie reads, “HOUSTON. We have a PROBLEM!”. From Betsy who worked at NASA.
Hydration is important.
Adalynn is rehydrating. It is the desert after all.
Selfie fail.
There is an amazing view behind us, but you can’t tell because my phone is pointed toward the ground. Oh well. This is our team!!
Dust settles.
Dust settles as a truck passes us. We did not see many trucks or ATVs out there at all.
Another break
Adalynn is eating blackberries while we are working on switching the trailer.
My Turn
My turn to get to pull the trailer for a little bit.
IMG_0484
Views of the Rim along the entire part of this trail.
T-Rexa
T-Rexa in her natural environment.

The next portion of this ride travels alongside an exposed cliff edge, is very scenic and relatively flat with the occasional punchy climb.  We were making great time despite making occasional stops for photos and playtime.  We stopped to attach the trailer to Tyson’s bike just before the Murphy’s Hogback climb.  T-Rexa and I charged ahead of Tyson just before the climb and left our bikes trailside at different points along the climb.  We then ran back downhill in time to help provide a little “assistance push” to the trailer while Tyson remained on the bike pedaling and pulling the trailer.  We tried to time it so we were sorta leapfrogging with assistance, but the terrain was too steep and loose and at some point Tyson was off the bike and walking his bike with the trailer attached.  T-Rexa helped Tyson with pushing the trailer up the hill.  Meantime, I collected our bikes from the trailside and, with one bike in each hand, pushed them up the rest of the climb.

 

As we made our way over the Candlestick climb, I was beginning to look forward to settling into camp.  I figured that we should be reaching our campsite soon because our campsite should be just downhill from Candlestick and just before starting the Hardscrabble climb.  However, as we approached the campsite just before the Hardscrabble climb, it became clear that this was the Potato Bottom Campground, not the Hardscrabble Campground.  I was sorely mistaken and this meant that we would have to climb Hardscrabble and then descend again before reaching our campsite.

 

Despite this setback, our little team eagerly sprung into action yet again to tackle the Hardscrabble climb.  Tyson was still pulling the trailer and T-Rexa and I motored ahead to provide push-assistance.  Hardscrabble proved to be the most challenging climb due to the soft, powder-like dirt and loose pebbles and steep grades.  All things considered, I cannot believe how far up the hill Tyson was able to make it while still remaining on the bike.  What a machine!!!

The descent to the bottom of Hardscrabble was scary.  It was a fairly steep grade with deep, soft, powder-like sand that made it hard to keep control of the bike.  Tyson handled it well and managed to get the trailer to the Hardscrabble bottom without any issues.

Once we finally reached the Hardscrabble campground, we took stock of our situation.  We only had about 20 miles left.  We were all feeling pretty darn good and Adalynn was still in a great mood and seemed to be having fun.  We had already tackled 3 of the 4 tough climbs.  The final climb was the climb out of the White Rim via Mineral Bottom (a steep 2 mile climb with 1,000 ft elevation gain, followed by a slow gradual 11 mile climb with another 1,000 ft elevation gain).  We decided to go for it.  We dumped our unnecessary 6 liters of water and motored on.

We pedaled another 5 miles alongside the Green River until we finally left National Park land and were officially on BLM land.  We made a stop to let Adalynn out to play.  The sun was starting to set and the temperature was starting to cool.  As we attempted to get Adalynn back into her trailer, she started squealing and squirming in protest.  With 15 miles to go, and limited daylight, we wanted to press on.  It was time to pull out my “ace-in-the-hole”.  I gave Adalynn my cell phone and let her play baby games.  This kept her attention and we were able to continue on without further resistance.

Negotiating with Adalynn
Only 15 miles to go and she does not want to go back into the trailer.  Cell phone to the rescue.

Within a couple of miles, we had reached the start of the Mineral Bottom climb.  We stopped once during the climb to lube dry chains to to let Adalynn play.  She walked uphill a bit, then turned around and went downhill.  She seemed very delighted by the speed she would gain by running downhill and refused to go back uphill on her own.  I repeatedly carried her back uphill so she could run downhill again, which provided much amusement (for me and for Adalynn).  She had so much fun with this that she did not want to return to the trailer.  Cell phone to the rescue again.

With cell phone in hand, Adalynn was again content to let us pedal on.  We continued up the Mineral Bottom climb.  I was able to remain on my bike alongside the trailer and give little tiny pushes once in awhile.  Honestly, I struggled to keep up with Tyson’s pace and wasn’t able to give as many little pushes as I would have wanted.  The 2 mile climb felt like an eternity, but the view was spectacular.  As we crept higher and higher above the White Rim, we had a spectacular view of of the Green River below.  Rays from the setting sun glimmered along its surface of the river as it wound its way through the red-orange canyon walls.  There was a ravine that cut its way down the cliff we were currently ascending.  Within the ravine, there were a couple of crumpled old cars which were so rusty that they blended in with the color scheme of the surrounding landscape.  Supposedly, this is where Thelma and Louise jumped their car off a cliff and I wondered if one of these cars could have belonged to them.

