in january of 2005 (if memory serves correctly) i travelled from islay to kansas city in kansas state (this is worth pointing out because, believe it or not, the same city also stretches into the neighbouring state of missouri) to attend a pipe band drum tutoring weekend in the marriot hotel. like me, you may be wondering why on earth someone from the country that gave life to the whole pipe band genre, would have to travel several thousand miles to learn the intricacies of possibly the most unnecessarily complex style of drumming in the world. i'm tempted to say, "don't ask", but when i point out that the principal tutor for the weekend was jim kilpatrick, then of shotts and dykehead pipe band, and a resident of glasgow, the whole debacle becomes even less explicable than it might have been to begin with.
that particular explanation is for a different blog on a different day.
however, since this was all to take place in the very hotel in which we were all staying, i decided to travel as light as humanly possible, thus obviating any need to check-in baggage with the airline and risk spending my four days in kansas devoid of accoutrements. i popped spare socks, underwear and pyjamas into a rucksack, along with a pair of drumsticks and a practice pad and travelled to glasgow airport for the united flight to liberty international, new york and the onward (and much smaller) aircraft to kansas airport.
as i know you'll be considerably less than interested in the percussive goings on over the weekend, suffice it to say i managed to prove that my grasp of rudimental stickings was embarrassingly inadequate and that it would take a lot more than four days to bring me even to amateur status. however, the decision to travel light stood me in good stead, for heavy snow stretching from the midwest all the way to the american east coast meant switching from one aircraft to another was far simpler than could have been the case.
however, on arrival at glasgow airport, after breezing through passport control and having no baggage to collect, i headed to the nothing to declare line at customs and found myself being asked to step to one side. the customs officer enquired as to where i had visited in the usa, for what reasons and the length of my stay. despite offering what i believed to be more than credible and truthful answers, it transpired she was suspicious that i was travelling with so little by way of luggage. my escape route turned out to be the fact that she was unable to find some electronic device that would allow processing of my passport, so i was sent on my way with a smile and encouragement to "have a nice day."
having worked at an airport when i was a student and having been regaled with a number of stories regarding luggage failing to arrive at the appropriate destination, i have made every effort to carry only hand luggage if at all possible, even on my last trip to portland via seattle. and i take pretty much the same care and attention when heading out on the bicycle. for where is the point in removing every excess gram from the colnago and then weighing it down with ancillieries that may or may not be thought necessary on the average bike ride?
under each saddle on whichever bike is deigned velocipede de jour, is a small seatpack containing an inner tube, multi-tool and a tyre lever. one of them has a couple of pound coins in an inner zipped pocket just in case, but i have no real idea which. those three back pockets in either jersey or jacket are mostly empty apart from currently, a piece of mrs washingmachinepost's christmas cake to accompany the supping of froth, a spare pair of gloves and occasionally a compact digital camera.
generally speaking, i have little need of a saddle bag, but increasingly there seems to be a need for some manner of cargo carrying when i venture forth to appraise the population of the benefits pertaining to expertise in adobe photoshop. or, on occasion, there is simply stuff in need of transportation. though more than one of the bikeshed velocipedes feature brooks saddles, not all have the loops allowing affixation of a small smethwick produced leather saddlebag, and i do so hate to make a bike choice based on so-called necessities.
what i'm really saying is that i could do with something of a less than imposing nature, yet capable of swallowing as much stuff as i can get away with. something like the bridge street saddlebag, now that you come to mention it.
the result of a successful 2013 kickstarter campaign, the bridge street saddlebag is constructed from a double layer of high strength, waterproof nylon, formed round a lightweight polymer frame. this proved to be one of its unique selling points, for as mentioned on the website 'haul your stuff, not your bag'. similar to a handle-less tote bag, there's no closure system across the reinforced top; once your stuff is stuffed inside, you roll over the top and make use of the second unique selling point; the two straps.
these remarkably strong webbed straps, anchored at the base of the saddlebag, are simply pulled onto each side and tensioned in a remarkably simple manner. if you take into account quite how incapable i usually am in such matters, the fact that it was a matter of simplicity for me augurs well for the rest of the cycling population. but then there's the not inconsiderable problem of how to attach it to the bicycle, one that has been considered by bridge street; twice.
if your bicycle has several miles of seatpost showing above the seat tube, there's a seatpost clamp offering a one-click release system for removal. this keeps the saddlebag directly under the rear of the saddle. however, if you're more of a traditionalist, riding frames with a more modest amount of seatpost showing, a longer bracket offering the same one-click release places the bag aft of the saddle, and it's the latter which accompanied my slate grey, medium-sized bridge street saddlebag. this longer and more than substantial mount fits to the seatpost via an allen-bolt tensioned metal loop, one which requires removal of the seatpost to attach. if i might offer a sparkle of advice at this point, fit the bracket to the clamp while you have the seatpost removed from the frame; it is the personification of faff to try fitting it once the post is back in the seat-tube.
if you are going to entrust stuff of a valuable or necessary nature, it's not at all unnatural to hope that, while carried by bridge street, it will remain clean and dry. the latter hope became one of fervent reality on my most recent ride when radio four's 'dry and bright with occasional showers' rather stretched the definition of the word occasional. at this point, i must issue a note to self to place any tools carried, at the top of the contents. having removed the seatpost to fit the bracket, i had obviously not tightened the seatbolt sufficiently and as the ride progressed, my posterior became ever closer to the ground. stopping to effect a repair, the ease of opening the saddlebag to dig out my multi-tool was simplicity itself, even in the pouring rain, but placing the toolkit under everything else was perhaps not my finest moment.
because the bag sits behind the rider, any perceived bulk is obscured from view, and though i'd little of substance contained within, no amount of churning over crappy roads elicited so much as a sound, nor did there seem any weight penalty when chuntering up hills that got in the way.
in effect, the bridge street saddlebag did precisely what it said on the tin. fitting and removal was really easy, as was opening and closing of the bag itself. and based on a couple of hours in the rain, i'm happy to attest to the efficacy of its waterproofing. all in all, a grand success. and of course, should you have need of taking the contents with you when off the bike, there's an adjustable shoulder strap that clips onto two external brackets. clever, huh?
available in small medium and large, and in slate grey, green, red, hi-viz yellow or blue with two mounting options, short of a full touring kit of panniers, bridge street would seem to have most of our compact and bijou options satisfactorily covered. all are sold complete with choice of mount, commencing with the small bag at £60, medium at £70 and culminating in the large for £80, all are available via the bridge street website.
it's for carrying stuff, jim, but not as we know it.
monday 20 january 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................