Dirtbag Handlebar Bag and Pannier: the Military Buttpack

I was searching the shelves in a thrift store and came across a military buttpack made to use with webbing load gear, much like a civilian “fanny pack.” I immediately saw the potential for use as a bike bag: with all the MOLLE webbing mounts on the back, it could be mounted on a rack as a pannier or looped over the handlebars.

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An Afternoon Bike Ride on Seattle Streets and Rail Trails

I was up for a good urban adventure last Wednesday, so I loaded up the bike and took off for a loop through downtown Seattle using as many rail trails as possible. I live in the northeast quadrant of Seattle and it is about 7 miles to the downtown area by the most direct route, but using rail trails and some connecting streets, I made a trip to the west side of the city, along the waterfront, back through the city center and back home in a 27 mile loop.

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Warm January Days in Seattle

Sunday and Monday were like spring with clear skies and 60F temperatures, We got up late Sunday and decided to take the dog for a walk, visiting the Ballard Sunday Farmer’s Market and then going to Discovery Park for a long walk.

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A Vintage Specialized Hardrock Bike

I went by a couple thrift stores yesterday and found a vintage Specialized Hardrock with a step-through frame for $37. At the next thrift store I found a Velo seat that is perfect for this one— that fat grandma seat wasn’t original and was in poor shape anyway. The bike was dirty and I spent the evening with a rag and a bottle of 409 to clean it up, put air in the tires and added lights and a rack from my parts stash. It is old, but in good shape– not a bit of rust and judging by the tires, rims and gear teeth it wasn’t used much. It does have some scuffs on the frame– I need some stickers!

Before
Before

Specs: 3×7 drivetrain with twist grip shifters, Shimano Tourney derailleurs, center-pull brakes, 26×1.50 hybrid tires, quill stem.

I added the $7 Velo seat, mirror, rack, head and tail lights– had a red water bottle too.

After
After

It’s surprisingly light and the ergonomics suit me. After cleaning it up I went for a warm summer night spin around the neighborhood. Sweet!

My plan is to use a couple bike like this for our gravelly rail-trail trips. With the flat grades I really don’t need a full-out mountain bike and the fat tires will help with the traction and bumps. That will save our townie/commuter bikes from the dust, vibration and the terrors of car rack travel.