Today was another beautiful day by the Bay. Chuck had to work the weekend on a soon-to-be-released bit of software so I had to entertain myself. When not playing with clay in the studio, my entertainment often has a bicycle involved. I had a medium-length list of items to pick up at the Whole Foods and I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, if I hopped on my bicycle to head to the grocery. I might have been concerned about pedaling home with a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs and a few other large, heavy or fragile items, but I had confidence my bike panniers were up to the task.
The following is a story I wrote two years ago for a now-defunct blog when I had gone to the grocery by bicycle and came home with WAY MORE than expected. Since then, grocery shopping on two wheels has become a regular affair. No more excuses!
The older we get, the more imperative it is to get regular exercise yet the older I get the more it seems it becomes harder and harder to get myself in gear. It is just too easy to hop in the car rather than setting off on foot or bicycle. Like many people, I find an excuse – no time, too many items to carry, too hot/too cold; the list goes on and on.
Today though I had an easy list of errands, a light day of work and I was inspired. It was a beautiful, sun-shiny day by the bay so I decided to use my bicycle to run my errands. Right now some of you are saying to yourself, hey, isn’t every day in California beautiful and sun-shiny? Yep, for the most part, you’re right. You got me there. I really can’t use the weather as an excuse not to get out more but sometimes I do. Some days that nice breeze off the Pacific just creates too much head wind. Or the nice sunshine is just too bright or too hot or too whatever. Yeah, I know, life’s rough!
Anyhow, today was the day I set off on my bicycle to accomplish my errands. A quick stop at the bank. A ceramics shipment to drop off at the post office. A few items to pick up at the grocery. Nothing would exceed the size of my bike panniers and I could always toss a back pack in just in case.
Everything was going like clockwork. Two miles to the post office to drop off the package, then three miles from there to stop in at the bank. A couple of blocks later, I was at the grocery. This is where things took a bit of a turn.
My shopping list was short but what I hadn’t planned on was some great one-day only sales on many of the items I needed…and a few other things that we regularly purchase. As I wandered through the aisles grabbing the things on the list, instead of picking up one of this and one of that I found myself getting two, three or four because of a ‘buy one, get one’ or some other really good offer. I used some degree of restraint and drew the line at the good price on our favorite prosecco but still found myself approaching the check out counter with the following in my cart:
- A gallon of milk
- Two spinach bolani
- Three fuji apples
- A pack of tortillas
- One head of cabbage
- A container of fresh feta
- Three chocolate bars
- One butternut squash
- Container of dried cranberries
- One container of natural peanut butter
- A package of artichoke and gruyere sausages
- Four bananas
- One package of sunflower seed kernels
- Two boxes of breakfast cereal
- Four cartons of soy milk
- A birthday card
- A block of goat monterey jack
- One pound of asparagus
- Twelve portobello mushroom caps
- Two cans of cannellini beans
- Two bottles of kombucha
I wasn’t ready to put anything back so I just kept telling myself I could make everything fit. After all, I had tossed in that ‘just-in-case’ backpack but, as I pushed my grocery cart up to the check out, I really wasn’t sure that even the backpack would help. I had visions of trying to balance a gallon of milk on the handle bars while stuffing the chocolate bars up the legs of my bike shorts. (They would have to go straight to the refrigerator to combat the meltage when I got home!)
As I stood at the bike rack, I could feel the steely eyes of onlookers watching to see what I was going to do with that cart full of groceries and my bicycle. I put in the biggest and heaviest items first – the milk, the feta, the kombucha – and then packed lighter and softer items around. I let out the straps on the bags as far as I could and used every inch of space as efficiently as possible. It was like putting together one of those wooden block puzzles that only fit if you assemble them one and only one way.
Amazingly enough, everything went into my panniers with just the chips in the backpack so they wouldn’t get crushed! I think I surprised myself as much as the people whom I was entertaining with my antics.
If I look at how much time it took me to ride to my errands and back, it was less than if I had done the same route in the car plus added 40 minutes to work out, so it really didn’t take me any longer. And, bonus, I got to enjoy the beautiful day while eliminating the need to spend a half hour in front of the television doing some pre-recorded exercise program in the evening.
Now that I have proven to myself that virtually a week’s worth of groceries can fit on the back of my bicycle, I have debunked yet another excuse for taking the car to the grocery store. If I can’t blame time, weather or the length of my shopping list for not getting on my bicycle, I am running out of excuses. I guess there’s no reason left not to make my bike part of my regular daily routine but give me time. I am sure I can come up with something.