MMM Challenge: Try Getting Your Groceries with a Bike Trailer

I’ve got a big money-saving tip for you that will be completely obvious for long-time readers, yet is still completely necessary for me to review because there are new readers here every day who don’t have time to go back to the old Bicycle post.. and looking around on the city streets, I can see that the message obviously hasn’t caught on yet. As usual, it is best illustrated with a story:

The Mrs. and I had a craving for a fancy salad during a recent lunch time, and we were fresh out of fresh choppable items to throw into it. In fact the grocery list was getting pretty long overall (except for core staple items – we’re set for months on those thanks to my recent Costco run). So I hooked up my bike trailer and started coasting through the city streets – 2.4 miles of them to be exact – to visit the King Sooper’s grocery store.

This particular store is on a stretch of Stripmall Hell called Hover Road. I’m sure it is the very Aorta of Longmont’s city budget because of the sales tax it generates, so we can’t do away with it, but man, is that ever an unfortunate street. 2-3 lanes in each direction plus a jumble of turning lanes and medians in the center.  A grueling thousand-lane intersection every few hundred yards. And an absolute cacophony of stupid SUVs, delivery trucks, illegal-muffler Harleys, and regular cars roaring, rushing, idling, squealing, honking and crashing constantly. The street divides an oceanic stretch of parking lots on each side. There are thousands of parking spaces that are usually empty – probably built under a bizarre old city regulation that requires each business to pave enough space to accommodate the largest possible crowd – even though it is theoretically impossible for that to happen simultaneously for all businesses.

It’s very frustrating to drive to any of these stores, because you can see your final destination long before you reach it. “Oh! There’s the grocery store right there! Oh, shit, but here’s a long traffic light. Slow down. Stop. Idle. Wait for the crossing street’s left turners. Wait for the crossing street’s main traffic. Red light for everyone. Wait for the oncoming traffic’s left turners. OK, finally green for me. GO!!! Cut into a turning lane. Wait for more traffic. Enter parking lot. Wait for moms and kids pushing shopping carts. Wait for single lady to back out of parking space at 0.0007 MPH in the shiny black Escalade. Take spot far from store. Get out, lock car, start walking.

The reason all this sounds so stupid is because IT IS. Cars are EXCELLENT inventions for crossing remote mountain ranges and deserts and rolling country fields when travelling from one city or state to the next on a roadtrip with your family or friends. But they are STUPID for driving through your own town to get groceries – because everyone else is out there doing the thing, ruining the fun of the drive for you.

Compare this to the experience of riding your BIKE to the grocery store: Hook up the trailer. Hop on the bike. Get your legs and heart pumping as you ride the low-traffic route you proudly devised for yourself. When I approach Hover Road, I move onto the sidewalk, because I don’t want to mix it up with all those cars. I hit the pedestrian crossing button, and wait for a nice peaceful walk signal for myself. If it’s a long wait, I might even read an email or two on my phone. Green light. Pump the legs and accelerate smoothly through the intersection, right across the grassy median and into the grocery store parking lot instead of doing the 75-mile detour that cars have to do to access the busy main entrance to the parking lot. Cut directly across the entire parking lot at 20MPH and screech to a halt at the bike rack (or lamp post or tree) closest to the store entrance. Lock bike and head directly into the store.

In the olden days, I still bought groceries by bike occasionally, but I was forced to use the car for the giant weekend runs, because you can only fit a few things in a backpack. Two jugs of milk and you’re already almost out of space. But with the bike trailer, as it turns out, you easily can fit a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four. I have packed spectacular quantities into even my small Nashbar trailer – one time I hauled $150 worth of items which I later weighed at 94 pounds – with very little effort.

So we’ve established that it is fun, and that Mr. Money Mustache likes to do it. But MMM can be intimidating at times, because he likes doing everything, right?. Once in a comment on this blog, he was even accused of being likely to remove his own appendix if it ever started acting up.

To bridge the gap between myself and the Still Aspiring Mustachians, I decided to conduct an experiment last week. I decided to see if I could get my wife Mrs. Money Mustache to try using the bike trailer to get the groceries, for the first time in her life, and report back to me on how it went.

Now, despite her relative badassity, Mrs. M. is actually a bit cautious when it comes to biking. It always takes a bit of nudging to get her to step up to the next level – from a bike ride in the park way back in the 1990s, to biking the 8 miles to our high-tech jobs in the 2000s, to pulling our son around in the trailer in the 2010s, and now to this final frontier – foregoing the car in order to join me in my established habit of bike-trailering the groceries. I knew it would be tricky, but I was able use my newfound status as Mr. Money Mustache to issue her an MMM CHALLENGE!!. “Are you badass enough to ride to the grocery store, then have the results reported to our Valued Money Mustache Readers!?!?!”

With the public pressure of thousands of people watching her, Mrs. M. proudly rose to the challenge, hooked up the trailer to her own bike, and pedaled off down the street. When she got back, she offered this report:

I admit that I am a fair-weather, convenience biker. If I decide it’s too cold or too far, I wimp out pretty quickly. For me, biking requires the right frame of mind and in my mind, biking to the grocery store seemed like a monumental task. After all, that’s a lot of weight to lug around town, right?

So, when MMM casually challenged me to bike to the grocery store, I was hesitant. But, then I thought of you fellow readers and decided to finally take the plunge and give it a go.

I must admit I expected it to suck, but it didn’t.

The bike ride was extremely pleasant, even though it was all by road. MMM outlined a special way to get to the store where I cut through a park and took the small back roads to end up behind the grocery store (I’m sure you can find a special route as well). I got there quickly and was amazed at how easy and relaxing the bike ride was – it was quiet and I hardly saw a car. I locked the bike right next to the front door (how convenient is that!?) and walked in with my KeepCool bag and a variety of other beautiful cloth bags made by a friend of mine.

When I came out with my big load (which I later learned weighed 52.5 lbs — only about 10 lbs heavier than my 5-year old), I parked the shopping cart right next to the bike trailer and loaded it up. This is the part I had been worried about: biking home. But, again, it was a breeze! I even stopped at the park to watch the geese on the lake. In fact, that bike ride to the grocery store brightened up my whole day. So, MMM, I can now publicly admit that I was wrong. Biking to the grocery store is easy, fun, and awesome!

So where’s the money saving aspect in all of this? It’s in the surprising amount of driving that most people do to get their groceries. I find that I need to visit the store about twice a week. That’s 104 grocery trips per year. Each one would be a 5-mile roundtrip for me, meaning 520 miles of driving. Now, there are a variety of ways to calculate the cost of driving a car, but short trips are the most expensive since they involve more engine wear and lower fuel economy. We’ll use the IRS rate of 51 cents per mile, meaning $265 of driving expenses that I avoid every year by biking to the grocery store. The real savings are of course much higher, because I get enormous health and stress reduction benefits by riding instead of driving too.

So with that 1500-word justification, I now pass on the MMM challenge to you: If you’ve never done it before, try getting your next grocery load by bike. If you don’t yet have a trailer, you can start with a small trip using a backpack. Get into the swing of things. Remember to bring your bike lock and your cloth grocery bags. I picked up a gigantic insulated bag with thick handles and a sturdy zippered top for about $7 at Costco that says “KeepCool” on the front. It keeps the frozen stuff cold while biking in the sun. I throw that into the bike trailer before heading out each time.

Once you realize how fun it is, you’ll want to upgrade to a trailer (search for “trailer” on Craigslist under baby/kid stuff), or if you want a more Hipster-style trailer and don’t mind paying a bit more for it, get one like this Dog Trailer on Amazon.

Existing Bikers: tell us how much you like riding to the store. Soon-to-be-bikers: tell us how you tried it for the first time and loved it. And ask if you need any more advice on how to make it work. Then spread your new skills to your other still-driving sucker friends.

Because of YOU, worldwide grocery store parking lots will soon be abandoned, and we can replace them with gardens and solar farms to power the grocery store itself. All from one MMM challenge.  Yeah!

