Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dutch Bike Co. Chicago & Po Campo

A few weeks ago, W was in Chicago and stopped at Dutch Bike Co. Chicago:

He says it's a great atmosphere with friendly and knowledgeable staff (thanks to Vince for all his help!). I wish I had been there with him... seems like a fantastic store with lots of excellent products like these Workcycles:

I love those Brooks saddles. W came home with a B67 for his Brodie. And he also got a little something for me - a lovely rack tote from Po Campo! These bags are designed in Chicago; it's nice to support local businesses. Here is the front view (note the reflective strip along the side - nice touch):

And the back, with a small pocket for your phone or whatever else you need to keep handy:

Beautiful leather details:

The handles close together with magnets. The zippered main compartment is lined in a lovely purple fabric:

The interior is very roomy - more than enough room for anything I'd need to bring with me on a daily basis. It has one of those small flat zippered pockets that I never know what to do with, but maybe one day I'll have something to put in there. I personally prefer little pockets for stuff like lipgloss, keys, and whatever else I don't want to dig around for, but it's not a big deal at all. I usually end up putting those kind of things in another smaller bag and stashing that inside my purse so it's all together and easier to find. And there is also that handy little pocket on the outside of the bag for those kind of things so I guess I'm really reaching to find anything remotely negative about this bag (it's extremely difficult!!). I didn't take pictures, but I can fit my wallet, phone, sunglasses, lock, tire kit, a book or magazine, and a snack - with plenty of room to spare.

I love the details and practicality of this bag.  In order to attach the bag to your rack, you unclip the straps from the front of the bag, loop them under your rack, clip the straps back to the bag, and tighten them to secure. I think newer versions of the bag also have rack straps on the sides of the bag for further security, which I would have liked, but we'll see how this one does for now. The shoulder strap is also detachable but I think I would generally keep it on. You can also clip a light onto the reflective side loops. The fabric is water-resistant - I'd definitely leave this bag at home on rainy or snowy rides but it does seem to be durable enough for most conditions. I'll post another review once I've had more time to really see it in action. All in all, a very functional but stylish bag. Beats having a sweaty back.

The obligatory inspection by Yoshi:

He tried to climb inside of it, so that means he approves.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bike Spotting and Observations on Attitudes Towards Transportation

Now that I've started incorporating cycling into my day-to-day life (as opposed to just quick rides around city trails here and there), I find that I'm much more aware of cyclists and cycles in my surroundings. I have previously been too afraid to venture away from the trails and paths and into the road. Now that I have a better understanding of how to ride with traffic, I also have a better understanding of how to be a more considerate driver when sharing the road with cyclists. I'm hoping that more people get into cycling, if not only to help foster the same appreciation in other motorists.

I think cycling is gaining momentum in our city, but I'm not sure if that's just because I have an active interest in it and tend to notice it more than I otherwise would.  In any case, there is still a long ways to go.... the prevailing attitude in Calgary seems to be that driving a car is ideal and something to aspire to. When talking to people about cycling, I often find people dismiss it as "too much effort" or "too sweaty" or "takes too long". But they don't realize that a comfortable bike and a more relaxed pace make a huge difference. Also, cycling doesn't necessarily take that much longer - you avoid traffic jams and can park your bike right outside the door (this is especially meaningful for me as my parking spot is a long walk from my building). Plus, cycling can be your workout for the day so you don't have to spend time at the gym. And when it comes to transit, many people feel they're "done with that phase of life", as though you "graduate" from taking the bus to driving a car. Granted, transit in this city is not always ideal - often crowded, not accessible enough, inefficient route options, etc. but I think the mentality will remain the same long after improvements to transit are made.

I also find that I'm more attentive to bikes that I see around the city, especially those that appeal to me, like this beautiful Opa from Jorg & Olif that I saw parked along 17th Ave:

Eventually my Pashley will be one of these bikes you might see around!