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suggestions for a way to pick up groceries

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suggestions for a way to pick up groceries

Old 03-06-11, 12:36 PM
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suggestions for a way to pick up groceries

I am looking for suggestions on how to pick up groceries from the supermarket. I would prefer to visit the larger store because of my diet and the local market is very expensive. Most items are about twice the price over larger market. I am looking at getting roughly 100 pounds of items each trip, about once a month. I normally use my racks and panniers when using the local store. The main issue with visiting the supermarket is the 35 miles each way of biking along busy highways. I do not have a trailer, and I have thought about getting a kid hauler for the trip. The roads are mainly 2 lanes with no shoulders and the speed limits are 55-70 mph. I could make the trip twice a month, but would rather just do it once a month.

Question regarding cold and frozen foods. How do you keep them cool and frozen during the warm months of the year. We have 100*+ weather starting in may and ending september ish. If I was to make the trip, it would take roughly 3 hours to make it back to where I live. Any suggestions tips tricks on keeping you cold food cold?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:09 PM
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I've been car-free for almost two years. I occasionally rent or borrow a car and stock up on heavy and bulky items. I am meticulous in planning what I need for months at a time to avoid issues with hauling on my bicycle. And this works great for me. I also haul my weekly groceries in a jumbo backpack and at places like Whole Foods, I will go to the seafood department and ask for a couple of plastic bags filled with ice to pack with my frozen food. wrapped raw meat goes right into the bag of ice before I seal it.





Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
I am looking for suggestions on how to pick up groceries from the supermarket. I would prefer to visit the larger store because of my diet and the local market is very expensive. Most items are about twice the price over larger market. I am looking at getting roughly 100 pounds of items each trip, about once a month. I normally use my racks and panniers when using the local store. The main issue with visiting the supermarket is the 35 miles each way of biking along busy highways. I do not have a trailer, and I have thought about getting a kid hauler for the trip. The roads are mainly 2 lanes with no shoulders and the speed limits are 55-70 mph. I could make the trip twice a month, but would rather just do it once a month.

Question regarding cold and frozen foods. How do you keep them cool and frozen during the warm months of the year. We have 100*+ weather starting in may and ending september ish. If I was to make the trip, it would take roughly 3 hours to make it back to where I live. Any suggestions tips tricks on keeping you cold food cold?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:21 PM
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For that trip (and I have to ride similar roads) and the frequency of once a month I would see if I could pay a neighbor to take me to the store. For frozen foods I have used a variety of coolers over the years, I still do on occasion.

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Old 03-06-11, 04:15 PM
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I don't own a trailer, so consider that piece in my comments.

Assuming, you are committed to cycling to that store and not willing to cave to the car pressure, and considering the second line of your sig, "Competitors work until they get it right, but champions work until they can't get it wrong", I believe the champion grocery hauler would not be a kiddie trailer, but one built specifically for cargo.

Kiddies have round bottoms, don't weigh as much as a month's worth of groceries, and are bored after an hour or so. Thus, kiddie trailers are designed for short-term carriage of round, soft, lightweight things. I've never seen one rated for more than 75 pounds. The fabric floors keep soft, round bottoms comfy, and they have things your don't really need like a roof, sides and screened windows. Essentially, it's a tent strapped to a frame.

Take a look at cargo trailers instead. The gold standard is BikesAtWork.com. Even their smallest model is rated for 300 pounds, well beyond your anticipated need. If you look through the site, you'll see they're designed to work well with those large Rubbermaid totes. Conveniently, camping coolers are about the same size.

I'm guessing you could get by with the model 32A and four totes or coolers. But for only a small amount more you can get a trailer twice as long. For a long ride in Texas heat and wind, I'd think about a longer trailer since one layer of totes will have less wind resistance than two.

You're talking about some serious hauling in some serious conditions over a considerable distance. A cargo trailer will help make it so that you can't get it wrong.

Last edited by tsl; 03-06-11 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 03-06-11, 05:58 PM
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Yup, 2nd that notion. Cargo trailers are the way to go when you have to haul heavy stuff. (Just be sure to balance your load! I've lifted the back wheel of my bike off the ground at every intersection by not doing so!)

