Cheers, Jeers, and Panniers

All over the Bikey Internets it’s “garvel” this and “mountain bikeen” that and roadies all serious in their little shorty-shorts and people acting like heroes because they went on some bikepacking vacation called the “Tour Divide.”

Yeah, whatever. Enough of all that mamby-pamby play-acting. Most of these so-called “influencers” live in a fantasyland. We all know what real cycling is and it’s commuting: making your way through the mean streets of an intensely gentrified city day in and day out (or, if you’re me, twice a week), dodging drivers, battling heat and the elements, staring death in the face as some bro-hole on an e-something comes barreling at you head-on… Now that takes fortitude. No wonder all the gravelistas start sobbing as soon as their plastic toys get a little dirty in the mucky-muck.

All this is by way of updating you on my Two Wheel Gear pannier backpack, which I’ve been using since April:

Overall I’ve been very pleased with it:

However, I will admit that I almost never use its primary feature:

Which is that it turns into a backpack:

At first I did. In fact I’d dutifully transform it into backpack mode every time I took it off the bike. It takes like forty-five seconds and it’s more convenient to walk around with a backpack with your hands free to flip people off or defend yourself against people you’ve just flipped off than it is to carry something with one hand like a briefcase.

At the same time, forty-five seconds is forty-five seconds, and by the time I’m finished Pee-wee Herman-ing my bike I’m pretty burned out on fastening things to other things, so I just don’t bother anymore:

Of course it would be different if I was walking around a lot after locking the bike, in which case the backpack mode would be indispensable, and I’m certainly glad the option is there, since I know I can always just say “Fuck it,” stick out a thumb, and leave the workaday (or work-every-couple-a-days) life behind:

As for trade-offs, the back of the bag does seem to be wearing a bit:

Presumably a harder-wearing material would be more uncomfortable against your back, but my cheapo Nashbar rear rack is probably also a factor, since it’s adjustable and has a lot of potentially abraisive stuff going on around the lower attachment pernts:

I stole that picture off eBay, where you can purchase a vintage Nashbar rear rack for yourself to match your vintage Nashbar t-shirt:

For some, “normcore” is an accident. For me, it’s a lifestyle.

Speaking of commuting, I continue to do so on the Homer, and it’s been fantastic in that regard:

At first I was reluctant to send it out into the mean streets, but since roughly half my riding now consists of commuting it seems silly not to do it on a bike you love.

As for other commuting accoutrements, I haven’t been using the Arclight Pro pedals on this bike (I just can’t put light-up pedals on a Rivendell, it’s a superficial reason but I’m a superficial person), but I do use the mount that came with them as my taillight:

And while a triple chainring, drop bars, and all the rest of it may seem a bit much for an urban commute, keep in mind I reside in the hilly northern precincts of the city, and can incorporate some “wilderness” into my trip if I so choose:

For example, opting for the Henry Hudson Bridge takes me up some steep climbs through the forests of Inwood that require my lowest gears:

The bridge itself is not the most inviting to cyclists, and in fact actually riding over it is technically prohibited:

But I merely laugh that off:

And instead bask in the glory of the gateway to the Hudson Valley, otherwise known as “The Bronx:”

It certainly beats the subway.

Well, except for the air conditioning.

And the fact that the subway would be faster.

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