Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From the Less is More Department

I suffer from commute envy. No, I don't long to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours listening to bad radio and fighting off fits of road rage. Rather, one of the things I envy in those who go to the same place of employment every day is the chance to be a bicycle commuter. The chance to get fresh air and exercise twice a day while happily pedaling by those trapped in gridlock just seems cosmically correct.

Since I don't have a real job, a regular bike commute is not really an option. Much of the work I do involves carrying all manner of tools and materials, and while I may be a dreamer, I'm not yet crazy enough to start strapping two-by-fours and table saws onto my bike.

One of my business activities, however, does involve making twice-weekly laundry deliveries to a physical therapy office. This is a small account and the bundles are not very big. It always seemed a little unfortunate to be doing all that driving for so little and I eventually began to wonder if there was some way I could do it by bike. I got the idea to try a bike trailer and in the process of asking around about trailers, one of my biking buddies offered me a kiddie trailer he no longer needs. (Thanks, Harvey!)

My goal is to make the trip by bike about once a week, weather permitting. The weather has been abysmal so far this spring and summer, but I've been able to pull the load under my own power several times so far, and it's fun. It's about 16 miles round trip and with my heavy bike, the trailer and the cargo, the ride takes a bit over an hour - about the same as an exercise class at the gym. That's quite a bit more than it would take in the car, obviously, but in the way I measure these things, it still makes sense. Much of the ride is through nice streets in the community and along roads through the woods. I could even pedal over Moose Hill, but I don't want to get carried away with this. It is work, so I want to consider efficiency a little.

I have to ride along busy U.S. 1 for a couple of miles, but the shoulder is wide along this stretch, so it's not too scary or annoying. Plus, I've discovered that pulling the trailer has its advantages. When motorists see the bright yellow trailer, they think "Baby!" and give me more leeway than usual. If only they knew it was just an old guy with dirty laundry!

It feels good to get outside on a sunny summer morning and do some work, get some exercise, burn less gas, create less pollution and take up less space in the world all at the same time. Sometimes, less truly is more.


SimplyTim said...

Good for you! It gets especially sweet if you're pedaling easily and keep passing the same cars caught in their start and stop dance.

Ever consider getting a softer seat?


MojoMan said...

Tim, that saddle is a Brooks B-17, a good old-fashioned style seat. That bike is one of a few I have and it's the one I have set up in a more traditional and practical way. The frame is lugged steel. The pedals don't require special cleats and shoes. It has canvas and leather bags. The tires are fat and it has fenders.

I kinda like the idea that the saddle needs a little break-in time. It gets more comfortable all the time. Remember when it took a little while to get boots, a baseball glove or a pair of jeans just right?

Paul said...

"...but in the way I measure these things, it still makes sense."

I think this is a key to happiness and contentment -- having our own values even if they don't coincide with conventional or market values.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? 650,000 people and 550,000 bicycles. Bicycles that are functional with covered boxes to carry loads, bicycles with multliple seats for children. I saw one with an extended fork that had room for four small children with seat belts to keep them from standing or turning. Two examples: and