More backpack!

January 4, 2021 § 8 Comments

I read some cycling resolutions the other day which were thinly disguised marketing pitches to buy more crap. One of them talked about buying plenty of winter cycling gear and riding with a backpack. Then, when you overheat, shuck off the warm stuff, put it in your backpack, and carry on.

Not too long ago I would have thought that was really dumb. After all, my mantra has always been “dress perfectly,” i.e. wear exactly what you will need for the entirety of the ride. There’s a lot of experience, otherwise known as failure, that goes into dressing perfectly. But after my bike sojourns with a massive backpack, I reconsidered. Why don’t sporty cyclists ride with backpacks?

I don’t mean the giant kind that set off discussions about the moment of inertia, rather, the small ones where you can stuff in a jacket, shoe covers, wool cap, and gloves when the weather warms up? As a bike commuter I ride with a small (sometimes large) backpack all the time and can’t imagine that a small one would be anything other than convenient.

Is it the faux racer disease, the fear that we might be doing something unsanctioned by UCI professionals? Is it the FOFTMTSLB? Fear of failing to make the Strava leaderboard? FOLMR? Fear of looking (more) ridiculous?

I remember when Stathis the Wily Greek, whose body fat had dropped down to -10%, rode with a backpack to carry his down jacket for those days when he had to either start or finish in temperatures below 80 degrees. It didn’t slow him down at all, and he looked so snuggly in that big poofy jacket.

For now it’s all theory, as I’m homebound, unable to do anything besides walk a bit, eat, sleep, and memorize Chaucer. But when I start riding again, I’m either going to leave my frame pack on the bike or start riding full time with a pack, if only to have something to hold my books and iron ore samples.

I have so many photos from my ride to Texas that haven’t been posted and that are quickly falling into the “gonna do it later” pile that I thought I’d go ahead and post them here with captions. A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why they often don’t do justice to people, places, and situations which, to well describe, would take a million or more.


§ 8 Responses to More backpack!

  • Why don’t sporty cyclists ride with backpacks?

    …They do.

    Roadies don’t.

    Long distance riders and mtb’ers sure figure them out esp. once the events get long enough that you have to have lights at both ends of the ride. Tough to “dress perfectly” for a 50degF temp swing plus a thunderstorm or two. Even Triathletes use them.

    Alternatively we have equivalent (10l or so) volume of readily-accessible storage on-bike. It serves the same purpose as the “hydration pack” or whatever proprietary backpack solution they’re selling this week without getting your back sweaty. Bike bags are not so fine for hucking offroad, though.

    In Belgium (and BITD here in CO), impecunious racers riding to an event would carry their race kit and wet-wipe cleanup stuff in a backpack.

    Best Regards,

    William M. deRosset
    Fort Collins, CO

  • Margaret Smiddy says:

    Every once in a while Mark and I will be a team car driver for the other person. He even has a cow bell in the glove compartment that I found at the top of double peak at the BWR.

    • fsethd says:

      The only thing I ever found atop Double Peak on the BWR was nausea.

      • Margaret Smiddy says:

        I think I saw a few spots where BWR riders had found nausea…
        It’s a fun hill when it’s not part of the BWR

  • Jon Hallander says:

    Before you depart on another adventure, you will need to discard that 6s, and equip yourself with the 12 max pro. Set the image resolution as high as it will go, and turn on live imaging full time. Your source material for publication will be rich. If everything you shoot is static, then the “live” feature isn’t needed. I tend to shoot stuff that is more dynamic, especially when I am backpacking or out on a group ride, or even just a ride, so the “live” feature allows me to stitch those live segments together to create a little film. And while we all love your images, I thing we would love movies just as much. It’s just another arrow in the quiver. My 2 cents.

  • pvannuys says:

    keep the frame bag and don’t tell the roadies that it’s actually aero. we smuggled an actual belgian cobble stone home in my jandd lumbar pack, it’s an awesome door stop. i imagine brussels public works is still looking for that rock.

  • nealhe says:

    Hello Seth,

    Hope you are recovering from ‘our’ bike trips …. I felt as if I was with you and I had to work hard not to get dropped.

    Might get your ferritin values checked … it is an inexpensive add on to a standard blood test.

    If values are low you may need iron supplements and a few months easy to recover.

    Some years ago I tested a chest pack for carrying fluids and small gear in the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel and it saved a few Watts in drag over no pack at all …. the weight is supported with little effort when in the aero bars because of the position of the upper arms … access is handy and CG is lower than a back pack.

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