Panniers – a different kind

Since I don’t have a driving license, the majority of my shopping trips are done by bike. The klick-fix handlebar basket can carry a maximum of 5 kgs, so I needed alternative means of transporting large quantities of whatever I happen to buy during end of the week supply trips.

Fortunately, the rear rack of my city bicycle is quite capable of carrying heavy loads (25 kg). Consequently, panniers are the natural solution and I like them for the extended capacity and ease of use. However, having classical panniers on the bike at all times is just not possible (too much hassle getting them on and off everytime I have to park my bike outside during the day). So I ended up with a compromise solution, that, although not as elegant as a nice set of panniers, does the job and is readily available whenever the need arise.

The bags pictured above are usual medium reusable shopping bags, the kind you see in every supermarket. They have a story too 😄, I got them last year at the entrance of the Luxemburg Gardens in Paris, as some sort of publicity items. So, they remind me of wonderful Paris and I’ve used them since, with very little wear evidence. When not in use, they are carried in my purse, backpack or handlebar basket, taking up very little space. Convenient solution, isn’t it?

The idea is not original, I’ve read about it, for the first time, at Velouria’s site Lovely Bicycle. I have even used some grocery plastic bags myself, on occasion. Not at all fancy, but useful, which is what shopping by bike should be about. 


Are you a (real) cyclist?

Back on two wheels, after a year and a half break (last summer I was busy traveling throughout Europe, with no cycling involved, unfortunately). I’ve heard many stories of having to take things slowly after such a great pause, but I experienced few to almost none of the “predicted” inconvenients. Yes, it showed a little, the first couple of miles seemed a bit more rigid (bike and rider alike), but no pain, no strained muscle, none of the things that I feared would happen. Actually, to be honest, I’ve felt a bit almost like that day when I got back on a bicycle, in sunny August, in London, after more that twenty years since my last ride. Now, I’m back on the bike again, happy and glooming, looking forward to a very very mobile spring and summer. 

So… am I a cyclist, or what? For those of you not familiar with my guest posts on my good friends Mark, Eugene and Lia’s cycling blog (now temporarily closed 🙁): I very much refrain from calling myself a cyclist. I ride a bicycle everyday, ok, but I am only cycling for transportation and  leisure, and never, ever for sport. In Romanian, we have two separate words for each type of cycling, so delimitation is quite clear from the very beginning.  I have never ridden a road bike (but neither a cruiser, to be honest! 😄) and I absolutely feel at home, so to speak, on an upright Dutch style bicycle. My Anna, as some of you know, falls into this category, but I’m secretly longing after the beautiful Pashley Princess I used to ride in and around London a few years back. Occasionally, I take my son’s folding bike out for a spin – that’s an all black Dahon Vitesse D8, which I absolutely love.

In my opinion, riding a bicycle doesn’t turn one into a cyclist. But it bears the potential of developing this wonderful “addiction” and taking it to a whole new level: that level where Strava begins to count, where everyday clothes have absolutely no place on a bike, and where owning different bikes for different purposes makes perfect sense. This is where one cease to simply be a person riding a bike and turns into a real cyclist. I’m not there. I’m not even going to be there for a very long time. I am just a happy commuter on a wonderful green bicycle 😀 and that’s enough for now.