Bike commuting in comfort
I've been flirting with bike commuting for a while, but the relationship never really developed into anything long term. This year gas prices and a rising concern for the environment in which I love to play, have prompted me to commit to driving to work only one day out of every week. This translates to a lot more biking than I've ever done before. I don't live very far from my office (about 5 miles), but the way is mostly uphill, and I usually have a fairly heavy load to slog up there- including my laptop. I herniated a disc in my back a couple of years ago, and though I have an awesome commuting backpack that is quite comfy, all the weight has been starting to tweak me out.
I turned to panniers as the solution, and bought a pair of Seattle Sports rain rider panniers based on the review on bikecommuters.com that praised the construction, durability, lightness, and waterproofed-ness of the panniers. I know it doesn't rain very often here in Salt Lake, but with my entire academic career contained in my laptop, I just can't afford to lose it to a surprise September downpour. Sure I back up my hard drive weekly, but not daily, and losing a week's worth of work: not an option (not to mention the cost of replacing my only machine). I've logged a number of miles with my panniers, and though it's been predictably dry during that time, these suckers are amazing. I can carry surprisingly large loads (I brought them along for a recent trip to the library and managed to squeeze numerous reference books in each- I'd guess about 25 lbs or more and they didn't even seem the slightest bit perturbed by the experience... wish I could say the same for my calves on the way back to my office!). Getting all the weight off my back has been a life saver and certainly means that I'm less likely to wimp out and give up on my resolution.
The panniers I got are an updated version from the ones described on bike commuters. The only differences I can see are an additional buckle strap which does come in handy during the rare occurrence of a light load and a waterproof zipper pocket. This is particularly useful for holding wallet, keys, bike lock, or anything else you want to get at quickly and without digging through your stuffed pannier.
Overall, these are an excellent purchase for a bike commuter or someone wanting to go on a long bike trek who requires a light and waterproof pannier. Though they aren't sold on backcountry.com yet.. I'll keep on suggesting it 'till they are!2 comments