Little Love Nudges
I gave little pushes from my bike as often as I could. I didn’t get to help as much as I wanted to because Tyson was too fast and rode too far ahead of me.

My head stayed lost in this daydream about the rusty cars until we reached the false-flat summit of Mineral Bottom.  The final 11 miles proved to be the most emotionally challenging, especially for Tyson.  This last stretch seemed to take much longer than it should have.  With every mile, Adalynn became more challenging to keep entertained.  We had to stop more often to let her play and to give our legs a break.  During one of these stops, the snap on our trailer cover broke off leaving the cover halfway open.  At this point, Adalynn kept dangling her arms and legs outside the trailer.  She lost interest in the cellphone with less than 5 miles left.  We struggled to keep her entertained.  We sang children’s songs LOUDLY and with as much SILLINESS as we could muster.

What a relief when we finally reached our camper.  I made a quick rice and bean dinner.    Everyone took a quick Wet-Wipe bath while Adalynn played in the camper.  She played for a good hour or so before she passed out from exhaustion (she hadn’t gotten a full night of sleep and had napped less than an hour all day).  She slept so soundly that it was one of the most restful nights of sleep I’ve had in a long time.

We awoke the next morning and headed into town for breakfast and a shower at the Moab Rec Center before heading home.  We made a couple stops at playgrounds in Moab, Fruita, and then Silverthorne along the way home just to break up the long drive for everyone.

Playgrounds
Stopping for playground breaks in Moab, Fruita and then Silverthorne help break up the long drive home.

 

Why Was It So Darn Important To Me?

When Tyson and I first rode White Rim in 2015, we met a guy out there on a mountain bike pulling a toddler in a BOB bike trailer.  Seeing that guy really got me thinking about my preconcieved ideas of what being a parent had to be like.  It occurred to me that being a parent can take shape in whatever way you want it to.

As a parent, bikepacking with a baby often feels like a risky undertaking.  Even as I was planning this adventure, my anxiety kept trying to take over my logic.  The anxiety, at times, almost kept me from even trying.  There were moments of serious doubt.  Doubt that I was strong enough to pull this off.  Doubt that I should even try.  Worry.  Worry that I would forget something important.  Worry that I didn’t plan well enough.  Worry that I might mess up and cause injury to myself or, even worse, Adalynn.  What if Adalynn got sunburn, or bug bites, or dehydrated or what if we lost control of the trailer and we crashed!!  I had moments of feeling guilt.  Guilt that maybe I was being selfish.  Guilt that Adalynn might get hurt or be bored.

The anxiety can be paralyzing.  Overcoming this anxiety was, perhaps, the most challenging part of this entire journey.  My anxious thoughts, at times, would keep me up at night.  I think its a “mom-hormone” thing because it is entirely irrational.  Risk is inherent with everything we do.   Some tasks we perform so routinely that we don’t even consider the risk associated with it (e.g.  traveling by car, making poor food choices, overeating, watching TV,  habitually using our smartphones and electronic devices, Facebooking, watching the news).  Conversely, there are some tasks we perform so infrequently that we may overestimate the risk associated with it.

In this family, cycling is just another part of our life.  It has become routine enough that I feel very comfortable with the risk associated with it.  Yet, not routine enough that I feel complacent about it.  Adalynn and I practice riding together for long distances and I feel very comfortable knowing her limitations and my limitations as well.  My riding style has adapted to accommodate her needs.  My riding is no longer about the destination, or meeting some lofty goal.  Its about finding a way to have a meaningful experience with my daughter within a context I can relate to.  It means I have to really pay attention to her and figure out what her needs are.  Even if all we do is to sit and play with rocks and sticks all day, as long as Adalynn is happy and learning, then the goal has been fulfilled.

Reflecting back on the White Rim ride, I felt so blessed to have open-minded and adventurous people in my life to partner with me.   Tyson and T-Rexa were solidly committed to the idea of Tikepacking White Rim with me and having Adalynn be a part of our experience.  There was not a single moment of wavering dedication or support from anyone.   Teresa never showed even a twinge of fatigue.  With every steep hill, she leapt into action like a Tikepacking Superhero.  Tyson was like a machine charging up hills with the most impressive strength and power.  Even though there were brief moments when I could tell he wanted to stop from utter exhaustion, he continued on.  Seeing this, my heart swelled with love knowing the intensity of the physical effort that each of them put into this journey, even if it was only because of how much they knew it meant to me.  Even more, the experience helped me rationalize a lot the anxiety and doubt I have been struggling with.  The experience helped me gain confidence in myself as a parent, and a more realistic understanding of what to expect when adventuring with a Tike.