  • Chrissy October 20, 2011, 6:57 am

    I’d love to try grocery shopping by bike. However, despite the availability of free bikes across London (or, if you use them for more than half an hour at a time – very cheap bikes), biking in central London scares the living shit out of me. Fortunately this is compensated for by the prevalence of public transport, more local amenities (ie not being reliant on Strip Mall Hell), and corner shops, which are actually equally as cheap as big grocery stores for things like milk, eggs and Doritos.

    We’ve been happily getting groceries via backpack for years now*. We do one shop where we each of a large backpack once or twice a month at the slightly further afield, but larger and cheaper grocery store. Our weekly top ups for fresh veggies and meats are easily accomplished with a single backpack or a few re-usable bags to our most local grocery store. Last minute stuff can be purchased at one of the 3 corner shops within 1/8 mile from our house, during a lunch hour walk at work or by taking a half block detour en route to the tube on the journey home after work.

    If we can outline a super easy, convenient way to avoid driving for groceries in a big metropolitan city, MMM can do the same for a smaller city, and people in rural areas can stock up well in advance and then grow other fresh stuff on their acres of land, I don’t see why anyone really has an excuse to waste the time, money and CO2 emissions for grocery shopping… unless they are the laziest, most inefficient people ever.

    *full disclosure: once or twice a year, we have our groceries delivered, because we’ll host a big event like a Christmas or New Years party, and want crates of beer, booze, and enough food to feed all of our friends. The ability to get stuff delivered totally eliminates the need for a car though, saving us hundreds of pounds per year and helping me justify 1-2 shops a year that require a vehicle.

    • Bretty10 April 8, 2014, 2:49 pm

      I’m all about putting groceries, pets, etc. in a bike trailer. I love biking in general and find it an enjoyable exercise. I am a stay-at-home mustachian mom of two little boys, however and, though I know biking is safe, I struggle with wrapping my mind around safety issues with them in the trailer. Though the odds are low, I’d never forgive myself if a two ton car came into contact with their bike trailer. It’s enough to scare the shit out of me and so far I have avoided it for this reason alone. Can someone talk me through this?

      • Jessa April 11, 2014, 11:27 am

        I cannot talk you through that because I don’t have children and, I get it, that shit is scary. From what I can gather just having children at all is pretty scary. A friend of mine said recently that “Loving someone is like living with a piece of your heart outside of your body.” You want to protect that piece as much as you can.

        From a quick google search it looks like there were 677 bicyclist deaths in 2011 (in the US) by motor vehicle crashes. 30% of those fatalities occured between 4pm and 8pm, which is pretty high! 51% of the cyclists had been drinking. By a very very large margin they were almost all adults. It seems to me like you could reduce the risk by quite a lot by avoiding peak traffic times in your area and – uh – not drinking and biking.


      • Tim June 13, 2014, 8:08 pm

        I know I’m late to the party, but maybe you’ll get this. I’ve been reading up on biking a ton, and I believe the statistics say something like <5% of bike accidents are the dreaded "steel box coming barrelling down on you from behind". The biggest danger is actually cyclists who are on the sidewalks because they are as (non)visible as pedestrians but they go fast. Sort of like motorcycles: the more you look into statistics broken down by demographic and behavior and timing, you really enable yourself to realize that activities are fairly safe as long as you don't go for all the high-risk "multipliers".

      • Ale April 8, 2015, 7:11 am

        Well a two ton car, or more accurately a minivan, came in contact with my bike trailer at 110km per hour. Fortunately it was empty at the time and had seconds earlier exited from the box of my truck on a highway. I was impressed that like a vehicle roll cage the aluminum frame stayed intact. The plastic bumper on the other hand was destroyed.

        It’s probably the closest thing you’ll find to keeping your child in the metaphorical bubble.

  • Andrew October 20, 2011, 7:10 am

    OK, you are officially my new favorite blog. I have a lot of finance blogs i read and biking blogs i read (i’m a dedicated bike commuter) but somehow you’ve combined those into one awesome mustachian blog.

    i’ve run a number of errands on my bike (picked up movies, chinese food, beer, wine, etc) and its always more convinent and easier than driving. But I’ve never bought a full weeks groceries because i don’t have a trailer. I’m now going to start looking for one thanks to this post. I also have a grocery store about 2.5miles away. This challenge is just what i needed. Thanks MMM

    • Last Ditch Laura March 25, 2019, 10:45 am

      Maybe that is why I’ve been binge-reading for the past few days, starting from the very beginning! I, too, consider myself a commuter cyclist (though I don’t commute, because the work I do is in my basement). I do ride almost everywhere I go on my bike. I used to have a bike trailer, but ended up getting rid of it because I buy so very little; the few times I’d need it, the tires would be flat, so it got to be more trouble than it was worth. I get by now with two good-sized panniers and a backpack. It also helps that we live 1/2 mile from a grocery store where we get our fresh food. Our staples, like 50-lb bags of oatmeal or flour, we get delivered from Country Life Natural Foods, so we don’t need to carry as much as a lot of people would. I did use my bike trailer to carry a desk and a dresser before, though, so for people who are still in the acquiring stage of life, a trailer is great. I absolutely love this combination of frugality and biking. It resonates with me more than any other blog I’ve read about frugality or biking. Good job, MMM!

  • Paul October 20, 2011, 7:13 am

    I’m a huge fan of your blog, MMM – found it about a week back and have since read through it in it’s entirety :) I agree with most of what you say, but on the bike situation I’m a bit hesitant – I think it really depends on how safe the roads around you are. Are you ever worried about the additional risk of riding vs driving?

    Where I live (Johannesburg, South Africa) the cost savings of biking a lot more could potentially be offset by the risk of having an accident. Unfortunately, even as a safe driver I’m resigned to the fact that I will probably be in an accident in the next decade, purely due to some of the lunatics that are on the road!

    In my decade of driving thus far I’ve had two minor accidents caused by other drivers. Now, both of these accidents could still have happened had I been on a bike, and they would have resulted in serious injuries. For me, the cost of such injuries outweighs what I would save by changing from a car to a bike for the majority of my transportation. (Having said that, I am considering moving some of my low-traffic, safe area trips over to a bike, such as my 2.4km trip to work every day.)

    I agree 100% about minimising driving though, and of getting rid of wasted trips or unnecessary trips – I’m down to 850km a month, and I hope to drop further! I’ve been at it for about 6 months.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work!

    *Full Disclosure: My affordable second hand car is a 10 year old SAAB convertible (decent fuel consumption, plenty of fun to drive, maintenance is a bit pricey, but overall much cheaper than a new car and at least twice as fun) so that may make a bit biased in favour of driving!

    • MMM October 20, 2011, 3:35 pm

      I can’t speak for South Africa, since I’ve never been here. I have on the other hand been all over the US and found that in general biking is quite nice here – because of the relatively tame drivers, engineered safety features in roads, low population density compared to other countries, and the high presence of sidewalks as a backup when the roads suck.

      Also, the climate of this country is quite good on average compared to Canada where I grew up, and indeed better than most of Europe since it is at a lower latitude. Most US bike complainers are just oversensitive and looking for excuses to get back into the car.

      One place I’ve been that seems much more dangerous for cyclists is Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s a big city and the roads and sidewalks are haphazard.. and the people drive in a much more Dukes of Hazzard style. But because of the lower wealth levels there, the number of cyclists is still much higher! I remember riding in a taxi during a business trip there, and being surrounded on a 4-lane expressway by hundreds of electronics factory workers all dressed in their light blue labcoats and pants, riding quaint old one-speed city bikes. It was great.

    • Kirsty October 21, 2011, 5:46 am

      I am too from South Africa. I pretty much agree on what Paul has said. If you are not trying to dodge the potholes , its the taxi’s you are trying to avoid.
      Sadly public transport is just not up to scratch either. So you basically have your car or motorbike for transportation.

      However in the spirit of downscaling I have recently decided that my monthly grocery shopping can be down in three installments. The shops are along my way home, so I have no detour to add on. After work, I pick up my kids and do my grocery shopping.It means I have less than an hour to get in and get out – meaning I have just enough time to pick the items from the list and get out ( Using my handy dandy price book and doing my homework before hand – I pretty much know exactally what I need from each shop and what will be the lowest price )

      We have a smaller supermarket about three blocks from us, where we will walk up once a week to get our fresh produce.

