June 30 2013 Ride: Carrying Capacity

A few days ago, I turned forty-two. While this may not seem significant to most people… okay, it didn’t seem particularly significant to me, either. I’m not big into birthdays. Last year, I was in England on my birthday. In fact, I was riding a bike. I was so busy touring and riding and dealing with my trip that I didn’t notice that I had turned forty-one until two days after my birthday.

This year, The Handsome Man was sick, The Boy was gone, and I was left to hang-out with The New Pup, who was not especially cognizant of my supposed Big Day. My present was late arriving in the mail, so essentially my birthday passed without much acknowledgment. I didn’t particularly care.

No really, I wasn’t hurt. It was no big deal. You shouldn’t feel bad about it. Seriously. I mean it.

Three days later, my present arrived, and last weekend, I was finally able to strap it onto the bike and head out for a ride. The Adorable Pup was supervised, the kids were gone… the only problem remained the weather.

And for once, I’m not talking about bitter blasts of frozen rain or malicious mists or even dank overcast skies. I’m not bemoaning gusty headwinds. No, the problem here is so unusual, so startling, that I hardly know how to describe it. The reason I hesitated to take my bike out into the wild is that it was…

Too. Darn. Hot.

Yes, you read that correctly. I know, we’re hardly talking the scorching temperatures of the southern states here. We’re not even talking the muggy humidity of Portland on a warm day. But it was over 90 degrees in the shade, and let’s face it, at some point the weather just swings far enough to the other side to push even the most stoical of Seattle residents into a sweat-covered state of apathy. If we can’t wear fleece, my god, people, how can we function?

Anyway, I ignored the heat and bravely set out at midday to take in the entirety of the Cedar River Trail’s paved portion, which extends 14 miles. It was very, very warm. I kept thinking that the river trail would be cooler than it was up at my house (why I was thinking this is a mystery to me in retrospect, as we’re up on top of a hill where cool breezes blow year-round, and the trail is down in a valley, but you know how illogical I can be). I seemed to recall long stretches of shade. I was partially correct in this remembrance: there are stretches of shade, punctuated by much longer stretches of bare asphalt and bitterness.

At any rate, I was really there to try out the new bag.

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In selecting a new bag for The Gazelle Champion Mondial, I wanted something relatively small, but not as small as ┬áThe Raleigh’s wee saddlebag. The Champion Mondial thinks baskets look dorky on it. It’s a fast bike, relative to the other two I own, and it wants something more sporty.

I spent far more time considering this than I wanted to. There is an absolute paucity of small bags out there. Oh sure, there are saddle wedges, but those are too small. I needed to be able to put a camera in there, my purse, a small repair kit, and a jacket. The Raleigh’s wee bag barely holds my camera. But a bag like the Carradice Barley, which I’ve owned before, would be far too large for my day-ride purposes. So what to do?

I settled on the Carradice Junior, which is the smallest bag they make that still met my minimum needs. To me, it’s a bit on the big side, but I had few choices. I sent a link to The Birthday Present Guy and he ordered it for me.

I bought the black and cream version, as the green/tan one didn’t seem like it would look as good with The Gazelle’s yellow-gold paint. When it arrived, I was once again struck by the quality of Carradice bags. It’s beautifully made, with tight seams and stiffly waxed fabric.

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Guess I won’t be covering it with buttons anytime soon (that would, I realized, make the waterproofing pointless). Perhaps at some point, I’ll put one or two on the light strap, since I have no need of a blinky.

The interior is, as I said, a bit big for my purposes, but I’ll survive.

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This shot includes: my purse, a replacement tube, my full repair kit, and my camera bag. I had room for a coat, gloves, snacks and anything else I might require. It’s a pretty darn big bag. The little rack on The Gazelle works nicely to stabilize the bag and support it.

It didn’t seem to slow me down with enormous rear-end drag or anything.

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In fact, the only thing slowing me down on this ride was the fact that it was rather like riding through a furnace. There was very little shade (contrary to these pictures. I wasn’t stopping in the hottest places), and by about mile 12 on the way out, I was pretty pooped. Now, normally adding 4-5 more miles to my ride and knowing I’d completed the trail would be no big deal, but in this case, I decided that heat was simply too much. I turned around and headed back.

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Two more memorable events occurred when I was essentially done with my ride. A mile or so before the end of the trail, there’s a small grocery. I popped in and grabbed a fudge bar, then headed next door to a small park with a gazebo, hoping for the cool. There was an older couple there, with their two grandchildren out trying to hit a baseball to each other. I sat down in the gazebo at the other table, and smiled at the old man across from me.

“Nice day,” he commented, and I agreed. “We came here to get away from the crowds,” he said. I noted that the small park was indeed, not crowded.

“Don’t like the crowds at the other parks these days, if you know what I mean.”

I stared at him. I was pretty sure I did know what he meant, but was really, really hoping I was mistaken.

