Former top pro mountain bike racer Dara Marks Marino now coaches cyclists and triathletes through TheMindfulAthlete.net. Most of her commuting these days is with a trail-a-bike.
Picture it: the National Mountain Bike Pro Cross Country race in Aspen, CO, circa 2005. This was my course. Climb for an hour, descend fast and furious. Repeat. I was planning to win. Two minutes into the race I heard clink-clank-plunk, reached under my seat, and realized my saddle bag had emptied its contents on to the trail. In it had been my spare tube, tire levers, and quick-air. I muttered something (completely not-profane, I’m sure!) about losing my spare tube. A fellow racer said, Dont worry, you weigh like 90 pounds, you wont flat. Like a sneaky curse she doomed me to flatting for certain, which I did on the first rock as the course took its first downhill turn, while I was in third place and feeling strong. Unable to repair it, I hiked all the way back down the mountain, carrying my bike, surely with no profanity.
Since then, I have held all saddle bags in suspicious regard. They all seem to either open up unexpectedly (as illustrated), release their straps and fall viciously in to my rear wheel, or, at best, shred my shorts where the Velcro-strap sticks out from my seat post and catches on my lycra.
Enter: the Green Guru Clutch Saddle Bag. On inspection, I was first impressed by the attention to environmental detail that the company uses. Green Guru is meeting high environmental standards in many ways, including providing nationwide locations for recycling your own gear. Nearly the entire Clutch saddle bag is made of upcycled materials, minus the nylon and metal hardware. I even caught sight of a patch on one of the tubes that makes up the main part of the pouch.
Attaching it under my saddle, I had no trouble lacing the straps through, and it fit snugly and securely.
The real test was yet to come. I began by transporting my bike on the roof-rack of my car. If it did not open up or fall off at 75 miles per hour on the freeway, I figured I was fairly safe to take it out for a test ride. Which I did, on some of the bumpiest trails known to mountain biking.
Not even one tooth of the zipper peaked out threateningly. Not one hook of the Velcro grabbed my shorts. And never did I worry that the straps were loosening.
I did not notice it at first, but this bag even has an external pocket through which I was able to tuck the zipper and zipper pull. This is the quadruple-extra-super-anti-opening-device that I have always longed for.
The Green Guru Saddle Bag has just brought me back in to the world of keeping the extra weight off my back, and yet always knowing I have tools and a tube with me.