      I have found that if I am able to keep my shop visits down we actuale save a great deal of money – as its amazing how much you can spend buying some “oh this will be nice with supper” items. We freeze a weeks worth of bread and milk at a time. It means I only am in the shops about 6 – 7 times during the month.

  • AMY October 20, 2011, 7:15 am

    I would like to say that because of your first bike post I did go and buy a bike trailer on Craigslist. I was already biking 15 min. to and from work everyday and the first time I put the bike trailer on the bike felt so heavy and it was so much more work to pull it (even without my son in it). For the past two months I have mainly used the bike trailer to collect beer cans (for the deposit) on recycling day during my lunch hour. It is a bit harder to bike with all that weight but I think it is worth it.
    I will have to try biking to the grocery store soon. When I do I’ll let you know how it went.

    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 20, 2011, 10:48 am

      Yay for finding a bike trailer on craigslist!! I’m surprised you found it heavy… what kind is it? I found the bike trailer we have to be surprisingly light and I don’t find it difficult to pull the boy in it, unless there’s a hill, and in those cases I just go slow. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it? I do feel pretty zippy on the bike when I don’t have to pull a trailer though!

      I’d love to hear about your bike ride to the grocery store. I think if you have the right attitude, it will be great!

      • Anita May 2, 2013, 1:36 pm

        I’ve had bicycle panniers for years, purchased at a yard sale.Attached to a rack on the back, plus a few straps, I can get most of my groceries in it.It never fails that when I pull up to the grocery store to lock the bike, someone says ” I should be doing that.” Ummmm yeah !

        My next adventure is riding almost 10 miles to the gym, where I teach arthritis classes.I’m scouting the route right now, and have stopped telling people my plans because they freak out !

        If I can get groceries on the bike, YOU can. I am 58 and retired last year, after two knee replacements. Life is good !

    • Randy January 5, 2020, 7:16 pm

      Really old post, but working on catching up.

      Why buy a bike trailer when you can build your own? Basically, they are just a box with two wheels and a tow bar. I’ve built two. The first was a flat bed, using 1/2 inch plywood for a base, a 5/8 inch steel axle, a couple of $4 handcart tires from Harbor Freight and a top rail left over from fixing a chain link fence for the tow bar. The trailer hitch was home made also. A swivel air chuck for the attachment point. Weighed a ton, but sturdy as hell. I have carried a 20 lb propane tank, all my gold panning tools and a whole roll of insulation (one at a time) using eye hooks at the corners and bungle cords (God’s gift to cyclists). $20 total.

      Second trailer I tried to cut the weight to a minimum. I also wanted it to be enclosed. It turned out looking like a miniature teardrop camper. Angle aluminum for the frame and crossbars, aluminum axle, 16 inch wheels from Northern Tool (may be discontinued) and another steel fence post tow bar. I tried aluminum, but it broke after a few rides. Sides are 1/4″ plywood and the top and floor are cloroplast signs discarded at the interstate onramp. I punched holes in the signs and used zip ties to attach to angle aluminum at top of sides. The top has hinges in front, so it swings up. It holds four reusable grocery bags, front and back ones half full. Entire trailer weighs 13 lbs/6 kg. Cost about $80. I could have used old window or bath frames to save money, but wanted to get it built as I had limited time due to a job..

      Where I now reside, we have a large Amish population. They have discovered bicycles and trailers in recent years. Faster than a horse and buggy and less maintenance. I see all ages of old men and women riding.

      I’ve got pictures of the trailer, but can’t figure out this computer thing.

  • Alaskan October 20, 2011, 7:26 am

    I used to do this in college when I was carless for the first 3 years of school. My grandfather had given me an old man city bike that had massive panniers and I realized it was capable of hauling $40 or so in groceries. Now I live out in the country and the country and the nearest grocery store is 10 miles away. Ugh, need to move in closer.

    I will say that friends and strangers mocked me for that bike to no end. Not sure why, the other option was walking and the bike beat the heck out of that.

  • JP October 20, 2011, 7:48 am

    Awesome post! I just moved a little bit closer to the nearest corner grocery store, and I walked there yesterday for a grocery run since my partner had the car (and since my bike was stuck at my job because of some surprise thunderstorms the day before). Since a free bus pass is a perk of my job, and I live just two miles from work, I almost always bike or bus there, but I’m still getting the hang of running errands on my bike.

    Anybody have any advice for biking to smaller grocery stores that don’t have bike racks?

    • Tom Armstrong October 20, 2011, 10:33 am

      Trees are your friends. Most communities that require those unsightly huge parking lots also require that there be trees. Grocery stores also often have cart corrals, and locking your bike to the safer end of that thing is fairly handy, in my experience.

    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 20, 2011, 11:05 am

      I have often found that stores don’t have dedicated bike racks, but there always seems to be something to lock your bike to: a small tree, a random sign, the cart return area, a fence, the store next door that happens to have a bike rack, etc. Next time you go there, take a look and see what’s available…

  • Christian October 20, 2011, 7:49 am

    I live less than a mile from an Aldi and about 1.5 miles from Costco. I am seriously considering getting the bike trailer. Get some exercise and save some money. Seems like a win-win.

  • rjack October 20, 2011, 7:52 am

    Great article! I recently took for first grocery store trip via bike and it worked great.

    I mapped out back roads and found a really nice – it was much nicer than the car drive.

    I also made kitty litter panniers for my bike that are very similar to this:


    They worked well for my limited load, but I would need a bike trailer to haul a bigger load.

    • Tom Armstrong October 20, 2011, 10:35 am

      I have a friend who is making similar panniers here in Kentucky. I think she even donates a few to folks on really tight budgets. I had a large stash (‘stache?) of reflective vinyl, and donated some to her cause. I see evidence of my donation from time to time as I see folks using bikes to haul their goodies.

    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 20, 2011, 11:09 am

      Those kitty litter panniers are great! Nice idea.

  • Marcia October 20, 2011, 7:56 am

    I haven’t biked to the grocery store in awhile. I will admit to a tiny bit of wimpiness for living on a big hill. As in, my spouse and I bike to work 2x a week (including today…gotta get rolling, but it’s still dark out!!), but we “cheat” and each go one direction…so I bike in, and he has to bike home up the big-ass hill.

    I do, however, walk to do some of my shopping. When on home during maternity leave, I walked for about an hour every day, up the hill with my son in the bjorn where I bought whatever I needed for dinner that night (based on whatever struck my fancy from watching the food channel while nursing).

    On weekends, I also walk to the farmer’s market. Although I used to bike there. It’s that darn hill! I don’t have a bike trailer.

    • MMM October 20, 2011, 9:32 am

      I have Good News! The problem of climbing hills on a bike was solved quite a few decades ago with an invention called “gears”. Shift down, take it easy, and you will reach the top. If feels hard, congratulations, that is your body telling you that it just made you stronger.

      I also happen to live at the top of a hill, with my house at around 5100 feet elevation and the creek valley at 4970 feet according to Google Earth (And the Grocery store back up at 5011 feet on the other side). So I get to pull the groceries and my bike and myself up to the top of the equivalent of a 13-story building. I am thankful for this every time I get to do it!

      • Marcia October 20, 2011, 10:49 am

        I know, I know. I have gears. My bike is 14 years old, and the small gears on the front are problematic. If I shift down from 3rd, I might not be able to shift back up. The bike store can’t seem to replace those (I replaced the rear gears when they stopped shifting).

        My biggest hill on my work commute is one where I shift down from 7th to 1st, but I can keep the front gears on 3rd. But that hill up to my house?? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it a couple of times in the last month, but ugh. I don’t mind walking up it though.

        Maybe I’ll try it again soon. We’ll see. I hate hills!

        • Debbie M October 20, 2011, 12:51 pm

          There’s also the option of getting off your bike and walking it up the hill. That uses all different muscles, so it feels pretty good.

          I used to have one route with an uphill portion so steep that I had to get off my bike and a downhill portion that was so steep that I also got off my bike for that because of the fear. So, yes, I am a wimp. But I am less of a wimp doing that than taking my car.

      • Mike B October 20, 2011, 12:02 pm

        That’s a cute little hill you’ve got there. I have close to 1000 feet of elevation gain on my commute of 6.8 miles. I have been riding to and from work pretty regularly after a bout of MMM/ERE inspiration, but I’m limited to the number of times a week I can ride due to sit-bone soreness. Does that ever go away? The first 5 minutes on the bike are agony until I get numb, even with a gel-chamois or standard chamois pants.

        • MMM October 20, 2011, 12:54 pm

          Good for you – I am envious of that hill, and I agree that my own hill is just a baby. My old work commute featured a 500ft climb on the way home (plus a 100 ft climb on the way there due to a valley in the middle).. and it was quite rewarding to get to the stage of being able to climb it more quickly each week.

          I definitely experience sore butt syndrome when I go into a phase of drastically higher biking. But the hindquarters get tougher over time and eventually you are immune again. It is good that you are taking days off occasionally to let the toughening process keep up with the biking. A big factor is in the quality of the bike seat as well.

          • Oh Yonghao June 26, 2014, 1:25 pm

            Now I really do feel wimpy for complaining about my hill. Going to work total climb shows just over 100, and about the same going home. Now I get only 85 after cutting out the valley in the middle. Google maps describes my route as “mostly flat”.

            I do notice that I started the year barely achieving 10MPH, finished the first month at 12MPH, and now average 15MPH mostly due to the vast amount of stop signs or impossible to miss red lights.

            A couple times I have had the sore butt syndrome, and it can get compounded by my desk job at work, some days are more sedentary than others. 6 months in now I hardly get sore butt syndrome, but sometimes when wearing baggy shorts and rain pants I get racking ball syndrome while trying to peddle.

        • Tom Armstrong October 20, 2011, 2:02 pm

          See if you have a bike shop in your area that does custom fitting. Not just some guy eyeballing you from across the room, but someone with either a Serotta Fit Certification or one from Specialized Body Geometry School. They may be able to help adjust your saddle position to reduce such pain and give you the side effect of more power to climb!

          • Mason Thompson October 20, 2011, 5:49 pm

            I’m a BG fit technician, trained at Specialized’s corporate office, and work in a bike shop (in addition to commuting 20 miles each way in Seattle)- If you ride regularly on a good saddle with a decent pair of bike shorts, you’ll be fine once you harden up a bit and get used to it. If you don’t want to wear bike shorts, they make different saddles for that (the specialized “targa” is very nice.) If you wander into a good bike shop with a good fitter, all Mike’s excuses will magically vanish.

            • Captian and Mrs Slow November 17, 2012, 2:54 am

              Just get an ugly old fashion wide seat, doesn’t look as cool as a thin racing seat but odles more comfortable.

            • Bakari November 17, 2012, 10:36 pm

              If the soreness is limited to the sit-bones, then the current saddle is exactly the right width. That’s where you want all the weight and pressure to be. The alternative is it being distributed on soft tissue, which is much worse.
              The soreness on the sit bone spots goes away with time as long as you ride consistently, but don’t up the mileage too much all at once.

  • Mr. Frugal Toque October 20, 2011, 8:06 am

    I’ll give it a shot. It’s only 20k and I can stop on the way home from work.

    But I’m waiting until the 50k gusting to 70k winds of the current rainstorm die down a bit.

  • JA October 20, 2011, 8:07 am

    An alternative to trailers and backpacks that I prefer for my frequent grocery runs:
    * Sturdy bike rack
    * Collapsible Grocery bag panniers
    * Bungees or cargo net for large, lightweight items like toilet paper

    Maybe not the solution if you want to carry 90+ pounds of groceries, but way more comfortable than the backpack. Or great in combination with the backpack.

    I have my grocery bag on my rack almost all the time – very handy for “can you pick up x, y, and z” errands on the way home from work…

    • Tom Armstrong October 20, 2011, 10:38 am

      I rarely use a backpack when on a bike. I figure that the bike is carrying the weight whether or not it’s on me, so why not be a bit more comfortable while I ride?

      I also reduce the risk of a backpack load shifting as I move around, and having that shift change my center of gravity without warning.

      Much of this stems from having been on recumbent bikes for so long, but it applies neatly to upright bikes (I have a couple I use for errands).

  • Kristi October 20, 2011, 8:24 am

  • Bren October 20, 2011, 8:47 am

    Bikes are great! I’m the fortunate beneficiary of a short (2 minute) bike commute to my office, and run lots of errands by bike.

    Also, I helped start a blog about doing stuff to your bike (usually cheaply) called BikeHacks (http://bikehacks.com). Might be of interest to those readers who live at the intersection of frugality and biking! Lots of post over there about DIY trailers, racks, etc.

  • BrunoB October 20, 2011, 8:57 am

    Cycling isn’t the only way, rollerblades are a great option too!

    – They are easy to store.
    – They are cheaper than bikes.
    – and that’s it.. it might be more difficult for some people to use rollerblades.

    Back in Vancouver, I would cross the Cambie bridge on rollerblades to get to the nearest Save on Foods. With two bags and a 60 liters backpack from Mountain Equipment Coop, I was able to manage 50 to 80 lbs loads. The store wouldn’t allow me to get inside with my rollerblades so I would bring sandals with me putting my blades in the bags while shopping.

    Blades are a great way to go around the city without having to worry about them being stolen while you are not on the road.

    Mustachian on wee-heels!

    • Last Ditch Laura March 25, 2019, 10:48 am

      And you can take them on the bus for a multi-modal trip. I love to rollerskate, but haven’t gotten the hang of rollerblading (yet?), but found a nice razor scooter for this purpose.

  • Lilacorchid October 20, 2011, 9:25 am

    We have been walking to the grocery store for years now, and I enjoy it, even when -20C. MMM, you missed out on another huge savings… If you have to get it home under your own power, there is less temptation to impulse buy. Four 2L of soda on for $5? Like hell I’m carrying that home. It’s a win for the wallet and waistline!

    • EarningAndLearning April 25, 2017, 12:58 pm

      Ha ha agreed! I also walk to the grocery store, although only since I started reading MMM! I’m single so only buy what I can carry home & yes, I stopped buying glass bottles of San Pellegrino when I started walking (it also seemed like a luxury I could cut out to help grow my ‘stash). I now look forward to this lovely walking outing & can’t believe I never thought of it before, I was just so car-dependent!

  • Des October 20, 2011, 10:00 am

    I’ve never tried by bike, but I once brought home $100 of groceries on the bus. I had one large backpack that was stuffed full, then as many plastic grocery bags as my little arms would hold. My arms were shaking under the weight by the time I got home – I was just glad I had passed on getting kitty litter! But, I had all my groceries for a couple weeks :) Its amazing what luxuries you can live without when you actually have to.

  • BeyondtheWrap October 20, 2011, 10:35 am

    In some places it’s illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. I’m guessing Longmont isn’t one of those places?

    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 20, 2011, 10:44 am

      The sidewalk he’s talking about is actually a pedestrian and bike friendly path that looks like a sidewalk, but is quite a bit wider.

      As far as the rules in Longmont, here’s what I just found: “There are no laws restricting the use of bicycles on sidewalks, so long as the cyclist yields to pedestrians and does not ride at a speed “greater than reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions.” The driver of a vehicle is required by law to yield to bicycles using sidewalks.

      This makes sense to me. I use the sidewalk more when I have a bike trailer with a child in it (for his safety), but I ride slower, look out for drivers backing out of driveways and down alleys, and I get off and walk the bike if there are too many pedestrians about.

  • anne October 20, 2011, 10:46 am

    Another great invention is anXtracycle. Turn your regular old bike into a cargo bike and skip the trailer altogether.

    We’re a 2 Xtracycle family and get everything we need by bike (kids, groceries, library books etc). You name it, we carrry it on our bikes year round.

    My husband and I have a friendly competition about who can carry the most stuff on our bike.

