Question: How do I carry gear for a weekend trip on a road bike that won’t accept a rack? I want to travel light and stay in motels, but I still need to carry clothing and other items. — Mike M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: There’s increasing interest in so-called “credit card tours” using a regular road bike, traveling as light as possible and spending nights in motels or B&Bs.
Lon Haldeman, the two-time Race Across America winner, used to train by riding 150-200 miles on Saturday, staying in a motel, and then riding home the next day by a different route. He carried everything he needed in a seat bag.
Lon was the master of traveling light. For instance, he wouldn’t carry rain gear. If the sky opened, he’d stop at a convenience store, ask for a garbage bag, poke holes for his head and arms, and ride off.
Depending on how much gear you want to carry, you might get by with a large seat bag and a back-mounted hydration pack.
For years I’ve used a large Blackburn bag that secures to the seatpost and saddle rails, then extends back another four inches. It rides snugly without wobbling and holds tools and clothing. A medium-size hydration pack will have room for toiletries, snacks and a jacket strapped on the outside. With a carefully chosen load, you’re set.
If you want to take more, a good solution is an English touring-style transverse saddle bag. Carradice makes them but they’re not widely available in the U.S. Try Rivendell Bicycles, which has its own line of saddle bags.
These saddle bags mount most easily on seats with loops on the rear, a design that isn’t seen much nowadays. Some Brooks saddles (also available at Rivendell) have loops. You can attach the bag to any saddle’s rails, but it will sway more.
And check out the saddle bags reviewed on our site.
Don’t Miss In the RBR E-Bookstore
Touring By Race Bike
By Doug and Kathy Kirk
You can tour with no support on almost any good quality bike—even racing, cyclocross or triathlon bikes—and you can do it on skinny tires. We know because we’ve done it and so have our friends. Your gear can weigh less than your 16 pound race bike, lots less. You can still go fast. Your bike will handle almost the same as ever. You don’t need a special (and heavy) bike or hundreds of dollars of special gear. Likely as not, you don’t even need panniers.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.