And Don’t Call Me Yertle

I love my Ortlieb panniers. They are simple to use and take a ton of abuse. I loathe my Ortlieb handlebar bag. Like the panniers, it has one compartment and it is waterproof. Unlike the panniers, it is a beast to open and close, even when you are not in motion. If you can’t get to your stuff inside the bag, it’s useless. It’s a bag in serious need of a redesign.

I ordered an Acorn handlebar bag a couple of weeks ago. It’s a pretty interesting design. Unlike the Ortlieb’s red denier nylon (which is admittedly pretty sharp looking), the Acorn bag is made out of heavy canvas. It has four compartments. The front two compartments are covered by a big flap. The main compartment under the flap is intended to stay closed while you ride. It has a zipper that runs the width of the bag. In front of that and still under the flap, is a smaller pocket that looks perfect for snacks. On the back, there are two small compartments, just the right size for a phone and a camera. They open very easily which means I can finally get at my camera.

I had to move my bell and my bike computer around a bit, but I think this Acorn bag is going to work out just fine.

New Bag Front
Acorn Bag on Little Nellie: Front View
New Bag Rear
Acorn Bag on Little Nellie – Rear View

I have two mounts for the Ortlieb bag, one for Little Nellie and one for The Mule. The Mule’s bag mount has a reinforcing cable on it. Once you take off the cable, odds are you won’t get it back on. So I put the Acorn on Little Nellie.

Little Nellie and I went for a ride to tweak the new set up. It was 80-ish degrees and muggy. T-shirt weather. We cruised over to the Mount Vernon Trail. I could hear all kinds of big birds cawing above the tree tops, but I couldn’t see them. I peeked at the Morningside bald eagle nest; there was no eagle action. About a half mile later ,I came upon a big snapping turtle just to the right of the middle of the trail. I stopped to check it out. Soon I had company as we waved other trail users around the beast that was about the size of a Frisbee. I have seen snapping turtles laying eggs on the side of the trail in the past, so we assumed she had just done the same here. (The turtles brace their front arms on the edge of the trail and flail away in the dirt with their legs, digging a hole to deposit the eggs into.) We could see a couple of patches where the dirt on the side of the trail had been freshly disturbed.

Yertle before the move


Momma turtle was not wearing track shoes this day, so one of the cyclists who stopped gingerly picked up her up and placed her on the side of the trail. She was not amused, but he was quick and gentle. (Do not try this at home. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could lose a finger. These suckers bite.)

Digression No. 1: when our kids were little, we used to take them to the Virginia Living Museum down in Newport News. (If you have kids, I guarantee that they will like this place.) There is a small river that runs along the back of the building. We were walking on the boardwalk along the back and watching a momma duck swimming a hundred feet away with her ducklings all lined up behind her. Suddenly, one duckling disappeared under the water. It popped back up. Then, as if yanked from below, he went back under, fanny first. I do believe he became a turtle snack.

I stood around to see what the turtle would do. She was pretty pissed off at being moved, but ten seconds later she calmed down. Calm turtles not being really exciting, Little Nellie and I left.

The rest of the ride was pleasant and unremarkable. I rode up to Crystal City then back along Army Navy Drive where I lived when I first moved to DC. I had read that some new bike lane-age had been put it at the intersection with Joyce Street. It looked like, um, paint. Some bike geeks get worked up about these things. I ain’t one of them.

Digression No. 2: What I did notice was that the street was riddled with embedded wires so that cars can trip the light and reduce waiting time. One day when I lived up the street, I convinced the future Mrs. Rootchopper to buy a bike. I’d ride to the bike shop and she’d walk and take Metro.  I came down the hill aboard my Raleigh Grand Prix on Army Navy Drive toward Joyce Street. The road was wet from a recent rain. I hit my brakes just as I rolled onto one of the embedded wires. To embed the wires a thin cut is made in the asphalt. Later a sealant is applied. Unbeknownst to me, the sealant is like ice when it is wet. I went down really hard and slid into the intersection. People jumped out of their cars to tend to me. My left side was bruised pretty badly from my thigh up to my armpit. I turned around and headed for home. The future Mrs. Rootchopper was walking down the hill. Suffice it to say, I was not exactly the poster boy for the joys of cycling. She eventually bought a bike, but hated cycling. It’s slow. It’s buggy. You have to eat while doing it so you can’t lose weight. Basically, she found it useless. She quilts instead.

I rode back home and made sure to check on Yertle. She was nowhere to be found.

3 thoughts on “And Don’t Call Me Yertle

  1. Do the twist buckles on your Acorn bag’s rear pockets noisely rattle around as much as on my bag? I engineered a solution, but, for the price, shouldnt have had to.

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