    Hopefully Mrs MMM will get hooked and make biking a habit. I’ll be out here in Seattle cheering her on!

    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 20, 2011, 10:58 am

      Thanks for inspiring me, Anne! It’s great to have a cheerleader! :)

      I do bike every day and haul my son home from school and to and from parks and the library. I bike to my crossfit class too and rarely drive. But, MMM has been in charge of the grocery shopping for a long time and it seems I never end up going. But, this experience certainly makes me realize that I should toughen up on my cold weather, heavy hauling, and longer distance biking. In the past I’ve had a 32F (0C) cut-off for biking, but I will try and be more hardcore this winter.

      • anne October 20, 2011, 11:08 am

        Awesome! I’ll be your cheerleader.

        Just bundle up when it gets cold. :)

        It’s almost time for us to haul out our fall/winter riding gear (rain pants, hats, gloves, ski goggles for the kids). The riding is the same, you just have to add another layer to your normal outfit! (No silly spandex is worn in this family)

      • Tom Armstrong October 20, 2011, 11:08 am

        I kept a freezing-point-of-water threshold for my cycling for a long time. What I eventually discovered–at least for my utility cycling–is that it’s just a number. Another thin layer of clothing does wonders.

        The big deals are keeping my hands and feet warm without them sweating and chilling. Glove choices depend on many variables, including your own circulation and biomechanical factors. Same with socks and shoes. In general, wool is great, thin layers are great, wind-resistance is wonderful, and too many layers in a tight shoe will be miserable.

        My current low threshold for utility bicycling is about 10F (-12C), but I haven’t needed it to be lower just yet.

  • Tom Armstrong October 20, 2011, 11:00 am

    While my wife and I are not going to be car-free any time in the likely future, we do like to reduce our car use as much as is practical for us.

    To this end, I watched Craigslist posts for a kid trailer for several weeks before finding one that suited me a couple years ago. It connects to the frame of the bike rather than to the axle, and worked with several of the bikes in our garage. A few months later, my wife found a lighter, fancier trailer in a Goodwill store for half what I paid for the Craigslist find. All either trailer really needed was air in the tires.

    Kid trailers are great for hauling stuff. They often offer more room than a dedicated cargo trailer of the same footprint (taller). They are often easily obtained (used ones pop up on Craigslist fairly often), and for not a lot of money. Since Ms bikeolounger and I don’t have small children, folks sometimes wonder why I’m pulling a child trailer (“Is he practicing for having kids?”), leading me to ponder putting a child-sized manikin in there in winter and riding around with said manikin bouncing around in the trailer to see if other road users are indeed paying attention.

    And, if my stepdaughters ever decide to have children (a choice that each has put off for the time being), I’ll be able to be a fun grampa!

  • Bakari October 20, 2011, 11:09 am

    No room to store a bike trailer at my place, but I have a push cart.

    I just got back from buying groceries with my push cart to find this article in my inbox.

  • Melanie October 20, 2011, 11:17 am

    I finally got a rear rack and basket for my bike, and that, combined with a backpack (if necessary), have enabled me to eliminate the short trips by car to the Aldi down the road. I always hated going, because to get home from the store, I need to make a left turn across 6 lanes of busy traffic. Riding my bike there instead was lovely. As you pointed out, in the car, I go the most direct way, which is often the busiest. On the bike, I can ride the quieter streets and actually enjoy the trips. The surprising part is how long it is taking me to make the shift to primarily think that way, instead of as a secondary plan. :) Since, at the moment, my car is still my primary way to get to work, I plan to pick up weekly groceries on my way home. (I’ve been thinking, though, that in the right neighborhood, I could cart my homecleaning equipment in a bike trailer– it would certainly fit with my business model!)

  • Chris October 20, 2011, 11:26 am

    I have picked up groceries using bike and a back pack a number of times. It’s a bit of a challenge since the two main streets to the nearest store are a five lane state highway (scary) and a 4 lane busy street. But, I have found a short cut through a small park ( small wooden bridge over the creek that bisects the park makes this walkable or bikable.) This cuts out all but about 4 blocks of the state highway (I use the sidewalk) and a couple of blocks of the other street. In addition to the bicycling high, I get bonus points for creative way finding!
    It didn’t occur to me to use a bike trailer which might be tricky given the narrow parameters of my short cut. Yeah, I could get off and walk it. . . Maybe if I see a trailer really really cheap on Craigs list.
    A friend linked me to this blog and I am looking forward to future posts.

  • herbert salisbury October 20, 2011, 11:45 am

    I can’t remember the last time I drove a car to get groceries. The concept seems preposterous. I usually go on my skateboard with a backpack, as there is something exhilarating about cruising home with a pack full of eggs- knowing that if you wreck, your lunch is ruined.

    I’ve permanently attached an oversized milk crate to the back of my bike. Effectively, my bike is a small pickup truck. I regularly have 30 or 40 lbs of stuff in there, it does get a bit topheavy, but it’s manageable. I can put my BBQ, all the food I want to eat, some beer and a frisbee or a kite all in there together for a trip to the beach no problem. Groceries? no problem.

  • Kristin October 20, 2011, 12:01 pm

    Thanks for your amazing blog! My husband and I are enjoying it.

    We challenged ourselves to 30 days without a car last year during one of the coldest months of the year. Figuring out how to grocery shop was a challenge but we came up with a couple of solutions. One of them was this crazy contraption:

    It was amazing how your food choices can change when you have to haul your own load. We definitely opted for “light-weight” food during our carless month.

    • anne October 20, 2011, 2:29 pm

      Hi Kristin, After the month, I’d hope that biking turned into a habit. Did it?

      I noticed your last post was February 7th. Keep going, I’ll be your cheerleader too!

  • Gorm October 20, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Despite using my bike every day to get around, when I *read* about biking, it all sounds very cumbersome to me. It sounds as if a lot of planning and thinking goes into it. That is definitely not the case for me.

    I have my extremely shitty old bike that I use to get around… including when I have to do the groceries. I never ever spend time fixing or improving it. When it eventually breaks down or gets stolen, I will just get another from a friend or maybe buy one at an auction. I never arrive sweaty at meetings (I’m an IT consultant) because my bike is so bad that it forces me to drive slowly, and good so; it’s nice not to feel like I’m not in a hurry for a once. On the contrary, I arrive in the same mood I would have, had I taken a stroll in the park for 15 minutes first. Fresh from all the air, and totally calm.

    To me it’s a tool that I use. It’s not part of my identity. No thought goes into using it, really. I never use public transport here because I find it inconvenient (Copenhagen actually has some of the best public transport in the world), I prefer to bike. I just get on it, turn on my mental autopilot and think about other stuff on the way (or listen to music/podcast on my phone).

    To me, driving a car in a city centre makes zero sense. It seems extremely inconvenient. It’s so big you have to wait for everything. You have to pay a lot of attention to what’s going on so you don’t run people down. It’s expensive. It’s slow (compared to a bike in a city centre), you have to find a place to park it (at least here, that’s to be a real problem)… and let’s not even get into all the environmental issues, or health issues of never getting any air or exercise.

    Maybe I’m just spoiled with living in one of the best cities in the world for biking (Copenhagen), but why you would even own a car here is beyond me.

    • MMM October 20, 2011, 1:03 pm

      That is a nice glimpse into a bicycle utopia. You are right, it SHOULD seem like a fairly boring thing that nobody talks about, just like how we don’t talk about our shoes very much where I live.

      But with biking so incredibly rare in most of the US, as I joked here – http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/06/24/mustache-on-the-move-am-i-really-the-most-badass-person-in-my-whole-town/ it does become a nice part of your identity, because you are a spokesman for a blatantly obvious improvement that would solve the majority of the nation’s problems. It is so simple, with absolutely no real drawbacks except the imagined or self-imposed ones.

      • Gorm October 21, 2011, 12:29 am

        How was Gandhi’s quote? ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then…” :P

        To be honest, I think a lot of the problems lies in how the city is constructed also. I noticed that both when I visited New York and when I lived in Buenos Aires, that neither of these places even considered bikes when they were being designed and constructed.


