First big grocery haul by longtail

Today, I set out to test the Roadrunner’s cargo capacity, seeing if she was up to a grocery run.  We have a grocery store just over a mile away that I use for small, weekly needs, but I keep a running list of bulk items, as well as other groceries that are a particularly good buy at either Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

The two stores are near each other, and, if possible, I make the trip (which happens about every 1.5 months), when I’m already planning to be in that neck of the woods with the car.  I usually return with six (or more) very loaded grocery bags, something my regular bike was not up to, at least not without the trailer (and the trailer wouldn’t fit on MetroLink (our light rail system)).

With the reduced cargo capacity of our side-loader bags, due to the Yepp childseat, I wasn’t sure how Roadrunner would do on this trip, but it was time for a test.

The trip started with a nice 2.5 mile ride to the MetroLink station.  I wheeled Roadrunner up the ramp and onto the train . . .

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. . . and it was a perfect fit!  With the center kickstand deployed, the front wheel was hanging out over the stairwell, and she was pretty darn stable.

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I almost thought I could sit down and leave her there, but the movement of the train meant that she need a little bracing every now and then.  Ten minutes and four stops later, we de-trained at the Richmond Heights stop and cruised down Brentwood Blvd. to WF.

My biggest hurdle this trip was time, as I had under 2.5 hours for both transit and shopping.  Well, that, and not letting my eyes get bigger than my cargo space.  The need for speed forced me to stick to my shopping list, which minimized the size of my load.

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All appearances to the contrary, that trash can is not part of my cargo.

The WF haul consisted of bulk bin items and a couple of dairy products (those are in the insulated bag strapped into the child seat).  The bill (under $100!) confirmed that it was a rather light shopping trip, but I bought everything on my list.

Next stop, Trader Joe’s.  Next dilemma — leave my WF groceries on the bike, or carry everything in with me to TJ?  I compromised by bringing the insulated bag in with me, but leaving the two bags of dry goods in the side-loader bags with the bike.  Happily, they were there waiting for me when I returned with two more bags from TJ’s.

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I thought I would have more strapped onto the rack behind the Yepp seat, but my duffle bag was mostly empty.

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Verdict: Roadrunner hauled everything on my list, and had room for more, but perhaps not ALL that much more, with our current set-up.  A milk crate on the back would be convenient for grocery trips, but I would want a way to take it on and off easily, because the rack is convenient for some items.  The Yepp seat could be removed, but I really don’t want to take it on and off all of the time, and I can make use of the space in the seat.

The ride home, fully loaded, was not really all that different from an empty bike, and once again, everything went smoothly on MetroLink.  To be fair, my groceries probably weighed in under 50 pounds (or not much over), making the total cargo not that much more than carrying Sir on the bike, but there’s nothing wrong with starting small.  I also managed to make the trip in just under my 2.5 hour time limit, so success on all fronts!

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7 Responses to First big grocery haul by longtail

  1. Karen Karabell says:

    Melissa, your post is thrilling news. The main thing that’s kept me from getting a cargo bike is that I thought I could not use it on Metrolink. Thank you, and congratulations 🙂

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Karen, you’re welcome to take her for a test ride. MetroLink couldn’t have been easier, though it does require using the ramps. Even unloaded, I wouldn’t want to carry her up or down stairs. Not sure if she’d fit on the elevators. I have seen some of your impressive hauls on your standard-length bike!

  2. That’s fantastic! I am glad The Rr performed well and fit on the train. That’s a lot of bicycle. I love it! The blue shows nicely in the photos, too. One thought I have about a rear basket/carton, if it appeals, would be based on my luck “re-securing” my front basket after it dropped a bolt on the way to our Carondelet Tour last weekend: bungee cords. I bet with a few right-sized bungees, you could comfortable secure a plastic or faux-rattan crate to the back of your bike, and it would be easier to remove or replace when you need the flat surface for something else. Just a thought. :)s

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      I’ll have to look at options for adding a crate. For the milk crate on my other bikes, I really prefer the security of zip ties. With any significant loads, the bungees seem to have too much give and be at risk of shifting/slipping. But zip ties are best for fairly permanent set-ups, since I don’t want to throw-away and replace them all the time.

  3. EcoCatLady says:

    Impressive! I have to say that I’m shocked that anyone could possibly get out of Whole Foods spending less than $100. 🙂

    I’m also intrigued by the idea of taking a bike onto a bus or train… this would never occur to me, mostly because I’m far to cheap to consider paying the $2.25 bus fare – each way. That would be $4.50 for one round trip! It would cost much less in gas money to drive. Do you find that you come out ahead financially as well as environmentally using the Metrolink?

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Yes, it didn’t really hit me until I was on the bike riding away that I’d escaped w/o spending one hundred billion dollars at WF 😉 I realized when I got home that I did forget to buy millet, and, if I’d had more time, I might have bought some cheese, at one or both stores, which adds up fast!

      As far as transit vs. driving, part of it is figuring in not just the gas, but the TOTAL cost of operating the car, including wear and tear, i.e., what you would get if you were being reimbursed mileage (federal rate is currently $0.56/mile). Our fare is $2/single trip, but for $3, I can get a transfer ticket that is good for unlimited bus and train travel for two hours.

      If I drove, my round-trip for this would have been about 19 miles, for a cost of about $10 at the $0.56/mile rate (to be fair, that rate is probably generous for operating a small, older car with good gas mileage, but even at a slightly lower total per mile cost, transit would likely be cheaper than driving).

  4. draedie says:

    That’s an impressive load!

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