I do have to tell you, though, that most of the 'kiddie' trailers out there, while not set up for cargo (dimensions aren't as 'right'), most are rated to 90+ lbs. (I had two, one was a POS, the other -- rated @ 90lb -- hauled 130 without a problem.)
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Old 03-06-11, 06:01 PM
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For that quantity and weight, assuming you don't want to get car rides with people, your options are basically cargo trailers and dedicated cargo bikes.

You'll probably have an easier time finding cargo bikes that will carry that weight, however as tsl pointed out, high-weight trailers do exist. (Many trailers top out at 100 lbs at the outside; often their max load is less.) A cargo bike will be more expensive but will likely handle better than a bike with a trailer. It may not carry certain very bulky things as well as a trailer, though.

You can also get cargo bikes with electric assist mechanisms that are designed to work with a relatively heavy cargo load.

I personally have a Mundo V3.0 from Yuba. I really like it. It's not light, but with a 450lb capacity (plus rider) it's effectively impossible for me to overload. The GoGetter bags are large enough that I can profitably do shopping at Sam's Club. Very bulky items (16 lb bags of cat food, value packs of toilet paper and paper towels, 24-packs of Mexican coke in the glass bottles, etc.) get strapped to the top of the deck while smaller things go in the bags. If I'm expecting something really big/heavy, I can leave one or both bags at home and strap the item directly to the side of the bike on top of the sideloader bars. I can also strap large Sterilite/Rubbermaid bins to the side if necessary. Even heavily and somewhat lopsidedly loaded, it's a pretty stable ride.

I can carry a lot with it, but I rarely go more that 4-5 miles each way on it. If I were going 20+ miles each way, especially if there were hills, I'd seriously consider an electric assist.

Anyway, this is a solution that has worked well for me. I went into some detail so you have some context and a reference point for what a particular cargo option is capable of. It's by no means the only solution or necessarily the best solution. You might consider posting your question in the Utility Cycling forum as well; they may be able to speak in more detail about specific solutions, and maybe give "out of the box" suggestions.
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Old 03-06-11, 07:16 PM
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Xtracycle with coolers attached.

Problem Solved.
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Old 03-06-11, 08:42 PM
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I do have a pickup truck that I can always take. I am trying to save money and not drive anymore than I have to. I Also, my truck is starting to have mechanical problems and I am trying to prolong replacing the truck by not using it.

there are a few vegetarian items that I have to get from the larger supermarket that I can't get from my local store. I ride a novarra randonee, and have a homemade front rack and the stock rear rack and rear panniers for the front and rear rack.

I will look at the cargo trailers. I am also liking the idea of strapping coolers to the top of the racks. I can probably get away with smaller coolers by taking the veggie products out of their boxes. I guess the first few trips will be filled with trial and error, but I'll get it figured out.

I got a few funny looks tonight by people when I told te cashier not to bag my groceries. Then when I was leaving the store with my groceries and my dog food strapped to the rack, people were eyeballing it pretty hard.

Last edited by mthayer; 03-06-11 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 03-06-11, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
I am looking for suggestions on how to pick up groceries from the supermarket. I would prefer to visit the larger store because of my diet and the local market is very expensive. Most items are about twice the price over larger market. I am looking at getting roughly 100 pounds of items each trip, about once a month. I normally use my racks and panniers when using the local store. The main issue with visiting the supermarket is the 35 miles each way of biking along busy highways. I do not have a trailer, and I have thought about getting a kid hauler for the trip. The roads are mainly 2 lanes with no shoulders and the speed limits are 55-70 mph. I could make the trip twice a month, but would rather just do it once a month.

Question regarding cold and frozen foods. How do you keep them cool and frozen during the warm months of the year. We have 100*+ weather starting in may and ending september ish. If I was to make the trip, it would take roughly 3 hours to make it back to where I live. Any suggestions tips tricks on keeping you cold food cold?
I am coming into the bike market again for a bike very similar to your needs in usability. I would like a heavy duty bike to haul an estimated 50-75 pounds of groceries from the local Food Bank to my mother's home for her use (about 2 miles). I am looking at a old fashioned Dutch made Batavus Oma Fiet or a folding 3 wheel adult tricycle from USA made Worksman Cycles. Either way, I look forward to the purchase as soon as I can afford it as it is very hard for me to push a hand cart to bring the bags home for my mother. Sadly, my other present bikes are not as suited for the job as these are (but they are a blessing in their own ways and I never regretted buying them).

