26 May 2011

Po Campo bungee handbag final review: Negative

Sadly, I must tell you that I cannot recommend this bike bag for serious, regular use. I'm not going to count on it to hold up to a daily all-weather commute (or whatever) of moderate to long length. Basically, if you ride your bike because of lousy public transit options, then you're probably going to want something more robust. (But if you're the sort of person who can and will take your bike for a bus ride when it rains, then you'll probably be just fine.)

So first, the sleek little bungee clip broke exactly when I most feared it would: on top of a pothole in a construction zone in the middle of a busy intersection during PM rushhour downtown in crummy weather. I don't know how, I don't know why, but it's broken and I can't fix it. Well, that's what knots are for. At least I was walking when it broke. Why does shit always happen to me while I'm walking?

Second, having neglected to conduct a shower test earlier, I had to find out the hard way that, despite being made of vinyl, the bag itself is not waterproof. Granted, we've been getting an unholy amount of rain all night (and all day, and all last night), and it's probably my own fault that I got stuck in it for about 8 miles. But you know, as a dedicated cyclist, sometimes you're going to get stuck in an unholy amount of rain, and you want to know you can count on your stuff staying reasonably dry when that happens. And "reasonably" should at least mean that you don't have to lay the cash in your wallet out to dry overnight.

In conclusion, it looks pretty, but it's no more durable or waterproof than any other ladies' purse. I'm going to save up for some Ortlieb panniers now.

16 May 2011

Ode to the Surly Cross-Check That I Still Totally Do Not Deserve to Own

I'm sorry I haven't taken you outside in five days. I haven't needed to. I'm sorry about that, too. If I don't need you, then why do I have you?

I'm sorry I make you wear those ridiculous fenders and ginormous tires. Those big, squishy tires with the bad-ass treads are probably better suited for my boyfriend's hybrid bike. In fact, my boyfriend's hybrid bike is probably more of a road bike than you are, as I've set you up, even though you have the curly handlebars.

I'm sorry I don't utilize all of the available hand positions on your handlebars. It seems like a waste of a perfectly good road bike not to ride "in the drops" from time to time.

I'm sorry I don't actually treat you like a perfectly good road bike.

I'm sorry I don't actually treat you like a perfectly good cyclocross bike, either. Riding off into the mud and taunting my boyfriend while he whines about his tires doesn't count as cyclocross. But it's fun. But I don't need you for that.

I'm sorry I told everyone in the world that I was going to set you up as a touring bike and then failed to go on any actual bike tour with you.

I'm sorry I can't use you as a commuter, because I work from home.

I'm sorry that if I did use you as a commuter, it would probably be at some shitty job without indoor bike parking, so I'd have no choice but to leave you outside all day, leaving you vulnerable to the depraved whims of total strangers. Well, if you did run off with someone else, I guess I'd understand, but I'd still feel pretty hurt.

I try. You know I try, right? We have fun together, right? Right?

14 May 2011

I hate the weather and the weather hates me

I thought we were done with this sh!t.

10 May 2011

There will be n00bs

On every trail, path, and sidewalk; in every bike lane, shoulder, and gutter; as far as the eye can see (or not, because they don't often have lights): n00bs on full-suspension bike-shaped objects from Target, n00bs on rusty and rickety old ten-speeds, n00bs on ill-fitting low-end Trek hybrids that may or may not have been assembled correctly. Everyone who didn't get a bike in 2008 is getting a bike now.

(And to those of you who did get a bike in 2008, where the heck have you been for three years? Or did your job kerplode too, and that's why you don't bike commute anymore, either? We should form a club. A former commuter club. We'll be just like a roadie club, except we'll bring all our stuff and then critique each others' resumes.)

Yes, my friends, the n00bs are coming. Ready your chain lube guns and your magnetic LEDs, because it's going to be a long, dark, noisy summer.

I saw a n00b at Target just today. (Well, my spare helmet finally broke, and where was I going to get another one for just $12? Yes, it's CPSC certified. Somehow.) From what I could overhear, he wanted to save money by getting a bike, but there was nothing at the bike shop with more than one speed for under $500. ("And I'm like, I want to save money, not spend even more money, you dig?") So he'd come to Target.

The salesman extracted a full-squish mountain-style thing (from where I was standing, the wheels seemed to be warped already) and declared that it had "really good brakes." The customer thanked him, paused by the accessory rack just long enough to grab a $20 lock that could probably be defeated with a pair of salad tongs, and then wheeled over to the elevator, a look of unbearable smugness already starting to light up his face.

Yes, I kept my big mouth shut, I assure you. After all, I was there at a big-box retailer to buy a $12 spare helmet, and then I decided to purchase some cheap clothing made by starving third-world orphans while I was at it, so who was I to judge anyway. But I winced all the way back to the lakefront. These people are insane! And they drive!!!

08 May 2011

Living in a bubble

"It seems I've been seeing a lot more people on bikes lately."

"Well, haven't you been paying attention to gas prices?"

"No, why would I?"

Later, we drove out to Countryside and back. But it wasn't my idea. Honestly, I kinda wish I'd just stayed home tonight.

06 May 2011

Train of terror

Please add your eyes and ears to those of our own.

And don't try to pet the K-9 dogs; they have work to do.

Pedaling for no cause whatsoever (everyday edition)

Ask any cyclist, avid or otherwise, why she rides her bike to work/for errands/around town* and you will most likely get a preachy-sounding laundry list of reasons related to health (physical or otherwise), the environment, and saving money on gas/parking/insurance. Even the stylish people tend to ride for some personal financial, health-related, or environmental cause; they just do it more stylishly.

Nobody ever says "Because it's FUN!!!!!!!!" (Or, less manically, "Why not?")

It's as though we were afraid to admit it. Why does there always have to be a reason? Is this a free country or what?

*I've come to the conclusion that the latter is actually a euphemism for "to go somewhere for the purpose of consuming alcohol," because if you're riding your bike around town, but you aren't going to work or running errands, and you sure as hell aren't riding for fitness or "recreation" as the term is commonly understood as it relates to cycling, then what the hell else are you doing?

04 May 2011

Hyde Park to suck less after I'm gone

It always works out that way.

I'm not looking forward to grocery shopping in the suburbs. Sure, prices are low, but selection is meh.

Po Campo bungee handbag in action (stealth mode)


At Goose Island (the brewpub, not the actual island).

I am somewhat disappointed because the trapezoidal cross-section results in a considerable amount of unusable space at the bottom along the edges. It's not really as large on the inside as you might think it would be. There are certain items without which I just don't go anywhere by bike, and to make room for those items, I had to sacrifice my hairbrush. The results were not pretty.

Then again, this is what a Normal Purse looks like to most Normal Women, which was kind of the whole point of Po Campo in the first place, so I should probably just keep my abnormal mouth shut and be grateful that I only paid about 50% of the retail price to be somewhat disappointed. However, I do have to be honest and admit that for any activity unrelated to or uninvolved with bicycling, I feel Haiku is a much better brand. I wish Haiku made a tote with a rigid panel and hooks. I'd be all over that.

02 May 2011

Two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl

year after year.

Flooding MO farmland to save Cairo, IL

Nobody's saying it, but I think everyone is thinking it: Why is a craphole town of 3,000 worth more than the safety and livelihood of some couple hundred farmers?

Why indeed? Or why not? I think it's an important question deserving of serious discussion, but there are princes getting married and bad guys getting shot, so nobody really cares.

The Tribune stories include maps of these towns that no one around here has ever heard of but I could probably point to with my eyes closed. I'm pretty well traveled when it comes to Illinois.