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A Simple Six: 7/31/11 - 8/7/11

Friday, August 5, 2011

Never Again

Brent biked to work this morning, as he has done each day he has gone in this week. After work he was meeting with folks downtown at Heritage Station to talk about business then headed to Tahona restaurant for dinner and more banter about video special effects and video editing. That is all very well and good, but what I was most excited to hear about was his change of heart.

Brent came home and said he never wanted to drive the van again. He loved his new bike so much, and riding has been so painless, he now felt he didn't need a car. Somebody please shake this man. I think he needs doused in cold water.

"Never again?" I ask.
"Well, until I have to bike with the children in the snow."


Our LGRAB Summer Games Entry

The LGRAB Summer Games are not over quite yet, but I didn't want to run out of time to submit my entry. You can check out the full contest deals here. Below is what I emailed as our submission. I still have time to fill in the gaps. I am actually working on a letter to a couple of businesses, schools, and the paper. I just don't know if it will be ready by the August 8th deadline.  It's been a lot of fun so far, but the weather and the children have been very cooperative.

Did you participate? If not, there is still time, or there is always next year, or really why do you need an excuse, you could do these things anyway!

Dear LGRAB bloggers,

Thank you for this fun opportunity to push our boundaries on bikes. The summary story is below for each category and the album can be found here. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing photos.

  1. on vacation? rent a bike and go for a ride!
    1. No out of town vacations here, sorry. It was summer break for the children and we have ridden almost everywhere all over town. You can read more about it below.
  2. write a letter advocating for bicycling infrastructure (bike lanes, bike rack, etc) to your alderman/council representative, mayor, or a local business.
    1. My husband Brent and daughter London biked to the orthodontist and had to lock up their bikes on his sign. The Dr actually said he has been meaning to get a bike rack. The conversation was short.
    2. Brent and I have been sharing articles about bike commuting and car-free living on FB, G+ and with other families via email. We have been talking about choices with other people and began a blog about our transition to a car-lite life with four children in Huntington WV. (the blog is not ready for public consumption quite yet)
  3. take a picture of something along your commute that says “summer” to you, and explain why
    1. Please see all our photos in our Picasa LGRAB album. I think they all say summer. What other time of the year could we all get out and sweat so much, so often?
  4. commute to work by bike or bike/transit if you don’t already
    1. Brent is our income provider. Summer is his flex season, where he can work from home more often. Yet, anytime he has needed to go into work, he has taken the bike. He even had a day where he had to carry a lot of video equipment, laptops, lunch and three shares from our CSA. Before, he would have just taken the car. Since July 22, he has taken the bike with the Yakima trailer loaded.
  5. perform a maintenance task on your bike
    1. We are very new to biking. Before April it had been 10 years since I had been on a bike. I bought a bottle of chain oil and asked the shop owner for instructions. We are now oiling our own chains weekly. It's small maintenance, but important.
    2. We purchased an iBert front toddler seat for our 19m old. on July 28. We installed it ourselves. Again, it was small, but important.
  6. explore a greenway or bike path in your city that you haven’t previously visited
    1. We rode PATH often. The whole family covered a new distance on July 23. We rode stretches of it for errands that we had never done before. We went to the grocery by bike for the first time on July 29. I rode to the farmer's market on Saturday July 30, also a first. It's the only bike path in Huntington, and we got to know it a bit better together.
  7. test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride (road bike, mountain bike, etc.)
    1. When I went to the farmer's market I rode with a friend. She borrowed my bike and I rode her husband's. I don't know what it was, but it was amazingly light and fabulous to ride. My bike is a basement salvage from the neighbor. Heavy and simple and now it "needs" replaced :)
    2. Brent's bike chain has been skipping. He went down to the bike shop and test rode a Cannondale 5 and a couple other commuters. He's seriously considering an investment soon. Maybe today?
  8. read a book about cycling
    1. I taught a toddler art class last week and read Duck on a Bike to everyone the first day. David Shannon's illustrations are a wonderful and powerful message of "you can do it" reinforced through cleaver farm animal characterizations.
  9. ride your bike somewhere new in your city
    1. Everywhere we went was new for us, at least by bike. We rode our children (four children, ages 9, 7, 4, and 19m) to get our eggs. We rode with them all downtown to the comic shop, out to dinner, to a festival, to a play date, to a rain barrel workshop, to the river park for community service work. Brent and I rode downtown for a date night.
  10. go on a group ride
    1. Our Critical Mass ride was just before the start of the Summer Games. I was concerned we couldn't complete this category, then we found a Buns on Bike ride just for children and families. Our family rode the three mile charity event on July 30 with nearly thirty other people. We covered more than 8 miles together that day.

