Editor’s Note: What appears below is a guest blog post from veteran biker Jeff Maddox, who regularly holds court over at the JMAdog blog.
About this time every year I reach into the deep, dark recesses of my saddlebags and pull out all the stuff that has accumulated over the past 12 months. The weather is shaping up and rides are being planned, and when you ride a bike with bags stuff tends to collect. A changeover if you will, from ending the riding season last year to a new beginning. I’m talking transition, and I don’t mean gearbox.
It is truly mind-blowing how much you can fit into a saddlebag when you’re too lazy to put it anywhere else. Lip balm. A necessity for me when I’m riding, but how many of those little tubes of relief do I need to carry? And what about the two that have nothing in them? And do you ride with ear plugs? Sometimes I do, but when I’m finished with them apparently I toss them willy nilly into whatever bag is open. I found five ear plugs, none of which match. Five? How does that happen?
I usually carry two different pairs of gloves with me in case the weather changes. On one particular ride, I went digging for a certain pair and could only find the right hand. Thinking that I had misplaced the left at some road side convenience store, I promptly threw the right one away. Yep, you guessed it. The left one was hiding there the whole time.
Who would have thought a bag of teriyaki beef jerky from the 2014 Sturgis Rally could hide it so well? ‘Dig a little deeper’ should be my mantra. Also found beneath the glove was my insurance card that the very polite and extremely lenient Sturgis police officer had asked for during the same 2014 rally. Go figure.
There are things you just need to carry with you and a rain suit is one of them. I carry two in the left saddlebag in case I have a passenger or maybe even a fellow rider in need of one. I should probably see if at least one of them still fits me instead of waiting until I have to pull over along the side of the road in the rain to see if it fits.
And, I’m not sure if I’m trying to corner the market on sunscreen, but I think a squeeze bottle, a spray bottle and a pocket-size with a carabiner clip should have us covered in more ways than one. Sunglasses? Yes please. I even have one pair with a missing lens. Or is it? Have I looked hard enough? Maybe, just maybe, it’s somewhere underneath the microfiber towel and bug remover.
Tools can be a great addition to someone hitting the open road this riding season, and I do carry a tool roll. Although I have never personally used them, I have loaned a couple out on the side of the road. Much like a rain suit, if you have one with you your odds of needing it decrease immensely, and tools seem to fall in this category. I’m not superstitious—okay, I am.
While digging down to the tools I find a claw hammer. Yes, a carpenter’s best friend. Once I put my hand on it the memories came flooding back. I found this hammer along the highway just west of Valentine Nebraska coming back from the Sturgis Rally. Not able to pass up a free hammer, I turned around and picked it up and, you guessed it, put it in the left saddlebag. This hammer has been riding around with me since August of last year. Always be prepared for those emergency roadside repairs—on a shed.
Once in a while you just need to sort through the baggage in your life and what better way to do this than organize your bike. Better yet, ride your bike and let all that baggage sort itself out. Either way, you win!