Countdown to Montreal: Three more sleeps

I’m not going to lie, I am nervous about this bike trip to Montreal.  It seemed like a fun idea a couple of months ago, but despite my best intentions, none of my “training rides” have surpassed 70km.  And even after those rides, my legs were pretty tired.

I’m not really sure how I will physically fare with 110km over two days, plus a fun 50km ride on Sunday.  I’m already looking forward to the train ride home!

To prepare, I bought a fresh bottle of Advil and a tube of hippy hemp muscle cream.  These will have to do.

To make matters more fun, the forecast for the weekend is hot and ….. rainy.  Uggggh.  This brings a whole new set of challenges to long distance biking.  Steadfastly, my primary concern remains keeping my lunch dry.

I reached out to Twitter for waterproof pannier recommendations and got a range of useful replies:

  • Dedicated waterproof panniers from Ortlieb or Arkel
  • Ziploc bags, garbage bags or dry bags packed inside your pannier
  • Rain cover for panniers

All were very good suggestion, but some more economical than others.

My only panniers that are mostly waterproof are the bags on my Kona MinUte that don’t fit on any of my other bikes.

Here’s my process of elimination:

  • The rain cover idea was out.  It wouldn’t fit the panniers that I own.
  • I love Arkel bags, but I didn’t feel I’d use it enough to justify the cost.
  • A dry bag seemed like the best solution for my unusual sized pannier bag.  So, I picked up two: one for food supplies and one for my electronics.

Of course, when I was shopping, I saw this Timbuk2 trunk bag that was waterproof and doubled as a cooler.  This would be great for our bike camping trip AND it would keep my lunch dry on this trip.  Since I’m taking my enormous Dutch bike that has no water bottle cages, the trunk bag also has an easy to access bottle pocket for water.

Timbuk2 trunk bag. I DO have junk in my trunk.

I know I said I didn’t need a new bag, but what’s one more bag?  It fits and it’s not too sporty looking so it doesn’t throw off the Dutchness of the bike.  I like how the top can expand to cram more stuff inside if needed.  It also comes with the required hipster charm – a bottle opener.

The other small bag that I purchased was a rock climbing chalk bag.  This trip is a working trip, so I need to have my camera handy at all times – not tucked into a bag with buckles and straps.  Somewhere on the interweb long ago, I saw a photo of someone who strapped a pet treat bag to their handlebars so their front child seat mounted tot could graze while riding.   I can no longer find that image, but the cleverness of that bike hack has stayed with me.

Chalk bag
MEC rock climbing chalk bag / on-bike camera bag

A chalk bag works much the same way.  It has a strap that can go around your handlebars and a pull string to keep anything from bouncing out.  Chalk bags are also soft and padded which makes them a great camera bag (at least for a smaller point and shoot variety camera).   As a bonus, it’s also deep enough to hold a water bottle.  The bargain price?  $11.

I tried the chalk bag out on my ride to work this morning and could easily grab my camera.  The bag didn’t swing around or hit my knees or do anything funny.  I consider it the best bike hack I’ve found since the “pannier on a grocery cart” trick.

Thank you doggy treat bag internet man!

Am I ready?  Ding ding!

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Comments: 4

  1. Good luck & have fun.

  2. rww says:

    WOW, doing that on a dutch bike, with cargo, is really brave. My wife and I had no problem doing those kinds of distances in Ireland for a week, but we were on hybrids and our luggage was in a support van. But it’s only three days, the fatigue would probably set in on the fourth day and you’ve done 70 k training rides so you know you can do the distance. And I’m pretty sure there are no mountain climbs between here and Montreal, until you want go up Mount Royal. GOOD LUCK, HAVE FUN.

    • Lana says:

      Luckily, we have a support vehicle for the trip. My only luggage on-bike is my lunch, a few tools and my camera. I’ve biked around Montreal on a Bixi, so I am pretty sure I can cope with 3 speeds for the hills. : )

  3. Hi Lana,

    Will you be updating your blog/tweeting throughout the weekend? I’d like to feature your blog on CitizenCycle, so please contact me.
    The Montreal Bike Fest is a GREAT event. Last year’s had dire predictions of rain but it was clear for both Tour La Nuit and the Tour de l’Ile. Best of luck on your ride!