Again, thank you,

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Creating a Grocery List Based on Weight

Ordering toilet paper was an easy enough task. Getting my sister to purchase the case of copy paper wasn't too hard either. As I looked over what was left on my shopping list, it still felt incredibly heavy. I don't know what my towing limit is yet, but I know I was not able to drag Oliver and Avery out of the 10th Street aqua-duct during Critical Mass last month. They weigh in at about 70lbs total. Trailer weight, bike weight, diaper bag and's getting near 100lbs, probably more. Now add groceries like kitty litter, potatoes, milk, flour, and blocks of cheese. Good grief.

Family Fun
Several friends that have asked the question, "Don't you need the van, there are six of you?" have received the reply, "We rarely go any where all together, except the grocery store, and we don't have to go together." It's true. We are one of those annoying large families that have to bring everyone to the store. It's not that we do this every single time we go. Most often, Brent goes with very clear instructions and I am disappointed when he returns, but not so frustrated that it was worth me going instead. Sometimes I go alone or with the little boys, but always come home so frustrated that I send Brent the next time, and the time after that.

Then there are the trips that I enjoy the most, the ones where we all go. I get to pick out exactly what I need, for the price I want to pay and pair it with the right coupons. Brent and the children will sometimes go get things I forgot on the other side of the store and I have good company, which is really what I like.

It should then come as no surprise that we all went to the store on our bikes this morning. Not the best of logic, but a good time none the less. Great exercise of course, good company and an extra strong husband to haul things on his spiffy new 29" bike.

Brent on his spiffy new bike. A GT something or another. 29" wheels. They are huge.

The List
I prepared our list the night before, trying very hard to keep it simple and light. We had to contend with space and with weight. Here's my original grocery wish list. Those things crossed out did not get purchased because of price, space, or weight, and were based on importance to our survival this weekend. The actual amounts purchased are in red.
  • milk 4 half gallon plastic jugs
  • bread 4 1lb 8oz loaves whole wheat
  • beer
  • alternative milk (almond, soy, coconut) 1 half gallon cardboard carton
  • popcorn 1 2lb bag of kernels
  • small oranges
  • bananas 1 bunch of 8
  • apples 1 3lb bag
  • cat litter 1 3.5lb bag
  • onions 3 large yellows
  • sweet potatoes 4lbs
  • mozzarella 1lb 8oz
  • couscous
  • oils about a quart of each olive oil and coconut oil in plastic
  • pastas 2lbs of whole wheat egg noodles
  • Parmesan cheese 8oz wedge
  • turkey pepperoni
  • bar soap for laundry 2 bars
  • hotdogs and buns
  • peas, frozen 2lbs
  • tuna 4 small cans
  • nuts
  • ginger root
  • diapers 1 package of 27 paper diapers
I also threw a couple jars of peanut butter into the cart because they were a good price and we eat a lot of peanut butter.
Total Weight Estimated: 38lbs, does that add up right?

Hauling it Home
We knew everything had to fit just right so I asked the cashier if I could bag my own groceries. I didn't think she would object, but I didn't want to put any union workers out of a job either. I was also concerned about the bread. Last time it came home all smashed. I put the litter, diapers, onions and potatoes in my back pack. Everything else went into the trailer with Avery.

The nearest Kroger is 2.5 miles from home and they don't have a bike rack. Might need to write a letter to the store.

The goods.

Bagged and ready to load.

We loaded up the trailer, unlocked all the bikes and helmets and put everyone in their places to head for home. We had one more stop to make. Our eggs were supposed to be picked up on Tuesday evening but we didn't get out for various reasons. So we stopped by the rendezvous porch and tucked our three dozen eggs and four bundles of basil into the trailer.

Where the sidewalk ends on 1st St going toward PATH.

Coming out under 8th Street riding toward Ritter Park.

Very sleepy Oliver and London with eggs.

The ride back to the house is always more exhausting. Not just because of the added weight, but because we had already covered 2.5 miles and as the world turns, the sun's heat intensifies. Then there is that slight grade change. The last two roads are uphill just enough to make my chest hurt. Two hours, 5miles, 40lbs, and ten degrees later, we were home.

Approaching Hal Greer. Loaded trailer, exhausted London.

The soft and smashables. Weepy basil, we wait too long to pick up.

Cold goods, still cold on the left. More heavy stuff on the right.

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