Just like other bad things that get out of hand like drugs and alcohol they can start of fine for one reason and continue for too long. Pretty soon that this is woven deep into the fabric of your life and for me that bad thing is a bum bag. It started off as a one time thing, a crutch you know, just to get me out of a pinch. But here is is at least three years later and I just can’t let go. No one else thinks it’s a good thing, everyone else that I’ve shared my secret with doesn’t like it. Recently more than one person has told me I need to get rid of it, at this point I think I’ll need help to do that!
How it all began
One day late summer, September actually, almost three years ago I had a little problem. Due to my own admittedly poor judgement I had just signed up for my first triathlon, a sprint, on a whim. The race was the very next day and my emotions had the best of me. I was nervous, scared and desperate about what was a about to unfold plus I realized I’d need to carry a lot of stuff. That desperation and a need to take my mind off what was to come I grabbed for the easiest thing that I could, a pair of honey’s old work jeans, my scissors and my sewing machine. It was then that I made the choice that almost no one else does to cut the legs off those pants and sew myself a custom gym bag, after all I’d only use it once. Now this is going to seem like rationalizing but I remember thinking it would be like a bit of honey was there with me, that if people saw it they’d get the message I wasn’t in it to win it, plus I needed somewhere it put my keys. If the bag didn’t work the 33 lb mountain bike with suspension would sure do the trick.
The first time
So I made this bag out of literally the crappiest pair of pants a contractor owned, plus I was tiered of seeing him wear them so they were covered in paint, dap and even some PL Premium plus they had more than a few holes. I even sewed some elastic into part of the pant legs on the back to hold my towel for transition since it wouldn’t fit in the bag. Even though I’d never done a triathlon before and I’d only signed up for this one the week before. You know what though it worked! It carried all the stuff I needed from the car, and back, without anything falling out, plus no one stole my keys! It was even kinda cool that a little part of honey was there with me. I told him to stay home because if he was there I might not quit if I needed to. And I even lived through it and didn’t come last in fact I think I was third, third last that is. I should have just counted my lucky stars that I got away with it that one time and retired it but it had so many different sized pockets!
How it became a problem
That triathlon, well it was the first real race I’d participated in in almost a decade and I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing to do it ever again. This came about after a section of summer spent of crutches and lead to one serous case of FOMO. It was the first time I’d ever entered a race not looking to place well, just like crack all I needed was one little taste and I was hooked. And that bum bag well it’s come with me every single time I went out to score another medal. And it turns out I became an addict and no one wants to use alone so I started gathering a posse of first cheerers and then other runners, I even hooked members of my own family on racing. The first person to speak truth to power (leg power) and tell me that it was ridiculous was my brother in law and it was like the first hole in a damn that lead to a major break, one might even call it an intervention of sorts. Everyone spoke up all at one at a dinner at my sister’s house for mother’s day. But was it really for mother’s day or was it an excuse to hold a pre-planned intervention and finally get me to kick the bum bag habit? We’ll never know for sure but either way it didn’t work. I kept with my habit toting it to races undeterred even though I now knew no one was supportive, did I mention all those pockets? But once the flood gates were open, thanks Darren, no one was holding back their comments any more.
Why it continues and how
The truth is not that different for any addict those same people that confronted me, that voiced their concerns were also enabling me. My mom, honey and probably others held that bag for me sometimes for hours while I was out running or racing. If fact when my mom and stepdad trainee runners raced their first 5k they even put stuff in the bag! And that bag it’s been a good crutch, it worked every time just like that first time. I don’t think it brings me luck, I’ve never won anything, but it seems to do a pretty great job of holding my stuff and I’ve even added some race bling to the bag when I get things like pins. Recently I took it back to it’s roots at the Melmerby Triathlon which I trained for and still came third last and it preformed just the way it had that day three years ago. Packing it up the night before, keeping the before, during and after stuff all separate while that was just as easy and rewarding three years later as well. Sure I could buy some purpose built, super fancy bag by Lululemon, Speedo or Orca but why should I? After all no one is going to look at my bag and think ‘that looks nice, I think I’ll take it’ at the start line of my next race.
Plus the price was right at exactly zero dollars it’s worked this long so why change it? I made it myself so it’s built exactly to my specifications. The strap is exactly the right length to let me find stuff while wearing it and it can be worn as a cross body bag. My phone and keys work well in a front pocket and smaller valuable stuff like a watch or jewelry I forgot to take off is secure in that tiny little pocket no one really knows what it’s for in jeans. One of the back pockets has a pretty big hole I’ll admit so that’s best used for well not a whole lot maybe a t-shirt or race directions or similar but the other one is great for a water bottle or deodorant. I do wish years ago I hadn’t opted for the worst pair of pants I could find a nice pair of dark washed Calvins might have saved me some grief over the years and when I made myself a custom yoga bag I definitely went upscale. But… never mind actually I actually can’t think of another choice that would have been worse.
Wow, that feels great to get off my chest! It might not come as that much of a surprise that I wouldn’t have a crazy expensive race day bag after all I’m always telling ya’ll how to save a buck on fitness gear. It also shouldn’t come as a shock that I would repurpose something to suit a new use. I am a vegetarian for carbon reasons and try to live my life with a reasonable eye to the environment I mean I am a biologist after all. But it sure does feel great to get it off my chest!
Make your own bum bag
It’s really easy the skills you learned in junior high are more than enough. But if you want to make your life easier a heavy duty needle and a high quality thread and you’ll probably need a sewing machine.
- Cut the pants as indicated below and stitch the bottom of the legs together while it’s inside out. Turn right side out again.
- You might want to use the back of the pants for handles since the knees have so much wear. Measure how long your handle should be and if you need longer than one pant leg cut stitch two pant leg portions together right sides together to get a longer piece of fabric and cut to length.
- Fold handle in half length wise, right sides together and stitch into a long tube.
- Now you have to tun that snake you just made inside out. A safety pin or bobby pin hooked into the fabric at one end can help a lot.
- Fold ends of handle under and stitch in to waist band on either side. Go slow you’re going through a lot of fabric
- And you’re done if you want. I added elastic to extra made handle and made a yoga mat/towel holder at the back.
Do you have a secret fitness thing that you need to confess? Are you going to make your own bum bag? What do you carry your junk to the start line in?