By Bike | What’s in your bag?

At Levi’s Gran Fondo I saw more than one cyclist with bags just about everywhere you could imagine putting one – for example at least two bikes had the following set-up: a saddle bag, a bento box on the top tube, a triangular bag under the top tube, and a handle bar bag (the only thing missing was a fanny pack).

I could carry two of everything I’d stuffed in my pockets (which were full) and still not need <em>that many</em> bags. And, this was a fully supported ride with rest stops every 20 miles or so. I just didn’t get it.

Of course, it was a long a ride with changing weather conditions and I could see the need for adding a saddle bag so one might have room for some arm warmers and a gilet (the one I borrowed from Sera without her knowledge never left my back). So, I was willing to suspend strict enforcement of Rule #29. But I’m pretty sure some people brought every bicycle accessory they owned (this might also explain the handful of people I saw on the side of the road using floor pumps).

For the first few years I rode, I used a saddle bag (a small one that barely fit a tube, a CO2 canister, levers, & a mini-tool). It was terrified of forgetting something when I went out for a ride and the bag, which never left my saddle, was an easy way to ensure everything was always there. Now, the only bag I ride with is the Chrome Citizen I wear on my back when I commute. There have been times, particularly when I’m hauling my coffee press home for a ride in the dishwasher, when the bag has seemed to gather more than I need and I’m forced to parse some of the items I’m carrying, but mostly, it only contains what I absolutely need for the day.

So, I was a little shocked with I saw this:

Now, I don’t want to pick on Ted – I very much enjoy Commute By Bike – but that photo came after he’d written this:

I’m also not getting enough exercise from my puny bike commute — less than two miles when I take the shortcuts. I never even work up enough sweat to worry about changing clothes. I just commute in the same clothes that I will wear all day.

I just can’t help thinking, If he’s wearing the clothes he plans to wear all day, what’s in all those bags?

I ask, not because I find Ted’s style particularly offensive or because I think The Rules should be seriously enforced. I ask because, like my opting to wear Lycra to work, I wonder if commuters who need to carry 3 bags to work daily, might make commuting look difficult and out of reach for the general public. There are plenty of things that bug me about the cycle chic movement (women pedaling in high-heels, for instance) but at least those people look like they woke up, got dressed (picked out something they felt was stylish even) and got on a bike. Photos like this (image from Sac Cycle Chic):

make cycling look accessible and fun.

I wouldn’t say the same thing about a photo of me in the drops with a 17 pound bag on my back or the photo of Ted’s seemingly overloaded commute bike.

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