268. This is a number that means a lot to me. Just over a year or so ago, I’d arranged to ride a famous Yorkshire sportive with an old friend as we’d not met for a while. I’d never ridden a sportive and never fancied one either but it seemed like a good idea for us both to get a date in the diary that we’d commit to with both our legs and our wallets.
My friend was in between moving houses and his bike was in bits so I offered him one of mine as we were merely out for a good day of Yorkshire’s finest countryside. I packed up the car and set off driving back ‘up north’ for an hour or so to meet my friend.
I arrived before him, signed us on and set up the bikes complete with our laminated little race numbers fastened to the handlebars. I was handed number 268. As I waited, I changed into my resplendent team kit knowing he’d be wearing the same and looked forward to a day of looking the wonderful pseudo pro.
As he arrived, we shared pleasantries and started our final kit adjustments. We admired his new set of glasses as I filled my pockets with the day’s supplies. Then I went to put on my shoes.
My shoes that were an hour back down the motorway at home. Oh.
Despite a frantic scramble to beg, steal and borrow, I never got hold of any shoes and travelling the 2 hour round trip was simply not viable. We retreated back to his house for good catch up over too many coffees instead, with my tale firmly between my legs.
But I saved that number and stuck it in my garage by my bike ‘stuff’ as a stark reminder to check my kit and then check it again before I head off out to race or even just meet friends.
Juggling kit before a race can be an absolute nightmare and this is compounded when you race on the track. I am not the only one to roll into the track centre week in week out with a suite case rolling behind. And that is just the first trip from the car. The second sees me balancing my bike over my right shoulder, the rollers in the left hand the track pump fastened somehow, somewhere to my helmet.
It’s as much fun as it sounds.
Enter the Velodrome Bag by upcoming South African brand, Black Line Sprinting. This bag offered to cure the anxiety I suffer every time I park up outside the National Cycling Centre, but would it live up to the billing?
In a word. Yes. Make that a massive resounding pre-emptive ‘Yes’. This is only because I have not yet taken it over to Manchester but that will follow.
I have tested this bag by repeating the same story in the first paragraph. Minus the lack of shoes.
This bag really is a fantastic piece of kit. The main body of the bag houses my shoes, helmet and full kit (as per the picture) and I even managed to fit a magazine in there too. Despite already holding the majority of my cycling wardrobe, there was still room for a shaker and some food.
The second partition is a plethora of pockets, wallets and holders. This is a fantastic idea and one I’ll find extremely useful come race day. Perfectly shaped slots to house sprockets and chain rings coupled with a see-through wallet for a phone are all easily accessible.
I really like the attention to the detail with this bag and the rubber zip grippers are the epitome of this. You really feel like a lot of thought and user testing has gone into the design.
The true review of this will come after the test of time. Throwing kit bags into cars and in track centres can leave them a little dog eared as per the usual gym bag. This bag does seem to be very hard wearing though and much thicker than the standard holdall material. I am hopeful that it will stand up to that test of time.
I cannot wait to test this bag out over the track season and I genuinely believe it will relieve a lot of headaches, not least from the sound of the rolling wheels from a horrible little suitcase!