Review: Belgian Boys Club Musette Bag
(2016) Prior to one of my first forays at the Tour of Battenkill, the team I was racing for had read that feed zones were in two locations around the course. Roughly spaced at miles 25 and 50, the team took professional measures to give us the best chance at success. The Missus graciously accepted our request she stand in the middle of a New York back country farm road, with an old team jersey on, and hold out little chintzy musette bags for us as we came through. She had to make sure she got the correct bag with the correct rider within the correct race. It was much like being a soldier, 99% boredom for 1% action.
We would learn later on that riders who were unprepared or who were without teammates and supporters were yelling at feed zone participants. The Missus resorted to emptying her personal water bottle into a racer’s thus allowing him to continue. She stated one rider became rude with his statements, asking for a woman's personal water in a demanding way, before she finally said no more and walked away.
It wasn’t much nicer for us on the bike. Riders in our group accused us of “acting pro” as we sorted through our food bag. Some were even snickering. I think it’s no mistake this would be one of my best performances at Battenkill.
We had planned this at the final rest stop to power us to the finish. We rode through the first rest stop based on what we had in our pockets. But at that second zone, each rider got his personally assembled bag, tucked his helmeted head through the strap, and then elbowed the full bag onto the back. I had a flask of gel to carry me over to the finish, a can of Coke for a quick boost, and two more water bottles after feeling pro at dumping my empties at the feed zone. If for nothing, the act of grabbing a musette bag in a feed zone at full speed with the main group made me feel really pro. That has to account for something.
So as the pack dwindled down (and I got dropped on one of the climbs) I still felt fresh enough to hammer to the finish. I was satisfied at the finish with my result; having worked has hard as possible without blowing up. Each rider felt the feed zone made his ride instead of broke it. Strangely some of the riders who had scoffed at our utilization of the bags were nowhere to be found. I hold a special place in my cycling heart for these little bags.
I have three bags in my possession: one is the bright orange Mavic bag lent to me for that race (I’ll get it back to you eventually Greg). It is a simple polyester bag with a Velcro closure and a black strap. A few years ago I made a purchase through a boutique cycling apparel company and they accompanied the purchase with a black canvas musette bag. That would be my second bag. It too has a Velcro closure. This version has shored up seams to make the straps feel a little more intact. And then there’s the musette that just arrived straight from Belgium.
The Belgian Boys Club musette bag is certainly not like the other two. The strap is sturdy as are the two seams attaching it to the bag. It has to be this way if Tom Boonen were to come through the feedzone at his typical mach two. The entire bag must go with him when he sticks his hand out. Imagine his face if just the straps came with him as the remaining satchel portion opens up next to the soigneur. Tornado Tom would also be able to identify the Belgian Boys Club bag easily by the color of the Belgian blue fabric. Perhaps his eagle eye could pick up the detail of the Belgian flag on the strap, too.
This musette feels like it can hold the most amongst the three. It’s the only one with a zippered pocket for things such as separating specific gels or for that Sharpie I will need when crossing the line first and immediately going to my thousands of supporters asking for my autograph. This would naturally happen before doping control whisked me away to the control tent. I would not hesitate to put two full water bottles in this bag, a can of Coke, a sandwich, and gels. If you can find someone to hold this bag out on a training ride, it could significantly elongate the length of the current ride.
The final detail includes the Belgian Boys Club logo in its typical rubbery stamp atop a lone white strip. The complementing and contrasting on the bag is remarkable, making it stand out as Belgian Boys Club products do.
There may be a question you’re thinking regarding the musette bag from the first race. “Aren’t you supposed to toss the bag after you’re finished?” Yes. If I’m a professional, which I’m not. I said I merely felt like a professional. Plus the Battenkill’s roadways are hardly lined with fans clambering for keepsakes from riders. Furthermore the team budget wasn’t engorged with American dollars to fund endless musette bags. I crumpled up the bag, put it in my jersey pocket, and used it for two more editions of the Battenkill.
As for the Belgian Boys Club musette? I have no desires to chuck it to anyone other than Tom Boonen. He would, however, have to open the musette to read the note asking for him to sign the bag and mail it back to me (don’t worry, I’ll include postage Tom). What else could the bag be used for you might ask? If I’m not mistaken cyclocross season is coming soon. And if I’m not mistaken further, I did say it could handle at least one can and two bottles. Of what is entirely interchangeable.
The Belgian Boys Club Musette Bag can be found at belgianboysclub.cc for €25.00, or by click here.