On the way home from work today, I met Mr. Dottie for a bulk food run. We were fresh out of the huge jar of fancy olives! We usually don’t grocery shop by bike because we live a block from a nice store, but we will go out of our way for a great deal on peanut butter: that’s where Costco comes in.
Bulk Grocery Run
The magnitude of this trip did not come close to our last haul with the bakfiets. Since we don’t own a bakfiets, most of our trips involve a basket, panniers and a few select bulk products. Our acquisitions today included 24 bottles of Two Brothers local craft brew (on Greg’s back rack), 4 lbs of organic strawberries, 6 lbs of yogurt, 4 lbs of raw nuts, 3 lbs of chicken sausage and 2 lbs of hummus. Yummy!
The bikes handled the loads perfectly. A good test ride for the bike-camping trip we’re going on with Melissa and Chanh this weekend!
A bicycle trip to the farmer’s market is a perfect way to begin the weekend. Fresh air, exercise, a feeling of community and local food. Saturday morning, Greg and I met up with Arielle (of the newly-formed Bicycle Goddess Brigade) to ride our bikes to Chicago’s Green City Market.
What a happy scene – dozens of bicycles were locked up outside the market and many bicycling families went by with kids in bike seats, trailers and on their own bikes. In general, I think people who ride bikes are the type of people who shop at farmer’s markets. Also, a bike trip to the farmer’s market is a pleasurable weekend activity for people who bike only occasionally.
In the evening, we enjoyed rhubarb compote that Arielle made. We’d never eaten rhubarb before, which surprised her, since apparently it grows on the side of the road in her native Washington. Then we all biked to The Hideout, where Arielle played the fiddle and sang with the Bubbly Creek Bluegrass Band. So much awesomeness in one person!
Total daily mileage = 14.
How is the farmer’s market scene where you live? Do you have access to fresh local food and, if so, do you see a lot of fellow bicyclists there?
Some readers asked for more information about the shopping trip I made with the De Fietsfabriek Bakfiets. I’m happy to oblige.
As I mentioned before, last week I ran into my friend Elizabeth talking to the shop owner, Jon. When I commented on how cool the Bakfiets looked, he said I could borrow it, if I ever needed to. My ears perked and I soon took him up on the offer for a trip to Costco. Such is the life of a car-free bargain hunter.
For those who are not familiar with Costco, it’s a store where you can buy products in bulk for incredibly low prices, after paying a modest annual membership fee. Everything is really big there. I recently joined to reduce our household grocery budget, after I realized they carry many of the organic products we like.
These pictures don’t portray the full magnitude of the shopping trip. I filled the super-sized cart with stuff like 12-pound bags of rice, 5-pound bags of frozen broccoli, gallon jars of artichokes, and 24-count cases of bottled micro brew. Mr. Dottie kept saying that there was no way everything would fit in the bike. Once we wheeled everything outside and prepared to load the box, I, too, began to worry. A few minutes later, however, the cart was empty and the box still had room. I don’t think we could have fit it all in the trunk of mid-sized car! With the Bakfiets set in 2nd gear, the ride home was slow, but did not require much more effort.
(My cats have no opinion on the box bike, but were happy with the boxes it brought home to them.)
Discovering how much a bike could carry was an eye-opener!
We’ve discussed grocery shopping on a bike before, but this takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Anyone else make trips like this by bike? Or carried other kinds of large loads?
My favorite online vintage shop is Market Publique, where the sellers are vetted, the pictures are well-styled and the selection is a top-notch mix of designer duds and affordable finds. Imagine my delight when I saw that the intrepid entrepreneur behind the site, Pamela, uses a vintage trike to get around and haul cargo for the shop. She was gracious enough to talk with us for Part III of our Vintage Style Series. Read on to hear about the traumatic event that stopped her from cycling for so long, her return to pedal-powered transportation and the intersection between chic cycling and vintage style.
Pamela and her Vintage Trike
Hi Pamela. Thanks again for taking the time for this! We love to profile real women who use bikes for transportation, and you and your trike are perfect for our vintage series.
Tell us a bit about your history with cycling. When and why did you start, and how do you use cycling now in your life?
I didn’t really start cycling until this summer. I knew how to ride a bike when I was a kid, but I was pretty bad at it, and once crashed into a small bush outside this lady’s driveway because she was backing out and I had never learned to use my backpedal brake. As I was lying amidst the bush, under my bike, the lady backed up more, rolled down her window and said: “Can you please be more careful with my bushes?” then she rolled up the window and sped away… I was stunned, hurt, scarred for life and never rode my bike again.
