Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Small cargo

This morning I had to deliver a cat turd to the vet as a follow up to a checkup one of the cats had a couple of weeks ago.

With three cats in residence it's complicated to isolate the output of just one.  Even if you bring a random three samples from one of the litter boxes you can't be sure you've gotten one from each, and you don't know who has what if the lab finds something.

Anyway, I caught a lucky break yesterday afternoon when I spotted the cat in question digging her little hole in the woods just behind the garage. I was able to obtain the requisite amount.

With this small cargo to deliver to the vet and a short list of small items to pick up at the store, these errands seemed perfect for the bike. It was also a beautiful, warm morning.

The whole trip came to 10 miles. Planning an easy pace I preferred to wear relatively normal clothing. It helps humanize the cyclist. One could argue that performing ordinary errands in cycling garb helps normalize the perception of the garb, but I doubt this is the case.

Thirty years ago, Woolrich made some touring shorts that were just like regular hiking shorts with a chamois pad sewn in. Among all the offerings of "baggies" and touring shorts, no one makes anything quite like them that I can find today. They were made of nice heavy khaki, with cargo pockets. I preferred to ride without a lot of stuff in my pockets, but then when I walked away from the bike I could carry lots of little useful things. On my tour from San Francisco to Eugene we made several hikes on days we didn't ride. Today I wore cargo-pocketed black nylon river shorts over stretchy cycling shorts. The combination was far from perfect because the overshorts would ride lower than the cycling shorts, impeding me when I remounted the bike.

If I'd just been going five miles or less I might have gone with hiking shorts and regular underwear rather than the cycling shorts.

In Annapolis I commuted in jeans, corduroys or painter pants. I wore cleated shoes for the sprinting ability and kept regular shoes at work. When I moved out of town and rode a longer commute I shifted to cycling clothing because it was more efficient for the greater distance. That meant I had to carry work clothing or leave some at work, but either option was easy enough.

The items I bought fit easily in the old panniers. I did discover that my rack pack is not quite long enough to contain a dozen eggs, but they stayed in for the short trip home. I'm checking out new rack packs anyway, because this one has put in a dozen hard years. No hurry.

Casual errands on the bike are some of the most rewarding rides. It's life, not a special little subset of life.


RANTWICK said...

Funny you write about shorts just now. I just received two pairs of casual "mtb" cycling shorts with chamois "liners" that attach inside with loop snap things (not sewn in). The loops seem kind of useless to me, so I'll just wear whatever liner under whatever short. The baggy shorts, however, are well designed for cycling (or so the ad copy says) such that they stretch in the right spots and shouldn't snag the seat.

I got 'em because I was getting a little tired of feeling a member of the "spandex set". Only time will tell if they're good or bad... I'll post on it when I know.

cafiend said...

I look forward to the product review. Unfortunately, the design of non-spandex cycling shorts is influenced by fashion trends in casual clothing rather than practicalities, so "baggy" tends to be baggier than I really like. My colleague George says his ride up, revealing the tight liner like some strange lingerie, and the outer shorts balloon in the wind on downhills.

The Woolrich shorts had a slightly higher waist than regular hiking shorts of the day, to avoid gaps when riding in a forward-leaning position. Other than that they did not look much different from Woolrich's regular hiking short. They happened to fit me pretty well, with no bunching, binding or bagging. I missed them when they finally disintegrated. I miss them more now for their unobtainability.

greatpumpkin said...

I had a pair of those Woolrich shorts. I miss them. I wore them on my England tour in 1976. Unfortunately I'm too big to fit into them now. I may have passed them on to you some years ago. hen I bought them at Dade Cycle, I got the impression that they were not an official Woolrich product, but a local, limited-production modification of a standard Woolrich cargo short. Perhaps this is a market opportunity for someone with the requisite sewing skills. When I resumed cycling a few years ago, I went looking for shorts like that, and was disappointed not finding any. It seems that the "mountain" shorts are just regular bike shorts with a baggy short over them. This is an appearance change, but of no practical value. I rarely wear cycling togs. Most of my rides are local errands where I want pockets and a reasonably normal appearance. On my local rides in warm weather (indeed, up to 25 miles at times, if I ride to Vienna and back), on an upright bike, I wear cargo shorts over BVD knit undershorts, which provides enough padding and chafe protection for short to moderate rides.

I miss many of the practical items we used to use that are no longer available for reasons that have nothing to do with merit.

greatpumpkin said...

I got so distracted by shorts I forgot to say anything about rack packs. A few years ago, I bought a Delta trunk bag with folding panniers when Nashbar had it on sale for $10. I keep it permanently on the rear rack of my Dahon (which is so proportioned that the rear panniers work better on the front rack). An egg carton fits in the top (or a gallon of milk, but not both) and the drop-down panniers hold about the equivalent of a paper grocery back divided between them. This is my typical Trader Joe's run. It's amazing how much I can get in that trunk bag. For around-town errands, I rarely need to add capacity.