Suppose you were going to be on a small deserted island for up to a year and you had to pick some bike commuting accessories to take with you.
Okay: Not you, but me.
And not a small island, but the fourth largest island in the world.
And definitely not deserted: Population 22 million or more.
What I’m trying to say is that in September I’ll be going to Madagascar for awhile — for nine months — for work. The gig? I’ll be workingHuman Network International (HNI), an NGO which has developed a mobile data collection and communications service designed for international development organizations worldwide.
I will be bike commuting in the capitol, Antananarivo.
This is the intersection of bike commuting and bike touring. I’ve purchased plenty of low- and medium-quality accessories with the thought, Hell, I can always replace it. But this time crappy equipmentis not an option.
I’ve been to Africa a few times, although never to Madagascar. Based on my previous experience, I’m assuming that I will be far from the well-stocked bike shops of North America, or the two-day delivery we demand here in The Land of Instant Consumer Gratification.
So I’ll be sitting in front of a computer everyday, just like I do now. That means I’ll be able to use USB rechargeable bike lights.
I’ll get a bike once I’m there; probably a steel-framed mountain bike like this one, more or less.
As you can see, I probably won’t need a bike rear rack, but who knows what kind of rack will come with the bike.
From among the accessories that I already have, I reckon I’ll bring my Velo Orange Saddle— I’ve finally taken to this saddle after initial skepticism.
And since the saddle is already set up for it, I’ll bring myOrtlieb Mud Racer LED Saddle Bag, but I could probably be talked out of bringing this. It’s a little cramped for space, plus the integrated tail light is pretty feeble. And unless I get creative with zip ties or something, there’s no easy way to attach my Light and Motion Vis 180 Tail Light, because it’s my favorite tail light ever, and it reminds me of an Alien.
I will also bring my Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers, which may come in handy if I do any extracurricular touring while there.
What would you recommend, Dear Readers?
I’m thinking I could probably use a good loud horn. I say this because of my previous experience in other African countries where drivers use horns almost constantly in traffic — not in the hostile and/or terrified way we use them in this country, but as an audible notification no more aggressive than a turn signal.
I’m really into using an Android tablet these days. So maybe a bike backpack and/or sleeve for that? Also one of these smallish pumps like BluesCat recommends.
What about tools? A headlight? Gloves? Lemur carrier?
Seriously. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
Note that the opinions expressed here by Ted Johnson are solely his own and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.