So… What’s Next?

Well,… glad you asked.

This weekend, we are flying to Bend, OR to help T-Rexa settle into her new home, to visit Mattie and Scott (and Leanor and Amelia) and to (surprise) ride bikes!!

I have 5 days off in mid July and am considering a multi-day Tikepacking trip (details to be determined).  If you would like to join (for part or all of the adventure), Adalynn and I would love to have the company.  Leave a comment below and we’ll put together a plan.  All are welcome, although the experience would be ideal for seasoned tikepacking families or beginner bike packers.

July 28 and 29 is Overland’s Member Ride at Curt Gowdy.  Bring a tent or camper and join us at Curt Gowdy for the weekend.  We may drive up after work (late evening) on July 27.  Let me know if you want us to hold a spot for you (if you are an Overland Member, your campsite is paid for).

August 18 and 19 is Overland’s Member Ride in Crested Butte.  We are bringing our camper and staying from August 18-21.  Let us know if you wanna join.

September 21, 22 and 23 Overland’s Member Ride in Steamboat.  I am considering (maybe) bikepacking from FoCo solo (no tikes involved) and then meeting dad and Adalynn in Steamboat.  I would start after work on September 20th, route TBD, with a plan to be in Steamboat September 22.

October 12, 13 and 14 Overland’s Member Ride in Moab.

Wanna join for any of the above adventures.  Leave a message in the comments below or message me and we’ll make it happen!!

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Ride #2: Riverbend Ponds Natural Area

Accessible by bike path, Riverbend Ponds Natural Area is a hidden little gem.  The area itself has over 3 miles of beginner trails and a boardwalk trail.  There is also an abundance of wildlife.  Portions of the trail here are narrow and surrounded on both sides by water (which is a little scary and cool at the same time).

***Click here for the route and details.***

Distance: about 15 miles round trip

Elevation: about 190 feet of climbing

How to get there:

Take the Spring Creek Bike Path east until you reach the intersection of Spring Creek and Poudre Bike Paths.  Take the Poudre Bike Path west (northwest really) until you get to Timberline.  Use the overpass to cross over the river and you’ll see Riverbend Ponds on your right.  You could also start by taking the Poudre Bike Path east until you get to Timberline.  I decided to make it a loop and took Spring Creek there and then Poudre to return home.

 

Want to explore more?  Along the way, there are a few cool place to take the kiddos.

  • Cattail Chorus:  just off the Poudre Bike Path (just before it intersects with Spring Creek Bike path), there is a funky bike rack with crows on it.  Park here to take a super-short hike on a trail with fun, family-oriented signage that ultimately leads to a bench with wildlife views.

 

 

 

 

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Product Review: Tout Terrain Singletrailer

We initially wrote off the Singletrailer because we didn’t think we would use it enough to justify the expensive price-tag.  The Chariot certainly has served us well over the last 18 months, but we found ourselves limited by where we could ride and how we could ride.  We decided it was worth the investment to see if it would open more opportunities on the bike for us.

***I was not paid or compensated in any way for this review.  Trust me.  I tried to convince Tout Terrain and Thule to provide free product in exchange for an honest review, but no dice.  So here it is: my unsolicited opinion of both products***

Cost

In all honesty, purchasing the Tout Terrain Singletrailer took a lot of thought and consideration.  At about $1,700 (closer to $2,000 after tax, shipping and all the necessary attachments and bags), it was a major investment compared to the Thule Chariot Cougar 1 at a mere $500 (but at about $700-800 with the infant sling, jogging wheel and attachments).

Ease of Purchase & Assembling

We have owned the Thule Chariot Cougar 1 for a little over 18 months now and have put about 3,000 miles on it without any major mechanical issues.  It is a readily available product, making it easy to find and purchase (and would be easy to find used).  It is remarkably durable, especially given the price.  We have used it in jogger mode, stroller mode, ski mode, and bike trailer mode and it is phenomenally versatile for use in these applications.  Thule is to be commended for creating such a wonderful product that really meets such a multitude of recreational needs.

