As cyclists, we are missing a big opportunity. To identify it, turn around and look behind you.
Oh, that didn’t work at all.
OK, this time, just turn your head around, leaving your body where it was, Exorcist-style, and then look down.
If you are — as I assume you always are — wearing a cycling jersey, you’ll notice three pockets.
Three capacious pockets.
(Or if you’re wearing some styles of women’s jerseys, you may have been cheated into having only two pockets. This is not my fault, and I accept no responsibility for this inequity, but I do sympathize. [However, this is not the point of today’s post and I intend to ignore this unfairness from this point forward, though if you happen to have a petition demanding three pockets for women’s jerseys, I will gladly sign it.])
And yet, all too often, I see cyclists riding with only a few trivial items — or, worse, nothing at all — in these pockets.
This needs to stop.
People, you have pockets. You have a bike. It’s time to start carrying stuff — lots and lots of stuff — in those jersey pockets whenever you ride.
I shall provide examples, by way of suggestion, and encourage you to provide examples of your own in the comments.
Articles of Clothing
Sure, maybe you currently pack arm warmers, knee warmers, a vest, and even a windbreaker sometimes. But your jersey pockets can (and should) hold so much more. Imagine, for example, the indescribably delicious feeling of swapping out to a nice clean pair of shorts midway through a century ride? And perhaps a matching jersey? And socks? All of those will fit in your jersey pockets. With room enough, even, for cycling cap you can don, post-ride. And a poncho.
Why a poncho?
Carrying a poncho as you climb gives you the right to wear that poncho as you descend. And there is nothing quite so grand-looking as a cyclist descending while wearing a poncho. It looks as festive as it does gallant.
Plus, if you’re carrying a poncho in your jersey pocket and people ask you what you’re carrying, you get to say, “A poncho,” and you get to say it as enigmatically as you like.
Of course you’re already carrying food in your jersey pocket. I know that. But the food you’re carrying is lacking, both in terms of quantity and variety. With the large pockets you have on your back, might I suggest:
- An eighth of a cheese wheel. Or, if you like, a quarter of a cheese wheel, split between your left and right jersey pockets. In which case I recommend carrying a few nice apples in your center jersey pocket. Nothing is quite so delicious as an apple slice with cheese. [Tip: Don’t forget to carry a knife to cut apple and cheese slices.]
- A loaf of fresh-baked bread. This is more for your riding companions than for yourself. As your fellow cyclists will (I promise) point out, there is nothing quite so wonderful — nor delightfully unexpected — as riding behind a cyclist that smells like a loaf of fresh-baked bread.
- A quart of applesauce. It goes down nearly as easily as a drink, with nearly the same caloric density as a gel. And wide-mouth bell jars mean you don’t have to squeeze to eat.
- A whole roast chicken. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of getting enough protein in a cyclist’s diet.
Are you training to be a better climber? Allow me to suggest riding with a ten-pound barbell in each jersey pocket.
[Tip: wrap the barbells in cotton or duct tape to soften the hard edges of the barbells pressing against your back.]
[Another Tip: Allow for some stretching of the jersey fabric.]
Tools and Supplies
You’re probably already carrying what you need to change a tire, and maybe make some emergency repairs on your bike.
But what if you need a half-dozen new spokes when riding? Or a new rear derailleur? Or what if you need to make some emergency welds to your frame? If you carry a full set of Park Wrenches, hydraulic cable and fluid, enough spokes to build a wheel from scratch, a replacement rear derailleur (and a front one while you’re at it), along with a complete new chain, you’ll find there are few field repairs you aren’t prepared for.
The reason for carrying a puppy in your jersey pocket is simple: it will be incredibly adorable.
[Tip: Do not carry a full-grown small dog (like a Pug or Chihuahua) in your jersey pocket. For some reason, that’s just creepy.]