though a drumming colleague of mine delights in the number of drums and shiny hardware he surrounds himself with, smugly pointing this out to other musicians with whom he plays, i have mixed feelings. i do rather enjoy splattering my remo fiberskyn drum heads with an approximation of paradiddles and ratamacues, but the bits that come before and after are those that seem less enjoyable, especially when accompanied by advancing years.
i have, therefore, instigated a downsizing programme that has had me trading in snare and cymbal stands that wouldn't look out of place at nasa, for substantially more svelte offerings that are lighter to carry, yet manage remarkably similar functionality. though i woud not consider myself to be a heavy hitter, i do find myself wondering why other drummists opt for chunky hardware or even the now ubiquitous rack systems. i've no real dissension with the setting up ritual, but to watch a harmonica player pocket his axe is most disconcerting when faced with dismantling cymbals, pedals, stands and drums at night's end.
conversely, though i rarely travel far in order to partake of velocipedinal activities, if i ever have to do so, it's likely that there will be substantially more paraphernalia to cart about than is the case with my percussive meanderings. and accepting this to be the case brings with it an incumbent need to pack everything in appropriate fashion. to be blunt, in a great big bag, hopefully designed specifically to accommodate all the stuff those cycling reviews and advertisements have been telling us we need all year.
and in similar fashion to the rough, tough trap case i have for percussive accoutrements, a set of chunky wheels and a retractable handle sure as heck wouldn't go amiss. having said that, i figure there's a degree of responsibility that comes with these items. i cannot be the only individual who has had to carefully negotiate those wheel-enabled man bags that seem to populate the concourse of euston station (totally oblivious to the mayhem being created in their insouciant wake). however, the bag i currently have in my possession from the fine folks at ventoux is not only of an altogether more visible and substantial personage, but unlikely to catch any passing professional unawares.
one hundred and fourteen litres is quite a lot of space to fill, but not one that it's easy to equate to an amount of cycling kit. there is, however, no need to strain your furrowed brow, because i've done it for you. though i can't say i stood on the sidelines listing every item placed in the ventoux's cavernous interior, i did manage two pairs of shoes in the zipped base section (and i figure i could have managed a third) while the top section swallowed two pairs of track mitts, two helmets, four jerseys, two softshell jackets, a gilet, three pairs of shorts, two pairs of armwarmers, three pairs of socks and some other stuff i lost track of.
had there been need, i could also have managed a t-shirt, trousers and a proper jacket for those off-the-bike moments.
aside from the red, black and beige colouring, the ventoux training camp bag follows in the velcro straps of its smaller siblings by featuring a foil-lined compartment for drinks, gels, peanut butter sandwiches and any other comestibles you may have in mind. however, this is the bit i don't quite get; since the bag is designed to sit upright, with handle at top, why would you put this latter section at the bottom of the bag? if i had to sit on the train, bus or waiting room, i'd quite like to have easy access to the munchy stuff. but, by design, this would be at the bottom of the bag, also meaning that any filled water-bottles would be almost pointing downward.
however, to take care of those moments when wheeling is neither necessary or appropriate and to keep the bottles in a safer position, there's a couple of straps along the bag's length that can combine via a velcro closure to allow carrying where wheels would fear to tread.
the zipped top section looks as if it may be internally waterproof, and combined with a side-mounted expanding waterproof wet pocket, would allow placement of the very clothing i was wearing when i poured in the back door on saturday (rule#9).
the bag seems exceptionally well made, weighs only 4.5kg and comes fitted with a remarkably sturdy pair of wheels. how they manage this for only £95 is quite beyond me. the two previously reviewed ventoux bags have been in service for at least a couple of years now, one having been dragged kicking and screaming into service last year to assist with the carriage of drum hardware, apparently with no adverse effects.
when the race season ends and training starts, or perhaps more topically, when cyclocross season begins, i think it safe to say you need look no further.
monday 18 august 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................