We just purchased the Tout Terrain Singletrailer about 3 weeks ago and have only put about 100 miles on it.  Purchasing directly from the company is complicated due to issues with their online ordering system (and it is not clear what parts are included and which you need to order).  So we purchased from the only distributor here in the US (BikeMania).  Because it is not commonly ordered, the distributor had very little knowledge about the product and the ordering process was a bit confusing.  However, the customer service was excellent and, even though they were not able to answer all our ordering questions, they were very reasonable and accomodating.  It was still unclear what parts were included and we did end up having to place a second order for parts that were not included.

Once the product arrived, the giant box made an amazing playhouse for Adalynn.

IMG_2842

There were a couple of minor issues (one of the metal snaps on the cover had a broken rivet and the pillows are  sold individually rather than as a set).  This was a little disappointing considering the expense, but overall, nothing dramatic.

The Tout Terrain Singletrailer required minimal work to assemble (much like the Chariot).  The Singletrailer does not collapse like the Chariot, making it a little harder to pack into the car for travel (and onto a plane, I would imagine).

Carriage

The Singletrailer is about 45cm wide (narrower than your handlebars) making it possible to actually ride singletrack (which can be very challenging or impossible with the Chariot).

I’m guessing that temperature control is better with the Chariot as there are side vents that can be opened and closed and a cover that can be opened or closed to help control ventilation.  The Singletrailer does not have a vent and I actually noticed slits in the floor of the Singletrailer making me concerned that water or mud could actually leak into the carriage.  The Chariot, even when exposed to rain, mud and snow, has proven to be impressively weather-proof.  We’ll have to see how the Singletrailer stacks up.

Like the Chariot, the Singletrailer has a full cover (with a clear plastic window) and a mesh cover (to be used when ventilation is needed).  The mesh cover of the Singletrailer does not appear to be very insect proof.  The cover of the Chariot secures with a simple hook-type closure  The cover of the Singletrailer closes with snaps and velcro (which seems much more solid).

The Singletrailer is SERIOUSLY light at about 20-25 pounds, whereas the Chariot is about 50 pounds.

Passenger Comfort

The Chariot has a wider seat with more leg-room for the passenger.  There is not much space available overhead or on the sides of the Singletrailer.  The harness systems are both 5-point, however the harness system of the Singletrailer is a bit simpler (uses a system that allows you to attach the right and left sides individually) as magnet help guide the connector piece into the buckle.  The passenger must sit a bit more upright in the Singletrailer, making it easier for the head to bob when they fall asleep.  The Singletrailer has optional pillows to help with this.  The suspension on the Singletrailer makes for a much smoother ride and I feel the passenger is likely to be more comfortable and sleep better in the Singletrailer for this reason (at least, Addy seems to nap better in the Singletrailer).

Passenger Safety

Both trailers provide a very nice roll cage with a decent harness that seems to keep your passenger safe in the event of a rollover.  The Chariot may offer a bit more side-impact protection as the passenger has a larger cage around them.  However the Chariot is also more likely to roll over (we may have rolled ours 3 times…) when one wheel hits something or falls off the side of a bridge.  Addy has managed to wiggle herself out of the shoulder straps in both these trailers.  A chest latch (like every car seat has) would likely fix this.  Thule has an optional harness that would fix this but we have yet to order one (or steal one from someone’s old carseat).

Storage Capacity

Storage capacity is remarkably less with the Singletrailer.  This can be a problem if you plan to use the Singletrailer for bikepacking.  We purchased a 3L storage bag for the Singletrailer and there is a small amount of space available under the child seat.  You are also unable to store anything using a seat bag because the link arm occupies the space under your bike seat.  Storage on the Chariot is ample, and I am able to pack a tent, -40 degree bag, sleeping mats, clothing and ample food and water with ease.  The Singletrailer only offers a 1-seat option, whereas the Chariot offers a 2-seat option (the Cougar 2).  The Singletrailer does not offer much space for carrying groceries and is not as useful as the Chariot for running errands in-town.

Ride

The single wheel of the Singletrailer (unlike the double-wheel of the Chariot) means substantially less rolling resistance and a much better turning radius.  For the most part, the Singletrailer follows your rear wheel.  Because the Singletrailer link arm connects to your seat post (instead of connecting to the rear hub of your bike like the Chariot), it will occasionally make contact with your rear wheel on terrain that abruptly transitions from uphill to downhill (as your bike starts going steeply downhill, but the Singletrailer is still going steeply uphill).

Because the Singletrailer is 50% lighter, you can accelerate much faster.  But sprinting out of the saddle becomes a little challenging because maintaining balance is a bit more challenging when the weight is pulling on your seat post rather than your rear hub.

