Posts tagged with “Bicycles”

Mar 4, 2018

I planned to get the Cycliste thing* on a long-ish ride this weekend and see if it could hold 16 Litres (Queen’s) of stuff over the long-ish ride. I did, and I sort-of did.

On Saturday morning I strapped it onto the seatpost with ‘some’ effort (not at all how I pictured the business in my head the night before with soundtrack from that Wong Kar Wai film) and an extra 4ft Bungee cord (also from ViaTerra). I was briefly impressed by the cord’s build quality, in soft contrast to the stuff the bag seemed to be forged from. Then I remembered I paid approximately twenty times more for the bag and quickly got the tying up part over with. There is some inelegant threading-through-seat-rails of the straps involved, but it can replace a short warm-up exercise routine if your inelegance matches that demanded of the operation. Mine did. The only thing that got stretched before the ride had metal hooks on both ends. 

The road to the beach was re-constructed recently enough to not have been laid to waste by three or four Panchayat administrations along the way, the water department, the state owned telephone company or the hopelessly ironic ‘Japan potable water’ project people (quick translation, entirely inappropriate). Only four across-the-road-excavations so far. All that this means is that you are better off not trusting when I say the bag didn’t swing around or drop down to the tyre on the way, despite all the inelegance and bungee-cord. It could certainly do all that and more on a proper trail or a normal road anywhere in the country.

Image above: knots in an abandoned fishing net. Non sequitur if you have to ask.

When on the saddle, the bag reminds you it is there with its sides softly brushing against your thighs (part of this had to do with my aggressively aero saddle, I think) in an inappropriate way. It is a nice thing on lonely rides early in the morning. When off the saddle and climbing, it doesn’t sway too much into what could be oncoming traffic on roads where people wake up that early and get into their metal boxes. I’m sure the camouflage pattern did a good job too, of making (the whole of) me invisible to what little traffic there was. Explains that Pulsar coming to a halt in the middle of the road as I was breaking into yet another unnecessary sprint. 

The ride was thankfully eventless. The beach was free of too many people watching their cellphones. There was a karate class where some sort of a mid-term evaluation was underway, an impromptu freerunning lesson some way away and a kid running sideways along the crabs running sideways, away from the kid running sideways along the shore. The bag comes off the bike and manages to make me look unfit for anything involving straps while coming off. Ones off, it is easy to transport. There was no sense of shame in lugging it down to where the dry sand met the wet edge on the shore. It being early in the morning helped. It was fairly inconspicuous (thanks to the camouflage pattern) and didn’t scream “expensive gear” or “dog food.” I even took a photo of it lounging there, with the three kids some way away squinting to see what it was that was being thus immortalised. Since—in the name of science—I was lugging around the Kindle, I read the same five pages again and again and remembered none of it.

It is a good, budget, 16-Litre bag if that is what you are after. They could’ve gone easy on the logo-slapping though, and instead chosen brand-coloured straps and wider reflective tape. The seatpost straps are meant for larger aluminium ones, closing in too late on the 25.4mm steel one on my bicycle. Perched over the rear tyre, it is holding a sleeping bag (there because it filled space in one go), a 12 inch laptop (it fits), the aptly named power brick, a 200 page A5 notebook, some rolled up shirts and a tool bag (spare tube, tyre levers, multitool, a puncture kit that has seen better days, Oxford commas, and spanners). No, I did not carry all that to a beach. 

I mean to use it on occasional commutes to the studio (25 Kilometers one way, in chaos) and—to justify the cost—on vegetable-bagging runs. It is not a delight to behold, but so isn’t a beaten up Nokia 105 that just works and doesn’t run out of juice the moment you stop stroking its ego.

Mar 1, 2018

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Acquired a Viaterra Cycliste seatpost bag last week. Impressed with the size/utility/price relationship. Not so with the logo. (You can tell?!) This is a quick version I based on road stripes fiddled around with illustrator transform tools. Will put some decent riding into it during the weekend to say nice things about it later. They don’t have pictures of the bag in use anywhere. It looks like a bloated Ortlieb and less flashy. B says I haven’t heard of buyers’ remorse. (I like group guilt; see apostrophe.)

Feb 6, 2018

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An Edward Hopper painting, low-light and bicycles.

Jan 7, 2018

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Upcycled an old wheelset. 2018.

Dec 26, 2017

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Dec 24, 2017

Just Ride is a painfully (!) practical guide to cycling without the gear obsession and adding things to the bike while hoping to shave off milligrams. This, as I am burning bandwidth looking for a positively eyelet-infested tour-ready frame. 

Tim Crabbe’s Rider and Robert Penn’s It’s All About the Bike are excellent reads too, to help put you in the mood for a long ride. It is Gironimo next.

May 5, 2017

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Link $$

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Apr 23, 2016

We were sat in the second floor of your typical Mumbai office building—not one of the IKEA-perfect new ones, but an old one that leaked and the elevators refused to run up and the dogs slept on landings along the staircases. We were discussing openness in the comfort of an air-conditioner drowned in cups of masala tea. I was quoting Doctorov and Siddhartha Lal and the mechanic at the RE dealership in Kozhikode in an attempt to flip their buttered-side-down views on confidentiality and trust. The stories I told were probably too balmy and rounded-edged, but it managed to refill my own faith in businesses and people. I left happy they may probably not be hiring KL11 for this project. These are very good people to have known; building this product from a private, commendable vision up.

In the evening, I cycle downhill to the theatre, hoping to be on time for Leela. One realises it isn’t a theatre anymore, but something lesser, sinister, lodged in the slowly moving parts of the city not unlike cheap 2T oil. One realises it is wrong to expect theatre-ey feelings from something that clearly isn’t. The multiplex is housed on the third floor, a Maslow’s tomb of fastfood, clothing, beauty parlours and coaching centres. The gate is closed and the security, bored and sunburnt. He shooes me away, with a “cycles aren’t allowed” and I protest, “this is a vehicle too,” holding the bike in between us and putting the weight of my words onto it. I secretly wish for a moment it grows a heart of internal combustion and a couple of whiskers. That it envelops me in petrol fumes and makes the afternoon sun shine through, silhouetting me against a firework of colours. He wouldn’t have any of it, flips the table, and walks away. While I had planned ahead for some sufffering at the ATM, this humiliation was not prepaid for, after a sweaty ride allover campus and down JVLR. The logical thing would be to dump the bike along the road, hoping it doesn’t get resource-shared while I look away from the popcorn stand. Instead, I mount the less-than-vehicle and ride all the way back in silence.

The city smartens up, giving the Chinese a run for their oxygen masks. The online ticket-machine wants you to ride a bicycle down to the movies. It is cute. The metropolis is saying it is my fault being single and riding a non-vehicle in summer. Maybe it will open up if one burns some petrol at its altars. I catch myself wondering what it will take for us to pause and revel at the screwed up visions of tomorrow in our waking dreams. What it will take for the Decathlon crowd to realise the lines over at their Strava account are only smaller, less significant versions of the lines they could draw over a city of traffic jams and cowdung and potholes and beautiful strangers in brightly coloured polyester.

I feel like the city has rejected me for something I believed was an act of deliberation, made to feel much less than welcome for something I thought was an act not less than a stolen kiss. Don’t get me wrong. I think spark-plugs are wondrous things, like fireflies or stars over a Gurgaon sky. I just want us to remember two-wheels and pedalling can be beautiful too. Till then, you can take the user experience of that bicycle icon and shelve it up places unkissed by the summer sun.

Dec 14, 2015

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