This Space for Rent

If the electricity ever gives out, I’m a dead man

the handlebar bag that ate my life

Despite officially marking my prototype 2 bag down as a failure, I’ve been loading it up and taking it out on the line so I can figure out all the things that are wrong with it for the next iteration of the handlebar bag (and the subsequent iteration of a bag to sit on the (not yet assembled, even though I’ve got a bunch of steel pipe sitting in the basement waiting for me to learn how to braze it) porteur rack.) And because I’ve been using it, I had to finish sewing it up, and most of this sewing was done by hand.

The top of the bag, showing the prototype map case

Ye gods, it takes forever to sew things by hand. I machine-sewed the lining (with two pockets) in about a minute, but it then took about 9 hours to sew the lining into the carcass, and another couple of hours to sew the map case onto the top of the thing.

But even though it’s missing some important features (external pockets for cellphone & first aid kit, loops for my bike lock) and a few other features need to be fixed ((1) if I’m going to use velcro to hold the lid down, I need to put both pieces of the velcro on flaps so I can just squeeze the flaps together to latch it closed, because the way it is now I tend to fold the back of the bag forward every time I latch it shut, and (2) the velcro tab that hooks over the back of the Nitto F15 rack needs to be replaced with D rings or something similar) it’s still very useful. Not so much for holding clothing (though it does that quite well, up to the point where it starts bulging open) but to hold things like my cell phone (I can’t hear it if I carry it in a pocket, but the annoying raspy ring is very noticable when I’ve stuffed the cellphone up front,) my camera (not having to get off the bicycle and root through the xtracycle panniers is a complete win, as I may have mentioned a dozen or so times before), and cue sheets & brevet cards (I need to run a R200 in the pouring rain sometime to see how much water comes into the map case when I’m moving. I should do the UGB 200k again for this, because I’ve memorized most of the route already and it won’t matter so much if the cuesheet becomes a sodden mass of pulp) when I’m using the midlifecrisismobile for its intended purposes.

The mlcm with the handlebar bag installed -- wide-angle view

It doesn’t look completely good (it comes slightly pre-crumpled for the illusion that I’m an actual hardcore cyclist,) but it’s not as if the midlifecrisismobile pretends to be some hideously expensive bespoke randonneuring bicycle either (I think I spent about US$900 on the mlcm – at least that’s what my ebay sales receipts say I sold over the fall, and that’s how I financed the thing – and a custom made rando bike would cost an order of magnitude more than that without giving me the chance to pick my own components and assemble the bicycle myself.)

Next project is the seatpost bag, which is going to be sewn almost completely by machine (I’m going to have to hand-hem the strapping, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to use the machine to sew the lining into the bag, but I’m not going to hand-sew anything else) and then, after a thousand miles of break-in, I’m going to go back and machine-sew the prototype 3 handlebar bag.

But if the electricity gives up, I’ll “sew” it together with epoxy.