My husband Jon has always been on my case about how awesome it would be if we could go ride our bikes together around Brooklyn. I was also walking many many blocks with tons of packages from the Market Publique office to the Post Office, and we had just signed up for a CSA, where I would have to pick up our vegetables every two weeks – it seemed like I really needed a bike then.
(Yikes.) So what is the story of your awesome vintage trike?
I hesitated getting a bike because of my childhood experiences, so I jokingly said that maybe I should get a Big Wheel or some kind of tricycle so I could carry a bunch of stuff and not worry about falling over.
I didn’t really know adult tricycles existed, but after some googling, we found a few. I got super excited and was trying to decide between a blue and a red model on Amazon, when a few days later, Jon surprised me with an early birthday present: my awesome vintage trike, found on Craigslist. My birthday is actually in September, but that way I could ride it around all summer and really enjoy it.
Unfortunately, knowing little about bikes, I bought the wrong lock and my trike got stolen before my birthday even came. We instantly searched Craigslist and eBay, to see if the thieves were up to no good, and lo-and-behold, we found a very similar one, which we bought instead.
Pamela's Second Vintage Trike
Do other cyclists and drivers on the road treat you differently because of your bike and clothes?
Ummm, yes. I think people think I’m weird (it’s true). Some cyclists get very excited, and ring their bell or yell “awesome bike” (I like those). Others give me dirty looks and complain I’m taking too much of the bike lane or going to slow (not so keen on them). About the clothes, I do live in Williamsburg, so I don’t stick out as much as I would in other places.
Is there a link between your passion for vintage clothing and your passion for cycling (aesthetic, environmental, economic, etc.)?
I think biking is a great way to get around without having a carbon footprint. It’s much better than driving a car to go 10 blocks away, and great exercise!
It is very much tied to my vintage lifestyle, as the main reason I got it was to be able to take the packages of clothing I’ve sold on Market Publique to the Post Office. We also love to eat local, so we joined a the Southside CSA. I ride my bike to pick up our veggies all the way from the Northside, and take my reusable bags in the basket with me.
Aesthetically, I love how my trike has recently become my signature accessory, it’s really fun! And the fact that we were able to get a vintage one is even better.
Vintage style seems to be having a moment right now. What do you attribute that to?
People are wanting to be more eco-friendly and sustainable without sacrificing style. Vintage achieves that, because you can get something fashionable and one-of-a-kind, that’s also eco-friendly. You’re not only reusing, but there’s less waste created when the fashion you buy is stylish but not necessarily trendy: you can wear your vintage season after season, since it won’t really go out of style, instead of buying things made in China that won’t last or will be out of fashion in a few months.
Plus, vintage tends to be a better value, as the quality is often higher than that of new items at an equal price point. If a dress has been around for more than 20 years, you know it will hold up for a few more years – unlike the new things that you wash once and get destroyed.
Pamela and her Topshop cruiser via Chictopia contest
The online vintage shop you co-founded, Market Publique, is a huge success. Tell us about the concept.
Well thank you! I think we’ve had the success we’ve had because we solved a problem.
I was selling vintage on eBay and then on Etsy for a few years before we started Market Publique, and was really frustrated with both options. eBay changed their policies, fees, and feedback system to a point where it no longer made sense for me to sell my vintage there. Plus, it’s overrun with fakes, vintage reproductions not listed correctly, and a lot of irrelevant items, which made it hard to find the true vintage or trust any of the sellers.
I tried Etsy, but items sat on the virtual shelves for way too long without moving, and the lack of auctions made pricing difficult. You could also have very little creative control over your shop and branding, which is essential in conveying your message and presenting your items in an attractive way. Plus I felt that vintage should not have to be a second-class citizen on a handmade site, but should have a marketplace designed and built for it.
Since my partners and I are designers and developers, we decided we should start a site that fills in the gap, and gives vintage buyers and sellers a focused environment where vintage is truly appreciated – thus, Market Publique was born about six months ago.
We’re truly grateful to everyone who has supported us in our short existence. Because of them, our budding new site is now competing with eBay (10 years old!) and Etsy (5 years old!). We are thrilled at this quick start, and excited to finally bring the vintage community together, giving them the place and attention they deserve.
What is the vintage outfit of your dreams to ride your bike with (or perhaps you already own it!)?
Hmmm… I have so many dream outfits! Some I do own, like many of my 50s dresses, which pair excellently with some flat sandals and a picnic basket on the trike. I would love to have a swimsuit by Rudi Geinreich with a cute little skirt that I could ride to Brighton Beach and go sunning in (with a big hat and SPF, of course!).
Do you have any guidelines you apply to yourself when dressing to go somewhere on your trike, or do you ride in any outfit without giving it a second thought?