Now for keeping your food cold (or frozen). I live in semi-arid Southern California, where 100+ temps sometimes occur. I always bring along my little Playmate Cooler from Igloo-(see: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Igloo-Playmate-Elite-Cooler-Red-and-White-16-Quart/14550415, https://www.target.com/Igloo-Playmate-Personal-Size-Cooler/dp/B000L9H4Q8 for examples). They are very strong (hard plastic), durable, easy to strap on any bike's rack-front or rear, and I always add pre-frozen blue ice to really keep everything cold for as long as several hours. These coolers come in different sizes. If you want something soft, buy the soft cloth coolers. But these are not as long lasting as the hard ones go as far as keeping food cold or lasting as long.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 03-06-11 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 03-06-11, 10:59 PM
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The issue as I see it is the distance you're traveling. It's a long, long bike ride when you're trying to haul groceries. If you're a fast cyclist, you're still looking at around two hours each way and if you hit a head wind, you'll slow down considerably.

So far, the comments here have been about the transportation issues. Nothing wrong with that, but I'd prefer to start by looking at food source issues.

You said your local prices are about double the price of the larger market. Is your larger market something like Costco? Otherwise, I can't see a grocery store being out that far. Grocery stores tend to be located in populated areas. If it's Costco or something similar, take a day and go through the store, writing down the prices of the foods you'd normally get. Then do the same thing at the stores closer to home. Notice the costs of meats, dairy and other foods which must be kept cold.

Texas, where you live, might be different, but here in Canada, marketing regulations are in place on some of the grocery items we buy, such as milk and eggs. Shopping around won't get a much better price on those items and impulse shopping won't cost much more. If I get milk at the convenience store or the grocery store, the price is pretty close.

Check the classifieds in your local newspaper (and Craigslist and other online sources) to see if you can find some of the foods you want through a local farmer. Your prices will be comparable with the larger store and the food quality will be much better.

Also, if there is a local foods program in place in your community, get connected with it. I'm getting my vegetables through such a program. For $20, I can get a good assortment of vegetables and fruits which would cost much more in the grocery stores.
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Old 03-07-11, 03:53 PM
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See if you can get ahold of a medical styrofoam cooler. They differ from the usual ones in that the walls are about 2-3" thick and they will keep things cold a very long time.
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Old 03-07-11, 05:45 PM
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I can imagine a large picnic cooler shouldn't be too hard to rig to a Burley or InStep kid trailer frame and it should hold quite a lot of groceries.
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Old 03-07-11, 05:57 PM
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I have an extrabike that will easily carry 100 pounds of supplies as it can be fitted with 6 panniers and carry extra goods on the deck, and also have a trailer that can carry a 100 litre tote and a small cooler or several camping coolers for transporting groceries that need to be kept cool or frozen in the summer.

I usually eat fresh foods and my markets are not too far away but I do stock up on rice, oats, and many kinds of dry beans and these bigger bags might hit 100 pounds easily.



The extra bike is nice as it is no fun pulling a loaded trailer in the snow and it has some decent snow tyres which keep it well planted.

My trailer with it's summer tow vehicle... the Twenty has very low (touring) gearing and extremely robust wheels so it handles loads well.

