Andrew Thorp

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Bicycling


My main bicycle, loaded up with groceries.


I like to ride my bicycle, I like to ride my bike.

I have been trying to use my bicycle as my primary method of transportation for almost a year now. There have been pros and cons, and ups and downs. Currently our house is at the top of a very steep hill and while it's only about a mile outside of town, that mile is along a state highway with no bike lane with a pretty steep grade. I'm not an athletic person generally, I even make a point of riding in boots with jeans or sandals and linen to emphasize that I'm definitely not doing it for exercise. With the current house location, that means I take the bus back home. This is fine, though it does limit what I can use the bike for; strapping lots of stuff to the bike rack works fine around town but makes using the bus bike rack a challenge.

Setup

I own two bikes: a Diamondback Kalamar (pictured above) and a Litespeed racing something-rather. Both were gifts from my father-in-law and dad, respectively. The litespeed is significantly nicer, but I usually end up taking the Diamondback out; I was only able to attach fenders and a rack to the Diamondback, after all. It feels somewhat comical when I do take out the litespeed, as I don't own lycra and am more likely wearing a bucket-hat instead of a helmet [1]. In fact I've been scolded for locking it to a bike rack once, as the titanium frame and carbon-fiber fork are easy to damage. It's a beautiful bike, and a joy to ride, but it's not exactly suited to my use-case.

Attached to my rack I carry a pannier. The above photo has my first-generation hand-made canvas panniers (the second generation fixed the massive rip and reinforced some of the stress points), but I usually carry a Thule Shield-17 now. It's better secured to the bike while riding and I like that I can quickly take it off if I'm going inside somewhere, which makes it more practical to carry valuables in, such as a laptop.

Between the panniers, the bike rack, and a pair of bungee-cords, I haven't had any trouble carrying what I need on a bike. I'll likely get a cargo rack to carry our dog and bulk groceries once we're living somewhere more convenient to bike home.

Advocacy

Cycling is the future of individual transportation, especially with the advent of e-bikes. If you're not involved with some form of multi-modal transportation advocavy group, I highly recommend finding one in your area. Harmony Lanes [2], in Boone, NC is great and has done a lot of successful lobbying for more accessibly transit infrastructure in Boone. They even run a bike bus along the Boone greenway to Hardin Park Elementary School on Fridays during the school year! Oaks & Spokes [3] is a Raleigh cycling advocacy group. I haven't interacted with them personally yet, but I've heard good things about them and I plan to join when I move to the City of Oaks.


[1] - Helmets are safer, but you're more likely to get a head injury in a car than on a bike. So as long as I'm not spending a large amount of time in a road I'll pass.

{[2] Harmony Lanes, a Watauga County Multi-modal transportation advocacy group.}
{Oaks & Spokes, a Raleigh-based Cycling advocacy group}