Farewell to my bike bag
Did I mention that everything I have is broken?
I finally destroyed the Tail Rider. The Velcro straps are so worn out that I have to secure it to the carrying rack with bungee cords, which defeats the purpose of the Velcro straps. The waterproofing is so worn out that I have to seal everything inside plastic bags, which defeats the purpose of the waterproofing. And one of the D-rings for the shoulder strap ripped off some weeks ago. That was really the last straw.
Mind you, this is no ordinary cheapo trunk bag. It's made by Arkel, and Real Cyclists know that's a quality brand. It's by far the nicest piece of bicycle-related equipment that I have.
So, it's not only new bike time, it's also new bike bag time. Oh, how absolutely freaking wonderful.
But instead of immediately dropping a hundred bucks on a new one, I've been thinking that maybe it's time for a change. As much as I love and praise the Tail Rider, it is admittedly rather inconvenient for most of what I do. It takes me forever to go anywhere because I always have to fuss with it when I put it back on the rack. I have to set it down on a surface if I need to rummage around inside for something because its design won't let me do that while it's hanging on my shoulder. If it starts to rain I have to stop and pull the rain cover out (more fussing), which means that when I stop and park I need to pull the rain cover off and then either squash it all wet back into the pocket or let it hang and drip by my knees. And when I carry more than what can fit inside I have to bungee the rest on top, which makes it annoyingly if not impossibly difficult to access the contents. Even more stopping and fussing.
[Where the eff is my headlight?]
This is probably another subconscious reason that I don't often ride with people. I find myself apologizing a lot for taking so long to, say, get out my wallet.
Now, if you're going to stick it on the rack and keep it there---e.g., if you'll be out riding all day long and such that you don't have to worry that someone will steal your stuff if you wander off-bike for a while---the Tail Rider absolutely perfect. I will likely get another one of these eventually, just not right now. For now, I think I'd be better off with something a lot less fussy for the kind of stop-n-go, on-n-off, don't-leave-anything-you-don't-want-stolen riding I do most of the time in the city.
In other words, Jennifer the Stubbornly Opinionated has finally decided that it's time to get some grocery panniers. You're laughing now, aren't you.
As luck would have it, that eternal source of greed, envy, and lust---the Cyclosource catalog---arrived in my mailbox just the other day. (This means that the rest of the Adventure Cycling Association members probably got theirs sometime back in mid-July. Don't ever mail me anything.) I've been drooling at the Detours Toocan Carrier. Straightforward top zipper, detachable padded shoulder strap (standard! you don't have to order it separately and pay extra!), regular double carrying handles, waterproof rubber bottom, and "simple stainless-clip attachment system," whatever that means. [I found more details at REI.] At 2 lbs. it's twice as heavy as the Tail Rider (I'm no weight weenie, but being a cyclist I have weak and puny arms), but with 1600 cubic inches it's more than twice as large. Fits a "standard size grocery bag," as grocery panniers are generally designed to do.
I think I'm in love.
Unfortunately, this probably also means that it's new messenger bag time. One of my messenger bags has an anime character on it, and I've finally reached the point in my life where that makes me feel really stupid; the other is a nice Very Bradley floral print that was a gift from my mother, so getting grease all over it would be sheer agony. (I have not yet discovered the secret of not getting grease all over everything that comes anywhere near my bike. This, among other things, is why advocates of so-called utility cycling generally don't like me. My greasy, sweaty, fussy, grumpy, unfashionable, unsocial, overweight, over-opinionated self is exactly the sort of thing that scares all the "normal" people away. Alas.)
Anyway, should I order one or two? And are grocery panniers also suitable for "touring," or would I have to get another set if I wanted to travel somewhere? (I have noticed that the Tail Rider isn't compatible with any rear panniers whatsoever---except, apparently, those also designed by Arkel---which is kind of a pain in the ass.) Or should I just hold out for some Ortliebs? Mmm, Ortlieb...