I have stopped trying to turn my wife into a cyclist — a bike commuter; more than just the occasional recreational ride. But I haven’t given up on getting her to drive less.
All her driving still drives me bonkers. She drives to work, she chauffeurs the kids around, she does the shopping. Not necessarily because she wants to do all that stuff, but because that stuff needs to get done.
Meanwhile, her virtuous husband bikes to work and back nearly every day — knowing that the virtues of my bike commuting are somewhat negated by the vices of an unequal partnership. And even if that didn’t bug me, I know that she is burning fuel on my behalf even if I’m not the one behind the wheel.
I write on this here blog every week, preaching to the choir about bike commuting. Meanwhile I have utterly failed to make the case to my own bride.
So I’ve begun to acquire some accessories I like to call marital aids. My hope is to reduce the burdens on my wife down to the basic burdens of being married to me.
Here they are:
The bike is my wife’s crappy Costco Motiv. I love this bike.
Why? It fits us both very well. If we ever get to the point where we both want to use it on the same day, I’ll consider that a good problem to have. Easily resolved: New bike.
Why? Well, I considered a cargo bike kit, cargo trailers, and other solutions. I finally admitted that a little electric push up hills gets me over the hurdle of my own laziness when contemplating carrying cargo. My laziness is rarely an issue when it’s just me on the bike with no extra weight.
But our home seems to be uphill from everywhere else in town. In those moments when something needs to be schlepped, my mind immediately anticipates the strain of two particular hills — I hear a whispering in my skull that says, Screw it! Use the car. Or worse: Screw it! Have her schlep it.
Furthermore, I’m hoping my wife will learn to like the Ridekick. Then we will be able to ride places together without her ever feeling the need to dismount and push her bike up hills.
(Why? Why, for God’s sake, do people push bikes up hills when they could use a granny gear? A pet peeve of mine that will eventually become an entire article.)
The Rear Rack
It’s a Planet Bike Eco Rack.
Why? I bought this a long time ago. It was cheap, basic and at my local bike shop.
Those are Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers, more suited to round-the-world expeditions.
Why? They were free. My employer gave us all a set of these panniers with the company logo last Christmas. Also, they make better grocery panniers than the cheap ones I used to have (before I worked in the biz).
If I were to buy some new grocery panniers like regular people have to do, I’m really liking these Ortlieb Pelican Shopping Panniers. Although I haven’t really tested them, I’m given them the provisional Ortlieb presumption of quality.
They have about the same capacity as the Back Roller Classics (18 liters as opposed to 20), but they can stand on their own four feet when empty. The closure is a little more sensible for mere shopping — rather than looking like you’re going on an underwater bike tour with SpongeBob Squarepants.
Also: The colors are pretty.
The Rack-Top Bag
Why? It’s my man bag; my glove compartment. It mounts with Velcroâ„¢, so it works with any rack.
It has two loops so I can mount two different blinky bike tail lights, and I will always have the lights on any bike I’m using as long as I have this bag.
Maybe it would look like I’m always carrying around a six-pack cooler. I could live with that.
Why? When you are loading groceries (or anything) into panniers on both sides of the bike, it helps if the bike is standing straight, not leaning to one side.
I had no idea how much I would like this kickstand. I mean, how much can you really like a kickstand?
I found that this is helpful at bike racks too. You know how on some bike racks, the bikes are all leaning left and right and on each other like they have no respect for personal space? Not with this kickstand. The bike stands at attention at bike racks, making the other bikes look like sloppy drunks.
I’m also fascinated by the design; how the legs of the kickstand scissor together and pop into place where they belong.
The only getting-used-to factor is that you don’t just lean the bike away from the kickstand and then kick it down or up. Instead you have to lift the front or rear of the bike off the ground about an inch, and then kick it into position.
To Be Continued…
I’m not done accessorizing this bike yet, but I’m off to a good start.
In fact, I think the next challenge is getting my wife to expect — as in anticipate — that I will do the errands I am now equipped to do. Right now, she’s still pretty well adapted to my shirking, biking habits.
But there are signs she sees the potential. There was the time she asked me to go to the liquor store, and the time she asked me to pick up some Rice Crispies. Small loads, on the way home. But it’s a start.
When she sends me all the way across town to get 50 pounds of whatever, without apologizing for asking, I’ll know the marital aids have paid off.
That, or when she asks me to show up at the door dressed as a bike messenger. I’ve got to be realistic. That’s not going to happen.