    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple October 20, 2011, 7:27 pm

      I love Copenhagen. MIL grew up there, have lots of friends there. When I first visited I was SOOO amazed and impressed that bikes had their own lanes and their own traffic lights, and that they got the green light first!

      One of my friends regularly biked 10k each way to take her son to school and go to work.

      • Gorm October 21, 2011, 12:26 am

        That’s nothing. They’re rebuilding one of the major streets here in Copenhagen and partially shut it down for cars. They made it so inconvenient for cars that they now go on other streets. The pedestrian area, the bike area and bus lane takes up about one third of the space respectively.

        … Yeah, I guess I’m spoiled :)

  • elorrie October 20, 2011, 12:21 pm

    Oh man, I’m feeling so wimpy right now. The suburbs are making me soft. When I lived closer to the city I used to carry my groceries 1.5 miles home every week. Now I live about a half mile from a store and can get their entirely on quiet back roads and I have yet to bike/walk to it. I thought about it a few times and then never did it. Gotta get on this!

  • Vince October 20, 2011, 1:04 pm

    Great post! I’ve been getting into bicycling the last 5-6 years, and have had a kid stroller for 5 years. The kids stroller does work great for smaller store trips. Last year I purchased a Bikes-At-Work trailer for bigger trips, and it is great, too. I’ll add some Rubbermaid containers to the Bikes-At-Work trailer for larger store trips. Both trailers are awesome.

    Keep up the great posting on bicycles and financials. I have bicycled because it is fun and healthy, but the financial side is pretty cool, too! Funny you mention bicycling in the rain as we are getting a storm in Michigan today and I put on my rain gear and goggles to bike to work. I feel like a kid. It is so much fun!

  • rjack October 20, 2011, 1:07 pm

    @MMM: This is completely unrelated, but do you plan to create any forums to go along with your blog? You could have sub-topics like Biking, Investing, Saving, etc.

  • Gwen October 20, 2011, 1:49 pm

    Biking has been non-existent for me this year (IT band issues), however last year I rode my bike to work, and small errands en route, including a back packs worth of groceries.
    This year I moved into a new place that has an oriental grocery store across the road so we now walk for the fresh produce part of our shopping, the other things are usually a bi-weekly trip by car. (We still try not to buy too much at a time as it is a hassle to carry everything from the parking garage to our unit, almost as far as it is to go to the store across the road!!)

  • Kim October 20, 2011, 2:36 pm

    After more than a decade of living (frugally if you can believe it) in Manhattan, I’m no stranger to car free errands. We moved to Amsterdam this summer and now I am totally addicted to biking. I don’t want to walk a 2 block errand since biking them is so fun!! Now saving up for a bakfeits (cargo bike) to expand the types of errands I can use the bike for and bring my 4-year-old with me.

  • Hil October 20, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I have been slightly obsessed by the whole bike/bike trailer concept ever since I stumbled upon your blog earlier this week, MMM.

    Maybe this is the former NYC dweller in me talking, but: are bike trailers at high risk for theft, parked outside stores? I’ve never owned one; is there a way to make it unstealable while you are inside shopping? I now live in Austin, TX, and although it’s not exactly the Mean Streets, bike theft is unfortunately pretty common and I wonder if the same could be true for other biking paraphernalia.

    Thanks for your blog, I’m really getting my nerd on, reading these posts!

    • MMM October 20, 2011, 4:32 pm

      It is definitely possible to lock the trailer to your bike frame with a mini cable lock if you need to. But it has never occurred to me to do this – because I figure children’s bike trailers are a decidedly undesirable commodity to thieves. They are big and bulky, yet don’t have much resale value. And they aren’t cool like a high-end laptop or a carbon fiber mountain bike. Since thieves don’t read Mr. Money Mustache, they have not yet realized that trailers are actually a burning hallmark of badassity, and instead they think they are just a mundane relic from a suburban garage.

      There is pretty much no bike theft in my own city, but for those in less fortunate areas, riding a highly functional but non-flashy bike combined with normal good lock-up practices goes a long way to deterring thieves. Also, since bikes have dropped by more than half in price (for a bike of a given quality) since I was in university, both the theft incentive and the replacement cost have dropped too.

  • Kjrstin October 20, 2011, 7:36 pm

    I’m a lover of biking with the trailer and trying to run errands on my bike. I haven’t done much grocery shopping with the trailer because my 2 year old comes with me. Any ideas on how the groceries and kid can cozy up together? I have a Chariot trailer, so it has a cool little cargo spot in the back, so I know i can carry some things come, just not a lot.

    I have to admit, I’ve dreamed of taking the bike and trailer to Costco. One day. One day soon. :)

    Thanks for the post and I’m loving your blog. Keep it up!

    • MMM October 20, 2011, 8:43 pm

      One trick I’ve done when the boy is competing for cargo space is to hook the bags onto the aluminum frame of the bike trailer so they hang off the back somewhat. (You need cloth bags for this since they are stronger). Then you can fill the “trunk” area behind the kid, maybe throw one bag next to him or her as well, and put a giant one like the KeepCool hanging out the back. If the bike trailer doesn’t already have hookable protrusions on it, you can even bolt on a some of your own.

      • Kjrstin October 20, 2011, 9:36 pm

        Great tip. Thanks! Will try it on next week’s errands.

  • Dividend Mantra October 20, 2011, 8:15 pm

    Great stuff. I like the idea.

    I purposely moved a couple months ago to a cheap ($450) apartment that is simultaneously close (1/2 mile) to the grocery store and the bus stop. I’ve been carless for some time now and get all my groceries by foot or bike. I usually like to actually just buy what I can fit in my backpack or hands. That limits me quite a bit and really cuts out on the snacks and other associated stuff that I don’t need. Getting groceries by bike keeps you in shape by not only forcing you to physically carry your stuff, but also cut out on the junk food because you simply can’t fit it on you.

  • Chris October 20, 2011, 9:01 pm

    Challenge accepted! My goal is to replace 5 trips normally done by vehicle with the bike and a backpack before I consider buying a trailer though. I have to admit, the idea of getting a trailer to haul groceries intrigues me! It’s an 8 mile round trip to grocery store-time to grow my ‘stache out!!

  • Carolina on My Mind October 20, 2011, 9:06 pm

    I laughed at the timing when I saw this post today. Coincidentally, last night my boyfriend realized in the middle of cooking dinner that we were out of an essential ingredient (onions), so I offered to go get some. The grocery store is a ten-minute walk away, so while we walk over there all the time, I’d never biked there. But last night I had the brilliant idea to bike over instead. The ride was a piece of cake — I was there and back in about 10 minutes — but it was a big milestone for me because it was 1) dark out and 2) raining. I’m just like Mrs. Money Mustache describes herself: while I bike a lot (mostly in my commute, a 12-mile roundtrip), I wimp out easily, and I’m a total weather wuss. But after my triumphant errand last night, I vowed to use my bike more for errands. I’ve never used a trailer, but I have a grocery pannier that works great for smaller loads.

    One thing to add about parking the bike when you do errands: if you’re not using a trailer, consider the possibility of just taking the bike inside the store with you. Obviously depends on the size of the store and how much shopping you’re doing, but if you’re in a big suburban supermarket and only picking up a couple things, you can just wheel the bike in with you. That’s what I did last night.

  • Money October 20, 2011, 11:05 pm


    Riding a bike to get groceries is great on a cool crisp day. But what happens when it is 100+ degrees outside? Still brave enough to bike? Or how about 20 degrees with frozen roads? Macho enough?

    Also being able to bike depends on where you live in relation to the grocery store. Some places do not even have side walks. I live in Texas, so if I biked to the grocery store I would be doing it alongside pickup trucks and semi’s. I am a fan of saving money, but this is something I would not try :P

    BTW why are you going to the grocery store twice a week?

    • MMM October 21, 2011, 8:28 pm

      Hmm, I’m confused, are you ACTUALLY so wimpy that you wouldn’t ride a bike in Texas, or are you just submitting a deliberate complainypants comment to egg on Mr. Money Mustache?