“Yeah,” I said pointedly, “those kids with their loud radios and such are really annoying.”

“Oh no… I don’t mean them.” He was nervously conspiratorial now. I had a real desire to get up and walk away. He looked vaguely like a redneck Santa Clause, in red suspenders and with a big white beard. I sighed internally as he continued: “I mean… there’s too many Somalis and Mexicans, you know? They’ve just taken over everything. I don’t mean to be prejudice, but…”

I narrowed my eyes. “Can’t say I agree with that, but the parks are crowded on sunny days, I suppose.”

He gave me a smile and at that moment, his granddaughter came over to ask for money for a fudge bar of her own. His OBVIOUSLY MIXED-RACE granddaughter.

I left.

Back on the trail, I headed over the trestle bridge. I’ve photographed this bridge numerous times.

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That’s it about a month ago. It goes right over the Cedar River, about 40 feet above the water. There are signs clearly posted on it reminding folks not to jump in the water. Now, it was hot. Did I mention that it was hot? The river was packed with people, paddling, intertubing and swimming. As I rode over the trestle, I saw a group of men standing on the other side of the guard rail. The wrong side. Down below, a woman was standing in the water and shouting up: “Let him do it if he wants to!”

Let’s reread that, shall we: “A woman was standing in the water,” encouraging her friend/lover/greatest enemy to jump down into the water from 40 feet over her head. The waist-deep water.

I rode another half a block and called the cops. “They’re what?” the operator said.

“Jumping off the Cedar River trestle into the river. It didn’t seem like a very good idea to me,” I noted, “as my tax-dollars will pay to treat their paralysis.”

She gave a wry laugh. “Yep, not a good idea at all. Patrol cars are on their way.”

I saw them as I drove home. I was covered in a thin veneer of sweat and nausea from too much heat and casual racism and stupidity. But hey, the bag was very useful. So happy birthday to me!

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23 Responses to June 30 2013 Ride: Carrying Capacity

  1. Well happy Birthday! Sounds like an interesting ride to say the least. That is a trail on my “want to ride” list. Glad you are enjoying the new bike. I need to get my Mercian fixed up so I can ride it, though the comfort bike is nice for now. We went down to Long Beach Sunday through yesterday, so we missed the heat, it was very nice down there, a little cooler with a nice breeze and a little fog and clouds to keep it from getting too hot. I kick myself for not bringing a bike. The Centennial Trail looks like a nice bike ride, at least for those of us who don’t mind going at a slow to moderate pace. A guy on a racing bike looked perturbed having to slow for all the people walking and riding slowly on the trail. Chris

  2. welshcyclist says:

    Thanks for sharing this post, 14 miles, heat, racism and stupidity. A mixed bag, you might say, but sadly all too common. Cheers

  3. john h says:

    HAPPY-BIRTHDAY!!!! and best wishes on your next trip around the sun. =) I am a firm believer that boring is better, however it is much less entertaining. Keep those ride reports coming and beware of rogue red-neck Santa-clauses. Like the bag too, It looks big enough to fit a watermelon into it.

  4. Your BFF says:

    I sadly don’t think I’ll be able to bring a bike with me when I visit despite the fact that I ride an S&S coupler bike every day. Woe is you in the heat! No one is ever casually racist with me, which is only sad because I’d love to be sternly disapproving with them. Must be your white-privilege that allows people to “speak so freely” in front of you. ;) Yesterday we got “dude, LESBIANS” power-whispered at us, which is, as you know, very American and patriotic.

  5. gl. says:

    use those super small magnets to attach the pins and you won’t have to poke holes! :D

  6. rideblog says:

    Thanks Chris! I’ve done a tiny bit of the Centennial Trail, years ago. It looked very much like all the other trails I’ve ridden, which meant it was nice, but nothing particularly special. I should do it again (but it actually is quite a ways from me). I always perturb the racers! You’d definitely like the Cedar River Trail. It’s noisy along the highway, but never crowded.

  7. rideblog says:

    Thanks, welshcyclist. I don’t usually encounter the racism part. This area is generally pretty tolerant, and I don’t hang out with racist folks, so I’ve gotten a bit complacent. I grew up with folks like that man. I’d forgotten the sinking feeling that goes with that form of “conversation.”

  8. rideblog says:

    Thanks, John! I also believe that boring is generally better, especially when it comes to racists: I’d rather not, you know? :). As for watermelons, I was really hoping for more like a two-cantaloupe bag, but apparently, no such bag exists.

  9. rideblog says:

    BFF, I have THREE! You can ride one of them, I’m sure. The Raleigh would be a fun change from your usual. I know that I’m taller, so I doubt the others will fit, but it will.

    It’s definitely my white-privilege, but then this guy was saying this in front of his clearly half-black grandchildren, so… perhaps you would have been not-Somali or Not-Mexican enough to earn his confidence? It was such an honor, let me tell ya…

    Anyone who is still shocked by lesbians needs to get out more. Seriously. They’re everywhere :).