Balance and control can feel a little weird because the Singletrailer attaches to your seat post (rather than the rear hub as the Chariot does).  This may not even be noticeable for a larger rider.  I’m kinda small at 135 pounds, so it may affect me a bit differently than a larger rider.  Additionally, the single wheel of the Singletrailer adds to the weird sensation of being off-balance.  So, even though the Singletrailer makes it possible to ride amazing singletrack that you can’t ride with the Chariot, you won’t exactly be ripping on burmed turns or going over technically advanced terrain.  A novice or intermediate level rider would (likely) lack the skill required to maintain control and balance of the bike while riding most single track.

Suspension

The Singletrailer uses a high quality propriatary shock for it’s suspension (just like you would see on the rear suspension of a mountain bike).  You can adjust the position of the shock for up to 8 inches of travel.  You can also adjust the air pressure to be suited to your child’s weight.  This makes the ride much smoother and comfortable for the passenger, and bumps are almost imperceptible to the rider.

Hitch

The Singletrailer has a hitch arm with a ball bearings.  This fits into a metal cup-like joint which attaches to your seat post (make sure you order the correct size for your seat post).  The ball bearing joint is secured with a cotter pin, quick-release and safety cable.  The Chariot uses a simple rubber ball joint attachment system attached to your non-drive side rear through-axle.  You may have to purchase a special adapter to make this compatible with your through-axle.  The Singletrailer hitch appears to be a much more durable and sophisticated.  However, we have already experienced an issue with one of the screws coming loose in the coupling mechanism of the pivot.  It this screw had actually failed, the back up cable would have prevented the trailer from separating from the bike, however, the impact of the attachment arm with the rear tire could have caused an accident.  Luckily, my husband is a bike mechanic who is working on a repair for this issue (probably locking washers and locktite).

One other consideration with the Singletrailer is that you must align the hitch properly.  Otherwise, the trailer will lean and pull on your seat as though it is trying to turn.  This makes your ride very unstable, especially at higher speeds.

Test Ride

Bike Path

On the Bike Path, the Singletrailer is definitely lighter, smoother and easier to corner and turn.  There is a little bit more work involved when you stop and start.  Getting on and off of your bike also requires a little more attention due to the beam you have to get your leg over.  Because the Singletrailer has only one wheel, you have to use a kickstand-like device when loading and unloading.  Overall, this is easy to figure out.  If you are riding the bike path for recreation, the Singletrailer is definitely more fun and allows the option for riding the fun dirt trails that run alongside the bike path.  If you are riding the bike path to run errands, or will have to put your feet down often the Chariot is the better tool due to its increased storage capacity and slow speed/stopped stability.

Road

On the Road, the Singletrailer is still more fun because it is so light weight, easy to maintain speed with and easier to maneuver.  At high speeds (greater than 20mph), the Singletrailer has the potential to speed-wobble, and if this were to occur I don’t know how you would be able to regain control.  With either trailer, you should not be riding at this speed because it is unsafe (and honestly, feels unsafe when you reach these speeds), but the Chariot would likely have lower risk of speed-wobbling or flipping.  Just take it easy on steep descents.

Trail

We took the Singletrailer on a few different singletrack trails including Lake Pueblo.  This is something that you simply cannot do with the Chariot.  We know because we have tried.  The trail is too narrow to accommodate the width of the 2 wheels of the Chariot.

The Singletrailer sails smoothly over most bumps and rocks.  The single wheels tracks fairly reliably along the same path as your rear tire.  However, you do have to take corners a little wider because the Singletrailer tends to cut the corners a little more narrowly.

Although the Singletrailer is more narrow than your handlebars, the frame at the base of the Singletrailer is definitely wider than your wheels.  This means that there are times when you might have difficulty squeezing between 2 rocks because the frame of the trailer is too wide.  This is not an issue for most flow-type Singletrack that you encounter at Lake Pueblo.  We did struggle getting through some of the slot-canyon trails at Lake Pueblo, as well as some of the tight squeezes along Maxwell.

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Summary

The Tout Terrain Singletrailer is definitely a niche product for those with off-road riding in mind, while the Thule Chariot Cougar 1 is a very practical, general-use and versatile product.  There are a broader variety of things you can do with the Chariot and is much easier to learn to use.  However, if your goal is to be able to do more while mountain biking (explore more adventurous gravel/jeep road or mellow single-track trail) then the Tout Terrain is the tool for the job.  There is simply much more that is possible with the Tout Terrain when it comes to mountain biking.  But, if you plan to stick to paved terrain and/or mellow gravel roads, the Chariot is more than adequate for your needs.

More to come….

I plan to do a few more overnight trips with the Singletrailer, including a trip to White Rim, in the next 2-3 months.  I can provide a bit more detailed review at that time.

In the meantime, check out this review by bicyclenomad, and this Extreme YouTube Video of the Tout Terrain in a terrain park.

