Are My Saddlebags Too Big?

I’ve been in Vancouver getting gear together for the last several days. It’s been a larger and more expensive task than I had anticipated. I ended up having to buy a new bicycle, which had not been the plan, so I’m now in debt to my VISA, but I also now have a vehicle that I’m in love with for the first time in my life.

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I think it’s nicer than any of the cars that Locomotive Ghost has toured with too. Maybe it should become the new band bicycle.

Anyway, the waiting is finally over now. All the pieces are in order. I have pannier racks, my bike has been custom fit to me, and my mom baked cookies. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving, so tonight I’ve steeled myself to pack.

I’d been nervous about this. After hearing from so many people about how tough it is to pack (I know at least one person in my group had to snap their toothbrush in half), I left Calgary with as little as I thought I could get away with. Three casual shirts. One pair of jeans. Limited underwear. No razor. If I stop wearing deodorant I’ll eventually stop smelling bad. I can wash my hair with hand soap, right?

This evening I laid it all out.

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I was prepared for some major puzzling. First step, though, was to just start cramming stuff in and get an impression of how drastic this puzzling would be.

I started cramming and shoving, shimmying and wiggling…

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Wait, that’s it? How do I still have three empty panniers? I was certain I would need to invent a way to strap my ukulele, sleeping bag, and thermarest all on top of the saddlebags. The thermarest and sleeping bag are actually inside the saddlebags. I didn’t even put the sleeping bag into its stuff sack! How did everyone else have a hard time. Are my saddlebags too big?

Did everyone else just bring more clothing and toiletries? I had planned to not shave, turn my underwear inside out to re-wear it, smell like a woodsman, and let my hair get greasy. Am I just grosser than they are?

I am now stealing anything remotely useful from my parents’ hall closet and stuffing it in the empty panniers. Airplane socks? Sure. Toiletry sack? Done. Flowery scented cosmetic samples? Why not.

Tomorrow morning I will run out and buy more clothes. I have shampoo. I packed deodorant. I promise to buy more underwear. I’m still waffling on whether to grow a grotty beard. This awesome shaving cream I found may tip the vote though.

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Seriously, what am I forgetting?


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