Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Morning Errands

My friend Tai lives in Seattle but he is purchasing a DoggyRide Trailer from a guy in Redmond and he asked me if I'd pick up the trailer for him this weekend. As it turns out, I'd been meaning to pick up a supply of tubes for the Bikestation from my friends at Sammamish Valley Cycle (also located in Redmond) so this morning I rode up to the trailer guy's place. I think he was expecting that I'd show up in an SUV like what most people around here seem to use for running their errands but once he saw my bike and Tai's cash he quickly unboxed the trailer and we hooked it up to my bike. The trailer uses a clever hitch that occupies the spot on my rear quick-release that's normally filled by my Reelight, so I stowed the light in my front bag. The trailer blocks the light from rear view anyway. On Monday, when I deliver the trailer to Tai and the tubes to the Bikestation, I'll put the light back in its rightful place.

The trailer is designed to carry a dog, so it handled a load of inner tubes with no problem. I put the trailer through it's paces, going up and down some decent-sized hills. I knew I had some extra weight back there, but it didn't really change the handling of the bike. The hitch has a coil spring inside that flexes and pivots but the trailer motion isn't transmitted back to the bike in any kind of a jarring way.

I'm still not really a trailer guy. I like to keep my life simple enough that I don't need one. I gave my BOB trailer to Food Not Bombs years ago and I haven't missed it. When the kids were in their larval, pre-mobile, phase they rode around in a car-seat strapped inside a road-warrior-esqe home-brew trailer with it's own rollcage and custom suspension made from old bike inner-tubes but then they graduated to trail-a-bikes, and finally to bikes of their own. I probably should've taken some pictures of that rig, but that was years ago and we left it behind when we moved out here from New York. Maybe some homeless guy is still making use of it.


Anonymous said...

I meant to ask you about this at the Eco-Fair at Redmond Town Center on Thursday but I forgot: what do you do about groceries? Are you able to get all you need into bags on your bike? Or do you and your wife go together to have more carrying capacity?

Kent Peterson said...

We shop more like Europeans, smaller trips more often instead of the mega-grocery runs. We live 1/2 block from the Front Street Market in Issaquah. And I often tell this story.

Shortly after Peter was born, Christine went back to work. Then we figured out what she was making vs what our expenses were. At the time it was two cars, child care for Peter, eating out all the time because we were both too tired to cook, etc. It turned out after expenses we had an extra $75 per month because she was working. Christine said, "it's not worth 75 bucks a month to have somebody else raise our kid." We decided she'd be a stay-at-home mom as long as it "made sense."

We sold her car. We pared things down. A year later we got rid of my car. Since then we've always plotted carefully where we live in terms of proximity to everything we need on a regular basis. Eric was born a couple of years later. Our kids grew up in a car-free household.

Much later, I got out of the software business and became a full-time bike geek. You make a lot less as a bike geek than you do writing code or tracking software bugs. Peter was starting college and Eric was starting high school and both the boys had part-time jobs. Christine figured she'd rejoin the workforce. But, she said, "I've been out of the work world for so long. I'm not current on new technology and what I've been doing really hasn't added much in terms of marketability. All I do is I walk everywhere and I buy groceries every day."

She got a job as a shopper for Safeway Dot Com. Safeway Dot Com works like this: people order groceries on the web, and those orders get fulfilled by their local store. They have shoppers who go up and down the aisles with giant shopping carts and then they load those groceries onto trucks which deliver out to the local areas. It turns out the best shoppers are former stay at home moms.

Of course we could get our groceries delivered by but Christine and the boys and I usually trade off on fetching stuff. BTW, Christine and Eric tend to be more pedestrian, Peter and I are more bikish.

But to answer your original question, I can do a really good size load of groceries in the basket on the back of my bike. And you'd be amazed at how much Christine can fit in a backpack!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story, Kent. We weren't thinking about bikes when we bought our house and in today's market we can't afford to move. We are close to work but we're also picky about where we buy groceries. I've done some figuring and with panniers on front and rear, plus the space on the top of my front rack, I could carry all the groceries we typically buy. It's just a matter of keeping the cold things cold long enough to get home. But that's what the insulated bags are for.

Tai-po said...

Kent! You Rock Like Slayer! Thanks again for pulling that thing in for me. My dogs and I salute you!