  10. rideblog says:

    Oooo, gl, I like the way you think!

  11. Richard says:

    Enjoyed reading your post. I just bought myself a Carradice Bike Bureau pannier bag, and I love it. It has plenty of room for spare jumpers and waterproofs, but at the moment here in Ireland we have a mini heatwave too, so I’ve not had much use for them.

  12. Corey K says:

    90 F and melting… Sounds like one of those days that told me I’d been in Seattle too long.
    Five years before, a Walnut Creek summer was tolerable, buzzards stuck in the melted road tar and all… ;)
    Not sure that grandpa guy was a racist per se, but surely had some class & assimilation issues.

    The Carradice looks like a really nice bag!

  13. Shannon Kelly says:

    I found out this year that I have Hypermobility Syndrome. I had a hip replacement in February, and a revision three weeks later due to subluxation. The surgeon kept saying “This doesn’t happen to my patients!”
    I saw a rheumatologist and he commented that I had a lot of symptoms listed on my history form. After he examined me he left the room for quite awhile. I think he was researching HMS on his computer, or talking with other physicians in the clinic. He did tell me he thought I did have HMS.
    You said in your blog that you found a physician in the Pacific Northwest that is in the loop about HMS. Could you possibly give me his/her name? I live near Portland, OR, and haven’t been able to find any physician so far that has an intimate knowledge of HMS. I’m 56, and feel like I’m 100!
    Thanks so much!!
    Shannon

  14. rideblog says:

    Hi Shannon! My specialist is now retired, but I’m trying to talk my internist into studying up. I told her I’ve got a ready-made patient group for her! She’s going to do some research and consider it. I’ll keep you posted ;).

  15. rideblog says:

    Hi Richard! Carradice has way more options available in Ireland than here. That bag is available by mail order, but I’ve never seen one in person. It looks great online! I’m missing Ireland. This is the first summer in four years that I haven’t been to the UK or Ireland. Sigh…

  16. rideblog says:

    I know, Corey! I’m a heat weenie now. But to be fair, my mom lived in Arkansas for years, and I never found that she’d adjusted to the heat. People just didn’t go outside until it was dark. I also went to college in Southern Cal, out in the desert, but fortunately I was gone (back home) for the worst of it in the summer. A dry heat, though, is really a whole other story.

  17. Paul Glassen says:

    I have been considering a Carradice bag like your Junior. Either that or the slightly larger Cadet. So it was very helpful to see your photos of it mounted on your bike. These bags without the side pockets seem like a bargain. I am surprised you rate the Barley “too large” vs. the Junior. According to the Carradice website, they are both 9 litres but the Junior measures 30cm wide, 18cm high, and 15cm deep. The Barley is described as 28cm wide, 15cm high, and 15cm deep. It’s not clear whether those dimensions include the side pockets on bags like the Barley, etc. I have to envy those folks in the UK who can just pop into their local cycle shop and visually compare the different models. The best mail order prices from the UK (to N. America, I am in western Canada), seem to be from Wiggles.com. But they don’t seem to carry the more affordable bags without side pockets. Enjoying your blog.

  18. rideblog says:

    I don’t think the Barley dimensions include pockets. When I was looking at them, not having the pockets was important, as I didn’t use mine before. But now that it’s here, I wouldn’t say the Junior is particularly small, no. :)

  19. Paul Glassen says:

    Did you order your bag from England? Direct from Carradice? Or? Wiggles has better prices than Carradice.

  20. rideblog says:

    We got it from a US company, though I can’t remember who. Wiggle didn’t have the one I wanted.

  21. Paul Glassen says:

    No, Wiggle didn’t have the bags without pockets. But Spa Cycle of Horrogate do! And the surprise was the price. I had forgotten that they subtract the British VAT (Value Added Tax) before adding the shipping. So their price delivered in N. America on the Junior comes out to around $60, either USD or Canadian.
    I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind: what is the distance between the seat bag slots on your bag and the top of your rear rack? It looks just right in the photos so I want to compare it to the measurement on my bike(s). Second, what, if anything, did you do with the third mounting strap, the one meant to go around the seat post? I realize it may not be necessary with the rack supporting the bag. Is that what you did? Thank you

  22. Paul Glassen says:

    Oops, I meant to write “the distance between the slots on the SADDLE and the top of the rack”.
    Thanks again.

  23. rideblog says:

    Paul, I think my BF paid about that for mine, from a company here in the US. That’s a good price. As for the distance… I meant to measure it for you, but I’m out and about and then I realized: it’s exactly the depth of the bag! The bag fits it exactly perfectly. I don’t use the rear strap. It slides out and so I just put it in the bag for later, if necessary. It doesn’t move at all, because of the rack.

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