Do you have any experiences with the Tout Terrain Singletrailer, the Thule Chariot or any other bike carrier?  Share your experiences with me in the comments below.

 

Ride #1: Watson Lake

Looking for a ride that is mostly bike-path that ends at a lake surrounded by red cliffs where Golden Eagles nest?  How about a ride to Watson Lake???
***Click here for the route and details***

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Distance: about 20 miles round trip

Elevation: about 380 feet of climbing

How to get there:

Take the Poudre River Bike Path west until it ends at a gravel road in Bellevue.   Take that gravel road north.  Take your first right turn.  Just around the bend, notice a wide trail to your right.  The trail is wide enough for a bike trailer.  There is a neat bridge and the trail follows close to a stream.  As you approach the red cliffs, look up for the Golden Eagle nest (bring binoculars).  A paved bike path continues around the north portion of the lake, but this is an out-and-back trail.

Want to explore more?  Along the way, there are a few cool place to take the kiddos.

  • Lee Martinez Park and The Farm at Lee Martinez Park.  There is a playground and a small petting farm for the kids.
  • Me Oh My! Coffee and Pie  Best pecan rolls and pies at Me Oh My.  They also have a play area with toys for the kids.  Inside, they have a mercantile where you can pick up fresh organic local produce from Native Hill Farm.  Just as the Poudre River Trail turns sharply west (just after Cache Le Poudre School), turn east onto 287B instead. Me Oh My is on your left.Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 9.07.03 PM
  • Vern’s Place.  A restaurant in LaPorte with outdoor seating.  Country fare.
  • The Hatchery.  Just before you get to Watson Lake, on your right, you’ll find the Hatchery.  When it’s open, there is a little dispenser where you can buy fish food for 25cents.  You can walk/ride around the hatchery and see all the trout in different phases of life.

 

6 Months with the Grom’

“Isn’t it crazy to think how different your world was a year and a half ago, and yet now you can’t imagine your world without her?

This was a message a friend sent me via Facebook Messenger.

I didn’t respond to the message right away.   Honestly, I wasn’t sure exactly how to answer.   She didn’t notice my failure to answer her question.  I started talking about diaper rash or baby drool or something else instead.

But, I thought about this question a lot.  Somehow, I felt a bit guilty because I don’t feel like having a baby has totally changed who I am or how I have decided to live my life.  Birthing a baby didn’t suddenly enlighten me to a deeper purpose or provide some meaning to my life that it didn’t previously have.  Am I a bad mom for this?

Life is different because we have a little girl we get to share our lives with now. But, it isn’t really different at all because we still do all the things we would normally do.

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Our first trip in the Cougar trailer (just 1 week old and only went for a quick 2 mile walk.
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Our first hike to Arthurs Rock less than 1 week old.
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Our first bike path ride.
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Taking the Addy to Cross of the North night races. We totally know what we’re doing (don’t we look like it?)
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Riding to Mike’s birthday!!
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Hiking to the top of Horsetooth.

We still ride bikes. A lot. After Addy was born we used my maternity leave as a vacation. We drove to California to introduce Addy to some of our family who live in LA and Palm Springs. Along the way, we stopped in Eagle and Grand Junction to ride bikes. Then got to ride some cool trail and jeep roads while we were out visiting family. Then, on the way home, we stopped for some trail riding in Gooseberry Mesa (woot-woot!), Fruita and Breckenridge. Each place we stopped, Tyson and I would take turns trading off watching Addy and riding.

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Spending time with family in California.
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Hanging with family in LA.

 

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Gooseberry Mesa!! Hanging with the ‘Grom while daddy rides his bike. Mom gets to ride next.
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Fall colors in Breck on the way home from California.

 

We have also made 3 weekend trips to Pueblo/Canon City this winter to ride dry trail. We bring Addy with us every time. While one of us rides trail, the other can ride bike path with Addy. Or, we can hang with Addy and play with her

 

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Canon City bike path with Addy.
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Tunnel trail with Addy in Canon City.
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This bike path has a stegosaurus!!

We also traveled to Texas to do my first bike race since getting knocked up (got 3rd in Cat 1 19-39 and missed 1st by about 1 minute) and brought Addy with us for that. Grandma Laurel babysat for us that time.

 

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Hanging at Grandma and Grandpa’s 6 String Ranch in Texas.

My point is… we still do all the things we always do. The only difference is that now, we do these things with Addy. This means that when we ride up and down the Horsetooth dams, we are pulling Addy along behind us in her Chariot. It’s an extra 50 pounds to drag up those hills, so it takes more time than usual. But we still do it. We have to make several stops feed her, change her diaper or entertain her. But we still do it.

