Today was my first big grocery shopping trip on bike! Since starting bike commuting about two months ago, I would only choose easy routes on my bike and light shopping loads. I would coordinate with my partner for him to pick up the groceries in his car – but no more! I am an independent – bike commuting – peddle pushing – 90 lbs of yummy food – bad*ass (with the assistance of electric) lady!
How to Prepare for Your Shopping Trip:
- Start small! Do not try a big shopping haul too early in your bike commuting journey or that might lead to frustration. Be creative until you are really ready to do a big load (i.e car pool, bus, small loads etc.)
- Know your route. I know that my route included one major highway crossing, I practiced it twice for smaller trips and have gained comfort bike commuting amongst cars. More beginner bike tips here.
- Start with familiar gear: by that I mean DO NOT go out an buy a bunch of expensive fancy panniers until you have done a few “lighter bike commutes” or trips.
- Identify type of gear you currently have: I have a rear rack with milk crate – 60 lbs. limit, I also have a dog trailer that has a 90 lbs. limit.
- Identify if you need additional gear: only after you have tried some light trips, look if you need more carrying capacity. There are many blogs that discuss the pros and cons of different panniers, trailers, rack systems.
- Try a dry run with you gear, for me I took a few quick trips getting used to trailering.
At the Store:
- Be organized: I have a day pack that I always clip my bike lock in the same place, safe place for wallet, and other commuter specific items. Likely you will have to bring these into the store (for me its bike lenses and my helmet). Do not let this be a barrier; most women carry a purse around this is no different.
- Pack re-usable or paper bags so you can start to organize heavier items in the cart while you are shopping. This might be important if you commuting with a trailer. Some panniers are designed specifically as a grocery bag already – I am intrigued by these but want to do some more shopping trips before deciding.
- Pack lightest items in the front of the bike, or in your back pack.
- Heavier items (to your racks rating on the rear). I put my eggs in the milk crate, and other fragile there as well.
- Heaviest items dispersed evenly across your bike trailer.
While Biking Commuting with Your Groceries:
- Absorb large pot holes and creases in the path/road by firming weighting your peddles equally and firmly. At the same time, lightly lift your bum off the bike seat (think jumps or hover in spin class!).
- Slow down early on descents.
- Shift down early on climbs, earlier than you think. I got in trouble here! Starting and stopping with more weight is significantly harder.
- Have a sense of humor about it and have fun!
Thoughts on My First Grocery Shopping Bike Commute:
- I learned that I really need to practice shifting with more weight on the bike. The few times I had to start and stop to cross a highway made me very nervous, I knew I had to downshift but timing it takes practice.
- I had fun! I was proud of myself for continuing to bike commute even though a trip to the grocery store could easily be an “excuse” to take the car.
- I am continually verifying buying more gear is never the answer. I am trying to be patient and resourceful before purchasing fancy bike gear.
- I felt a little self conscious loading groceries on my bike in front of the store, and being in front of cars, but observing this emotion and just sitting with it for a while. I whole heartedly believe in bike commuting but the reality is, it is still like 1 percent of the population. People are going to be curious, stare, and ask questions. I am learning to take those opportunities to cheerfully explain the amazing benefits of bike commuting.
Please connect with me if you are new bike commuter. I hope this post is helpful and encouraging to a new bike commuter.
Happy Biking – Emily