Lifehacker recently posted an article called the Cycling Commuter’s Daily Bag that essentially emptied out a bike commuter’s pannier. Curious, I looked through the items listed and the accompanying photos. The number of items this person carried to her job was shocking.
The article did not go into the mileage of the woman’s daily commute, but during my own review I concluded she was carrying way too much unless she was heading out on a multi-day trip.
Then I started considering my own commute. Taking the short route, it’s two miles one-way. Not far at all. I bring clothes to the office and then leave them there, and have the additional benefit of an on-site dry cleaner’s.
How much stuff could I possibly need, especially on days where I only log four total miles by bike?
I have two main commuter bikes, and currently I’m riding a single-speed Rivendell Quickbeam. It is set up with a Tubus rack in the back, and to the rack I have added a Carradice College.
This particular model of Carradice is designed to hold legal folders and does not have side pockets. I call it my magic hat bag, and originally purchased it with the idea that I would not use a pannier as this bag fits all my stuff.
Over time I fell into using a small Ortlieb pannier along with the Carradice College. Space galore. So ridiculous.
If you were to ask me what I consider my commute essentials I would reply with this list:
1. My purse;
2. Gym clothes;
3. Healthy (or not) snacks;
4. A bike pump;
6. A patch kit; and
7. My Abus lock.
With all this additional space, however, I’ve just been throwing more stuff until it has exploded into what you see here.
Ortlieb Pannier Contents
I generally stash the items in the photo above in my small Ortlieb pannier. They include:
- Lightweight cycling cap
- Water bottle for lunch runs
- Small taillight. I have an excellent taillight affixed to my Tubus rack, but this light found its way into my bag somehow, and there it has stayed for who knows how long.
- Contact lenses
- Glasses case for holding my glasses when I put in my contacts.
- Mp3 player.
Some of this stuff gets hauled around in my purse which then goes inside the Ortlieb, but in order to give a more comprehensive inventory I also dissected my purse, aka Rickshaw Mini Zero Messenger bag.
Most of what you see in this photo is in my purse/Rickshaw. Are you sleeping yet?! WAKE UP! There’s still more stuff! Okay good.
- Neosporin. I’m not sure how it ended up here.
- Bicycling “business” cards
- Notebook for deep thoughts and revelations
- Light & Motion Urban 400
- Two lip tints
- Travel-size perfume. Also not sure how it ended up in my purse.
- RoadID for midday runs
- Two pens
- Sample-size moisturizer from a recent trip to the Aveda store
- Travel hair brush
- Spare hair tie
And there’s even more stuff floating around in the Ortlieb!
I generally tuck my Rickshaw bag into the Ortlieb, and there it travels along with these other items, a few of which I discovered during this inventory.
- One remaining Clif Shot Block from a weekend ride (this was in my purse).
- The D.C. Public Library’s instructions for how to download and access magazine subscriptions from an eReader.
- Healthy snacks (really!) in an insulated lunch bag
- Lunch run clothes
- Spare plastic bag for ______ (insert purpose here).
- Two tea sachets. They are chamomile and lavender. Maybe I should hand them out to angry drivers. This tea is supposed to have a calming effect.
I’m not through yet, though. Getting there, but not quite. I am now (possibly, definitely?) entering the zone of bike commute hoarder.
Carradice College Contents
With the exception of my cell phone, all of this crap can be found– or excavated– in the Carradice College saddlebag.
- Chain lube– Prolink, if you’re interested– and a rag for application
- Cell phone
- Bike-to-Work Day 2013 ankle band from the CASCADE BICYCLE CLUB, WHAT? It’s still wrapped in plastic and I have NO IDEA how an ankle band from Washington state came to be in my Washington, D.C., bag.
- Blackburn tire pump.
- Little bag with bike tools, including a wrench for removing fender bolts, tire levers, multitool, and a patch kit for you-know-what.
- Spare tube
- Abus lock (not pictured)
I never should have scoffed at the commuter featured in Lifehacker! People who live in glass houses and all that.
Because my commute is so short, I don’t worry about weighing myself down like I would if my commute was longer. Throw it in, I say to myself. I’m only hauling it two miles. Even if I extend my commute, it’s generally flat and the weight is no issue. This is a big contrast to my streamlined stuff approach to run-commutes.
The Quickbeam’s gearing is forgiving enough that it will ride well with a load and not strain my knees despite it being a single speed. It’s such a great bike for commutes and rides in and around the city.
Given all the space I have, I’m enticed to fill it with things I don’t really need for days at the office. When the day is done I am lazy about doing a thorough search and removal of what I don’t need on a daily basis. The result is the occasional discovery of random items like ankle bands from cycling clubs in the Pacific Northwest and expired sachets of herbal tea.
I think the most basic conclusion to this post is “My name is Mary. I’m a bike commute hoarder.”