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As the French say: Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup. This is kind of their way of saying YOLO, and is exactly the attitude that entrepreneur Preeti Viswanathan took into her foray into consumer goods with Kulie bike bags. After a long standing career in the corporate world, Preeti started Kulie after a friend in manufacturing presented her with a great opportunity. She took design ideas from French biking culture, where commuter biking is much more prevalent, so having bags that are both functional and attractive are of great necessity. Her designs are sleek, rugged, and reliable, and hold all of the gear a biker needs for their journey. Today Preeti is sharing all of the essentials she keeps in her bike bag—the Kulie Convertible Backpack Pannier.... more
I love the Kulie Convertible Backpack Pannier (French word for a bag that goes on a bike) because it is a bike bag and a backpack, both! If you have been cycling with a backpack on you, try switching to a bike bag and you will be thrilled with how efficient your rides become. This Kulie Pannier easily clips on to either the front or the rear bike rack and converts to a backpack in seconds (no tools needed). The pannier hooks are simple, so the bag is light. The bag is constructed with a unique clamshell design to make sure the pannier hooks are hidden away and do not jut out or stab your back. The hooks are nearly flush with the back of the bag and are fully covered and secured with a handy Velcro swatch. The backpack style makes this great for commuting to the office, but its also super convenient to carry on hikes or treks. The bag is water resistant and comes with a rain cover so you can ride with it no matter the weather. There are plenty of pockets, straps etc. to store your laptop and electronics, snacks and water, books/magazines and writing material etc.
In an ideal world you could ride your bike all year long and never have any mechanical problems! But in reality, it’s good to be prepared for some mid-ride repairs. Whether it’s adjusting saddle height, tightening a loose spoke or realigning the handlebars, a good multi-tool has you covered for most quick fixes. The Crankbrothers M-19 tool is lightweight, compact and comes loaded with 19 different tools to take on just about any problems you might run into while riding. It even has a lifetime warranty!
Carrying a portable air pump is always recommended, especially for longer rides or for off-road routes. The Pro bike tool air pump is super compact, compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves, and is fairly accurate on pressure measurement. Handheld pumps are a pain, I won’t lie, but compared to most other options this one is pretty efficient and needs fewer strokes to get to the desired pressure level.
I love the Heroclip because you can do a million things with it! It’s more than just a carabiner, a lot more than just a hook, and comes in really fun colors. You can pick the right size of Heroclip that works for your need, I typically use the Medium or the Large size when I am out riding. This works great to hang your bike bag or your helmet from a park bench or a tree branch, so your stuff isn’t touching the ground or getting dirty in the mud.
If you don’t want to hike back after a flat 10 miles away from home, this might be a good time to learn how to fix a flat! It’s actually surprisingly easy, and if you don’t think YouTube might be enough, stop by your local bike shop and they’ll be happy to give you a quick tutorial. Be sure to check your valve type when ordering the replacement tube.
Energy gel shots are super-fast, clean, and very refreshing. If you don’t think you need as much as an energy bar or a cookie, gel shots are more easily absorbed, and you don’t need you to stop mid ride. What I like about the Honeystinger gel shot compared to several others, is that you can use half the pack, leave it for a while as you ride, and get back to it without a major leak. The gel is thick enough to stay in pack without turning runny.
You never know what weather you might encounter riding in the PNW! Chapped lips or cracked hands are a no-no, so I have learned to always stash some lip balm and hand lotion no matter the season I am riding in. Costco now carries a variety pack of the Dionis Goat Milk hand cream that I’ve grown to absolutely love.
Neck gaiters are great for cyclists in every season. In the summer they wick away sweat and provide UV protection, in the fall and winter they provide an added layer of warmth to the neck and the face. Since COVID, a good quality neck gaiter doubles up as a mask providing you, and others near you, the required level of COVID protection. I still only ride solo or with my own bubble, but wearing a gaiter/mask is still highly recommended for the safety of others on the trails. I love Skida because they add an amazing pop of color to my relatively monochrome cycling kit, and they have beautiful prints. They make colorful and interesting patterns for men, women, and kids so you can mix and match for family fun.
The 1 oz tube fits easily into my Kulie and is great to hold on to for sunscreen backup. I like the Banana Boat Ultra Sport because it does a pretty good job of resisting wear-off from water, rubbing, sweating, or wiping.
Alaffia makes all plant based products, and they have a wonderful mission supporting really poor Togolese communities with higher than market wages and fair prices on all raw materials. Their shea butter is also hand pressed with traditional methods, and I loved the simplicity and authenticity of this product compared to most mainstream deodorant brands. Unfortunately, they don't have a tiny size variant.
Have you ever been bonked while riding? It's not fun. After a few bad experiences, I've finally learned to be diligent about electrolytes, and so should you! Electrolytes hydrate you 2-3X faster and more efficiently than water alone, so it's always great practice to carry a few sachets in case you need them on your ride back. I like the powder sachet format of Liquid IV, which dissolves very quickly but in reality most options work pretty well and you may want to try a few for a variety of flavors.
Whether you are commuting to the office or school by bike, or you are just out riding for a few hours, it's super handy to have wipes of some kind to help with sweat or grime. Baby wipes are great, but I've also recently grown to love these cloth-like cleansing Neutrogena face wipes. These wipes are much softer on your face than typical baby wipes, and they are unscented which is a personal preference.
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