Marital Aids (Part 2)

Previously, I wrote about my attempts to do more by bike so that my wife wouldn’t always pick up my slack using our car.

She’s no lard-ass chronic cager. (She would like you to know that.) It’s just that “Save the world with bikes” is just one of the things on our to-do list every week — and she does the other 19 things by car, while I do the bike commuting.

I’m making progress.

Marital Aids


Planet Bike Full FendersCommenter Kevin Love suggested that I put some fenders on our bike, so I did.

I got these Planet Bike Full Fenders which were fairly easy to install. They’re not pretty, but neither is the bike.

Something about these fenders make the bike look even frumpier than before. Like the difference between a Volvo sedan and a Volvo station wagon.

This bike is a cheap Motiv mountain bike. The original owner, named Robin, bought it at a Costco in Juneau, Alaska. My wife bought it from her for dirt cheap. I got to meet Robin recently.

She still lives in Alaska. Cordova, to be precise. And she bike commutes during the winter across a frozen lake using studded tires. It’s summer commuting that she dreads, when the lake becomes unnavigable by bike, and the dirt roads become rivers of mud. Wow.

Hey, Bike. A twist of fate meant that you aren’t going on adventures in the Great White North. Instead, here are your frumpy fenders.

But it’s for a greater purpose, right?

Front Rack

Velo Orange Porteur Front RackAt the same time that I installed the fenders, I installed a Velo Orange Porteur Rack, “as used on the famous Parisian newspaper delivery bikes.”

Somehow, this rack ties it all together.

No. Not really. Kind of gives the bike a tweedy wanna-be look.

I don’t care.

It’s an awfully nice rack, and I wanted to be able to carry items that didn’t fit in the Ridekick trailer or the Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers — tall or wide or awkwardly shaped things.

Ortlieb Front Roller Classics
Photo: Velo Orange

This rack can also accommodate front panniers, which I don’t have.

I like knowing that the bike’s grocery capacity still has some room to grow. A couple front panniers would add another two bags of groceries at least — such as these Ortlieb Front Roller Classics shown here with a bike more suited to the aesthetics of the porteur rack.

I almost — almost — think my wife is messing with me.

It’s like she knows that with the Ridekick trailer giving me a push up the big hill to our house, weight is not the issue. Maybe she thinks she can stump me with volume.

The first time I went shopping with my setup, before the porteur rack, I was a little conservative on bulk. But I managed to get everything from the shopping cart (Figure 1) easily into the trailer and panniers. But instead of buying paper towels in the economy size, like we usually do, I bought two rolls.

Pre-Porteur: Everything fit fine
Figure 1: Pre-Porteur: Everything fit fine
Post Porteur: Will it fit?
Figure 2: Post Porteur: Will it fit?

The other day she gave me a grocery list that included paper towels (as if to say, We’re out already) and toilet paper (as if to say, What? Are you going to just get one roll of that too?).

So I bought everything on the list, and doubled down.

I bought economy size, if it was available.

I bought two items, even if she asked for one.

And instead of a six pack of beer, I bought a damn twelve pack!

Uh huh.

Looking at my full cart (Figure 2), I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work. I imagined the shame of having to come back into the store and return some of the haul.

I snapped a photo, once again, in front of the display with the sexy hula-dancing, ukulele-playing, statue. (Some uke-playing stickler has broken off two of her fingers in order to make her form an accurate A-major chord.)

Earlier in the day I bought a bungee cargo net from a local bike shop, knowing I’d want to test the porteur rack. It turned out to be a wise move. I wouldn’t have been able to carry everything without it.

But I did.

It was like Tetris, but everything fit. As a matter of weight distribution, it didn’t make much sense to put the 12-pack on the front rack — but it was either that or ride home with an economy pack of toilet paper out front for the world to see.

The photo at the top of this post shows the bike fully loaded with everything seen in the shopping cart in Figure 2.

I rode home with my head held high, and pulled into the driveway. All of that weight on my front rack made the bike unstable. I improvised a wheel stabilizer so that I could enter the house and open the garage without the bike falling over. (I have subsequently ordered myself a Velo Orange wheel stabilizer — Viagra for handlebars.)

Improvised Wheel Stabilizer

And when I got inside, unloaded the bike, and began to put groceries away, I saw that we already had a big, unopened package of paper towels.

I knew it.

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