April 12, 2007

Wax yer bag.

Dudes, seriously.
Let's go back a few steps.

March 3rd, the first C'Dude ride of the year -- snow, 20 degrees, 20 MPH NW winds. Did it.

March 24th, the 200K, gorgeous weather. Awesome ride.

April 7th. The second C'Dude ride of the year. Cancelled. 17 degrees, 25 MPH NW winds. Just can't take it anymore - ride cancelled. Nobody complains. Rightly.

April 14th, the 300K. 2-3" of snow, 33 degrees and NNW winds at 18-20 are forecast. Are you kidding me?

Well, I'm either a randonneur, or a rather-not.

So, I'm doing it. There is a VERY fine line between "hearty" and "stupid", however.
I like the way Chris Martin of Coldplay says it: "steeuwped."

So, taking a bit of knowledge from the forums from the other side of the big pond, I hit the hardware store and picked up a tin of Sno-Seal, brought it home, and applied it to the Carradice bag --- yeah, yeah: I know what you Carradice proponents are saying, nay - screaming - at me right now: "that bag is already waterproof!!" -- no, it's not. Actually, details, details: the BLACK Cotton Duck bags, like my full-sized Super-C saddlebag, *ARE* waterproof. However, I erred on the side of fashion and purchased as a smaller bag the Pendle in fancy "olive drab", or - as the kids call it, "green". Fancy bag. NOT, however, Cotton Duck. It's just straight cotton canvas. Now, granted, they might have changed this - but a direct conversation with Carradice at the time of purchase revealed in-fact that the material came from another supplier and was NOT cotton duck. So, one de-merit for fashion.

Easily remedied, I suppose. Silicone sprays don't work. Seriously. Quit making such a smelly mess and just get the good stuff. Bean dip, also, is a terrible waterproofer. Tasty, yes, but not a good waterproofer. The good stuff, purportedly, is Sno-Seal.
This stuff is mainly marketed towards LEATHER care, which is handy since some parts of the Carradice are leather - but it works JUST fine for canvas and other fabrics, like old-school tents -- I mean REALLY old school tents, like plain green canvas army tents. You get the material hot with a hair dryer, and also immerse the tin of Sno-Seal in a pot of just-boiled water to melt the contents, brush it on, blow-dry it in until the fabirc simply won't take any more, and then let it dry. Buff off the excess, and this bag is more waterproof than the Cotton Duck bags are. The nice thing is, also, it that the material doesn't really stiffen up any, and the wax stays put. Contrary to Cotton Duck - with which there is nothing at all wrong - the material won't gain water-weight in the rain. Not a big deal for someone that is using a Carradice bag, but Cotton Duck does tend to absorb the water enough to cause the fibers to swell, thus sealing the bag. It's stays "wet" thought, while the contents stay dry. The Sno-Seal proofed bag, however, the water hits the bag and simply beads and runs right off. So, it's just two different ways to accomplish the same end result -- the stuff inside stays dry. This will no-doubt be important this weekend after a few hours in the rain/snow mix. A nice, dry pair of shorts to change into at the turn-around will be VERY welcome.

So, wish us luck -- it's a Paris year, so there will be riders, and these riders will be awfully detemined to finish, regardless of conditions. This is the stuff that legends are made of, and excellent stories. I'll be thinking back to the names of Flanders again, as I pull on the wool, and pull the bike off the rack for another ridiculous, epic, and fool-hardy Kansas City brevet.

At the very least, my saddlebag is ready!
Stay tuned ---- this is post number 99, by the way, so the next report, the 300K report, will be the 100th post for this blog!
Will it be bad, good, long, short? Who cares. Stay tuned!

After writing this article, I figure fact was better than notion, so I did a little research: The first-run green Barley and Pendle bags were the initial test product for the green fabric/tan straps color scheme, and the fabric was supplied by a different company, and was not originally Cotton Duck material. After the initial supplies of these early green bags were exhausted, the demand dictated that the color scheme would stay, and at that point Carradice began sourcing the more-expensive Cotton Duck material in the green color. There are no serial numbers or dates that coorespond with this change, however. The best way to determine if your bag is indeed Cotton Duck is to give it a good soaking in a COOL shower (NOT HOT), and test the waterproofness of the seams. The nature of Cotton Duck causes the fabirc to swell shut around the seams, locking out water. If your bag's seams leak, then it is NOT Cotton Duck. It is suggested that you obtain from a lisenced Carradice stockist a tin of their "Reproofing Wax" and apply as directed to protect your bag. The Black bags with white straps ARE, and always have been, Cotton Duck, and currently all green bags sold are ALSO Cotton Duck, as Carradice has expanded this production to include many other bags in their line in this alternate color scheme. Buy with confidence EITHER color, and enjoy!
If you have an older green bag, waterproof at your own discretion. My method should not be considered the optimum method, but it certainly works. It may, however, have voided my Lifetime Warranty - but that is a decision I will live with, as the bag itself, purchased in early 2004, has never needed any repair or maintenance after 3 years of hard commuting use.

No comments: