Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 19, 2013


"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." ~ Mae West

A while back, I wrote a few posts about bicycle touring gear.  Those were followed up by some other posts that talked about some of the gear and the whole concept of bicycle touring and getting started.  One thing on my lengthy list of items was a compression sack.  I've come back to thinking about them again after seeing a few cyclists recently, as well as others over the previous year, who have stuff all over their bikes plus their panniers crammed full, as well.  Some touring cyclists have used a Bob trailer AND four panniers! A rider would have to be going a pretty long ways to need to carry that much gear.  To each their own, eh?

Today, It's compression sacks and my idea of packing for a tour.  I prefer panniers.  The one's I have are Arkel panniers...the Grand Touring GT-54s and the GT-18s.  These are big enough to carry all I need/want on the road.  Really, any brand of panniers or method of carrying gear works, y'know?  It's all personal and reflects what a rider has seen, read about, or prefers.  Nothing more complicated than that.  I prefer compartments to store my gear vs. a top loading pannier like Ortlieb.  How those panniers or trailers are packed is another thing, yet still a personal preference thing, as well.

My preference is to have everything inside the panniers.  Makes for a cleaner look, reduces the temptations of others, and leaves me room to add things on top of my rear rack bag that I might pick up somewhere along the way, like bagels or extra water.  All the other stuff is inside the panniers.  And that's where compression sacks come in handy.  Any and all items that can be compressed, such as a tent, ground cloth, sleeping bag, pillow, clothes, etc., are suited for a compression sack.  I'm able to fit my tent and ground cloth into one compression sack and my sleeping bag and pillow into another one.  Both fit into one of my front panniers and I still have room for other items, too.  Clothing can be split up...cycling clothing, off the bike clothing, socks, etc....into separate compression bags.  By compressing these items, the amount of space they occupy is reduced significantly.  Whether the tour is short or long, a rider brings along about the same amount of gear/clothing for a camping tour.  On a credit card tour where the rider is staying in motels/hotels, much less is needed, thus making travel much lighter.  I met one rider who had a large handlebar bag and a large rear rack bag and that's it.  Had all he needed in those two bags.

The next important consideration about compression sacks, as well as any other type of sack used to store gear...use different colored sack for each collection of items stuffed into said sack, compression or otherwise.  Over the years, my list of curse words and how I string them all together has been enlarged and improved upon by not doing that.  Trying to find an item while in a tent or while searching through panniers and not knowing where the item is drives me fekkin' crazy!  The other very important aspect of storing gear in panniers or a trailer is to always put them back in the same place they were when you packed them before you left.  That doesn't mean you can't ever change their location in the panniers, but only do so because the new location is better suited for the item, either for fit or because you'll be more likely to remember where the item is in its new location.  It becomes second nature fairly quickly, especially if you get pissed off like I do when I'm not able to locate something I want.  It really helps when you might be looking for something in the dark while you're in the tent.  Yes, you'll have a flashlight, but, if you put things back where you got them, you'll have an easier time finding them.

Enough on compression sacks.  Here and there on this site, I'll do some more reviews of gear as the mood strikes.  For now, a tune to exit with...Rachel Podger on violin doing Bach.  Fortunately, in my life, I've been exposed to good music despite my best efforts to stay away from it thanks to many people, but mostly to my wife, Eileen, who has her bachelor's degree in violin "classical music".  Eileen has one of Rachel's CDs and I really like it.  Hope you enjoy the music...