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Old 03-07-11, 06:01 PM
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I agree that pulling a trailer in the snow is no fun. I tried and it was very hard to impossible. Even using a mountain bike armed with 2.1 studded tires: the trailer itself would just stall in the snow and I'd have to pull so hard I was afraid I'd break the hitch or even the frame. Perhaps a trailer with larger, fatter tires would work better.
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Old 03-07-11, 06:22 PM
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The other issue with trailers in winter is their lack of brakes... you can stop the bike but a weighted down trailer will keep pushing you forward or can jack knife and pull your rear wheel out from under you.
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Old 03-07-11, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
I agree that pulling a trailer in the snow is no fun. I tried and it was very hard to impossible. Even using a mountain bike armed with 2.1 studded tires: the trailer itself would just stall in the snow and I'd have to pull so hard I was afraid I'd break the hitch or even the frame. Perhaps a trailer with larger, fatter tires would work better.
I wonder if a single wheel trailer would track better in the snow? At least you would have a fighting chance that the trailer would track in the bike wheel tracks.

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Old 03-07-11, 07:25 PM
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snow is not an issue for me. I am cosidering a BOB yak trailer. I kniw the max load is 70 pounds, but it along with panniers I believe I can carry everything I need to get in one trip. I am looking at making the first long haul in a month.
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Old 03-07-11, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
The main issue with visiting the supermarket is the 35 miles each way of biking along busy highways. I do not have a trailer, and I have thought about getting a kid hauler for the trip. The roads are mainly 2 lanes with no shoulders and the speed limits are 55-70 mph. I could make the trip twice a month, but would rather just do it once a month.
We seemed to have missed the point that the OP wants to do a 70 miles roundtrip along a busy highway pulling his food. My thought is that he find a closer store, move closer to the store or get an automobile. I don't think schlepping food over that distance on a bike is worth it.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:37 PM
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1) If you're 35 miles away from a store, maybe there are some roadside farm stands closer where you can get real local food?
2) Maybe you could use my old travel trick & send some non-perishables home via USPS if you need to lighten your load.
3) Realisticly, I think you're insane. Have you considered just making one food trip per month via car?
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Old 03-08-11, 01:01 AM
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Those highways paint an unsettling picture. I've sat by the side of the highways in the Mojave desert and seen tortoises destroyed by cars that didn't want to dodge them. If you do go... Let someone know to when expect you, even if its the grocery store manager. Plan your trips for low traffic times, an early morning start would give you a cooler time of day and hopefully more alert drivers on the road. Ice your cooler on the trip to the store, or keep extra frozen water bottles in it for ballast. When I camp in the desert, I always keep my coolers covered with a tarp with some breezeway beneath to keep it out of direct sunlight and not stifled. Consider buying dry ice for your trip back. Pack a first aid kit, full repair kit plus cables, money for a taxi and charge your cell phone in case of calamity.

To me, this sounds more like a situation better solved by intrepid (or unreasonable) interpersonal skills rather than pedaling. Some fraction of your shopping might be worth being delivered. Are you within radius of a delivery service, or someone who also makes similar trips? Are the grocery stores willing to pack an order for pickup beforehand so that someone making a trip for you doesn't have to do the shopping? The grocery stores might also make regular deliveries to local businesses (or churches, or senior centers) that might be nearer to where you live. Also, some farms or CSAs often create neighborhood drop-off points. I think you might need to reach out to your immediate community to see if anyone nearby can help you. There might be a potlatch or church mailing list that covers your community. There might be local businesses or contractors that drive that route that you ask a favor or barter for delivery with, also.
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Old 03-08-11, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
We seemed to have missed the point that the OP wants to do a 70 miles roundtrip along a busy highway pulling his food. My thought is that he find a closer store, move closer to the store or get an automobile. I don't think schlepping food over that distance on a bike is worth it.
I don't think we can fault him for trying. A BoB Yak trailer is likely a good investment for car-free living regardless if the long-haul grocery shopping works out or not. My suggestion if that is the closest store that has what he needs is to assume that neighbours are also going to be shopping there. If you can get a few people together to make a monthly shopping trip then you reduce your personal car usages and save on gas. Or find a delivery service
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Old 03-08-11, 12:18 PM
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This is my food and large items hauler, bought a used instep kiddie hauler, for $25.00 and stripped it down to the box frame, bought steel slats and made braces, drilled out holes and bolted down the slats to the frame and the Plastic Tote to the slats. I've hauled a LOT of stuff in this over the years. LOL, even picked up my 2-grandaughter's 20in. mtb's to take to the LBS to have them overhauled!
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Old 03-08-11, 04:53 PM
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trailer

Personally, I like a trailer versus hauling a lot of weight on the bike. I have a Burley Nomad that I haul lots of stuff with. To me, the advantages of this trailer are that it has a relatively small footprint but can haul a fair amount of gear. It is light, so I leave it attached all the time whether I'm hauling or not, and you don't even notice it's there (unladen). It is low and relatively aerodynamic as trailers go. You'd be surprised how much a windy day affects a trailer, so one that isn't a barn door is helpful. It (Nomad) might be too small for you and what you need to do.

