Part of my preparation for RAGBRAI included coming up with a way to carry my water / goods, without having to fill up my jersey pockets (I hate things on my back if I can help it). My first attempt at a bag utilized a new design and stitch process than I’ve used in the past, and I must say, I was very pleased with the outcome. That said, it was very much a prototype, with a few mistakes in stamping the holes, and the bag turned out to be too tall for the Eagle; when riding it, someone with long legs / tall knees hits the bottom of the bag. Additionally, because the bag is so tall, if it is not stuffed full, it shapes a little strange on the eagle, due to only having one single support rod in the back (the downtube of the bike itself).
I ventured into a shorter bag, hoping the outcome would be half as good as the first. Much to my pleasure, it was, and then some. I think this bag is even more stylish on both the Eagle and touring bikes (or rather, bikes with racks). On a modern bike, it looks like a nice sized tool bag, uniquely sized and shaped – I was very pleased.
As well, when I put both bags on a touring bike, they look great together. I could easily see making two of the bigger ones, and two of the smaller and doing a fully loaded tour on them. Once RAGBRAI is complete, and I am back in the safety (and heat) of my own state, I will craft a few extras of these, and sell them to those interested.
A common question when confronted about traveling long distances with Pene is about carrying gear. Most of my rides around here are between 30 and 50 miles, which leave very little use to carry much more than small supplies and water (or nothing – leaving me parched!). Another frequent question (or accusation) is about being the first person to want to do this kind of long distance trip via a penny, which is far from the truth. In fact, a few different people have done it, dating all the way back to 1884. Thomas Stevens, the first person to bicycle across the United States, as well as around the world accomplished this in the late 1800s. Most recently, Joff Summerfield cycled around the globe, visiting 23+ countries, completing over 22,000 miles and visiting such majesties as the Taj Mahal, Everest Base Camp and The Great Wall. Both are great inspirations and show nothing but proof of great feats, amazing travel and endless possibilities. While Stevens left San Francisco with little more than socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as tent and bedroll, and a 38 Smith & Wesson, Mr. Summerfield knew he would need a little more than that when visiting places like Everest, Tibet, etc. Below are the three styles of carrying baggage possible with a penny.
You are given very few choices when traveling by bicycle to carry your gear. Traditionally, racks can be attached to the rear and front which allow attachment of bags. With a penny farthing, you have to try a bit harder. Some people prefer trailers, which are also a possibility with a penny. The thing about a penny rather than a conventional bike is the reduced space for niceties. Your load must be very compact and efficient. With a conventional bicycle, you have a lot more room for gear and bags. Remote places like the Yukon Territory and Alaska beg for perfection in rationing, gearing and preparation. Miscalculating the amount of food I need to pack along with me means going hungry for a meal (or more). With limited space, this is even more crucial. I’m actually stumped at the moment of trailer versus spine-mounted versus rack-engineering. Short time will tell, as I wish to do some shorter test tours, including one to see my friends from the northern route of the 42 Ride, Jo and Bryan, who continued their US cross-country trip and are now in Mexico. They are a huge inspiration to me as well.
(All pictures are of Joff Summerfield’s penny, with different bag styles he used throughout his travels)