A couple things. Firstly, I had to drive my son in the wee hours to my sisters house this morning (they were leaving for vacation at 6am) and my truck was quite literally running on empty. And as I have a disdain for spending money on petrol I put $10US in the tank and the needle barely moved. At any rate, after dropping my son off I drove home and parked the truck and there it will sit for the next week or so. I had the day off and planned on running some errands–which I did–and decided to ride the Mundo, which I haven’t ridden for a couple weeks (since getting the Cargo-T). What a joy it was to ride this bike again. Not that I am not enjoying the Cargo-T, but I forgot how comfortable and smooth this bike rides…it’s a great ride even when carrying just a few items or just myself. The irony is that on my ride today I stopped at the very same gas station as I did this morning only this time for just a cup of coffee (they have a coffee shop inside) and I have to admit that I felt a bit smug as coasted past the pumps. My guess is that I pedaled for about ten miles but I also stopped to “fuel up” (lunch). So the correct title of this post should be 10 miles per cup of coffee and three vegetable tacos. But here I am being smug again…I’ll get off my little soapbox now. Anyhow, it did feel really good to be riding this long bike on such a lovely sunny Spring afternoon.
This is a continuation of a previous post. I love the new color, it is more me; I feel more comfortable on the bike now. I still have not ridden it much…disassembled and reassembled it today to paint it, and now it’s pouring rain. I did find it interesting removing the front and rear wheels; the front has a drum brake and the rear has a coaster brake and internal 3-speed hub (had to Google a tutorial for the latter). Anyhow, more on the bike after I’ve ridden it more.
A new coffee maker, 3L of red wine, two bags of dog food, sundries, cleaning supplies, and a weeks worth of groceries.
10lbs/4.5kg whole wheat flour, 1 gal/3.78L virgin olive oil, and a canvas bag containing a book, a camera, a Bible, a calendar, and a few pencils.
Things on the Bike…a canvas bag containing a laptop computer, another canvas bag containing–among other things–a camera and a couple books, a plastic soda crate containing three loaves of freshly baked sweet potato bread, a dough rising bucket, and five slightly used taper candles.
The recipe below is one that I’ve made plenty of times but is not the exact one which I used for the bread in these pictures (those pictured were made with all whole wheat flour). At any rate, it’s a really good recipe.
These photos are a couple years old…it’s evident because I didn’t have the front bread rack on the Mundo yet. I came across them tonight while looking for another photo. These were originally part of the Things That Can be Carried on a Bike series, but when I saw it tonight I thought I’d share them again in the event you haven’t seen them yet. I was catering a dinner at the church of which I am a member and carried all the equipment I needed on a bike. I still remember the looks I received as I pedaled and clanged down the street like some sort of wares salesman from a bygone era…
On the bike…A canvas bag containing a book and an extra camera, 3 liters of red wine, a gym bag containing wet clothes, and two slices of spinach pizza.
A quick comment…I had mentioned yesterday regarding the wacky weather and how it was supposed to warm up today, well it did…and did it ever. I believe the high temp today was something like 62F/17C. As I pedaled and coasted home from the gym tonight it felt like a balmy summer’s eve…OK maybe not balmy, but it certainly was warm and nice; the air felt warm on my skin as I coasted home. And on my way home I couldn’t help think how wonderful it was to be on a bike and in the open air. After leaving the gym I stopped at three stores, and the entire trip–including the gym–was about (I’m guessing) 3 miles/4.8 kilometers. And as I coasted down my favorite hill (very minor hill…you likely wouldn’t even notice it if in a car), which is the last stretch before I approach my street, I had the full moon on my left (pictured above and below) and Jupiter and Venus to my right (for pictures click here). I really felt like continuing on for a warm evening ride…but alas, I had some things to tend to. And besides…I had to eat the pizza and drink some wine.
To see more in the things-on-a-bike series, click here.
OK, first a couple things. The title of this post is a bit incorrect…it should read how I ride a bike, but I didn’t want it to sound too self-centric (but isn’t that what everyone’s blogs are about…themselves). And the photo above is not recent; it is one I took last spring when I had to move my bikes from my living room for spring cleaning (yes I keep my bikes off to the side in the main living space of my house…don’t you). But they are still the same bikes I ride; from back-to-front…the Yuba Mundo (a cargo bike and still my favorite everyday bike), my winter bike (an old Trek which I bought at a flea market and fixed up and outfitted with fenders and racks), and a Dahon folder (which I use for quick zips around town and bring on day trips to Toronto).
