A Look Inside a River Ranger’s Shuttle Rig

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Longtime kayaker Lucas Strickland is a river outfitter licensing ranger with the state of Colorado. As well as getting paid to paddle all season while checking river permits, filing reports and encouraging safety and stewardship, Strickland also gets to use a Chevy 2500 shuttle rig that makes most boaters green with envy.

The rig belongs to the state, but Strickland sees no reason not to give it a personal touch. Exhibit A: a custom bike rack mounted to the side of the cab to facilitate his solo excursions.

“The purpose of the rack is to be self-sufficient on those river shuttles where I’m able to ride a mountain bike to get it done,” he says. “I was originally carrying the bike in the back of the truck with the front wheel off. But that became a pain to deal with getting other gear in and out and assembling the bike every time it was needed. The side carrier allows me to work out of the bed easily and doesn’t add any extra length to the truck.”

As an added touch, he uses a Thule kayak stacker attached to the roof rack, placed horizontally, to run through the bike frame then one river strap around the frame to stabilize. “Other than that,” he says, “there’s just one piece of wood for the platform at the bottom, with four smaller pieces to keep the tires in place and two bolts on either end attaching to the existing roof rack.”

It handles like a champ, he says, except adds a degree of anxiety on switchbacks. “You have to watch your handlebars on tight forested roads,” he says. “I actually ended up turning the bike backwards to get the handlebars out of the way of all the kayaks on the roof, protect the derailleur, and minimize bugs getting swished on your front forks. For the tighter roads having the handlebars in the back also make it so it’s not the first thing a branch hits, which seems to work better.”

As for his superiors, they raised an eyebrow or two but wrote it down to facilitating his work. “The boss seemed okay with it,” he says. “I painted the wood black to match everything. His actual response was, ‘Stealth.’”

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