Sunday, June 22, 2008


Now that we are almost within a month of departure, the real work of getting the Right Stuff, as well as psychic preparation, begins. This week's equipment breakthrough was the acquisition of Ortlieb rear panniers.

The virtue of Ortliebs is that they are truly waterproof. NOT "water-resistant," a term that means that your stuff will get wet if you are out in the rain for more than five minutes. But truly waterproof. They seem to be made out of the old oilcloth that was used for yellow rain slickers when I was a kid. Nancy and I got caught for about 10 miles in the rain on a ride in western Maryland earlier this month, and I developed a real appreciation for the virtues of waterproof, as opposed to water-resistant. (That's us, riding in Italy on a sunny day -- no need for Ortliebs there.)

Then there's the psychic preparation. Beginning with the weight of the panniers. I rode home from the bike shop with them, and with old bike shoes inside them. Maybe half the weight I'll have to pull when the panniers are stuffed. Ugh. Need to get stronger.

One last mechanical point -- bike mechanics rule. The guy at the bike shop, City Bikes in on Connecticut Avenue (I think he was Mike, but I may be thinking of the rock group), agreed with me that the instructions for installing the panniers were useless, about a dozen difficult-to-make-out diagrams without even a listing of parts. Instead, "Mike" simply applied his impressive reason and experience, not to mention patience, to figure the thing out. And the panniers work.

I took a ride this morning, stopped at the vegetable stand for fresh tomatoes, dropped them in my panniers, and made my way home. Thank your bike mechanic.

Thanks, Mike.
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