It seemed like such a good idea, as most bad ideas do initially. My motives were sound and intentions genuine. I’d help the environment while whipping myself into shape. I’d save on wear and tear to my car. And, I’d set a good example for my kids by walking the walk and talking the talk (or pedaling the pedal as the case may be).
I was surprised I hadn’t thought of the grand plan before.
It was a no-brainer, really, an inspired concept: I’d get myself a bike and ride it to the grocery store. I’d save on gas and burn calories all at the same time. I patted myself on the back. Sometimes I can be so clever.
I purchased a one-speed mom-bike for the job and ordered a couple of metal baskets to attach to the large fender to hold my filled bags of groceries. I bought a bike lock because you can never be too careful and found some reusable shopping bags that fit perfectly in my baskets. I checked the tires and filled with air as needed.
My family supported me in my endeavor – mostly. They are used to me taking off on tangents – wherever and whenever an idea hits – which is often. My husband even helped attach the baskets.
Everything was going as planned. I felt like hugging a tree.
The time came for my maiden voyage. I tossed a bottle of water into my front basket and hopped aboard. Off I went, wind in my hair, grocery list in my back pocket, Queen playing in my ears. “Get on your bikes and ride!”
I didn’t have far to go, just a couple of miles on side roads, with little or no cross traffic. I avoided busy streets, no reason to get too crazy with this adventure.
I traveled at a reasonable clip – no need for speed – and arrived at my destination without incident. Decreasing my carbon footprint was turning out to be even easier than I thought. I secured my eco-friendly transport and entered the store.
Half an hour later, I emerged with two filled bags. I’d been cognizant of the volume of my purchases because of my limitations for moving them from point A to point B. Larger items like toilet paper and a case of soda would have to wait for a motorized trip, as would ice cream and freezer pops. It wasn’t a perfect system but – hey – I was trying. I was happy and proud I’d been able to fit everything in the two bags, which fit neatly into my two metal baskets.
I loaded, unlocked and prepared to pedal my way out of the parking lot. Little did I know my brilliant idea was about to hit the brakes – in more ways than one.
It all came down (or up, actually) to a slight but significant miscalculation on my part. As with so many things in life, the answer could be summed up in three words: location, location, location. The trip to the store had gone without a hitch; I practically and literally coasted. The trip home was another story, because the journey was uphill – on a less-than-streamlined mom-bike outfitted with pounds and pounds of (heavy) groceries.
Riding an old-fashioned one-speed bike uphill is no walk in the park. I made it home, but barely. There were times when I thought I’d have to get off and walk my two-wheeled friend, who felt less like a friend with every uphill block I groaned my way through.
Initially it sounded like such a good idea, like so many things do. Unfortunately implementation wasn’t workable in real life. I didn’t beat myself up – too much. I tried, but the little bike experiment ended after just one trip and I moved on to other creative tangents.
Because despite my failure to attain grocery store biking status, the journey must go on. It’s how I roll.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.