Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cruel March

April is said to be the cruelest month, but I would argue, around here, it is March. March gives the promise of spring, the taste of warm weather, a sense of coming out of the dark and dreary time of winter, and then what does it do? Snow??!!?
During the winter months, I know it will be cold and I prepare for it, cladding myself in warm clothes, both mentally and physcally. The cold weather doesn't thrill me but I can handle it. But the morning when I wake up expecting to feel that wonderful warmth of the day before and discover it is 29 degrees, finds me in a bit of a funk. I wonder if I can endure it another day. I knash at the unfairness of it, yes, the cruelty of it.
Then I get on my bike anyways.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Went Grocery shopping last night

I did plan ahead and remembered to empty out my panniers and bring my grocery bag. But as it warmed up considerably from the morning, I filled up the panniers with my unneeded bulky outwear. I didn't shop carefully and ended up with an additional bag of groceries that I had to somehow fit on my bike. Luckily,I can pack a bike like a seasoned traveler can pack a suitcase. I took off for home overburdened, off balanced and rear heavy with bunches of kale hanging off the back like a green pompom. Nothing to it really…except, I swear, those hills of Hill City were trying to act like mountains last night!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Grocery shopping

Grocery shopping on the bike takes preplanning. I do have my bike set up with grocery bag panniers. These are open panniers that a grocery bag can slide right into. The problem is I treat these as the back seat of a car. I easily throw things back in there and then forget to take it out. I am usually carrying around quite a bit of totally unnecessary weight.
So the first thing I have to think about is to clean out my panniers. I need to have all the carrying ability possible. Then I make sure I have my cloth grocery bag with me. And I have to think to do this all in the morning before I leave the house when I won’t be going to the store until after work. Thinking so far in advance is always problematic for me.
Greenlife is my store of choice. The organic and sometimes local food source is something I am happy to pay extra for. I would go out of my way to shop here, but as it is, it is the most convenient store for me to ride my bike. I love it that at their new store parking places for bikes are provided. And I love pulling up and finding those racks almost full. Just by putting those racks out there have planted the motivation for more and more people to ride their bikes. Haaayyy!
Being on the bike means I have to shop carefully. I cannot buy more then my carrying space and weight plays a factor also. Carrying home a watermelon, a couple of cantaloupes, half a gallon of milk in addition to all my other purchases on day last summer turned into quite a challenge. Though the old Greenlife was only a half mile from my house, that half mile is mostly up hill. But by putting it in the highest gear and going slowly I was able to make it up.
I have to be even more careful now since the new store is further from my home. And in addition to the original hill, I have to climb Tremont. Load your bike with 40 pounds of groceries and discover how long that hill is!
Grocery shopping on the bike then requires:
• Thinking ahead• Roomy panniers• Careful shopping Not so difficult really!

Monday, March 17, 2008


That isn’t much of a major proclamation. More and more people are doing it. Everyday there seems to be an increase of the number of bicycles on the road. It just makes more and more sense to use the bicycle as a mode of transportation in this part of the world. It always made sense in much of the rest of the world. The bicycle is used by more people as transportation then any other method of getting around with the exception of walking.
But in spite of the fact that it is increasing in popularity here in Chattanooga, it still is considered out of the norm. The reaction of people when they hear or see me on my bike ranges to thinking I am crazy, brave, glutton for punishment, some kind of super woman or just plain stupid. I am none of those things (well, maybe the crazy part!) Cycling is a very practical response to the need of transportation. It’s cheap, good exercises, fun and, done properly, safe.
This blog is to tell the real story of transporting by bicycle in Chattanooga. Stories of the good and the bad, the real dangers AND the imagined dangers, the joys and pains, conveniences and inconveniences.. Every day it is different out there.
Maybe by telling these tales a reader might be inspired to try biking. If you are one of those readers, I would love to hear from you. Tell me your tales of Biking in Chattanooga.