Bicycles and Bags

About 3 years ago I bought a bicycle. On Monday I actually rode it properly for the first time.

I’ve always liked the idea of a bicycle-based photographic expedition. I spend a lot of time traveling about the countryside in a car and often curse missed opportunities for some great photos as there is rarely a good place to stop, coupled with the fact that, when driving a car, you really should be looking at the road ahead – not at the view. Those problems quickly fade on a bike. You’re free to actually notice the world around you, and you can stop at any point to take a picture.

This brings me onto the topic of bags. I love bags. I have many. Usually on most outings I sport a very large shoulder bag (Domke F-1X – just about the biggest shoulder bag you can get) filled with nearly every every lens and flashgun I own. This option was frankly overkill for taking on a bike (especially as the bike in question doesn’t have a basket – yet). Backpack camera bags have always annoyed me. Yes, they’re comfortable to carry over distance, and yes you can fit a fair bit in them, but the fact that you have to remove the bag from your person to get at your cameras is too much hassle. Any extra effort I have to expend, makes the likely-hood of me expending it that bit less likely. So a few years ago, when setting out on a hiking holiday in Nepal, I kitted myself out with a Lowepro Off Trail 2. This is a belt pack, so all the weight of the gear is carried on your hips, not your shoulders, so you hardly feel it. Also, as the camera is always in the same place and is easily accessible from the top, it’s really quick to whip the camera out, pop off a couple of shots then pop it back in safely. This is the bag I chose to go cycling with. And it worked a dream. Sitting on my hip, the bag didn’t affect the peddling action at all and the camera was so accessible I even took a few shots without stopping the bicycle. I left one of the attached lens compartments free of lenses so it could hold a water bottle (another trick I learned in Nepal).

The trip in question was around Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, a place I’ve visited often, and always wished there were more places to stop the car. However, if I’d looked at the wikipedia site before setting off and realised it was 11miles around, I might not have chosen it for my first outing with the bike (my legs still ache now). All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I’m looking forward to the next time I take the bike out (especially if I can get a basket fitted so I can carry more lenses).