Since the start of the Eat Local Challenge, I’ve made three shopping trips by bicycle. I was nervous at first, but once I got the braking thing down, everything went just fine. Did you know that bikes these days have hand brakes? Instead of having you pedal backwards to stop? I can’t keep up with the blistering pace of bicycle technology.
The first time I went out, I felt like a fish out of water. I’m used to playing the role of antagonizer, bearing down on cyclists from the snug and bumpered safety of my motor vehicle, not the other way around. Given the way karma usually works, I decided it would be safer to stick to the sidewalks where I could bully the pedestrians. Not that they were intimidated. I gave a generous berth to any obstacles, real or imagined. My braking was early and often. My turns wide and swervy. The only real threat to them was my instability. And my language. I had at least one uncomfortable encounter with that pesky crotch bar. Why is it there again? But once I got to the relative protection of the bike path, I became a lot less clenchy. All in all, it felt empowering to be self-propelled and actually feel the wind in my face, as opposed to the utter windlessness of my jogging speed.
My first trip was to Shaw’s, where you can get a bunch of local products: Stonyfield Farm milk and yogurt, Cabot cheese and butter, Trappist jams made by the monks of Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer. Sometimes they even have local goat cheese. The second trip was to the farmer’s market in town where I got the havarti the kids like so much and found some surprise local strawberries, thank god. I didn’t ask questions. How many apples can one person eat, anyway? Today, I went to Russo’s for milk, butter, cream, bread, and dried beans.
Unfortunately, the cute little wicker basket on the front of the bike I’m borrowing got so weighted down by all of my important dairy products that it rested right on the front wheel, wicker to rubber. The friction threatened to wear a hole right through the bottom of the basket, but, more importantly, it made an extremely loud zipping sound that turned heads at a time when I really didn’t want to be observed. It was nothing a few adjustments didn’t fix temporarily, until the next frost heave, but it became clear that I’ll need to dig out my backpack for my next run.
So far I’ve clocked about 13 miles, which, with today’s fuel prices, means I’ve saved about $2 in gas. Interesting. Somehow, I thought it would be more. Well, it’s fun anyway. At least up until the point where I have to walk the bike up the painfully long, steep hill to my cliffside dwelling like a big loser.