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3 Men and a Baby.. riding the dams.
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Snuggly warm in my Ursula Grom suit and the Chariot sleeping bag.
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Ursula Grom and I see a Golden Eagle at Walden Lake

We still ride our bikes and still love every second of it. It is super cool being able to experience this biking that I love so much with this new little person I love so much.

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That smile. Always happy!!
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I don’t blame her. I want to eat her toes too!!!
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6 months… 1000 miles in the carrier.

So, I’m still not sure exactly how to respond to my friend’s message. Yeah. Life is different, but not really.   But could I ever imagine my life without here. Well, oddly enough, I can imagine my world without her. Without Adalynn, I would ride my bike more, possibly faster, at higher elevations and in remote locations. I would also sleep more. But, the experience of becoming a mom and being a mom has been such a unique and exciting experience. I got to experience amazing changes in my body as I carried Adalynn for 9 months.  I had the awesome experience of birthing Adalynn and the excitement of finally seeing her face for the first time. Being here to care for her, and to watch her grow and change every day.  Every day, discovering a bit more about the person she is becoming. I enjoy the uncertainty and adventure about what the future will be. She adds so much to my world.

She deepens how I feel about Tyson.  He is an amazing person. I knew this before Adalynn was even conceived. But, watching how he interacts with her, how careful and thoughtful he is with her and with his actions around her. I love seeing his enthusiasm and excitement each time she does something new!  Its been hard going back to work, but knowing she’s home with him makes it so much easier.  Now that I’m working close to home (less than 3 miles by bike path), Tyson and Addy come visit at lunch.

 

The Bump… is gone.

My belly looks about the same as it did before I got preggers.  But it didn’t happen overnight.  Took about 6 months.  Sorry.  No more baby bump pictures :o(.

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This is me just after delivery.  FYI, the belly doesn’t just go flat immediately.  It takes a few weeks.

Home Stretch!

Only about 2 weeks left to go.

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At Home Depot trying to get a backsplash so the kitchen can be done before the baby gets here.  Well..we give up, and lay on the store floor instead.  Kitchen is still not done.  Chuckleheads.

Today, we are officially 38 weeks.  A lot has changed in the 9 weeks since my last blog.
I’ve gained about 24 pounds so far and my poor belly button!  It feels like baby Adalynn is going to come exploding right out of my belly button at any moment.  I can imagine sharing my birth story with other women, “Oh.  I didn’t have a vaginal delivery or a C-section.  I sneezed and had an unexpected belly button delivery”.

Surprise Baby Shower

Everyone at work decided to put together a SURPRISE BABY SHOWER!!  Got me all misty-eyed and emotional.  They heard I had wanted to avoid too much pink, so they went with a honeybee theme!  They also knew that I had wanted as many hand-me-downs/recycled items as possible.  So, they included a clothesline full of hand-me-down items from their own children.

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Also received boxes of gifts from my sister Sarah (and my nieces Taysha and Gabby), Laurel and Bill (grandma and grandpa), and Aunt Katie.  My sister Heather and her family came to visit and brought tons of gifts too (with a diaper wreath).  And Mattie and her family sent a thoughtful gift too!!!  The generosity is overwhelming.  I think we have everything we need!!

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Heather and her family came to visit on their way their way to their new home in Texas.
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…and Heather and Rebecca made this diaper wreath!!
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Mattie sent a backpack carrier, but we already had one. So, she helped me exchange it for a co-sleeper. This is going to get a lot of use, I’m sure.
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From Laurel and Bill. Do they make adult-sized bike blankies?

Preggo Adventures

Woah!  Biking still feels really good for my body, but I’m having to change a lot of things about my riding.  First of all, I had to get a stem with major rise just so I can ride more upright.  When I’m hunched over, it feels like I’m crunching Lil’ Grom.  Also, any steep climbing… fairly impossible.  So, I’ve had to adjust my riding a bit.  Less climbing, more gravel road adventure/exploring.  And I have to ride very slow. If I push too hard, I start having Braxton-Hicks contractions.

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Went for a hike up to Horsetooth Falls with Amanda, Skylee and Izaiah. Got to test out the backpack carrier with Skylee!! It worked super well!!
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Swift Campout ride (sans campout for me) with a group of highly motivated women with an interest in bikepacking.
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Wanted to show Tyson the Cherokee Park climb. But, kept having Braxton-Hicks contractions even at 3 mph pace. Didn’t make it to Cherokee Park. Poor Tyson struggles with my painfully slow pace and decides to ride in the rocky ditch near the road to help make the ride more entertaining.
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Teresa doesn’t mind my painfully slow pregnancy pace.  Then again, she also doesn’t mind painful photodermatitis on her legs.  Love this woman!!!
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Yup. Bar ends are flipped up (so I can use them to hold myself more upright when climbing).
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Don’t know why, but I thought the baby bump profile was kinda cute.
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Preggo riding means going slower and frequent stops.  Even an occasional stop to go swimming.  I have ridden by Eltuck many, many times and never stopped to play in the water and climb around on the rocks.  Don’t worry.  I’m not naked (I brought a swimsuit with me).

