More than ten thousand miles from where I sit, there is a storage unit filled with the other 99 percent of my life’s accumulated crap; the stuff I left behind when I shipped off to Madagascar. This includes all four of my bikes.
I crammed that unit full of my material attachments like a minor league Tetris player, and said a sad goodbye to my tax records, my collection of coffee mugs, and a big cat scratching post that used to be a nice wing-back chair.”But what crap did you take to Madagascar,” you ask?Well, that’s the purpose of this post.I have more posts forthcoming in my Tananarivize series on bike commuting in Madagascar’s capitol, but I thought it would be helpful to lay out the gear that I brought with me–right there on the asphalt in front of my storage unit.I will refer back to this post in future dispatches.
- An assortment of ratty old cycling gloves:Because I commute with gloves, in any weather. Is that strange?
- An Ortlieb Mud Racer LEDsaddle bag:I had to pick a saddle bag, and this one came by default because the mounting hardware was already attached to my saddle.
- An Ortlieb 10-Liter Water Bag:Not really for cycling. I brought this knowing that I would probably wouldn’t be able to drink my water right out of the tap. I didn’t even know if I would have a tap. (I do.) I have to filter and treat my drinking water ahead of time, and in this Ortlieb bag is where I store it.
- My Detours Coffee Bag:I already reviewed this interesting oddball of a bag. I haven’t found a purpose for it yet in Madagascar, but if I do I will write all about it.
- My Ortlieb Back Roller Classic Panniers (with BSH logo):Collectors edition–these are no longer available in black with the logo in white. Jealous?
- A Quivver (“The Speedo of Messenger Bags”):I keep thinking I’m going to use this, then I don’t.
- A balaclava and…
- Apair of racquetball goggles:These may seem like weird things to bring to Madagascar, but right before I left the US I was reading all about a plague of cannibal locusts terrorizing Antananarivo. I thought these would protect my mouth and eyes from billions of bugs. By the time I arrived, the swarm had subsided. But we can always hope for next year.
- An assortment of pant leg cuff clips:Not to nitpick, but cuff clips either take too long to put on, or the ones that go on easily also come off too easily. See that silly big one that looks like a shin brace? That’s a Leg Shield, which I reviewed a long time ago. The Leg Shield folks are sending me their newest pant cuff product, which promises to be the easy-on-and-stays-on solution I have been waiting for my entire life.
- A Dajia Cycleworks Trekking Handlebar from Velo Orange:Sadly, I pulled this handlebar from my luggage along with my ukulele. I was just a couple of pounds over my weight limit. I was rather proud of how I had wrapped the ukulele and the handlebar together so that the uke was protected. (For thoughts on trekking bars, see Bluescat’s “Trekking Handlebars and Other Comforts.” For thoughts on ukuleles, see “Mother of Pearl” by Nellie McKay.)
- A Velo Orange Model 3 Saddle and a jar of VO Saddle Care:It’s only been three years since I got this, but I continue to believe that one day this saddle will be broken in; adapted to my unique butt bones, and I will see what the fuss is all about. Either that or I will try a Brooks saddle like all the other snobs.
- G-Form Knee Pads:Because I might be commuting one day, and I’ll start to fall down, and I will pause time, run home, put these on, run back, un-pause time, and fall on my knees and escape injury. Or (to be less of a smartass), I might go mountain biking and want to protect my knees — assuming I can plan ahead.
- Philips SafeRide 80 Headlight:This just showed up one day a couple of years ago. I probably should have reviewed it. It’s a nice, bright USB-rechargeable bike headlight with a fancy brushed-aluminum casing. I would have given it a good review. But then, here in Madagascar, the mounting bracket broke just from the bike falling over. And then I would have felt really bad for anyone who had purchased the light based on my recommendation. I totally dodged a bullet there, didn’t I?
- A Busch & Mller Topfire Bike Helmet LED Tail Light:This little thing pokes four LEDs out the ventilation holes of your helmet. Will it measure up to my beloved Fire Eye tail light, left behind in the storage unit? I’ll let you know.
- Tire levers:If you don’t know what these are for, this is not the post where it will be revealed to you.
- Two HubBub Helmet Mirrors:That’s right! I like this mirror so much I brought two of them with me. I just may feel generous one day and give one of these to a deserving Madagascan.
- The Bike Light Formerly Known as Gotham:Now known as the Defender Glare. I like the theft-resistance of this. We’ll see how I like changing the batteries, which requires a special skinny screwdriver that I have not lost–yet.
Bonus: Smack in the middle of the photo of all my stuff spread out on the ground, there is a can of hairspray. Leave a comment if you know what that is for.Some of this gear will get a full review, some of it I already have reviewed, and some gearmay never be mentioned by me again. If there’s something you’d like me do definitely review, let me know in the comments.And now for the big reveal…
My Madagascar commuter:
Ted Johnson is a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Follow his hardly-ever-about-bikes blogging at Half-Hearted Fanatic, and tweeting at @TedJohnsonIII.Note that the opinions expressed here by Ted Johnson are solely his own and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.