Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lightening the Load

It is hard to break habits.

A habit of mine is over packing, over doing, and over thinking things. As such when I go for a bike ride, I usually end up with at least half a pannier full of stuff. First aid kit, snacks, way to much clothes for if it gets hot or if it gets cold, a bike lock when I really don't need one, etc. etc.

This past Sunday I attended the Bike the Street NL group ride to find some more performance oriented fellows had shown up. They were older guys but in very good shape and on very nice bikes. Lou and Rex in particular. Rex had a really nice steel Marinoni Sportivo. I love steel bikes. Any way the 40km-ish ride was nice but those two guys were moving! I really beat the crap out of myself trying to keep up, which I did not succeed in doing. I did go a good bit faster up the hills than normal and passed a few guys but I didn't even get to see the dust that Lou and Rex had left in their wake.

(From left to right: Keith, Mike, Rex, oops don't remember, Wally, and Lou)

So there are a couple of things.
1) I realize I'm in no where near the shape of these two guys, not to mention being 6" taller and probably 30lbs heavier.
2) But I think I could be considerably faster if I trimmed down the weight.

On this particular ride, I had my huge bike lock and my full DSLR kit in an Arkel GT-54 pannier. Not to mention my rarely used Surly Front Nice Rack. So last night I decided to trim down the weight a little. I removed the front rack and switched back to an MEC World Tour 50L pannier (25L for just one) for commuting and only use the Arkels for touring or hauling larger loads like groceries or stuff for spending the weekend at Alannas house. I also mounted the bottom water bottle cage (I ran out of water on Sunday) and a new mount for my Planet Bike Superflash on my rear rack.

Tom from Click-Stand saw my make shift light mount and emailed me to ask me if I would like one of his design! He sent me up one chop chop and I just got it yesterday. Thanks a lot Tom! Tom is super friendly to deal with and his products are AWESOME! If you don't have a clickstand and are tired of your bike falling over in the wind or laying it down in the dirt, go buy one, you won't regret it. I did have to change the mount around a little as my rack is really low, but it does the job (which is lucky cause my light fell off my makeshift mount the other day, lucky it didn't break).

So anyway, I have the front rack taken off for now (feels so different!) and I have my commuting load lightened slightly. What else? I am also thinking about switching seat bags. The people over at Rivendell Bicycle Works have some really nice bags, in particular the Sackville SaddleSack XS,

as well as the Brand V Seat Bag.

Both are a little over sized compared to regular saddle bags (2.3L and 2.9L respectively) in accordance with the form and function of traditional bicycle bags that Rivendell follows. Right now I just have a Topeak bag that holds a small tool kit. But with one of these bags I should be able to store a jacket, and a snack, tool kit, first aid, and my cell phone and perhaps more! This would be great for those long recreation rides when I just really don't need a pannier and want to go light. Couple that with a handlebar bag (already have an MEC one but might upgrade to Arkel eventually) for my DSLR and I'm set. On top of that I think I might go to a thinner tire and store my 37mm contis for touring. This also might limit my ability to ride on the tracks depending on how thin I go, which is unfortunate. Any suggestions on a tire size and model?

I'm thinking of riding a 90km fundraising ride for the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association called Bike Trek. It is a 90km ride, which is more than I've ever done in a sitting. But I think with the amount of riding I do, and the distances I've done with large loads, it shouldn't be a big deal. I'd like to have that seat bag so I can remove my rear rack temporarily, to travel real light. It is not a race, it supposedly leisurely and has mandatory rest stops. I think it could be a lot of fun. Will keep you posted.

Basically, I want to go faster. I love my Surly Long Haul Trucker, and wouldn't trade it for the world. I just have to lighten the load a little. That is pretty much it on the bicycling front as of late, haven't done a whole lot. Have been busy with school.

Maybe I will make a personal post tomorrow, and really introduce everyone to me and what is going on in my life right now.

Thanks for reading.
Keep riding.


  1. I have "Keven's Bag," which predates these, it's basically like the Brand V bag only with some leather. I doubt you'd be able to fit a jacket in there. Maybe a wind vest ... maybe, depending on what else is in there. I like the bag a lot but sometimes I wish it was a little bigger.

    I sure understand wanting to lighten the LHT load. Hopefully that'll work well for you. However recently I got a "road bike" and it's so much faster than the LHT it's not even funny. I think the geometry has as much to do with it as weight ... the new road bike is steel and still not light, but it feels a lot faster.