Grocery cycling

The secret to grocery shopping by bike (or on foot) is: don’t use a cart.

A cart will tempt you to buy too much, or too many heavy things, and you may find you’ve purchased more than you can transport. Instead, use a hand-carry basket. If you can’t schlep it through the store, it may not fit on your bike, either.

I’m lucky to live about a mile and a half from two grocery stores – Safeway and Main Street Market. That’s a bit far to walk, but the distance makes for a quick bike trip. (If only the streets and railroad crossings to get there were more bike friendly – but that’s another story.)

In terms a bicycle parking, Safeway > Main Street Market.

The bike rack at Main Street Market was, last time I checked, located on an awkward island out in the parking lot.

At Safeway, not only do you get rock star parking right up by the door, but the bike rack is under cover, too.

IMG_5833

I love my pannier bags.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Goat commute

Today, I bike-commuted 6 miles from my house, north of town on Highway 71, to Victory Hill Farm to help my friend Sarah package 120 pounds of goat chèvre.

Being a goat dairy, in addition to a cheesery, and it being spring, there were baby goats at Victory Hill Farm.

I love walking up to the baby goats. They always greet you. Maybe you have food for them? They are always hopeful.

They sound a lot like this.

They were very curious about my bicycle.

bicycle and goatsAs Sarah and I were leaving the cheese room this evening, we had their full attention.

IMG_5830The 5-pound bags of chèvre we packaged today are destined for restaurants.

Want to try some Victory Hill Farm chèvre yourself?

You can buy it in consumer portions at Main Street Market in Scottsbluff, or you can visit a restaurant that serves it: The Crowbar & Grill in Laramie, WY; Sozo American Cuisine in Kearney; Chimney Park in Windsor, CO; and The Mixing Bowl in Gering.

Also – cyclist fueling tip: if you’re going on a long bike ride and need to pack some food, buy a half-pound of frozen cheese curd from Victory Hill Farm. The cheese will thaw during your ride, and you’ll have a protein-rich snack to replenish your energy.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Snow makes for an unpleasant yet fun ride

Since today is Monday of National Bike to Work Week, and also because I’m participating in the National Bike Challenge, I decided it would be a good idea to ride my bike instead of driving to Scotts Bluff National Monument for my regular hike up the bluff.

Yeah, we’d gotten somewhere around 7-10 inches of heavy, wet snow over the weekend. So what? It was already melting, and the roads were clear.

The bike paths and sidewalks, it turned out – not so much.

There were the dreaded “plow mountains” blocking access between sidewalk and crosswalk.

This particular specimen, at the northwest corner of Beltline and Broadway, was difficult enough to walk over, let alone try to try with a bike.

This particular specimen, at the northwest corner of Beltline and Broadway, was difficult enough to walk over, let alone try to traverse with a bike.

Sidewalks weren’t really an option for riding in many places.

The Broadway / 10th Street bridge was the worst - slushy and chunky and icy. I was a little afraid even walking over it. NOTE: this is a big problem for non-motorized transport in the area, as there are only two in-town river crossings, and the Broadway / 10th Street bridge is the only one with a sidewalk.

The Broadway / 10th Street bridge was the worst – slushy and chunky and icy. I was a little afraid even walking over it. NOTE: this is a big problem for non-motorized transport in the area, as there are only two in-town river crossings, and the Broadway / 10th Street bridge is the only one with a sidewalk. Both sides of the street were nasty. I checked.

I dismounted to walk across the bridge.

I had to dismount again when I hit a stretch of snow-covered pathway in Terrytown behind the Carpenter Center.

I really have never ridden in snow before, so I was not prepared for the way my bike bogged down as I hit a long patch of thicker thaw-freeze snow. I didn't have my bike in a low enough gear and I slowed too much and lost balance.

I really have never ridden in snow before, so I was not prepared for the way my bike bogged down as I hit a long patch of thicker thaw-freeze snow. I didn’t have my bike in a low enough gear and I slowed too much and lost balance.

The bike path west on Country Club Road was, unsurprisingly, blocked by snow. Some plows had worked the street, but the snow was not pushed off the road – it was pushed onto the bike path. (Nothing new there – I’ve had this same problem in past years.) West of Five Rocks Road on Country Club there is very little traffic, so riding out in the road was not a problem. However, I will point out that 50 percent of the (two) cars that passed me failed to give the minimum 3-foot passing distance. *facepalm*

So, that was all the unpleasant stuff.

Now we get to the fun part:  the snow-covered north-south leg of the Monument Valley Pathway adjacent to SBNM property.

I downshifted and tackled the snow-encrusted pathway head-on. Trouble is, the wind rushing around the contours of the land and the boundary fenceposts had sculpted the snow into irregular drifts.

When I hit a drift that was deep enough for my pedals to scuff its surface as I passed, my forward progress ceased.

Nice place to get stranded, eh?

Nice place to get stranded, eh?

I was starting to have fun learning to buck the drifts, so, rather than turning around, I walked the bike until there was a shallow enough patch of snow that I could get some traction and get going again.

I slid and skidded, delighting in the sound of the snow crushing under my tires.

It was a good thing I was going slow enough that I wouldn’t need to brake to stop: my brakes packed with snow and ceased to function.

snowy wheels

A rare dry point on the pathway.

I learned that by jerking up on my handlebars just as I encountered a deep section of snow, I could improve my chances of being able to ford the drift by staying more on top of the snow instead of plowing straight into it.

