Zen and the art of carrying things on a bike
Change is hard. It’s so much easier to keep doing what we’ve always done. But how boring, right?
If you’re looking for something to shake up your life in a good way, there’s nothing like using a bike for transportation. It’s a fantastic shift. You’re happier! You’re more fit! You’re saving money!
Yeah, sure, I’d love to bike around town, but…
Even with all these great benefits, in the U.S. only a small (but growing) percentage of people take advantage of this great mode of transportation. Because…change is hard, and there are barriers to overcome.
There are a lot of valid reasons why people are nervous to try getting around by bike. I’ll get sweaty. I don’t know what to wear. I have to take my kids to school. Many of the issues have been addressed pretty extensively by other blogs.
One thing I think deserves a little more coverage is how it’s possible to carry all the things you need for your day on a bike. I’ve been using a bike to get around for about a decade, and that has given me plenty of time to experiment with different ways to carry things.
Learning how to carry stuff on a bike
When I first started biking, I used a messenger bag that I already had. It’s no surprise that this style of bag is amazingly useful and versatile for carrying things on a bike. But it can only hold so much. If you need to carry a lot of things, or anything large or bulky, a messenger bag may not cut it.
Case in point, the time that I needed to take a package to the post office back when I was relying only on a messenger bag. I’m sure the people I passed with this rig were smiling at the ingenuity, rather than laughing at how ridiculous I looked.
Tools that make it much easier
Soon after this photo was taken, I got a rear rack. I’m not sure why I had waited years to do it.
I’ve tried a few types of racks and the one I’ve found most useful attaches to the seatstays and the rack mounts near the rear hub and has a spring-loaded piece of metal that’s perfect for holding a jacket…or a loaf of bread. A rack opens up the possibility of carrying a lot more, especially with panniers.
(Side note: With apologies to my high school French teacher, I can’t make myself say pan-yay. There are many who would disagree, but I think pan-near is totally acceptable.)
A rack and panniers make it possible to take a trip to the grocery store without wearing a giant backpack that can make it awkward to ride.
Now, if you’re saying, that’s all well and good for you to ride around with your bright blue messenger bag and your neon yellow pan-YAYS, but I have to look professional for work, don’t worry. There are plenty of options for work-appropriate bags too.
I recently got this pannier that attaches to the rear rack, is water-resistant and looks nice off the bike too.
As cycling becomes a more popular mode of transportation in this country, more and more companies are popping up to fill the need to look professional while riding.
Once you’re set up with a rack and a few bag options, there’s plenty of room to get creative and carry just about anything…even pie.
For those of you out there who have already mastered the art of carrying just about anything on your bike, please share some tips in the comments!