13 December 2007

What I carry in my bike bag every day

Posted by todd under: Bags; Riding .

  1. Raingear, because the weather in Central Kentucky changes often. Bringing raingear paid off last night, in fact — it was dry when I left for work, and pouring when I started home. The lineup includes a rain jacket and rain paints (both of which roll tightly into their own stuff sacks), and shoe covers. (There’s nothing worse than wet feet. Well, maybe a few things.) I will review this gear, and the bag itself (actually, it’s a pannier), in future posts.
  2. In uncertain weather, gloves, a headband ear cover, and a balaclava. Whichever of these I’m not wearing goes in the bag.
  3. A patch kit (every bike shop sells them) a spare tube and tire levers (ditto). I have one kit that I transfer between bikes, and sometimes I forget. I need to get another tube and patch kit, so I can keep one with each bike.
  4. My lunch — usually leftovers in a square Rubbermaid container, a piece of fruit and a cheese stick or two, always in a plastic grocery bag.
  5. Every so often, a tool, if there’s a tweak here or there that I’m not sure I’ve gotten quite right and might want to fine-tune on the road — like, say, the angle of the headlight.

There’s a lot of stuff I’ve found I DON’T need to carry. I leave my lock at work, locked to the rack where I put my bike. I ride to work in my work clothes, so I don’t need to pack an outfit. And since the shoe covers keep my shoes dry, I don’t need to haul an extra pair of shoes and socks. (I used to do this, believe it or not).

McGyverI could have used a multitool a couple of times, like the time I popped a link on my chain.

As it turned out, I found a piece of wire on the side of the road that worked OK as a temporary chain link, and I was able to pedal — very slowly — home.

Maybe someday I will pick up a multitool, but I have not yet found it to be a pressing need. I also used to carry a flashlight, this would also not be a bad idea. Still, I have needed a flashlight only once, that I can remember, in 6+ years of daily commuting.

Bottom line: It’s unnecessary to haul a bunch of stuff when commuting by bike. But it makes life a lot more pleasant when you bring the right stuff.

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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