When your cart is bigger than your bike

Every six-to-eight weeks, I make a big stock up run to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which are conveniently located near each other.  They are also located relatively near a light rail stop, making them ideal for a bike + transit trip.

That said, I usually make the trip by car, trying to combine it with a time that I’ll be out and about in the car in the vicinity of said stores anyway.  Making this trip by bike poses two challenges that aren’t an issue with the car:

  1. Can I fit everything on my bike?
  2. What do I do with the groceries from the first store while I’m in the second store?

The answer to #1 is . . . maybe — more on that in a sec.  The answer to #2 is, “It depends.”  I usually hit WF first and TJ’s second because I buy frozen veg at TJ’s that I want to get back in a freezer ASAP.  For today’s trip, I went to WF first, as usual.  I fit most of my WF grocery bags into Big Blue’s side loaders, where I could conceal them fairly well with the flaps.  Sure, someone could walk off with my groceries, which would totally suck, but to make this bike thing somewhat reasonable, I counted on the decency of my fellow shoppers.  I brought the one bag I couldn’t fit into the side loaders into TJ’s with me.

Back to question #1 — I’ve made this double-store trip at least once before, and the bike was full, but it wasn’t an issue.  I don’t know what was different today, but for some reason I barely made it.

As in, barely fit all of the bags, and then, once I had everything loaded, I dropped the thing right in front of Trader Joe’s as I wheeled it from the sidewalk into the parking lot.  Yep, that was me, attempting to heave Big Blue back upright.  Fortunately, I had packed everything well enough that no bags fell off of / out of the bike, and no items fell out of bags, and a nice lady stopped to help me right the bicycle.

I knew riding it would be easier than walking it, but my confidence was a little low at that point.  I wobbled my way to the MetroLink stop, where I examined my scraped knee and took some pictures to regroup.

I wrangled the bike onto and off of the train without incident, thankful that I wasn’t actually riding the bike all that far, and wobbled home to survey my haul.

Nine bags in all (these six + three insulated bags)

Curious, and expecting a big number, I weighed all of the bags.  From the way the bike was handling, I was expecting close to 200 pounds!  The grand total?  A measly 105 pounds — whomp, whomp, wah.  On the up side, everything was fully intact despite the tip, including a number of glass jars / bottles (the nice thing about Big Blue is that she doesn’t really tip far to either side because of the metal running board rails).

I’m not sure if this load was really that much heavier than previous big loads, or if I just loaded it poorly.  I know it’s better to carry weight lower and evenly distributed on both sides.  I fit two bags in each of the side loaders, which left five bags on the cargo rack.

I’m not sure what I could have done differently.  For now, I’m thinking that if I want to do WF and TJ’s by bike, I need to divide it into two trips, unless one of the stores is truly just a few items.


  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Holy Moly! How did you get it on the train? I’m so glad neither you, nor the groceries nor big blue got hurt when it fell over

    I’ve stopped riding to the Whole Foods because even though I have a much smaller setup than you do – just a set of rear baskets – there is a HUGE hill that I have to climb to get home from Whole Foods. Seriously, it’s so steep that there are sand barrels on the side of the road so cars can get up in in the winter time! It’s difficult to get up on my 17 pound road bike, let alone on the 35 pound errand bike loaded down with groceries!

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of lock do you use when you run errands? Bike theft is rampant here, so it would make me really nervous to leave such an expensive bike unattended – just wondering what your system is.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      I got it on the train *very* carefully 😀 If I hadn’t combined it with transit, I would have faced quite a few hills — none as steep as what you describe, but it would have been a slog! A friend of mine just bought an e-bike, and while my initial reaction is, “that’s cheating!” I see the appeal when it comes to longer trips that involve hills and cargo.

      For relatively short in and out stops, I use a decent U-lock (not a cheap one) plus a cable. I figure there are also some advantages to having a heavy bike 😉 For a place that theoretically is about healthy living and sustainability, my WF misses big time when it comes to bike accommodations — no bike parking, so I use one of the benches in front of their store, which is convenient for holding my bags while I’m loading the bike.

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        My stepmom just bought an e-bike and she LOVES it. She’s in her 80’s so there’s no such thing as cheating at that point! The only problem with it is that it’s really heavy, so putting it in the car to drive somewhere for a recreational ride really isn’t an option… and neither is hauling it up the stairs to store it inside. Anyhow, she had one of those U stands installed in her garage (much cheaper than I would have imagined – only around $100). So she locks it in the locked garage with a U lock, but I’m not convinced it’s adequate.

        If you want to make a million dollars, invent some system for locking bikes that works better!

Leave a Reply to Melissa @ HerGreenLife Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s