I try to ride with any outfit, but that has gotten me into trouble before, so now I give it a little more thought: Rompers usually work the best. Too short skirts or skirts that tend to twirl and blow in the wind require bike shorts or cute little tap pants. Long skirts are a no-no. Shoes are better without a heel, but hey, it all depends how far you’re going! And no shoes that are too precious to get scratches, as that’s almost inevitable.
The Aforementioned "Trouble"
Is there any advice you would like to pass on to women considering city cycling?
I would say, stay on the bike lane and wear a helmet. I go to http://www.nycbikemaps.com/ and plan my route if I don’t know where I am going. I also bike with other people if I am going long distances, so we can help each other out if necessary – although they don’t like to wait for my grandma trike… hehehe. I try to only bike around Brooklyn, and not go into Manhattan so much, as it is mighty crazy over there.
Plus, get all your gear: a good helmet that fits properly, lights for night riding, a bell, and most importantly – a mighty good Kryptonite lock – they will steal ANYTHING in big cities.
I’ve never posted about grocery shopping on my bike before, because I live very close to a grocery store and simply walk. In these tough economic times ™ I decided to head up the road a bit and see what good stuff (i.e. beer and wine) I could find cheaper at Trader Joe’s.
As expected, all my purchases fit with no special panniers. For the weight she was carrying, Oma rode smoothly. There was a barely perceptible squirrely-ness to her front handling – a slight but constant shift side to side in the handlebars.
If I had to bike to get my groceries on a regular basis, I would either make more frequent trips, drag Mr. Dottie with me, or buy less beer and wine (maybe). I’d also buy some special grocery panniers. I imagine grocery shopping gets more logistically complicated with a kid or two, but then I would have an excuse to buy a bakfiets.
Anyone else grocery shop without a car? Silly question – I know lots of you do! What’s your method?
This is the first part of a four-part series on vintage style. In part two, Trisha will discuss her vintage style and share some of the best places to find vintage items online. Part three will provide tips for buying vintage bicycles and the pros and cons of ownership. Finally, part four will profile a founder of a vintage shop who gets around the city on her vintage trike.
Why are we devoting a series to vintage style on a bicycle blog? Vintage style and bicycling have a lot in common! They are both sustainable, budget conscious, individual and fun. It’s no wonder so many bicyclists—including Trisha and me—gravitate toward vintage and thrifted fashion.
Cycling is quite prominent in London, although the city obviously has a long way to go. The narrow streets, huge double-decker buses, and tiny speeding cars present special challenges for cyclists, but many Londoners are up for the challenge. Walking down the main streets downtown, I watched several cyclists go by each minute. A lot had sportier bikes and special gear, but the vast majority looked quite stylish. I saw a few Pashleys and some Dutch bikes, as well. I took as many pictures of interesting cyclists as I could manage whilst site-seeing. I don’t know how Riding Pretty, Chic Cyclist and others do it so well, because it’s been hard for me to hit a moving target.
My favorite find was this lovely lady on a Dutch bike. Love the flowing locks!
Thanks a lot, Prince! You forced me to shop at Target for the first time in a long time.
Coveted end-of-the-aisle placement
The 2 miles surrounding my home has everything I would ever need to buy: bikes, books, music, wine – you know, the basics. So when Greg suggested that we swing by Target today, I was highly resistant. Once I heard the reason, however, I had to oblige. Prince is his favorite singer (he has fond memories of pedaling around his family’s farm blasting Sign o’ the Times on his Walkman) and the new album is being sold exclusively at Target. sigh. I don’t hold a grudge against Prince; he’s doing what he has to do and getting by without a record label, which is great. Good for him. But still – Target? I guess I should be thrilled he did not choose Walmart.
One of my favorite things to do on the weekends these days is make the rounds of the neighborhood shops on my bike. It’s never a long ride — 4 miles roundtrip, max — but it’s relaxing, and going on Le Peug keeps me from buying too much. I especially like visiting the thrift and antique stores in the area since I’m always looking for a bargain.
Yesterday my mom left a comment that proves this runs in the family:
Along with the gorgeous mast that Trisha designed, we’ll soon have a new addition to Let’s Go Ride a Bike. My decision is made, finally! Long-time listeners may remember my first steps to finding a bike to replace my stolen Jamis. I oggled bikes the I could not afford, such as ANTs and MAPs. I encountered annoying bike shop guys. I toured Chicago’s bike shops. At one point I thought I had something on the horizon, but that did not work out. After (almost too) much thought, I’ve decided that I will purchase the Rivendell Betty Foy. This was one of my original loves that’s pretty much perfect and reasonably in my bike budget (which, by the way, comes completely from selling my car and renting out my garage parking spot).