Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shopping via Bicycle

It has been a year since we last used the car for shopping.  For some odd reason in the winter of 2009 I pondered the question of whether or not I could bike in a ton of groceries.  2000 lbs pedaled in.  In January 2010 I logged every pound of goods brought home.

Using a basic Excel spread sheet I documented every "food run" our house hold bicycled in.  Originally, this spread sheet recorded the date, the bike, use of the Burley trailer, weight in food, liters of liquid, store frequented and how much it cost.  By 2011 I dropped the costs and added bottle/can deposit refunds and carry out pizzas.  The reporter from the Des Moines Register laughed when I told him that recorded how many pounds of groceries we biked in and asked why.  Simple, to show the world that it can be done.

It is a bitch.  It makes shopping a tad bit more burdensome.  Not only do I have to keep the cost in my head but now I need to keep track of the weight as it goes into the cart.  This is the worst issue.  That and physically entering the data on to the spread sheet.

One of the greatest benefits of shopping with a bike instead of a car is parking.  One can real close to the store front on a bike.  many places provide a bike rack.  Other than that the good old lean and lock system.  This is sometimes better on the bike than bike racks.  Some bike rack designers/builders have no clue on what they are doing.

Of course, the environmental benefits and the health benefits (EXERCISE) are good reasons on their own to do this.  In the age of climate change and diabetes anything that gets one off their ass and moving with dumping pollutants and wasting gasoline is admirable.  I do it for the health benefits.  I also ride because I enjoy it more than driving a car.

The grocery getters are primarily our bikes that have racks and panniers.  Jand Commuter bags have an amazing ability to swallow pounds and pounds of goods.  If necessary something can be strapped on top of the rack. Our touring bike with front bags is a nice choice.  I like to pack 2lt bottles in the front bags.

The Burley trailer, originally purchased to haul children, carries large bulky items and can be pulled by any number of our bikes.  We removed the seat years ago to make more space.  For example, 25 lb bags of kitty litter and 20 lb bags of dog food fit nicely in the Burley.  Also, a large tub full of beverage bottles and cans fit securely inside and on the home bound trip can hold groceries safely.

I have trucked in up to 69 lb on a bike without the trailer by myself.  Not that I'd like to do that again with my current stable of bikes but it is possible.  Ass heavy.  My Trek FX 7.5, probably the bike that soloed in the most, has a very noticeable ass wiggles when loaded with 20lb of chicken and 10lb of misc and a few 2lts of pop.  The Gian Via, uses the same rack and bags is more stable feeling but still gets very rear heavy.

Often Mary and I bring in 30 lb with a pair of bikes sans Burley.  This is a bit safer and we can carry more back home than alone.

Been known to haul in 70 lb plus 8lts in the Burley.But the Burley's main purpose is to rid out home of bottles and cans.  Fetching dog food and cat litter is another special use of the trailer.  Not that it is necessary for the latter items.  More than once I have left the store with a 20lb bag for the pets in one pannier and other items in the bag's twin.  Balancing is crucial.

I frequent Hy Vee, Fareway and Dollar General.  Dahls is a store of last resort because of pricing (Tidy Cat is cheapest here despite higher prices on almost everything else).  B&B SuperMarket and Grazianos are the neighborhood stores that we shop at a few times a week. 

The closest Hy Vee is a 4 mile round trip.  This involves a false flat and a hill or two and TRAFFIC.  Sidewalk action sometimes.  Ride time to and fro Park Ave Hy Vee averages about 29 minutes.  During winter it is more difficult to go to so we use the HV in Windsor Heights.

Windsor Heights HV is a 17 mile round trip.  HOWEVER, with the exception of two half mile road sections, between our house and the trail and between the trail and the store, this trip is all trail.  As such it is a pleasant ride.  I prefer to ride the 13 extra miles because it is quieter, safer and avoids an energy sucking false flat.  The various municipalities do a wonderful job clearing the trails.

I've talked to other riders who also shop at this Hy Vee and they go there despite closer locations.

2009 3000 lb 865 Lt 1 ton reached in October
2010 as of 9/8 2656 lb 817 Lt 1 ton reached in June

So far 25 pizzas delivered home!

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