Friday, December 2, 2011

Albatross Versus Elephant

One of the arguments against bike commuting that never quite makes sense to me is, "But you have all that extra stuff to deal with!" Have you heard that one? The helmet, the jacket, the lock, blah blah blah blah. And it's actually true -- bike commuting has its accessories. Here's my usual load for quasi-coldish weather:
Helmet (no pro- or anti-flame wars, please), a reflective band to keep my pants out of the chain, hat, gloves, light jacket, and a medium-sized man purse (er, messenger bag) that usually houses a few tools, my lunch, some coffee, and my glasses. The lock stays on the bike rack (per the advice of the late, great Sheldon Brown). Sometimes I'll have a water bottle too. If I'm feeling like a neatnik, I'll wad all the clothes up into the bag when I get off the bike and clip the helmet to a bag strap. If I'm feeling late and/or messy (which is most of the time), I just shove the wad of clothes into the helmet and carry it separately. The Great Corporate Overlord provides me with a narrow little locker where this all gets shoved during the day, until it's time to suit up again for the ride home.

Kind of a nuisance, no? Lots of junk to deal with? Lots of space taken up in a tiny cubicle cell? But the thing is, most of the people who tell me they'd hate to have to figure out what to do with all that stuff bring one of these to work instead:
By my rough calculations, that's about a zillion times more stuff (by weight or volume, take your pick) than what I carry. And those same people who tsk-tsk at the poor bastard on the bike who has to figure out what to do with his two cubic feet of bag usually do so as they're circling the block, looking (in vain) for a place to store their half ton of steel for the day.

Now if I could just get the Great Corporate Overlord to convert that parking space I'm not using into secured bike parking, I'd be in business...



Pondero said...

Half-ton of steel? I'm guessing at least four times that. But yeah, point well taken.

bikelovejones said...

Leaving the lock with the bike rack only works in less-rainy climates. Try that here in PDX and your lock will rust in a month.

I had to transition from my T2 messenger bag to something less ergonomically harmful, like a Chrome backpack. Eventually, you probably will, too.

Anonymous said...

secured parking? Yeah, that would be a great thing. Even having some shelter so the bike doesn't sit out in the rain would be a step forward.

On the plus side, I spend 2 days a week at our test facility where I get to bring the bike inside and park it in a corner. Very nice! The downside is that I don't have a good place to change clothes.

Steve in Peoria

Steve Fuller said...

I lost my indoor bike parking when we moved. I'm almost to the point already where I'd like to put up my own bike locker in a corner of our parking lot.

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

BLJ... my bike rack is inside the parking garage, so the lock can stay on there without rusting TOO much. I still bring it home a couple times a year and lube it. In a more grisly urban setting, I'd be concerned that I was giving thieves time to practice on it at night, but in Des Moines, pish posh.

Interested to hear more about your thoughts on messenger vs. backpack, since (even as a mere child of only 39) I already have a wonky disc in my lower back. The T2 doesn't bother it now, but the load pictured is pretty light.

bikelovejones said...

JTN - in another ten years -- trust me, I'm an adolescent of almost 49 -- that wonkiness is really going to hurt. In my case, it was a misalignment of my upper back, ribs and shoulder -- one part got strained, other parts overcompensated, and voila! -- that convinced me to stop commuting with a one-strap bag. It has been sitting in the music room unused for long enough that I'm considering selling it.

Two straps simply balance the load more evenly across your back. A backpack with a hip strap will take a bit of the strain off your shoulders, too. I've been using a Chrome backpack I got used and so far I like it. (Hint - don't buy too big a bag or you'll be tempted to overstuff it all the time.)