Thursday, November 19, 2009

Death N TX

I don't bike too much anymore.. I should. I tried working out by biking alone after work, but it was surprisingly boring. No destination, no riding partners, no adventure. That lasted a day. B has been riding on an exercise bike at work, and he has developed a good routine. Last weekend, we rode a bit on the East Austin Studio Tours. (And yes, I did get to check out the Iona Handmade Books. So lovely, but unjustifiably expensive..) But it was mostly socializing; that's how group family rides tend to turn out. Exercise in general bores me. There has to be a larger goal or some sort of game involved, which is why I've always enjoyed playing team sports. In fact, I've started playing ultimate frisbee with B's old crew on Saturday afternoons. I'm always happy to participate in healthy competition, especially if getting my heart rate up is incidental. The first time I played, I was pretty out of shape and went for 2.5 hrs.. I was sore for nearly a week afterwards! But I healed just in time for the next game. Apparently bicycling only works a small set of muscles!

This is a really minor nitpicky point, but I am still searching for the best way to carry stuff while riding. I have an old big Kryptonite U-lock, which is not small enough to fit into a back pants pocket.
The orange hipster mini u-lock I bought out of vanity last year was so small that I had a good deal of trouble locking my bike up each time. B was pretty frustrated from using brute force to help me lock it up, and I eventually sold the expensive and wildly impractical item.

I've been using a Chrome Dually backpack for more than a year, and it gets the job done . It's better for larger loads, as it is 1000 cu in. But most of the time, I just need a place to put my u-lock, keys, wallet, camera and water bottle. And most of the time, most of the bag is basically empty. Furthermore, it is an art rearranging bulky items so that they don't stab you in the back or cause discomfort after riding some time.

A few months ago, I purchased a classic Carradice saddle bag in an effort to switch over. At the time, I was really won over by the new-old-traditional accessories trend. It was handmade in England- definitely a looker. It was pretty heavy though, and I didn't like the extra weight added to my previously stripped down bike. And the leather straps, as cool as they looked, were a pain to buckle/use. I had also purchased a quick release system for it, so I could take it off after I got off my bike. It was quite unwieldy though, without having a strap or bag handle. It was OK but one night I used it, I lost my wallet. And this was the night before my flight to Hong Kong. Lots of trouble and scrambling ensued over the loss of my credit card for identification, and I had to buy a whole other plane ticket.. So I no longer use that bag. Cursed!

A long while back, I bought a Zugster hip pack to replace an old messenger bag. Out of vanity again. I think I only used it once, as clamping a heavy bag to my hip proved to be very uncomfortable. Some people I know have front or rear baskets, but that just runs into the weight issue. Panniers are getting more popular, but that is also more weight, and makes more sense for a commuter. B's small Chrome messenger bag is a good size and works well for him, but I could never go back to messenger bags- they smash your boobs! Maybe I should just get over feeling weird that I don't fill my backpack up usually. It feels odd that it flaps around, but until someone makes a half-size pack (specifically for women, maybe?).. And hopefully lesson learned, all the accessories I bought in the past because they looked cool, well they have not ever worked out. Function over form!!

Speaking of pretty bags, these are pretty and I love the Texas mention. Glad to know that good things can come out of Dallas. That means there is hope for me, right??

Death and Texas Etsy site

Image sources: bike tires direct, rakuten, calhoun cycle


Ev said...

i've found that a good rack makes a huge difference. you get a nice front or rear rack (rear if you're carrying large amounts of groceries and/or laundry and/or anything big enough to interfere with handlebars). then you get like 2 bungee cords, or one bungee net. then you use a soft camera bag and throw all your shit in it, put your big fat U-lock on the rack, throw the bag with your shit in it on top of the U-lock, and strap it all down with the bungee(s).

i do it every day (except i have a "hipster"-ish fabric horse U-lock holster, which is actually a VERY GOOD PRODUCT that makes things much faster when you get to where you're going -- i also have 3M tape on my lock so that when it's hanging off my ass at night it reflects ... just as an additional precaution).

you can also use a cheap-as-dirt canvas shopping bag. not a big rectangular one, but a basic tan canvas bag with handles. i use that to stuff all my cold-weather gear in during the day so i'll have it when the sun goes down. i just roll it all up, stuff it in, roll up the bag opening and bungee it down. you could throw a well-cushioned camera in there as well.

on panniers: they're not that heavy. you don't notice them at all unless you're off the bike.

rear v. front rack: front is more fun, but rear is more functional. you can also get a front rack and zip-tie a basket to it, which is a super-sturdy option. you can zip-tie any old basket, not just the big metal wald ones.

also, in all honesty, my little black fannypack is extremely useful. in it goes: iPod, Y-wrench, allen multi-tool, smokes, matches, cycling cap and sometimes cold-weather gloves. you can zip it open and closed no prob while riding, if you can ride with no hands for a second or two.

keys: carabiner.

and, least incontrovertible: get a water bottle cage for your water bottles! it makes drinking while riding or stopped at a light soooo much easier. you can even get two, for twice the hydration. frankenbike usually has about 60 of them selling for $1-2 each.

Fern said...

Thanks for your insights, EW!