I guess that the main reason for this post is the current topic of gas prices. In my neck of the woods it has hit about $4/gal and is expected to go higher and there are many areas of the country where it is already higher. And yes, to my European friends reading this, I am aware that it is twice that already (so why do we Americans whine about it…because we are spoiled). Anyhow, why you may ask, am I writing about the price of gas on a simple-living/pro-bicycle blog…well the answer is obvious isn’t it. One of the solutions, I really believe, is to hop on a bike (just one of the solutions). I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I don’t mind the price of gas going up, but also that it didn’t effect me (a little). For the first time ever this past week I filled up the tank in my truck (or nearly filled it up). I’ve owned this particular vehicle for nearly 4 years and have never filled it from empty to full…well you can imaging how surprised I was when I stopped filling at $65 (US) and there was still room for more. The reason I put gas in it was that I am planning a couple-hundred-mile trip next week…otherwise a tank full of gas like this would last me at least a month, likely longer.
Anyhow, I’m assuming that if you are a regular visitor to this blog you already support green/human-powered propulsion…but if not, this post is for you. Here’s how to ride a bike (or at least how I do it)…a few suggestions.
Firstly–and this may sound obvious but it’s not necessarily the case–get a bike that fits you well and is comfortable to ride in ordinary clothing…get a bike that is fun to ride and one you enjoy riding. When I see people riding hunched over or with seats that are way too low it makes me cringe, and racing bikes that require spandex clothing are fine for the weekend warrior but to ride every day and in all conditions a bike where you sit up straight–and with fenders and racks to carry your stuff–is not only more comfortable but also way more fun (just my humble opinion).
Next–and this may be the most difficult part–change your mindset. Don’t think of riding a bike as just a weekend adventure–or even worse, a chore–think of it as a viable means of transportation, especially if you live in a city or town. This is actually what inspired me to start this blog more than four years ago…to ride a bike (rather than use a car) anywhere within a two mile radius of my house (click here for my original post). Do I keep this commitment religiously? Mostly, but not always. I use my truck about once a week, less in the summer months.
Living in a condensed area really is key to riding a bike as everyday transportation, I think (this would be much more difficult in a rural or suburban setting). I am fortunate to live in a closely populated neighborhood that has a score of 98 (out of 100) from Walkscore.com…meaning there are plenty basic–and not-so-basic–needs and necessities within walking/biking distance.
I of course could go on and on here, but I won’t (ok, maybe I’ll go on a bit longer)…the previous was the lecturing part, now here is where I get preachy.
Riding a bike to save gas money is just one of the many reasons an adult should ride a bike…for me it’s more of a bi-product. The real reason I ride, and I’ve posted this too many times to count (click here to read one), is that I enjoy it on so many levels. It makes me feel free. When I pedal and coast through traffic and see people trapped in their metal boxes (which they work so hard to make payments on) I sometimes feel sorry for them…that I wish they knew the joy of what it feels like to be on a bike (again) and out in the elements (and by that I mean all elements).
Today, for example, it was really something to be on a bike. It was not that cold (32F/0C) but it was very windy…crazy windy, wind gusts up to 70mph/112kph. I’d be lying again if I said it wasn’t difficult…but it certainly was exhilarating. At one point, when the wind was to my back, I was coasting and must have been doing more than 20mph/32kph. I was on a side street and weaved back and forth while I looked up to the sky and watched the tree tops sway in the wind.
Keep in mind that I am not a 20-something fixie kid…I turned 50 this past fall and still love to use a bike as my main transport. This may not be that uncommon to the Europeans reading this, but stateside it is a rarity…I know of only a few people my age in this city that choose to ride a bike when they can drive a car. This is not meant to be a braggart’s statement, I’m simply stating a fact.
Here’s an example of my day. I had a meeting at my church in the early after noon (2 miles each way), then after a quick lunch went to the health club for a steam-and-swim (1.5 miles). Then I rode and did some errands, shopping, stopped at a coffee shop, and for a couple beers (maybe 6 miles total). All the while I burned some calories, cleared my head, pedaled into and coasted with the wind, got the best parking spaces, and snickered as I passed petrol stations.
I really believe that if more adults would get on bikes they would remember how much fun they are to ride. Simple as that. Saving gas money is just a minor part in the bigger picture (for me).
I’ll get off my little soapbox now.
I’ve posted the below video a few other times but I never tire of it. I came across it randomly a couple years ago. And in the event you’ve yet to see it I encourage you to take the 60 seconds to watch it. It could be me narrating it, but it’s not.
A gym bag full of wet clothes. A canvas bag containing–among other things–two books, a magazine, an extra camera, and a few pens and pencils. Eight small wine glasses, two Indian meal moth traps, and a red reflector on a 4ft/1.2m stick (for the front yard, not the bike). And also a full cup of hot coffee in the handlebar cup holder.
