A week ago I went out in search of gravel roads. It’s not something I do a lot of, preferring pavement over rocks, but the past few weeks have been one stress-laden day after another as we’ve executed three large exhibitions within a very short time frame. Maintaining composure and diplomacy has been challenging and I’ve found myself in great need of being someplace that people were not.

Gravel seemed to fit the bill then as it likely will again today.

It’s no secret that I like to carry a few essentials with me during these escapes from humanity. A camera, sketch pad and pen, emergency tools, and maybe a little food. It’s impossible to carry these things in a jersey pocket so most of my bikes are outfitted with some type of luggage. I’ve a saddle bag on my 650B Cycles Toussaint Velo-Routier, and very recently complimented it with a front bag. I like the convenience of front bags and had been mulling over the purchase of another Swift bag like the Ozette I have on my Boulder Brevet. That bag is excellent quality, functions flawlessly, and serves me very well indeed.

On a whim a few months ago I Googled “handlebar bag pattern” and came across a link that intrigued me. The blog If I Had a Bike shared a short piece about a DIY handlebar bag. Helpfully, a link to an actual size pattern in .pdf is included on the blog. Checking things out, I discovered the article had already made the rounds among BOBs and other esoteric cycling enthusiasts, but I couldn’t find anyone who’d actually made the bag aside from the original on which the pattern was based. About the same time one of my art students approached me to see if I had any ideas for a freelance sewing project. The stars seemed aligned, so I proposed she make this bag for me with a couple small revisions to the engineering. The bag was delivered last week in time for my gravel escape. It’s made of light weight cotton duck and stiffened with a plastic corrugate insert. Small enough not to require a decaleur, I’ve drafted out an idea for a quick release system I think will keep the bag firmly attached to the rack.

I’ve added a new tool to my travel sketch kit, a Sakura “water brush” that has a reservoir of fresh water in the handle of the brush. One quick squeeze pushes a droplet out onto the fibers of the brush rather than dipping the brush into a container or cup of water. In theory this sounds very convenient to me so I will be carrying this kit configuration for a while to test.

It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Riding off on a leisurely jaunt, not destination in mind. Stopping here and there, along rural country lanes – now to snap a photograph, now for a snack, now to make a sketch. I find that thirty minutes into a day of riding, all stress seems to have melted away. The cares of the world are left behind and I am left alone with my thoughts.

I find it more and more vital to carve out time for these moments – even if they are only that: just moments. I’m looking forward to a few of those moments today.


8 thoughts on “De-stressing

    • Yes, I thought she did a good job too. Her teacher only gave her a C though because it didn’t look “professional” enough, which I thought was unfair and uninformed. On the other hand, she netted a paycheck out of the deal and I got a bag to meet my needs.

    • I’m running Grand Cru Chris’s Rando Handlebars on both this bike and on my Boulder Brevet. I’m using 48cm width on both; Velo-Orange has them available in the following widths: 42, 44, 46, 48, and 50cm, measured C-C. Bear in mind that the bars flare outward in the drops. I’ve used several different Rando-style bars and I appreciate the way these fit me, and the variety of hand positions this style of bar provides.

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