This morning I decided to take my bike for a ride. It finally stopped snowing here, and I have been enjoying taking my bike out more. I was excited to get the bike last summer, but I quickly discovered that I don’t really like biking to nowhere. We live very close to the Erie Canal Path, and I thought I would like to just go for joyrides and exercise. Turns out I don’t. But biking to run errands or to visit Alan at school? Super fun!
So far I haven’t gone more than a couple of miles each way. Last summer I did ride up the Canal Path to a Wegmans in the heat of summer. It was about four miles each way. I put on a backpack, rode in the heat, bought some food, loaded it into my backpack, and rode back through the heat. It was terrible. I hated it. So I’ve been keeping my rides pretty short.
I have a Haro hybrid comfort bike. I sit pretty upright on it when I ride, and it’s definitely not built for speed. As I’ve been getting more excited about riding my bike, I’ve been reading some bike blogs which make me even more excited about riding. These ladies ride their bikes to places (and sometimes just for exercise). They go shopping. They go to yoga class. They go on bike dates.
So I was inspired to bike to the Rochester Public Market this morning. According to google maps, it’s 5.3 miles via bike, which should take 35 minutes. (It’s 7.8 miles and 15 minutes via car—biking isn’t that much longer!)
I wanted to go early, since the Saturday crowds at the market can be crazy. My alarm went off at 5:45, and Alan and I left the house around 6:20. Alan biked with me as far as the University. My rear tire was a little flat, and our bike pump was at school. He helped me inflate the tire, and then he rode back home while I went north.
I went north on the east side of the the Genesee River Trail all the way to downtown. It was a nice ride. At one point I could see the city buildings, and they seemed so far away. I thought that I had gotten in over my head. But before I knew it, I was there!
I weaved through the city streets as the river path ended. I try to obey traffic lights and signs when I ride my bike. But a lot of the roads were one way. I’m not sure whether bikes are supposed to ride the wrong way on one way streets. But I’m not really comfortable doing it myself. Fortunately, there were practically no cars in the city before 7:00am.
I crossed Main Street at 7:07 (there was a bank clock), and pulled into the market. I locked up my bike, and began shopping! I didn’t feel too tired or like my legs wouldn’t take me home. I think that part of the reason it was easier than my four-miler to Wegmans was the weather. It’s a lot easier to bike in 45 degree weather than 80 degrees. Also, I didn’t concern myself with speed—I just chugged along.
After twenty minutes or so I had my groceries. I got black plums, black grapes, ramps (pizza tonight!), potatoes, red Thai peppers, a tuna filet, and a quart of organic yogurt. I didn’t want to buy too much and not be able to fit it into my baskets.
But everything fit fine. I probably could have bought twice the volume, and been just fine. I installed a set of Wald folding baskets on my bike this week, and I love them! The collapse down to just an inch when not in use, and hold like 50 pounds each when expanded. (You can see how they look in the picture of Alan inflating the tire with one collapsed and one expanded.) I much prefer to bike with cargo on the bike, than to have it on my back (another reason this trip was better than the Wegmans trip).
The trip home was also good. I decided to try to take Main Street to the river path. It was kind of crazy! There were definitely more cars, and buses (which were not as scary to drive with as I anticipated). The biggest difference was that I had a hard time finding the river path. I figured once I crossed the bridge, that it would be pretty obvious. But I ended up riding along Exchange Street for a while, and cutting through a parking lot to get to the path.
The path was nice, and I felt really good riding home. In fact, I could barely believe when I was back to the university. It felt like such a quick ride! The worst part of the whole ride was Brooks Avenue, the last east-west leg there. It’s a steady climb to the top, and my legs were feeling it.
But I made it! I got home at 8:10, 35 minutes after I left the market. I thought for sure I’d be much slower than the google prediction. I have a great sense of accomplishment—this was the longest ride I’ve taken yet! And I got groceries! And I went on a path I’ve never been before!
I’m also really excited about how easy it is to ride into the city. Before I leave for the summer, I want to go with Alan on some bike dates into the city: to Dinosaur BBQ for dinner, to Geva Theatre for improv, to the Little Theater, to the Golden Port Dim Sum restaurant. It’s really amazing how easily you can get around on bike. We live right on the edge of the city, but I still think that we can take advantage of city amenities on bike!