To the Grocery Store: An Exercise in Aesthetics

There are many grocery stores close to where we live, but we prefer to go to a particular one, down by the Charles River. This is the shortcut we take to get to the river from the Harvard campus.

It is such a nice little stretch to cycle through. I wanted to document the feeling of being there before the grimness of November sets in.

The Co-Habitant advancing into the distance.

I must say that I love the look of men's coat-tails flapping in the wind when they cycle.

And here I am. Alas, no coat-tails.

The Pashleys arrive at the grocery store. If you are local, you can probably guess where this is, even with the limited visual cues. I thought the yellow stripes went nicely with the foliage in the previous photos.

I am happy here, because this was one of my first trips after the latest adjustments to my Pashley (raising and setting back the saddle). My legs are almost completely extended on the pedals now, and I can still touch the ground with one toe while remaining on the saddle. (I know, I know - I need to learn how to ride without being able to reach the ground! )

The Co-Habitant is happy here as well, because we did not spend too much time inside the grocery store. Most of the time, everything we shop for easily fits into my basket and his saddlebag. Not a lot of hastle there.

Back home through the tree-lined shortcut. The grocery store trip was actually at the end of a long day of riding all over town. We both had Friday-Sunday off (a rarity due to our unconventional schedules) and enjoyed the weekend together. A good thing, as in a few days I am off to Europe again for the rest of November.


  1. Heeheehee! I *so* know where this is. You guys look terrific.

  2. Thanks : ) Yes, the place is familiar to many! Where else can I get $5 German Riesling that I can actually drink?

  3. I think you should always be able to touch the ground with one toe. I rarely leave the saddle at traffic lights.

  4. Well, the idea is that the proper way to cycle is with the leg completely extended when the pedal is in its lowest position. Some bicycles with very relaxed geometry allow for this while still making it possible to touch the ground with a toe when seated. The Pashley's seat tube is not quite slack enough though, so I must choose between proper pedaling and the ability to touch the ground while seated : (

  5. The bike shop owner who sold me my Pashley commented that it was the kind of bike where you should be able to put down a toe. I've gradually raised the seat on mine to allow for leg extension, and can put down a toe with the bike tilted slightly to one side. Same with my mixte. I don't have a great sense of balance so for me putting a toe down is a real comforter if not a necessity.

    I love the autumn colours; Boston must be very beautiful this time of year. You guys and your bikes look great!

    Have you investigated getting a stretchy net cover for your basket? Or have you ever lost anything out of it while you're riding? I've had interesting experiences riding over bumps and driveways - worst case scenario was a few weeks back when 2kg of sugar bounced out of my basket and hit the tarmac with a splat :-0.

  6. Carinthia - It depends also on one's proportions. I have long legs for my height, and small feet. Bad combination for being able to touch the ground! The ideal combination would be shorter legs with large (=long reaching) feet.

    I don't like the look of netting, but I solve the bouncing problem by tucking a scarf or shawl over the items, which works by virtue of not leaving any gaps between the wicker and the stuff inside. It's not perfect, but works sufficiently for me. Funny about the sugar!

  7. I'm not clear how leg length figures into it. The pedal gets the same distance from the ground whether the inseam is 25" or 35". Long legs just mean the seatpost goes higher for a given frame and a short stem accommodates the shorter trunk.

    It's really not a big deal unless you demand that last watt of efficiency in which case you'd be riding differently on a different bike. I notice I ride with less leg extension on a cruiser than on my cross bike.

  8. Love the look of flapping coats too :). Beautiful scenery. This is how shopping should be.

  9. ah, i can barely remember the days when i could fit my shopping items into a basket. now, i have an xtracycle and the thing is packed to the brim (with the kids in the trailer holding delicate stuff on their laps!)

    great pix -- fall bicycling is so damn photogenic!

  10. Steve - I think it has to do with the overall possibilities of stock frame sizes. It was explained to me by a couple of different bike people, but I don't get it enough myself to lucidly repeat the explanation. If this is wrong perhaps there is hope for me after all!

