At just over a year older than the Platypus, and having undergone some changes since I first received it, the Homer is now pretty much exactly the bike it wants to be:
And yes, this is an all-Rivendell blog now. But don’t worry, it’ll be a Softride blog again soon enough:
Be careful what you wish for.
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, I enjoy riding the Homer so much I’ve been considering engaging it more for commuting duty so I can spend even more time on it. However, being as pleased with the bike as I am, I’ve been reluctant to further add any practical accoutrements to it. Alas, my resolve buckled like an under-tensioned wheel yesterday when I really felt like riding it, but I also needed to pick up a few things from the supermarket. So I put a cheap Nashbar rack on it and grabbed another one of the bags Two Wheel Gear recently sent me:
Up to now I’ve been using the Pannier Backpack Convertible 2.0 PLUS (I think), and with at least 150-ish miles on it so far I’ve been very pleased with it. (Though fortunately I have yet to test its water- resistance.) This bag is the (I think) Magnate Pannier Messenger Backpack:
Like the other one, it is convertible–but this one turns into a backpack or a messenger-ish bag with an across-the-chest strap, depending on your mood.
And yes, I know I’m taking up precious rack space with my capacious saddle bag:
But I need the stuff that’s in it, and I can’t put it on the bars because the cables are in the way:
Obviously if I were using the bike in a full-on commuting capacity I wouldn’t leave a saddle bag on there at all–or a pump, for that matter:
I don’t know if anyone would steal an old Zefal pump, but I also don’t want to find out, since I hear they’re being discontinued. No doubt the frame pump will soon go the way of the rim brake, and the quick release, and the mechanical shifter…though maybe that means I don’t need to worry about it getting stolen anymore since there won’t be anyone left who knows what it is. Most people think using a pump instead of a CO2 is like hand-cranking a car or dialing a rotary phone as it is.
Oh, and speaking of bike theft, on Friday I shared my theory that maybe thieves are skipping over regular bikes in favor of e-bikes. Well, that may be, but there is at least one gravel-specific confidence man at work in New York City:
His alias is “Anthony Restic” and he has some…distinctive characteristics:
Here’s a composite sketch:
Don’t let him near your bike, and if he attempts to sell you a White Industries crankset use an Immobulus spell and alert Hogwarts security.
As for the pannier, it’s wider than the backpack one I’ve been using, but after some initial adjustment I had no problem with heel strike:
Though keep in mind the chainstays on the Homer are quite long, and I’d like to see how it works on the Eye of the Tiger Bike before officially declaring it heel strike-free.
There are plenty of supermarkets within walking distance of my home, but in this case I was looking for an excuse to go for a ride, so I left the city limits and went all the way to this one:
It’s known all over the world for its flavorful meat:
Of course, being a supermarket in the United States, there is no bike parking*, but I didn’t let that stop me:
*[Certain Whole Foodses excepted.]
Removing the bag, I had a choice between backpack mode and messenger mode, and since speed was of the essence I went with the latter:
The bad thing about supermarkets like this is that there are no bike racks because nobody cares your bike, but the good thing about supermarkets like this is that you can use a flimsy lock because nobody cares about your bike:
My bike secure and my convertible messenger bag across my back, I entered the supermarket:
Somewhere in a room with a two-way mirror (or is it a one-way mirror?) a security guard saw this image, straightened up in his chair a little bit, and leaned towards his monitor:
As for me, I salivated as I surveyed this cornucopia of commerce:
There is much besides food here to beguile the bicycle enthusiast. For example, if you’re a weight weenie, you can see how much your Goat Gloves weigh:
They weigh exactly this much:
I don’t know what that means, but I do know the sight of my filthy gloves on that scale should serve as a reminder to always wash your produce.
When visiting a supermarket by bike, you always need to be careful not to exceed your portaging capacity. At the same time, you should always get juuust a litle bit more than you think you can manage, since it’s important to challenge yourself, and it forces you to be creative. After getting what I needed I considered many additional items, such as the gluten-free Oreos:
The live lobster:
The Boston fern:
And any number of flavorful meats:
Ultimately though I went with the toilet paper:
Everything else fit neatly and discreetly in my pannier, and I’d wager the live lobster would have been quite happy in there as well:
But as any frequent bike shopper knows, it’s always the most embarrassing item that must be carried the most conspicuously:
By the way, it took me several tries to secure it, but ultimately running the bungee cord over and around both the toilet paper and the pannier proved to be the most effective method–and probably helped further stabilize the bag in the bargain.
Once I was satisfied that the toilet tissue would not jettison itself, I continued my ride:
I admit I felt self-conscious riding around with a dozen rolls of toilet paper on my bike, but then I remembered that everybody uses it…well, except for this guy:
Feeling better about both my cargo and myself, I prolonged my return trip by taking in some of the Bronx River Greenway:
There were the usual derelict shared scooters and bikes:
Plus the occasional amateur attempt at pathway beautification:
But none of these things could undermine the exuberant beauty of spring:
Indeed, so happy and confident was I that I even took in my favorite little riverside path, toilet paper be damned:
A clean-up crew was at work–they were even cleaning out the river itself–and for a moment I had a glimpse of what the Bronx must have looked like back in the 19th century when it was rural and bucolic:
No doubt I would have relished visiting it on my ordinary:
We sure are coddled today, what with our safety bicycles and our splinter-free toilet paper…
Sometimes we forget how good we have it. But I’ll bet using 19th century toilet paper and then riding a penny-farthing (or vice-versa) would remind us real quick.