      First of all, it exceeds both 100 degrees and 20 degrees F where I live several times each year. I make a point of biking EXTRA on those days, just for fun. For snow-covered roads, you use tires with treads on them.

      Secondly, you might want to look up where the current recordholder for Greatest Fuckin’ Cyclist of All Times grew up before winning Seven Tour De France titles, and where he still lives.

      • Money October 21, 2011, 9:42 pm

        How could I forget, obviously 100 & 20 degree weather is optimum bike riding weather for MMM. Haha. When I lived in Austin, I biked to class everyday. So I know how much it sucks to bike in 20 degree weather while it rained with a backpack on. Now I can imagine it would suck 10000X worse if you had to haul a trailer, especially up the Austin hills.

        I am saying it is unrealistic for most people to ride their bikes to the grocery store. Say you work a 9-5 job and it gets dark at 6pm, do you ride your bike late at night with a trailer full of groceries? No, because you would stop by a store after work.

        Also, how much money are you really saving. Say your grocery store is 2 miles away, which equals is 4 miles round-trip. You go 52 times, so that is only 208 miles. For most cars that’s only like a 10 gallons of gas, which equals $35-45.

        Sorry if I rained on your parade bro, but I just love see your replies to certain scenarios . :)

        • MMM October 21, 2011, 10:51 pm

          And THAT, my friend, is why I am Mr. Money Mustache and you are that teeny little pig avatar. You completely miss the whole point of this blog! I’ll leave these comments in just for the amusement of everyone, but any further mindless fluff is going to have to go – we’ve got work to do here.

          • Money October 22, 2011, 6:44 pm


          • Brave New Life October 23, 2011, 9:18 am

            As someone that just moved from Austin, I can agree that the hills are something to be respected, as is the heat and humidity. But that makes it even better.

            I think the money benefits of biking to the store is a tiny one compared to the physical and mental benefits of biking in 110 heat and 80 percent humidity up the steep Austin hills. Mostly, it just makes you a badass in the other parts of your life.

          • Anne May 24, 2016, 4:59 am

            I just roared out loud, repeatedly at that response, MMM. Thanks for keeping us laughing and learning!

            Thanks to your blog and JLCollins, we sold our house 90 minutes from work, rent a house 3 miles from work, walk everywhere in our immediate area, and bike to work!

        • JZ December 8, 2011, 10:12 pm

          First, i’ve biked in ten below on a snow day. No big deal, your bike has a great heater as long as the engine is running.
          Second, i’ve biked in 105f, rather humid, weather. No big deal, your bike has a great fan as long as you keep moving…
          Third, I ride my bike around at midnight. They have these great inventions called lights, you stick them on the bike so people can see you.
          Fourth, everyone goes “heh heh gas doesn’t cost that much..” then you ask them more questions and it’s all “oh, I just had to pay to have my oil changed.. and I just had to buy new tires.. and can you believe it, the transmission is trying to go out..” These are all associated with those miles you put on your car. Then eventually they say “This car has too many miles on it, I need to buy a new one” and put themselves in debt financing a new one of the things.

          • Mukene February 17, 2016, 5:35 pm

            Yeah, and to that comment…’gas doesn’t cost that much’, I ask…if that $35-$42 was on the ground, would you walk past it because it’s not that much money? Hell, no…most people shout it on mountain tops and have facebook status messages celebrating finding $5 on the ground! So yes, that ‘not that much money’ is a big deal!

  • oskar October 21, 2011, 12:54 am

    I would love to bike to the store….it’s just that it takes me more time to get the bike out than it takes to walk the 150 meters to the local grocery store:-)))

  • Anne October 21, 2011, 6:59 am

    When we bought our house 5 years ago (2 miles from a grocery store we like), I got a bike cargo trailer. I enjoy shopping by bike so much more than going by car.

    One of the best parts is all the random conversations I have along the way that would never happen otherwise. The trailer is a conversation starter when I’m loading it up. Sometimes on the ride home people ask about it or give a thumbs up.

    Also, my ride is almost entirely on pleasant side streets with a lot of beautiful gardens, compared to the not-so-pleasant trip on busy main streets that’s the most direct route by car.

    I have a small amount of climbing to do – a lot less than your trip. If I add other stops at the bottom of the ridge and have to climb back up, then I do a bit more climbing and add to the workout. My bike ride only takes a few more minutes each way than the car trip, but I get so much more out of it. Well worth a few extra minutes.

  • Thaddeus October 21, 2011, 7:42 am

    Yes, I remember fondly my days living in Longmont and then Fort Collins. I could ride my bike to work 365 days a year and to the grocery store. There was almost always a bike lane plowed on the city streets. Now, in MN it is really not possible to bike to the store during snowy winter months. However I do make it all spring summer and fall. I have panniers on my bike and use a large backpack when I’m making a big trip. I live about 3 miles from the store and I’m certainly the only one in town shopping this way. The worst was when I biked to a big box hardware store and bought 3 rubbermaid bins and a cooler I needed and totally forgot I was on my bike! luckily I keep bungee cords in my panniers and was able to rig the bins to the top of the pannier frame and stick the cooler into the bins.

  • Valerie October 21, 2011, 10:20 am

    I pass the grocery store on my drive home from work, so I always get my groceries on the way home. (I know, I know. I should be biking to work, but it’s too far. And, again, yes I know, I should move or switch jobs so it’s closer.)
    I do however bike almost every day from March to November as it’s the best way to drain my dog’s energy. (He’s a very high energy 3 year old Weimaraner.) He absolutely LOVES to bike with me. (I have a special ‘Walky-Dog’ attachment that lets him bike safely with me.)

    All that being said I do still love this post. I’ve ‘seen the light’. I KNOW I need to make plans to move or switch jobs so I can commute by foot or bike and run all my errands the same way.
    I crave a simpler life and am still working out all the details as I hope to ‘retire’ to a more pleasurable part-time job in less than 10 years. (Haven’t worked out all the details yet, but this blog is fantastic and is certainly helping me get there!) I actually live on the the outskirts of a small neighbourhood that’s been deemed over the years by various magazines as ‘one of Canada’s coolest neighbourhoods’, as well as one of the ten best places to live in Canada. It’s eclectic, and includes a small grocery store, hardware store, 3 pubs, art galleries, salons, library, bank, pharmacy, medical services, and assorted funky shops. All on a quaint, tiny strip of utopia that’s full of bike racks! And there is still reasonable housing for sale or for rent in the area.
    So, I don’t want to move closer to my work as I currently live in utopia. And where I work is the only company of it’s kind outside of Toronto – 2 hours away.
    (So, what do I do, when switching jobs means a total career change?)

    I just want to say that I have begun to rely on this blog in a way that’s similar to a ‘fix’. I need a fix of sanity among my co-workers and some friends and family. Most own multiple oversized vehicles, and many commute for well over an hour each day then drive to get fast food at lunch. (I have a 15 minute drive which is still much too far.) Consumerism runs rampant and they never seem happy with what they have. I have friends that are still struggling with student loans, on top of mortgages, on top of consumer debt, and yet are still wanting to take out another loan for an SUV that they don’t need. Their only determining factor is if the bank will give them more money or not.
    (I’m seriously not judging. That all used to be me at one time!)

    I really feel that the mustachian way of thinking has become more inline with the lifestyle I want. If only I could locate more friends/people to think this way.
    It really is a paradigm shift – this way of thinking.
    So, I come to this blog to feel normal – ‘cause it sure doesn’t feel normal out in the ‘real’ world!

  • Valerie October 21, 2011, 10:21 am

    Wow. That comment was really long!

  • Tom Armstrong October 21, 2011, 10:47 am

    @Valerie: Yes, it IS a paradigm shift. However, once you start making that shift, you may find yourself thinking in terms of, “How can I justify driving when I can bike?” instead of, “It’s time to drive to work.”

    It takes different planning that many of us are accustomed to doing, but as another poster pointed out, it can become your normal, and thus require less conscious planning to simply do what you need to do.

    When driving, I plan my trips to some degree, to save wear-and-tear, gas, and time. I’d rather do four errands that require using my car in one trip than make four separate trips most of the time. The same thought process works for my utility cycling. I think in terms of “I need to do x, y, and z at A, B, and C locations. What order makes more sense? Do I need more cargo room than my panniers offer?” and go on about my trip.

    • Valerie October 21, 2011, 9:12 pm

      Thanks Tom.
      Don’t get me wrong. I rarely drive my car, other than for getting to work and back. It sits in the driveway unused most evenings and weekends. I plan my errands so they can all be made in one sensible trip every few weeks, and usually on my way home from work. Other than commuting to work, I bike a lot. I bike across town to visit my sister (8 km each way.) I bike each weekend to visit my parents. (They still don’t understand why I don’t drive my car and always offer to drive me home!)
      I think about all purchases, and what each one means in terms of post tax earnings and how much longer I’ll have to work over my lifetime because of said purchase. Big screen tv = no thanks, I’d rather retire a week or two earlier.

      It just seems my biggest hurdle is my commute. If I were to sell & move, it would be only be to move to a smaller home, but in the same wonderful neighbourhood, so still a 15 minute drive to work each way. (Yes, I’ve read http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/. Moving with an agreeable partner is one thing, but I’m unfortunately in a different situation.)
      Changing my place of work is what makes most sense to me, but walking away from a good job is something to think twice about – and that’s where I’m at. Switching jobs actually means finding a new career for me. Not as simple as it sounds, but still under serious consideration!

      Second, smaller hurdle is finding like-minded friends! Why is sensible spending and saving and frugality not the norm?!!!

      Looking forward to being car-free and having my dog guard my bike & trailer as I grocery shop in the future!

      • Tom Armstrong October 23, 2011, 1:35 pm

        Oh, Valerie, I was agreeing with you. I was adding the point for other readers that we DO plan things when driving, we just plan them differently. What seems a great effort to plan for riding to others is our “normal,” and what seems normal to the car-addicted seems bizarre to us, hence the “paradigm shift” bit.

        Best results in your job situation. It’s a tough choice, and there are a lot of variables.

        We can be online friends, of course. My wife won’t be jealous–she knows she has no reason to be. She might be your friend as well! ;-) She would LOVE to have a dog guard the trailer as your suggest. I think it would be pretty cool as well.

      • Mukene February 17, 2016, 5:53 pm

        This is a few years later, but I have found that the more mustachian muscles I have grown, and the more I talk about it, the more people’s eyes get opened. I have a few friends who come to me rejoicing about a change they’ve made in their life because of a book that I recommended, this site, or something they heard me say. Now, that makes me happy! Even my dad the other day sent me a message all the way from far away just to say he had put some money into investments and that started a pretty fun discussion about how to look for good stocks, etc.

        And then there are the naysayers and the complainypants. There was a group of people of work signing up to get vests with the workplace logo ordered. The cost per vest was $74. I already had one but they had a different style out and really I liked them…but for $74?! No, thanks! I did toy around with the idea for a bit and eventually I said that I can’t justify spending $74 to get another vest. Two people sitting around said that it I’m depriving myself! I need to live a little! It became a 30 minute discussion about how people deprive themselves of things and attributed that to why I don’t own a vehicle and went on to say that I live like a poor person. (???) I live right outside the train station…RIGHT OUTSIDE THE FREAKIN’ TRAIN STATION! Why do I need a car? Why do I need a $74 vest? Granted, these two people have no savings. Zero savings. ZERO.

        So yes, you can be an influencer and rejoice with those that actually make baby steps towards financial awareness and eventual independence. And then contend with the naysayers whose words can be a bit harsh but a lot empowering.

  • poorplayer October 21, 2011, 8:32 pm

    I scoot.It’s funner. Backpack, 40 litre topbox, built-in storage. A slight nod to the aging process, if you will.

  • Shane@DitchingGrains.Blogspot.com October 22, 2011, 12:02 am

    You’ve really been making me want to get my hands on a bike MMM. Finally, today landed my hands on one through a bit of an adventure, story on my blog and I linked to you and your great ‘stacheiness.


  • Nuno André October 22, 2011, 9:51 am

    I recently moved from Portugal where nobody bikes, to Berlin where bike is the cool scene. Already have my bike and because the city is so flat it’s very easy and fun to bike, most of my colleagues at work do over 20Km per day in bike in any weather. I have seen these trailers around here, usually carrying more cargo than kids. Loved the post.

    When are you going to post your tips on all weather biking?

  • Tanner October 24, 2011, 11:58 am

    I didn’t read the comments if someone already mentioned something like this.

    My wife isn’t a huge bike rider. But I convinced her to use our double jogging stroller to get our groceries. I went with her this weekend. it was nice and had a big enouch carrying pouch for a good amount of produce, bread, pasta sauce and some essentials. Our grocery store is only about half a mile away so walking is an excellent solution. My wife likes walking better because she doesn’t have to lock up the bike and can push the girls into the grocery store.

    We scored a nice Double BOB jogging stroller on CL for $150, I think they retail around $500

  • New Yorker October 28, 2011, 9:12 pm

    Reading your blog has really made me realize how good we have it here in the Northeast, where public transportation is readily available and, especially for commuting, way more time-efficient than driving.

    You and your readers all seem to live in areas where long drives/bike rides to work and to stores are your only option.

    One other observation: in the Northeast (NYC, Boston, Philadelphia) middle and upper middle class people generally take public transportation to work and the more expensive suburbs are almost always on direct train lines into the city, where commuters either walk or switch to another form of public transportation. Train commuting is incredibly time-efficient (you can work, read, sleep, socialize) and people who drive into the city every day are thought to be a little nuts, decidedly downscale or both.

    By contrast, in the rest of the country (with the possible exception of the Bay Area) public transportation seems to be looked down upon as something akin to welfare, a last resort used only by people who can’t afford to own a car.

    Strange disparity.

  • Hilar November 2, 2011, 12:49 pm

    Hey! Just saw an NPR article on this topic I wanted to share with those who are interested:


    • Gerard October 19, 2012, 2:00 pm

      That article depressed me. Or rather, the comments did. I always assumed NPR readers/listeners were smarter than average, until I read “if you ride your bike to the store you’ll be shot or mugged.” Oh, is *that* what cars are for?

  • Ian November 2, 2011, 3:06 pm

    I used to live in Holland and biked 8K to and from work every day and loved it. If you want to know more about integrating the bicycle into your lifestyle then you need to study the Dutch as I think it has been the default mode of transport for a few hundred years now. The country is covered in cycle lanes and the bicycles are of a quality you won’t find anywhere else. These are bikes designed for specifically for commuting not sport. I now live in the Toronto area and commute about 130km per day, much of that on a Toll road. My monthly commuting cost runs into about $800!! Things must change… Love the blogg tho, very inspiring.

    • Valerie November 2, 2011, 7:44 pm

      “I now live in the Toronto area and commute about 130km per day, much of that on a Toll road. My monthly commuting cost runs into about $800!! ”

      What?!!! There’s only one toll highway in Ontario (and it might be the only one in Canada – I’m not sure.) I had no idea you could rack up that much $$$ on the 407. (I’m assuming you have a transponder?) And I wine and complain when I spend $20 for a trip from London to Ottawa and back on the 407 to avoid the Toronto traffic. (I’m assuming your company/business is paying this and it’s not out of pocket.)

      “Things must change” No shit!

  • Amanda B. November 2, 2011, 9:02 pm

    Bike hauling tip: Get some panniers to strap onto the rear rack of your bike if need be. As someone who has neither the money or the space for a trailer (and OK I’m probs to lazy for it too) these are a lifesaver. They hold a lot of crap when you need them to, but they’re easy to remove and store when you don’t need them. And they’re usually cheap, like $20 or less.

    Plus, having to haul all my ish home with me on a bike keeps me from buying stupid heavy crap that I don’t need just because the store has a sale on it.

    • Amanda B. November 2, 2011, 9:04 pm

      (and by panniers I mean the cloth saddle-bag type that are like a backpack, not the metal rack ones- I have metal rack ones and I think they’re way more of a pain)


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