Style Points – The Saddle Bag

saddle bagThere are basically two kinds of riders – those who carry next to nothing with them on their rides (maybe an energy bar, their phone and a water bottle, at most), and those who get picked on by the latter folks for looking, in their opinion, like pack mules.

I have to admit to being a saddle bag user, and something of a pack mule. I’m generally hitting the road with a frame pump, two bidons, a bento box with my phone and some food in it, my wallet, my keys and a saddle bag that’s got two tubes, a patch kit, two CO2 cartridges, a regulator, a multi-tool and a pair of tire levers inside.

Sheesh. Just writing that made me feel self-conscious.

Even a MAMIL wants to be cool. It’s hard to be cool when you look like you’re bivouacking with the 3rd Army Corp on maneuvers (this is, of course an exaggeration – I’m just a scout).

The thing is, even my outrageously over-stuffed set-up is one that has saved my bacon numerous times (and saved others’ too). Having two tubes means that double-flatting doesn’t end my day, or mean I have to test my patching skills. It has also meant I had a tube to offer to someone who came out on a group ride less than ideally prepared for it. Likewise for having more than one cartridge in my bag.

Now that I think of it, about the only thing I have yet to actually need out on a ride was the multi-tool. So maybe I can lighten the load a bit after all.

What’s funny about cycling that sets it apart from other recreational sports is the dividing line between those who are living the illusion of being competitive-level riders and those of us who are very, very clear that we are just out for a ride. The first group is where you’ll find the saddles with no bags on them, no frame pumps, no bento boxes. On the extreme end of the second group are the folks who ride out with panniers on front and rear wheels, a saddle bag and a bag on their handle-bars as well – all of which makes sense if you’re a touring rider who is planning to ride for several days in a row, but will tend to produce giggles from your fellow riders when you show up fully loaded for the Sunday morning shop ride…

That is, until the guy with the full load beats one of the guys who thinks he’s a racer up a tough climb with a smile on his face.

I have seen this happen a few times, and it always makes me think to myself – what could he do if you took all that extra weight off his bike?

Bike Roar has a great article here about the dos and don’ts of saddle bags. Check it out, and share this with anyone you think would find it interesting.

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