    As for being a big deal, I agree. However, prior to my latest adjustments several well-meaning men have stopped me during my rides and commented on my saddle height. When I explained to one that it's because I need to touch the ground in traffic, he told me that I should not be riding a bike until I learn to ride it with the saddle properly adjusted. This was a couple of months ago.

  11. So beautiful, it looks exactly like one expects Harvard in the fall to look. Your coat and scarf go perfectly with the scene. Have fun in Europe! I hope we'll hear all about it :)

  12. hah! I took a photograph along that very same path yesterday around noonish, after grabbing some apples at the farmers market. 'Twas a beautiful weekend to be out and a bout on a bike! :D

  13. Thanks Dottie! Sadly, it will be all work and no play. (But if I am lucky, a bike ride with Anna from cyclingisgoodforyou!)

    Mmm apples.

  14. Beautiful pictures. You both look so elegant on your lovely bicycles!


  15. @ JPtwins:

    i hear ya! i long for the days when i can fit a few days' worth of groceries in a bike basket!! with two kids, i find i need front and rear crates to fit just two days' worth of groceries!

    @ filigree:

    agreed on that particular food market! when we moved here from california, we were so excited to hear they had recently opened stores on the east coast!

    and i take the same shortcut!

  16. Hmmm. Next time some well-meaning man decides to lecture you on saddle height, perhaps you should explain to him how best to dress so his coat-tails flap in the wind on a bike? I'm so sick of the bike police laying down the law on the proper way to ride a bike. How do they think people learn and gain confidence if they can't have the saddle height where they like?

  17. townmouse - You are right; next time I should express my opinion about 65-year-old men wearing loose neon short-shorts while pedaling...

    somervillain & JPtwins - Yes, unencumbered by children, our diet consists of mostly apples, chocolate and liquor. So easy to fit in the basket!

  18. Out here in Northern Calilandia, such stores are known by their nickname: Trading Blows.

    (So deemed because you risk your life when reaching for the last remaining package of Stroopwaffels or even worse, the last post-Christmas Pannetone.)

  19. Apples, chocolate and liquor. I think we must be related :-)

    I can't believe people could be so rude to tell you you shouldn't be riding a bike until you learn to ride with the correct saddle height. How are people supposed to get into cycling if the bike police come down on them like that? Bet they were wearing lycra. In awful colours.

  20. Carinthia,

    You are exactly right. The bicycle store closet to my home is full of types like that!!! I think what matters is how much enjoyment you get out of your bike, not whether it's a "good" bike, or you're "riding it correctly".

  21. Have a great time in Europe, even if it is work. I hope you document your ride there for us less fortunate ones! Safe trip and safe home!

  22. What a stunning route! The fall colors are amazing. You both are dressed perfectly for the setting.

  23. Corey K - For me the microwaveable Saag Paneer is the holy grail that someone often grabs seconds before I reach it. Drats!

    Carinthia - Not lycra, but eighties-style neon short-shorts : ) Well, whatcha gonna do. In every niche of society, there are always people who feel the need to tell others how to do things properly; cycling is no exception.

  24. The local employees insist that the frozen Naan is better than the fresh verion they carry. I think they may be right.
    I understand about the Saag Paneer, and I sympathize.

    Was this aforementioned fellow talking about your leg extension (or lack of it) from the standpoint of helping you avoid injury to your knees or hips? Even if so, it's pretty brazen. Perhaps he didn't know how else to chat up a stylish gal on a lovely bicycle. (wry grin)

    Enjoy your time here, and bon voyage.

  25. I am a New Yorker. But I'll be the first to admit that New England is the place to be in the fall. And you and he look perfect for that setting on your bikes.

    Tell those lycra-clad bike fashion police to leave you alone--or they'll have to deal with me. I used to be one of them, so I know all of their tricks. Deep down, they wish they had your style.

  26. I love these photos, not a car in sight!
    Enjoy Europe! Looking forward to any free time you have so you can keep everyone up to date with more great photos.

  27. I've been busy and look at all the fun posts you have!

    Love love love your outfit. And by the way ethnic impossibilty aside- your hair is the kind of hair I always wanted. Long red and flowing with fun bangs!



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