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What’s in the bag?

For someone who cycles just under 6 miles (each way) in one of the world’s most urban cities, I carry a lot of stuff with me on my commute. So what’s in the bag?

Allie's bike on the Staten Island Ferry

  • Tool bag (with wrench, multitool, tire levers, spare tube, etc.)
  • Lunch
  • Sunglasses & case
  • Lip balm
  • Wallet
  • Cellphone
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Clif bar
  • Clothes (wrapped in a plastic garbage bag)1
  • Rain gear (pants, jacket, cover for bag)2
  • Tail light

And that’s just the bare minimum. On days when I have off-site meetings, there’s also hair product and shoes in there. (I keep a collection of shoes under my desk–and a hair dryer, straightening iron, styling creme, and hair wax in a drawer–but when I have to travel to meetings, I need to bring some with me.) Last week, I baked cookies that I took with me to a meeting. Today I brought my glass jar of coffee because I ran out yesterday.

I don’t normally carry a lock (because, luckily, I have a bike storage locker at work) but I do have to bring one if my day requires travel. I keep a Kryptonite U-lock in my storage locker at work (for when I have afternoon meetings) and a heavy-duty chain lock at home (for when I have morning meetings). If I didn’t have to carry a lock with me, I’d be a happy camper: it adds considerable weight and bulk to my bag. But, unfortunately, I live and work in a city where bikes are stolen in broad daylight on a regular basis so I just have to suck it up and deal with it.

Given all the stuff I carry with me, I’m extremely grateful for my rear rack and trunk bag combo. They work great together and I get to haul a lot of stuff. The bag has a carrying handle and a shoulder strap so it’s easy to slide the bag off my rack and carry it with me into the elevator and to my desk. I’ve also used it to go grocery shopping. It can do it all! But maybe not for long: I got it 4 years ago and it’s starting show some wear and tear. When it finally breaks down, I’ll be replacing it with the same model. Actually, I’ll probably upgrade to a higher-capacity one. Bigger is better, right?


1 Why the garbage bag? Rain! My bag isn’t waterproof so I need to make sure my clothes don’t get sopping wet on my morning rides. And it’s also easier to then transport the clothes into a bag I keep at my desk that I take with me to the bathroom to change, do my hair, etc.
2 I don’t trust meteorologists anymore so I take my rain gear with me everyday and everywhere.

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Hands in the air like it’s good to be alive

Planning a bike tour is no easy feat. Depending on where one goes and for how long, one would need a lot of gear to get through the trip:

    Bicycle leaning against rail on boardwalk; overlooking ocean

  • Tent with footprint and rainfly
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow
  • Clothes (cycling & street)
  • Stove, pot, bowls, and utensils
  • Food
  • Water bottles & filtration system
  • Camp towel
  • Toiletries
  • First aid kit
  • Bike tools and spare parts
  • Bike cover
  • Bike lock

I’ve been looking at /r/bicycletouring/ for inspiration as well as advice. I’ve also come across a complete bicycle touring gear checklist that’s proving quite handy.

However, since Alex and I are planning a short weekend trip before we embark on a longer (week- or 2-week-long) tour, we will require less gear than this. Essentially, we’ll just need the necessities: tent, sleeping bags, pillows, cycling clothes, street clothes, camp towel, toiletries, bike tools, spare tubes, pump, and bike locks. The problem is that we don’t currently have camping gear (nor have we ever camped!) so we’ll have to make that investment. We were looking at REI and Dick’s but then I remembered about craigslist! We can get a lot of the items we need second-hand without breaking the bank while helping me curb my tendencies to over-consume.

The trouble now is trying to figure out where we should go and for how long. I’ve long considered State Bike Route 9 for such an adventure but I’ve read some less-than-stellar accounts of it. New York is a big state with a lot of bike routes… and that’s if we decide to stay in NY. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are nearby and we’re considering them, too. (I’ve always wanted to bike through the Amish country!) So there’s still quite a bit of planning to do before this trip becomes reality but we’re excited for this adventure!

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Meaning must be imposed by learning by experience

The past few weeks have been fun, busy, exciting, stressful… Let me count the ways:

Earlier in the month, I worked my first shift at the co-op. I opted to do a receiving shift, wherein I arrive at the store before it opens to receive shipments, arrange and display produce, label produce, and check prices. Other than the basic duties outlined in the job description, I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, it was really fun! Because the store was closed, it was easy to get work done but also to get to know the other members working with me. It was a good group of people and I look forward to my recurring Saturday morning shift. I’ve also been shopping at the co-op more frequently and eating a lot of delicious fruit and veggies. (Part of the reason I like my shift is that I get to shop after I’m finished, right as the store is opening and the produce shelves are still stocked!)

The following day, June 3, I participated in the Tour de Brooklyn. It was a 20-mile bike tour through my home borough with over 2,000 other cyclists. Needless to say, it was crowded and there was a lot of stopping and waiting. I managed to be caught on camera before the start, though! Crews from the local newschannel NY1 were there, covering the tour, and I can be seen in the background, fixing my hair, at about the 0:45 mark. It’s a low-quality video and you can barely even make me out but I’m there! I can now say I was on TV. Hehe.

On June 8, I gave a presentation at SUNYLA 2012: Fashioning the Library of the Future. I talked about my project creating library video tutorials while I was employed at Lehman College. I had a good turnout and thought my session went really well, with a lot of input & discussion from the audience. For those who are interested, my slides are available on the conference website or by following this link directly: From backstage to center stage: Librarians as actors in video tutorials (PPT).

While all this was happening, though, I was also nervously preparing for a job interview. I was selected to be interviewed for a new position, Instruction Librarian, at my current place of employment. This is a huge deal as this is an exciting opportunity for me to work at a college I like with colleagues I admire doing work I find incredibly interesting, challenging, and rewarding. I was interviewed by a committee of my library coworkers yesterday and hope to move on to Phase II of the interview (wherein I give a short presentation, on a topic yet to be determined, to my colleagues in the department) in the coming weeks.

Since interviewing is stressful, I took the day off and, because it was absurdly hot (95°F!), spent it eating ice cream, napping with my cat, and then going to see the New York premier of Sleepwalk With Me at the BAMcinemaFest with Alex. It turned out that our seats were kind of amazing–if all we wanted to see were Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia talking about the movie. (In the photo on the left, Alex and I are in the second row right in front of the podium. I’m behind the girl in the pink-ish top at Ira’s feet.) However, they were very unfortunate for watching a movie because we were so close and so far off to one side. I spent the evening craning my neck and seeing distorted images projected on the screen. But! It was a fun movie and a great experience nevertheless. I’ve been a fan of Mike Birbiglia the comedian for a while now… and now I consider myself a fan of Mike Birbiglia the film writer, director, and actor, too. (Oh! And while waiting to get into the theater, I spotted a familiar face but couldn’t quite place him. Later figured out that it was John Mulaney. Makes me wonder how many other comedians, actors, and celebrities were at the premier that I just didn’t notice. I’m bad at spotting famous folks.)

I’ll be back in the BAM opera house next week for Radiolab Live: In the Dark. I hope our seats are better, although it’s all so relative, it’s hard to know what to expect ahead of time.

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