Big Bag, Big Foot

You may or may not be jealous of my classic lugged bicycle, but if you live in New York City I bet you’re jealous of this:

Many of you probably take washing your bikes for granted, but here in the city hoses can be hard to come by, and I’ve even known Freds who paid local building superintendents and shopkeepers for just a few minutes of hose access…which I’m now realizing sounds incredibly pornographic, but it is what it is. I myself used those coin-operated car wash thingies for years–and yes, that is a suspension fork:

Fox gave it to me before the 2009 SSWC. It’s pretty nice if you’re into that sort of thing. I still have it if you’re interested.

By the way, the Normcore Bike is of course a classic lugged bicycle:

Though obviously when you think lugs you think something like this:

There’s been much talk of lugs in the comments lately, but I’d much rather talk about capacious saddlebags:

When I’m all clipped in and stuffed into the Lycra and generally clenching my sphincter I like a taut little bag that evokes a scrotum when you’ve just emerged from a cold body of water:

By the way, I realize even that one would not pass muster with the true roadies, who prefer to go really small:

Personally I can’t relax unless I have one tube, one patch kit, two tire levers, and one multitool–at a minimum. (And a pump of course, but I don’t keep that in the bag.) That’s not to say all those things are actually there when I need them, since when you have multiple bikes you’re always pilfering stuff from your own saddle bags and forgetting you did it, but ideally I have at least all of that, and it’s generally sufficient for a Fredly road ride where you’re just going out for a few hours at a time, aren’t leaving the pavement, and may not even get off the bike at all.

However, as the attitude relaxes and the tire volume increases, so too does the saddle bag, and on a bike like this I’ll go all “old man in the steam room:”

So what’s inside? Well, there’s a shopping bag:

Since I actually get off this bike and will even occasionally run an errand or two on the way home I find it handy to keep a shopping bag in there, though in this case I’m using it to pack a lunch–something I’d never do on a road bike:

In this case my lunch was a turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread:

Mock if you will, but alas, my diet is no affectation. Quite a few years ago I began experiencing increasingly severe attacks of hives (or I guess technically it’s edema?), and eventually discovered I’d somehow become allergic to wheat. This requires me to eat gluten-free bread if I want to enjoy the convenience of a sandwich, though unfortunately convenience is the only thing I’m enjoying since it’s like eating a dry sponge. Recently I found myself hoping that maybe my midlife-onset allergy had vanished as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared, and so I ate a real pizza. Shortly after I was covered in buboes and downing Benadryl until I passed out, so apparently it has not, but the time between ordering the pizza and the onset of the hives was perhaps the most blissful hour I’ve spent in the past decade.

I can’t wait to see what I become allergic to next. With my luck it’ll probably be leather saddles.

Besides the shopping bag (and the lunch, when I’m so inclined), I also carry a small lock just in case I want to run into a store or something:

Never forget that in 2008 I was the 183rd-best singlespeed mountain biker in the world:

That was back when I was relatively young and scrappy. Now I’m an old fop with a wheat allergy who rides a Rivendell with a triple.

Also in my saddle bag is…another bag:

Old Man Petersen gave me that bag, and I use it as a purse for my actual bike tools and sundries:

For a road bike I carry the bare minimum, but since this is my Vacation Bike there’s also a chain tool and a few spare links and maybe even a spoke wrench somewhere in there, but I’m not sure.

But wait, there’s more!

Last summer I was riding upstate with my son on our vacation and we found a bunch of these, which he thought was cool, so I stuck it in there and keep it as sort of a lucky charm. I’m not a Shotgun Fred so I don’t know what to make of this:

I guess it’s for a 12 gauge, which as a firearm ignoramus I just assume all shotguns are, in the same way bike ignoramuses call anything with drop bars a “10-speed:”

I guess in a pinch if I get stranded in the forest overnight I can use it to collect three drams of rainwater and drink it.

Anyway, even with all that there’s still enough room left to shed a layer of clothing and stow it:

You can also mount the bag on the front, which I used to do sometimes, and which allows you to get in there while you’re riding:

But with the drop bars the cables get in the way–though it’s more than worth it because drops are much better for my trademark daredevil descents:

I’m like Paolo Savoldelli’s much more cautious out-of-work cousin:

Or this guy, who kinda looks like he’s wheeling an invisible bike:


The resemblance is uncanny.

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