Why didn’t I think of this before?
The carrying of ‘stuff’ for a ride has always been a challenge to a cyclist. Balancing what you need for a reasonable length of ride (inner tubes, tyre levers, energy gels as a minimum) with the potential for other things being necessary (why didn’t I pack that rainproof jacket!) is a fine art and is often compromised in the name ostensibly of weight saving, but actually, I suspect, of fashion.
Take the trend for ‘saddle packs’ – something I have run with for over a year now. Mine, a little Bontrager jobbie, could just hold an inner tube, set of levers, and, stuffed down at the back, my emergency energy bar that I always like to keep for that dreadful moment far from home when my legs begin to droop. But recently, when changing saddles, I noticed that constant movement and exposure to the worst of the weather has meant that the straps are almost broken and it was bound to fall off at any moment. So, pondering this problem for a moment, the solution hit me.
Taking a slightly contrary path has always been one of my hard-wired attributes. If there is a solid gold, approved and documented way to do something, I am guaranteed to do it myself without the instructions, only referring to them if I am in a really messy situation. And I can say with some confidence that, generally, my instincts prove right – omitting, of course, the pile of half-finished Airfix models from when I was a child….
Thus, in a rare moment of almost-lateral thinking, I realised that I have had a saddle bag attached to the British Eagle for the last nine months which has seen very little use. It was, I admit, something of an emotional purchase – a Carradice Junior in black cotton duck, with white leather straps. I have now fitted it to the new saddle, using the little saddle hooks on the back, and with a bit of seat adjustment it seems to fit nicely. It is of a style that I suspect would induce hilarity and incredulity in any self-respecting lycra-clad roadie; this, apart from its sheer practicality, was perhaps my subconscious motivation for deciding to use it.
Clearly, weight-weenies will be horrified to see somebody using such a non-aero, clumsy accessory, but I think it has qualities that far exceed the obvious one – I can pack a jacket or even sandwiches in there and still have room to spare. Who knows, it may inspire me to a new kind of cyclo-picnicking – and in the process instill new levels of civilisation into my riding.
It’s gorgeous in an old-fashioned British kind of way. It’s like an old shooting bag – the kind of thing I once unearthed in a shed, a little stiff, the leather straps worn and needing a good drop of hide food, but ready to be used again and again. And it complements the saddle nicely to give a well deserved v’s up to the pared-to-the-bone riding approach du jour. Go on, let your inner pensioner free!!!