Holy crap, it felt like my shirt was choking me and I had a passenger standing on my rear end at the same time. Let me rewind a bit…
I was riding in Southern Utah on a fun slickrock trail with some new friends. The group had stopped to let everyone catch up and during the wait someone pointed out that one of the riders had two nearly flat tires. I looked through my backpack but I had left my toolkit and CO2 canister in the car. Luckily, there was one guy who volunteered his air canister and they got the guy all sorted.
That’s when I noticed something funny. I was the only one wearing a backpack. "What’s up with that?" I asked, “Don’t any of you guys carry a bag when you ride? Where do you put your stuff and snack? Don’t you bring snacks!?” When they stopped laughing at me, they said, “We like to ride as light as possible and only bring a bag on long rides.” Hmm…interesting.
Sometimes you hear something that gets you thinking, and this no backpack thing on rides was one of them for me. I had always carried a bag. Long or short ride, I threw on a heavy bag and off I went.
During the same time frame, I had finally found a replacement for my 10-year-old bike. And with the new and improved, and most importantly - much lighter and faster bike, I didn’t want to throw all the new goodness out the window with a heavy backpack. So my search began for some alternative options.
I looked for bags that mounted to the frame, to the underside of the seat and seatpost, I looked at hip bags and fanny packs with water bottle holders. I tried them all but none were perfect. More so, that damn fanny pack was a total no-go for me. It was so awkward, threw off my body movement and kept rubbing on the rear tire.
Not one to give up, I started looking for jerseys and bibs that had pockets that would work for me. I found some bibs that had a cool stash pocket and tight road jerseys with rear pockets but I didn’t want those. I also looked at frame mounted bags. They were a step in the right direction but they were noisy over rough terrain and marked up my bike frame.
I finally came across what I thought would be a good option. It was a loose fitting t-shirt style shirt with rear pockets. “Holy shiz. Pay dirt!”, I thought and ordered one.
The jersey arrived, I threw the shirt on and checked it out in the mirror. Something was off about the shirt. The back panel with the pockets was pretty loose fitting - like super loose. I was excited to test the jersey anyway, I loaded the bike and went riding.
From the second I slipped my snacks into the side pocket I knew there was trouble. The neck started tightening around my neck and the back of the shirt dropped. It was worse than the dang fanny pack. I said “Screw it. Let’s give this thing a chance.” I put my phone in the zipper pocket and added my keys, mini-tool and half filled water bottle too.
Holy crap! It felt like the shirt was choking me and I had a passenger standing on my rear end at the same time. I thought about taking out the water bottle, but I like to drink when I ride, and if this jersey is going to be a real option to replace my backpack, then it has to work to carry basic gear and that includes a water bottle.
Once the ride got going, I did sort of forget about the choking, but all the unsupported weight hanging off my back was terrible. A couple of times during the ride it interfered with clearing some easy technical climbing sections. I also noticed the bottom of the shirt was hitting my rear tire. I finished up the ride disappointed and headed home.
There has to be a better way. And that better way does not include wearing a skin tight road jersey on my mountain bike. Nips are great, but they don’t belong on the trail (at least mine don’t).
Backpack again? No. No stinking way. I’m stubborn and I want a jersey I can wear mountain biking that has all the functionality of the rear pockets of a road jersey without the skin tightness and the dumb zipper.
If only I had a pouch like a kangaroo to store my gear. But since I couldn’t find anything like that, I decided to make my own jersey. That’s right - I will make my own! Not totally ridiculous for me. I started a company called grantly clothing that makes clothing for guys 5’8” and under, so I can figure this out.
Follow along with us as we move from idea to prototype to finished product. I’ll keep these blogs coming and show the progress.
Thanks and adios for now!