"I've-got-new-panniers-hee-hee-hee!" - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze


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DO OTHER PEOPLE get pleasure from such simple things? Maybe they do. Maybe boxers are never happier than when they try new gloves, or horse-riders another saddle or milkmaids a new bucket. I hope so because I have just had quite irrational pleasure from a new pair of panniers.

(Side-step: vote here to pronounce it "pan-ears" or "panny-ers". North Americans, I notice, lean to the first, Europeans to the second. Australians and others are free to join in. All doubtless defend their choice by insisting it's closer to the original French. Sadly, pannier in French means "basket" and the French for bike-bags is sacoches.)

For centuries I have used Altura bags. They're made in Britain and seem only to be used there. They are of grey cotton-type material, thick enough to keep out most of the rain, not good enough to keep it all out. Other people make bags of the same material and the advantage is that they can stitch pockets and loops to the outside and not only increase the capacity but make a lot of it more accessible. You don't have to undo the whole bag to get out your gloves, say, but you do have to wrap the contents in plastic bags and pull down not wholly effective rain covers to prevent everything being soaked in a persistent downpour.

I now have a new pair of Vaude panniers. We both have, a subtle, pass-unnoticed-anywhere screaming scarlet for me, a more space-age silver-grey for Steph. If you know Ortlieb panniers, they look just like them. And they're also made in Germany. There are subtle differences between the two, such as the back panel of Vaudes being rigid. What attracted us more was that Vaude have managed to fit outside pockets which, they swear with palm raised and facing forward, are as waterproof as the rest of the bag. I take them at their word. We bought them at the weekend telling of travellers' tales organised by Cyclo-Camping International in Paris and, to be honest, in the end we chose Vaude over Ortlieb because we liked the man on the Vaude stand more.

Well, I have just used them for the first time. I rode down through Toulouse and out the other side to scout out a route for a tour I'm organising when we get back from this one. I bowled along with a smug "I've-got-new-panniers-hee-hee-hee" look on my face, ignored by

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everyone who didn't understand about new panniers and everyone who preferred to have nothing to do with grinning idiots on bicycles.

They've taken some learning, of course, the bags. They fit and detach far more easily than the Alturas. They don't have as many outside pockets but they have more room inside. Things long experience have led me to put in one set of bags have sometimes to go somewhere else in the new ones.

But none of that matters.


Anyone recognise that feeling?

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