Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mistaken Identity

I've been putting my Zimbale saddlebag to good use during my daily work commute and weekend errands. At 18 liters (1,098 cu. inches), it has replaced a shoulder bag I've been schlepping around for the longest time. The main compartment is large enough for most of what I need: lunch, water bottle, paperback book, light jacket. The side pockets also come in handy for small essentials like extra tube, mini pump, tire levers. The only advantage a shoulder bag has is the ability to carry paperwork without folding or getting them wrinkled.

But I'm not complaining. I gladly trade doing without paperwork for the freedom from strapping something around my torso. It's also a great excuse to keep my work at work. "Sorry, boss. That report just won't fit into my bag."

The Zimbale bag has also been getting it's share of compliments. However, the few people who have asked me about it have also mistaken it for a Carradice. In fact, I considered purchasing a Carradice as I was shopping around. Ultimately, the Zimbale won out with a lower price tag and similar features compared to the Carradice Nelson Longflap. Additionally, the Zimbale has a wooden dowel across the inside to prevent the bag from drooping. While I haven't owned other large saddlebags, I imagine that the bag could lose its shape when fully loaded.

Because of its long width, I was worried that the bag would swing laterally or sag along the sides that don't have any support from the rear rack. I was very pleased that neither of my concerns came to light. In fact, the bag is strapped in nicely via a pair of leather straps that remind me of toeclip straps during their heyday. I also didn't have any issues with bumping the back of my thighs into the bag, as I had read about with other riders.

Zimbale or Carradice, you can't go wrong with either. And who can tell the difference? Apparently, not even the people in the biking community. Let's face it: neither brand are anywhere close to being mainstream. And isn't that the point? Giant saddlebags are neither "cool" nor aerodynamic. You would be hard-pressed to walk into your local bike shop and find one to purchase. Still, I can't help but think that these types of bags would sell quite well if they were more readily available.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Aggressive On A Bicycle

Stop me if you've heard this one. Comedian Tom Segura has a motorist's perspective on bike commuters. From his 2010 CD Thrilled, he talks briefly about how adults on bicycles are basically assholes. Search for it and have a listen.

Riding a bike as child, most of us naturally moved out of the way when we heard a car coming. Somewhere along the way to adulthood, we developed a sense of entitlement and an aggressive attitude  on how the road should be shared. So now we're caught in this negative cycle (pun intended) of us-vs.-them attitude.

From time-to-time, I'll see the very kind of cyclist that Segura describes in his joke, the ones who yell at motorists, "Hey! You don't fucking see me?! I'm on my bike!" The response, unfortunately, is also similar to the joke, "Yeah, man. Don't you see me? In my car? The thing that will rupture your spleen if I tap you with it?"

Can't we all just get along?

I bring this up as a sort-of follow-up to my review of Grant Peterson's Just Ride. In chapter 18, Peterson writes about being "carefully unpredictable" while commuting in traffic. He suggests utilizing a safety swerve, by which a rider, upon anticipating a motorist approaching from behind, jerks further left into the lane. The thinking is that this sudden move will give the impression that you may be inexperienced and alert the motorist to give you more room.

Bad idea, if ever there was one. I don't know about you, but I don't want to gamble with my safety and count on the odds of a driver to do the decent thing. If anything, the suggested safety swerve may be just the excuse for some aggressive driver or someone's who just had a bad day to take a shot at you. "Officer, there was nothing I could do. He swerved right in front of me!"

So if you're aggressive on a bicycle, considering changing you ways and represent cyclists as a respectable group of people. If you're aggressive in a car, get on a bike once in awhile and get another perspective.