Didn’t get to Race the 40 in the Fort.  Did get to be a Bacon Angel with Georgia Gould.

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Strava Data

So far this year: 354 hours of riding, 3045 miles, 250 PRs, and 112 total activities.

This time last year: 366 hours of riding, 3097 miles, 498 PRs, and 107 total activities.

The Bump

I’m at 38 weeks and it seems the bump is growing more than any other time during the pregnancy.  …and she dropped at 37 weeks.  Getting closer!!!

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30 1/2 weeks
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32 weeks

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37 weeks
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38 weeks

3rd Trimester – The Adventure Continues!!!

Today, we are officially 29 weeks. Passed the glucose test (which means I don’t have diabetes…. Yay!!!!).  Guess that means the Corndoggies have really helped with my nutrition!!!

Starting to get a little cramped up in my little body. I’ve gained about 15 pounds so far and supposed to gain another 10 more, but I honestly don’t know think there is room for anything more. Maybe I’ll get taller… that would help.

 

Most Comfortable Place: My Bike

As everything is getting bigger, bigger, BIGGER, I’m starting to feel it affecting my back and pelvis. I’ve been so lucky that I’m still able to keep biking.  Being on the bike is the one place where my body feels so relaxed and comfortable… relief!!!!  It’s literally more pleasant for me to ride my bike to work than to be crunched up behind the wheel driving to work.  I can’t breathe well when I’m sitting at a desk or while driving, but I can breathe quite comfortable still while riding.  Wish I could just be on my bike all day!!!

Been able to do a couple trips to Fruita, Grand Junction, and Pueblo.  Also got to do an overnight bike ride with Teresa.  ..and I even did a 61 mile single speed RACE!!!!! and I finished last place.  The sweep van was following right behind me the whole time.  I asked the van to please pass me (mostly because I really needed to pee), but the van wouldn’t pass (so I had to pee in front of the van… 5 times…).

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Practicing with the Siri dog.  She managed to jump out within the first 2 miles. Good thing I practiced with the dog first.  Would be awful to have that happen with an infant.
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Fruita, Western Rim Trail.  Beautiful.  I’m riding a lot slower now, but it gives me an excuse to take in the views and enjoy riding in a different way.
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Family picture with the Dino Truck in Fruita!!
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Tabeguache Trails/Lunch Loops in Grand Junction.  Tyson has been so patient riding with me while I’m “pregnancy pace”.
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Nice hike up to Hanging Lake on the way home from Fruita.
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Keeping our overnight bike packing skills sharp with a S24O (sub 24 hour overnight) on Horsetooth.  This is luxury bike packing compared to our usual shelter.
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S24O on Horsetooth with Teresa.
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One of my favorite parts about finishing the One Speed Open Race (a 61-mile single speed gravel grinder), was getting mama goat love at the finish.
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My other favorite thing about finishing the One Speed Open Race was the super-thoughtful “Maternity Hoodie” that they gave me for finishing.  I think Lil’ Grom might have been the first fetus to finish the One Speed Open Race.
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This is my version of “nesting” apparently.  The nursery isn’t ready.  We don’t even have a crib yet.  But we certainly have a Thule Chariot Cougar with jogging and bike attachments.

Chopa and Michelle’s Wedding in Sedona

Even flew to Sedona for the weekend to celebrate with Chopa and Michelle.  Got to do a few cool hikes and take in some beautiful scenery while celebrating Chopa and Michelle with friends!!

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This is where Chopa and Michelle got married.  No filters.  Its just THIS beautiful.
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How many bike tan lines can you spot?  Hee hee!!
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Trails at Soldiers Wash.  Hunting for vortexes and javelina.

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Strava Data

So far this year: 249 hours of riding, 2164 miles, 213 PRs, and 83 total activities.

This time last year: 218 hours of riding, 2171 miles, 395 PRs, and 91 total activities.

The Bump.  

 

I’m at 29 weeks and just started showing enough that it’s pretty obvious to most people.  People used to be afraid to ask me if I was pregnant because they didn’t want to be rude.  But now, people ask pretty openly.

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22 weeks
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25 weeks
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26 weeks
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28 weeks