Biking: Getting a bike lock, and grocery shopping

Posted by & filed under Sustainable Living.

I got a flat last week. Rear-tire. I think it was actually a relapse of a previous pinch-flat — the patch may have just not been enough. 

So I swung by Ike’s Bikes (who are AWESOME), and they replaced my tube, repaired the kickstand (it was loose), and equalize the pressure on my tires to 85 psi (comfort? who needs it!).

While I was there, I had remembered that I had been meaning to pick up a bike lock. I frequently have to run errands around town to pick something up here or there, and everytime I go out I always wish that I had a lock so I could take my bike. Not that Richmond is terribly crime-ridden — but I’m just looking to protect my $450 investment from a grab-n-dash hoodlum.

They had a few different varieties, from the low-end, able to be clipped with good wire-cutters variety, to the “Kryptonite” brand, which costs $100+ and probably really WOULD stop Superman from breaking it. (Hope you don’t ever lose the key!)

I settled on the middle-ground: an actual chain lock (covered for aesthetic / rust-protection) where the links are about 0.5″-0.75″ thick each — it’s pretty heavy-duty, you’d probably need a blowtorch to break through it. It was about $32, uses a key, and is 4 feet long. Sweet.

Getting Coffee

This evening, we did some grocery shopping and returned home only to realize that we had forgotten coffee (for Mel, not me). I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the bike lock and actually do a proper bike-errand.

The route that I picked was based on traffic patterns — it would probably be a smoother ride to go more directly, but also more dangerous. Taking South “L” street all the way up to South 37th provided a much lower-traffic path, and not that much farther. (3.2 mi total, according to Google maps)

I realize that it slightly impairs my safety, but I like listening to music while I bike. It provides an easy way to measure time passing (easier than checking a clock while riding, I suppose). My cell phone can play mp3s, and has earphones, so I set it to shuffle and off I go!

The trip to Kroger was mostly uneventful, although very hilly. It was mostly uphill — long, moderately graded hills. I was in the lowest gear most of the way. The sun was beginning to set, and there was a nice breeze. Wearing only jeans and a t-shirt, I could feel the subtle transitions between warm and cool pockets of air caused by the sun’s low angled rays passing through the nearby trees. It’s one of the nice little luxuries of bike-riding. The playlist on the way there was:


  1. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” (The Offspring)
  2. “No Control” (Bad Religion)
  3. “Drunken Lullabies” (Flogging Molly)
  4. “Disintegration” (The Cure)
(Total time: 17 mins, 2 secs)


At Kroger, I found a nice sturdy post , hoisted my bike up next to it, and ran the chain through the central bar and also through the front tire (I have a quick-release front tire); The chain was just long enough to make a tight bond to the post. Score! I brought in the pannier bag with me, got my coffee, and paid in the quick-checkout line right as Love Song by The Cure ended.

The ride back was a bit easier (as evident by the riding time, see below), with the exception of one moment when I was riding uphill on South 37th street. A car was approaching in the opposite lane and some asshole in a red pickup truck thought it was a good idea to PASS ME at the exact moment the other car was approaching. I quite literally felt the rush of air as the truck blew by. As he rode off into the distance, I could see him looking at his side-view mirror for at least 5 to 10 seconds straight — I seriously considered flipping him off, but just kept pedaling instead.

Most of the way back was downhill, and went quickly. When I returned, Melissa was surprised when I told her I went all the way to Kroger! The return-trip playlist was:

  1. “Zeromus” (The Black Mages)
  2. “All in My Head (Decoder & Substance mix)” (Kosheen)
  3. “The Rocking Grounds” (The Black Mages)

(Total time: 16 minutes, 13 seconds)

The interesting thing about all of this is that if I had driven, I probably would have only saved about 5 minutes each way, if that. Even taking a more direct route, between the stop-and-go traffic and low speed limit, the average speed is comparable to biking. Altogether, the biking took 33 minutes and 15 seconds.

Yay for biking!