It was a real workout getting through that snow, and a challenge to stay on the wide path as I wobbled between drifts. I decided that if the narrow, winding, hilly path across SBNM property to the Visitors Center was not plowed, I would turn around and go home. I’d already worked up a sweat, and I didn’t want to go careering off the path and land on a yucca or prickly pear hidden under a snowbank.

Rats. Time to turn around.

Rats. Time to turn around.

I thought that on the way back, with the day warming and the snow starting to melt, I would have an easier time getting through the drifts. That turned out not to be the case.

With a little bit of thawed snow under my tires, more often than not, my wheels dug down and spun, causing me to tip off the bike. (I was really starting to get a hankering for a fat bike.)

I was glad when I could finally get back out into dry pavement again. I bounced the bike a couple of times to knock off the snow and cleaned out and tested my brakes before I headed downhill on Country Club Road.

One more picture from today’s ride, taken slightly out of focus with my cell phone camera just before the phone crashed:

Baby Canada geese in spring snow next to Terry's Lake.

Baby Canada geese and their parents in spring snow next to Terry’s Lake.

Here’s hoping the snow melts fast!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Bike to Work Week thoughts, Day 4

On Bike to Work Week Day 4 (Day 3 for me), I celebrate another thing I like about biking to work: what it does to my brain. Biking is mind-expanding.

I don’t know if it’s the outside time, the fresh air, the slightly longer commute time, the act of movement, or the increased oxygen getting to my brain (or maybe all of the above), but I tend to do some of my best thinking while I’m pedaling.

It’s like my internal censor goes quiet, freeing my thoughts to roam.

“The goldfinch in spring sounds like it’s asking questions. tee-YEE? tee-YEE? Kind of like me. Always asking questions.”

“That article I read this morning about the oncologist witnessing his wife die of cancer was pretty intense. And how she insisted on continuing to go to work while she was sick, to try to feel ‘normal.’ How would I respond to a serious illness?”

“Those folks over there, lined up for the food aid truck. I wonder how many people are ignorant of their existence. Of the fact that a lot of people just can’t seem to catch a break. I’m really lucky to be where I am in life. It could all be a lot different.”

“That cat that chased the nasty dog away from the poor kid in that video – that cat rocked. Understandable, but kind of a shame the original video was taken down to edit out the pictures of the kid’s injuries. I think the gross images drove home how awful the dog attack really was. I sure hope that dog over there doesn’t get out of its fence. Dogs don’t like cyclists.”

“That young couple over there, out walking their dogs on leashes. They are so cute, taking pictures of that blossoming tree with their cell phones. That’s the way the digital generation lives. Capturing and sharing the little moments in life. We really need to play that up at the museum. Get people to do our marketing work for us on social media.”

My co-workers are probably familiar with the phrase: “I was thinking on my ride in to work today / ride home from work yesterday and . . .”

It’s how the idea for the “gallery in a box” camp was hatched.

Oh yeah, bike to work – need to post a picture for the WNCB BTWW thing.

Me, headed home form work today. Photo courtesy of my mom, who's in town visiting. Thanks, mom!

Me, headed home from work today. Photo courtesy of my mom, who’s in town visiting. Thanks, mom!

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Hooray, Bike to Work Week, Day 3!

Today, on Day 3 of Bike to Work Week (day 2 for me), I celebrate one of the reasons I two-wheel commute.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about biking to work are the routes that lead me past fragments of the natural world.

Always, water is the backdrop.

Once, in Iowa, rolling at speed down towards the South Skunk River, a whitetail deer emerged from the wood just beside the path. (Panic!! In a collision, the deer would definitely win!) The deer bounced back into the trees, unfazed.

In Illinois, I found friends along Copper Slough: the muskrat, the heron, the red-winged blackbird.

Here in Wyobraska, Terry’s Lake is a favorite in the mornings.

On April 10, the lake was peppered with dozens of cormorants:

cormorants

Not the greatest early-morning-iPhone photo, but you get the jist.

The following day, a gliding raptor crossed my path as I headed south past the lake. As I turned west I saw the raptor again, wriggling fish in talons, being pursued by a half-dozen gulls. Diving for fish? Likely an osprey.

Maybe one day the Terry’s Lake moose will come back.

Here is a photo of this morning’s commute, next to the lake.

tlake pic

The odd grimace-smile is the result of trying to hold my phone to take a picture while the sun glared into my eyes.

I saw the raptor again this morning. I can confirm it was an osprey. Didn’t get a picture, though. Wasn’t fast enough.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Bike to Work Week – Day 2

So, yeah, it’s Day 2 of Bike to Work Week, but today was my first ride. Sorry – was not going to ride in the slush yesterday. You can call me a wimp, but only if you were out there cycling in western Nebraska yesterday.

My commute is 5.4 miles one way. On the way to work, it’s typically uphill (230 feet of climb all told) and into the wind. Wind measurements said it was only about 9 mph this morning, but it sure felt like more than that headed towards Mitchell Pass (on the Oregon Trail, baby! – history geek bikers: eat your heart out).

According to the time stamp on the photo I took as I was leaving the house:

takeoff

And the time stamp on the photo when I arrived at work (note the snow on the bluffs in the background!):

landing

It took me 35 minutes to get to work.

On the way home?

I did not clock the time, but it was not likely much better.

Sure, it was downhill, but I was bucking north-northwest winds of 16 mph gusting to 30.

I tried to beat a rain cloud home. Partly succeeded, but wound up with wobbly legs.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes!

PS – If you are in the Wyobraksa area, and you are reading this during Bike to Work Week, have you signed up for the WNBC BTWW?

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw