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Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

panniers

Maybe it’s a character flaw, but to be inspired to walk, run or bicycle, I need a destination.

That destination may be somewhat impractical – this is the time of the year, for example, when I try to talk the husband into strolls through the back, sorta swampy part of Piedmont Park, in hopes of spotting snakes. I’ve also had a bit of success getting him to stroll to the dog park, even though we have neither dogs nor any intention of getting dogs.

My go-to destination since we moved to Atlanta has been Trader Joe’s. It’s just within walking distance, although it’s a tad far in really cold or really hot weather. The parking lot is impossible to negotiate most of the time, however, and I would walk twice as far to avoid the ridiculous process of stealthily driving around trying to spot someone leaving. (Yes, there is overflow parking in the back lot by the movie theater, but it comes with its own set of problems, namely aggressive drivers who are angry that they were forced to use the overflow parking lot.)

But the walk is a slog, time-wise, 20-something minutes each way, with refrigerated items suffering in the sun all the way home on hot, sunny days. Not to mention my tendency to suddenly remember that I need 3 pounds of apples AND 3 pounds of potatoes, adding unplanned weight to the bags.

My rarely-used bicycle was, of course, the answer, but the only suitable bag choice, my reliable black JanSport book bag, didn’t hold very much, left a big sweat stain on my back and made the ride home less than enjoyable.

Finally, the husband remembered than panniers were a thing, and we were soon ordering bags and a rack from Nashbar. The Townie was our bag (technically basket) of choice, and we chose the Axiom Journey bike rack to hang it from.

The verdict? So far, so good. The bags hold a little more than I usually get during a standard shopping trip, and the three attachment accessories (hooks, Velcro and a bungee cord) mean they don’t bounce around too much, even with filled with groceries. As you can see, I forgot to bring bags to put inside the bags during the excitement surrounding my first trip with the new setup; the Townies are especially sturdy when the groceries are secured inside another bag and, therefore, aren’t bumping around inside.

The travel time to Trader Joe’s has been reduced to a mere 10 minutes, provided I catch the light at 10th and Monroe the right way, and go full speed down every available hill (which, of course, I totally do). The trip back takes a couple of extra minutes – you can’t go downhill on both parts of the journey, after all, and no matter how well-balanced the load is, it still adds weight to the ride.

All that time saved means more time to look for snakes and watch dogs. And I haven’t even mentioned the chipmunks.

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Remember training wheels? For me, they were the last bastion of bike safety, and they became more of a security blanket than a training tool. I remember being reluctant to let my dad take them off, until one day I realized that they didn’t seem to be touching the ground anymore. Sure enough, I took a short test drive on a neighbor’s non-training-wheeled bike, and I could totally ride on two wheels.

I could also totally crash on two wheels, as evidenced by the latticework of tiny souvenirs on my knees and elbows.

I’m still removing metaphorical training wheels from my life, some 30 years later.

Two weeks ago, we had one very sick cat. Yang was showing signs of kidney failure, a diagnosis that would have fit his age of 13 years.

I spent four days and nights convincing him to eat and drink. I drove to three supermarkets in search of no-sodium-added tuna. I baked him a chicken and made a salt-free stock. I woke up at 2 a.m. every day to check on him. I made sure my phone never left my side so that the vet could give me the results of the blood tests the minute they came in.

Most surprising of all, I made peace with the situation.

I realized that it was the first time I had truly been in charge of an animal’s care. Sure, I had pets as a child and even as a teenager, but my mother was, in the end, the decision-maker, the one who had to decide on treatments, the one who had to decide when to let go.

It’s not a small thing, deciding when to let go.

In the end, the blood tests came back normal and Yang started eating like a lumberjack again. It does appear that he and his brother have permanently added a couple of servings of baked chicken and homemade broth to their daily menu, but that’s a small price to pay for the return of a healthy cat.

I realize I’m not out of the woods on this forever. I have teenage cats, and they won’t live forever. Pets break your heart, every damn time.

I won’t say that the decisions I’ll be faced with one day will get any easier, but I’m on two wheels now, ready to brave the hills.

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