Tuesday, 23 August 2011
"The great thing about cycling," I tell my friends, "is that I can just get on my bike and go. I'm free, I don't have to wait for a bus or look for a parking space."
This is true, but it's a good thing they haven't seen me on a typical Wednesday night pub ride; I have a small rucksack, a helmet, a high visibility vest, mitt gloves, lights, ankle bands, cycle computer, water bidon, tool kit, padlock and cable, iphone, keys, money....... arm warmers, a waterproof jacket.....
I seem to be burdened with more and more stuff, either on my back or on the bike, which is there specifically because I'm cycling; if I went by public transport or walked I wouldn't be carting it around.
Could I do with less?, I decided to empty everything on to the ground, to see exactly what clutter was weighing me down. And to work out what I could do without.
First, a helmet. This is essential - my recent accident has made me realise that this is definitely staying. The hi-viz vest, two reflective anklebands and one wristband. And a front and rear light. These also seem to me to be essentials.
My padlock and cable? Superfluous? Maybe, certainly not needed if I don't intend to leave the bike unattended - but pretty much essential if I do. Then there's my toolbag; spare inner tube, puncture repair kit. Multi-tool with various srewdrivers/allen keys etc - Cyclists live in fear of having a puncture several miles from a destination. We really don't want to have to walk for hours, pushing a useless bike, or worse leave it behind and have to get a bus or taxi, or perhaps the ultimate humiliation – phone home to get someone out to rescue us. Essential then, as is the pump fixed to the downtube.
It seems that all of this 'clutter' is there for seemingly good reason; the locks because of a need for security, the lights and reflectives for safety and to be legal, the tools, inner tube, pump and patches are there so a minor mechanical or puncture can be fixed and won't ruin my ride. It just seems too much and I know the bike rides better when it's stripped down and carrying nothing. I wonder if I can lessen the load but still remain safe, visible and not have the bike stolen?
Does anyone else have this problem, I really don't want to have to go and buy a bike trailer.