Ever since dragging the Pencil around Washington state on the Cascade 1200, I’ve been obsessing about the encumbering weight of my personal possessions–and the Pencil in particular. During the Cascade’s pre-ride bike check-in, I grew panicky comparing the Pencil to all the sleek ti and carbon bikes equipped with shockingly minimalist luggage, bento boxes and hideous looking trunk racks (so much for the design influence of NAHBS on workaday randonneurs). By comparison, the Pencil was packed up like a pilgrim’s donkey with full hammered honjos, old timey drivetrain, leather saddle, canvas luggage and chubby, 650b x 34c tires. Fellow randos took turns lifting the Pencil and commenting on its dramatic heft. Hours before the ride, I found myself jettisoning practical items like a spare 650b tires, food provisions and clothing layers just to keep the bike in the ballpark of 40 lbs…
Now that I’m through with longer brevets for the season, I’ve started to streamline The Pencil, removing the rear rack and wind sucking mudflaps and swapping out the Berthoud handlebar bag and rear saddlebag for a canvas, under-the-saddle burrito roll. I’ve even swapped out the so called Maxy Fasty tires for the less reliable Grand Bois Cypres tires (resulting in two explosive flats in less than an hour).
Friend Tom has arrived in town for the summer with a new Frost River rucksack. Like the packed Pencil, the rucksack is absurdly overdressed with a crazy array of side cinching straps, sub buckle systems and a special strap designed to let Tom support some of the bag’s weight with his forehead. Tom and I lamented the fact that many of our beloved bags–for me, my main Brady game bag–are so well made, so dura-built, so encumbered under the weight of waxed cotton, brass fittings and top quality leather, that they’re nearly impossible to use/carry for daily use. Tom is looking to purchase a second, scaled down version of the FR rucksack (the child’s mini bookbag) and I find myself lusting after the balsa wood frames in the Tour de France.
I need Winter to hurry back before I swap out the Pencil for a bagless, fenderless Cervelo.