But cycling to work really is plausible for most people. It's not hard, and it's
something you can really be proud of. I've heard lots of excuses, but in most cases people
just need to open their minds to new ways of doing things. Even in those rare cases where
commuting is not feasible, one can try practical cycling by running errands.
I have fond memories of grocery shopping by bike. I've carried anything from live
tropical fish to large packages of meat. I've picked up milk on the way home from work
lots of times. I remember buying pop, back when the cheapest way to buy it was in
eight-packs of glass bottles. We used to strap those on our rear racks - high enough the
weight really affected the handling! Ah, those were the days
Perhaps the easiest way to try practical cycling is by riding to the library, video
store, or any other short trip not requiring a lot of cargo. I carry stuff in panniers -
bags that hook on to my rack - but just the rack and a bungee cord will often suffice.
Backpacks also work, but they can get hot and heavy.
Typically I ride in street clothes on such trips, saving the comfort and efficiency of
bike clothes (shorts and shoes are the important ones) for longer trips, like commuting to
work. Some cyclists aren't comfortable in public places wearing bike clothes, but others
have become accustomed to it.
Any bicycle will do, but an efficient one will be more fun. I well remember the first
time I rode a nice bike, which I came to call a "real" bike in my snobbier
moments. It was like rediscovering cycling - what a difference it made! If your bike needs
work, fixing and modifying a bicycle is rewarding work. Bicycles are wonderfully simple to
work on, requiring only a few special tools. Using fat, knobby tires on pavement will
waste energy and make cycling less fun, but changing them to high pressure road tires is
It's fun to see how often you can replace the car with your bike, and you're getting in
shape and saving money while doing it. It also gives you a lot more clout when you tell
your kids to get some exercise, or to conserve resources after their 30 minute showers.
You owe it to yourself to give practical cycling a try - few activities are more