To see more in the Things That Can be Carried on a Bike series, click here.
If you’ve been to this blog before you know that I ride a bike as often as I can, not great distances or in races but for my everyday transportation around town…and I also like to carry stuff on my bikes, whatever stuff a person would normally carry in their car. Besides my cargo bike (Yuba Mundo) I also have a few other bikes, most of which are equipped with a hitch for a BicycleR Evolution Trailer. The Mundo’s frame isn’t built to accommodate a trailer and I’ve been trying to figure out how to attach it for a while. Sometimes, I suppose, a 7ft bike is simply not big enough (most cargo bikers will agree, I’m sure) and that one can always carry more things with their own human power. Anyhow, I finally figured out to attach a spare hitch (and it was actually pretty simple). I took it for a test ride tonight while empty…and as usual the Mundo handled exceptionally well; I really could not even tell I was pulling a trailer. I likely won’t use it often but it is nice to know it’s available when I need it. And when I do…I’ll post pictures. I’d enjoy hearing from other cargo bikers regarding their experiences pulling a trailer.
Things on the bike (above)…A gym bag full of wet clothes, a 4lb bag of dog food, and 3L of red wine.
Below is a self-portrait of sorts…I took it yesterday as I coasted past a particularly reflective stretch of windows in an office building downtown. I wasn’t going to post it (never really cared for seeing photos of myself) but as I was going through photos today and saw it, it made me think. Of all the things that I carry on bikes sometimes I forget. Often it’s when pedaling uphill or into a strong headwind, but still I forget, or maybe I just take it for granted. What I’m talking about is the efficiency of a bicycle as a transportation machine. Sometimes I forget that the bicycle is the most efficient means of transport there is…and that the most precious cargo any bike can carry is the rider themselves.
Before I comment on the question posed in this post’s title, let me just say that I love this picture, or at least the bike in it. This is a bike that can get the job done…and cheaply. Here I am (and I’m not the only one…you know who you are) bragging about their fancy cargo bikes (mine, of course, is a Yuba) and how much they can haul and all the fancy name brand components…and then I see this the other day locked to a tree in NYC . It’s an old Schwinn mountain bike that likely cost a hundred bucks or less and has two over-sized baskets bolted to it. It’s also likely that this is one of the numerous delivery bikes seen around the city…in other words, a work bike. Those baskets are awesome, in the literal sense of the word…how easy would it be to carry a week’s worth of groceries in them, and no strapping things down. So I ask again…What is a Cargo Bike? In this bloggers opinion, any bike that carries stuff…it doesn’t matter how expensive–or not–the bike happens to be. If it gets you were you are going and carries everything you need it most definitely fits the category.
$132.72 in groceries, sundries, and dog food (and four slices of pizza), in a cardboard box and soda crate from three separate stores.
Technically, the moon was full two nights ago but I took these last night when it was waning (it still looked pretty full to me). I have always been drawn to a full moon…not sure why, it just fascinates me looming so large in the sky. Anyhow, last night I was out on the Mundo and snapped a few photos. The one above is taken at the far end of Allen Street here in Buffalo, the main thoroughfare through my favorite neighborhood and also the one in which I live. The below photo was taken just a block north on Wadsworth Street, overlooking houses there. And it’s interesting, I think, what some people must think of me when they see me hunched next to my bike with a camera and mini-tripod perched on it. At one point, when I was taking the below picture a woman was coming down the street and saw me next to the bike and began to cross the street…she looked a little scared. I actually told her, as she approached, not to worry I’m just taking a few photos (then I wondered if that made her fear me even more). Anyhow, I enjoy taking pictures in different levels of light…dawn, dusk, and night are my favorites. And as I was taking these I was thinking about winter–or more specifically, the lack of it this year–how we can’t count on snow in the winter these days, but we can still count on the sun and moon rising and falling each day and night. Click either for a larger view.
A half-gallon of orange juice, a half gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a gym bag full of clothes, and a small box of tissues.
A gym bag containing wet clothes, a quart of milk, a dozen eggs, a rug (measuring 60in/152cm by 84in/213cm), and a new laundry bid which also contains 1/2 gallon of bleach, 4 lbs of dog food, two rolls of tape, and a pair of reading glasses.
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ~ Elizabeth West
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~ Ernest Hemingway
The journey of life is like a man riding a bicycle. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. We know that if he stops moving and does not get off he will fall off. ~ William G. Golding
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood. ~ Susan B. Anthony
When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
OK…I know I said five quotes, but here’s a sixth…seven counting the graphic 🙂
I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life. ~ Frances E. Willard
Three liters of red wine.