Commuting… get off my back
I don’t care for carrying a pack on my back while cycling. Sometimes it’s necessary – for example, on a recent 225km weekend light tour I needed to carry a Camelback Mule in order to have enough water to hydrate me through the constant 30C+ conditions, and have enough food on board – but I find it is hot, heavy, and puts my center of gravity on the bike way too high.
When I started commuting by bike on a daily basis, 12.5k each way, I assessed what I needed to carry every day, and opted for a pannier solution.
I take with me: a 10L dry bag with work clothes; a pac-towel for freshening up on arrival at work; lunch; an empty nalgene with daily ration of Gatorade (to be filled with water at work), a jar of home made trail mix for fueling during day, pannier covers, rain suit, pump, bike lights, multi-tool, spare tube and patch kit, tire levers, pair of latex Park mechanic’s gloves, helmet cover, telephone, bike lock, reusable shopping bags. This is just a tad more than will fit in the Mule.
In search of a solution, and planning future cycle touring, I opted to get myself some panniers and a decent rack. Researching the pannier market, I decided upon Arkel as a brand. I liked the idea of the zipper opening, the construction, and the fact that they are Canadian-made. Searching for a dealer led me to Sean at Downtown Bike Hounds at 19 John Street North, in Hamilton, Ontario. Open on Sunday even! I emailed Sean, found out that he had product, recommendations, and rode into Hamilton one Sunday morning. While I grabbed a sandwich and coffee around the corner, Sean installed an Old Man Mountain back rack, two Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, set up my Arkel T42 panniers on the back, and even lubricated my chain (it had rained the day before).
Sean is an affable fellow, knowledgeable, dedicated to cycling, gets an A+ on customer service, and I hope he enjoys a fulfilling and successful business. If you are thinking of cycle commuting in the Hamilton, Dundas, Burlington area, by all means, drop by and have a look at his shop, products, and tap his knowledge base for howto information.
After my weekend tour, I am convinced I need front rack (low rider) and panniers, possibly a handlebar bag, and will be visiting Sean very soon to round out my bike’s luggage system.