All My Little Words

Me and My Musettes

Posted in Cycling by nickchristian on April 23, 2017

If my flat was on fire there’s not much I’d try to save. Maybe the Rembrandt. And I’d *probably* give my flatmate a knock. I guess what I’m saying is I like to think I’m not especially materialistic. I’m not generally a collector of things either, but one accessory I can never seem to have enough of is the musette.

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An evolution of the “haversack” used by infantrymen for centuries, it’s thought to have been adopted by the French-dominated world of racing cycling between the wars. Saving riders from having to stop for lunch, the musette aided the arrival of the feedzone and has been a mainstay of the professional peloton more-or-less ever since.

 

Few amateur roadies have the luxury of feedzones on their weekly club runs, however, so instead of grabbing a dangling bag packed with goodies from a soigneur, must make do with deep jersey pockets to carry their energy gels and bananas. The musette is therefore not much use to them, but it is ideally suited to city cycling.

 

Magnificent in its minimalism, the musette consists of a simple oblong of stitched cotton fabric, with a long looping strap. Just two pieces of fabric in all, you could almost make one yourself. The half dozen I own, in a variety of vibrant hues, hang from my bedroom door and I never leave home without one. Each morning as I rush from the flat, triangle of toast in hand, I grab whichever most closely matches that day’s socks. My one gesture towards colour coordination.

 

The musette won’t cater to your commute – it is, after all, designed to carry little more than a bidon and a couple of rice cakes – but it’s perfect for more casual rides about town, when you don’t have enough to transport to justify a rucksack or full size messenger bag. A bottle of wine and packet of sausages for a barbecue; a spare sweater and paperback to read in the park. (Is it obvious the overnight arrival of Spring has left me with outdoor pursuits on the brain?)

An empty one will squeeze into the smallest of pockets and won’t mind a bit being scrunched up, which makes it the perfect “just in case” bag. You might not intend to stop off for a few bits on the way home, but the musette means you can.

 

Unlike many single-strap satchels which, no sooner than you’ve slung them over your shoulder like to swing themselves round the front, the musette will magically stay put, proving no impediment to pedalling. London’s streets being paved with particulate matter means grime will inevitably accrue, but being completely machine washable, you can just toss it in with your regular load.

 

More elaborate versions are available, sure, but they don’t do the job any better and serve no greater purpose than to part a fool from more of his money. Adorned with bells, whistles, zips, flaps and buckles, it’s like comparing the perfect jam donut with those eye-wateringly expensive, surgically enhanced behemoths sold in artisan coffee shops.

 

No bag is better suited to the freedom afforded by the bicycle. As I dash about town, all I need is my musette.

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