Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Tweed Run with a LowePro Pro Runner 300AW

Firstly, the Tweed Run needs explaining. It is a social bike ride around the streets of London wearing garments preferably manufactured from tweed and bicycles as retro as possible. If a gentleman or lady can look like he or she just landed from the 1920s or 30s that is A Good Thing. The ride is some 12 miles and takes in many of the city's landmarks; Buck Palace, The Mall, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and, of course, Saville Row where the world's finest tailors ply their trade. The only way to cover the ride and experience the day out is to get on a bike and roll out with fellow tweeders.
And, to my mind at least, the only way to shoot such a proper event was to use film and my Hasselblad 501CM camera. I took a Nikon D300s too, purely to crack off a few action shots, where time, or lack of,  would be an issue. So what bag to use? It just so happened those kind folks at LowePro has furnished me with the Pro Runner 300AW part of a new line of backpacks for this season. And what's more they sent a green and black item rather than the photographers 'any-colour-so-long-as-it-is-black' favourite! The green is not like the old Lowe Pro green, even though it is described as pine green.  Praise be! Nope, it's a darker, forest green. The sort of green you may find in the twill of a nice tweed or a clan tartan. Bonus! But enough of the surface stuff. The 300AW is a shallow pack. Unlike it's bigger brethren, it has no laptop compartment and the profile against the back is super low. In fact, in the pic below, taken by a friend, the pack is so slim you cannot see it! It was perfect for the Hassy and the D300s minus the battery pack and with a lens fitted and ready. (I took a 12-24 for the wides and a 50mm 1.4 to give a similar perspective to the 'blad. And threw in my Rapha town gloves and a silk scarf to look the part.)
The zips are not the sticky waterproof kind that making one handed opening with the bag on the ground close to impossible. Because I wanted to carry a circular folding reflector I opted for a folding bike with a luggage rack. The Pro Runner was so stable on my back that I never used the waist belt and only clipped up the sternum strap every now and again on longer stretches (secretly, sections where I wanted to get RAD on a folding bike!) Also in the pack were rolls of 120 film for the Hassy, a wallet of cards for the Nikon that never got used, and a Sekonic light meter. The payload of the bag is way more but after more than a decade of lugging heavy packs over mountainous terrain, I need to travel as light as I can.

I could have used the mesh side pocket to stash a bottle of water on the lovely warm day but in my excitement I clean forgot. Luckily there was a most civilised tea stop in Kensington Gardens where I could refresh myself whilst taking in the amazing outfits and tasty bicycles.  I chose to leave the ride on The Strand and make my way back to my car at the start, but those that saw it through partied to the sounds of The Gentleman Rhymer and a jazz band. How very civilised. What ho!
Many thanks to Daniel Bosworth for the images of moi!

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