I can't imagine hauling the same amount of weight I put in the Nomad up on my bike. The handling would be seriously compromised. If I have to swerve rapidly in traffic to avoid an accident, etc, I have a lot more manueverability than if I had 50 or 75 pounds on the bike itself. Weight is carried a lot lower in my Nomad than any place I could carry things on the bike itself.

A trailer also gives you versatility. If I don't want to haul anything, I can unhitch and have a nimble bike as opposed to a dedicated cargo bike where you live with the bulk even when you aren't hauling cargo.

Just me, and other may opine differently, but in your situation I'd recommend a trailer over a bike that hauled the cargo itself.

Trailers have downsides, too, but I think the advantages outweigh them. If I hauled in snow a lot, then I would be less of a trailer fan, for obvious reasons. I don't ride much to the store in snow.

Personally, I think a realistic idea would be one major trip a month via car to get bulk stock. Smaller, less laden trips by bike to fill in the gap in between such as perishables. I don't think it would be real feasible to make a 70 mile trip routinely to get large amounts of groceries. But one big trip via car a month, then one trip every week or so to get odds and ends would be totally doable, and you could haul a lot smaller more efficient trailer for lighter trips...or have panniers, etc, something like xtracycle bags.

Last edited by syncro87; 03-08-11 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 03-08-11, 05:55 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
I am looking for suggestions on how to pick up groceries from the supermarket. I would prefer to visit the larger store because of my diet and the local market is very expensive. Most items are about twice the price over larger market. I am looking at getting roughly 100 pounds of items each trip, about once a month. I normally use my racks and panniers when using the local store. The main issue with visiting the supermarket is the 35 miles each way of biking along busy highways. I do not have a trailer, and I have thought about getting a kid hauler for the trip. The roads are mainly 2 lanes with no shoulders and the speed limits are 55-70 mph. I could make the trip twice a month, but would rather just do it once a month.

Question regarding cold and frozen foods. How do you keep them cool and frozen during the warm months of the year. We have 100*+ weather starting in may and ending september ish. If I was to make the trip, it would take roughly 3 hours to make it back to where I live. Any suggestions tips tricks on keeping you cold food cold?
Originally Posted by techman View Post
I've been car-free for almost two years. I occasionally rent or borrow a car and stock up on heavy and bulky items. I am meticulous in planning what I need for months at a time to avoid issues with hauling on my bicycle. And this works great for me. I also haul my weekly groceries in a jumbo backpack and at places like Whole Foods, I will go to the seafood department and ask for a couple of plastic bags filled with ice to pack with my frozen food. wrapped raw meat goes right into the bag of ice before I seal it.
Yes, for quarterly "supply runs" ,as we call them, borrowing or renting makes real good sense. Even if you have to pay a friend/neighbor for a ride it will be worth it long term. Just have all of your ducks in a row and ready to shop when you go because you really are "'On a Mission".
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Old 03-08-11, 09:10 PM
  #25  
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I appriciate all the suggestions. The information I was trying to get was how people are car free get their groceries. I am looking to make the trip just once a month to the supermarket so I can load up on meat substitute items. I normally try to keep atleast a months worth of extra groceries at all times. The local supermarket that is a half mile from my house does not have the items that I need or want. That's the reason for wanting to take a 70 mile round trip on a bicycle to get groceries. I have a vehicle and I can drive it to the store anytime I want to, but I don't. I want to use my bike. I drive commercially for a living. I see a steering wheel every day, so I don't want to see one when I am off work. People who know me, know I won't drive unless I have to. I do not like to drive.
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