I've been commuting by bicycle for nearly 20 years now, starting when I was doing my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. For anyone unfamiliar with a Midwestern US winter, suffice to say it wasn't always fun. Nevertheless, a bike was almost always the best way to go as it was often too far to walk, I didn't own a car and I found the bus system far too slow and constricting. In fact, I fondly remember days of racing to class against a friend on a motorized scooter – and I usually won.
These days I still get around by bike when I can and my current hometown of Boulder, Colorado makes the process remarkably tenable with its amazingly bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Not only are there bike lanes on a majority of roadways but also a comprehensive network of dedicated bike paths snaking over, under and through the city. The bicycle lifestyle is so ingrained here that the paths are often plowed before the roads when it snows and finding a place to lock up your townie downtown can be tricky come dinnertime.
Still, I admit that laziness wins out and I do find myself hopping into the car more than is really necessary – say, when it's time to fetch groceries, drop off or pick up various boxes, or just if the weather is crappy. And as I now work from home, any trips I do take on bike tend to be for quick errand runs downtown or to meet people for meals and whatnot. The burgeoning crop of heavy-duty utility bikes had gotten me thinking, though: if the ability to haul cargo was no longer a limiting factor, could I feasibly go bike-only, even in wintertime?
Well, no better way to find out than to dive in headfirst, right? And so it begins. As of today, I'm committing to ditching my car for a bare minimum of one month in favor of Trek's new Transport+, a long-tail utility bike with an electric pedal-assist system from BionX – offering up to 350W of extra oomph – and a massive total cargo capacity of 102kg (225lb). There's just one caveat, in that I'm limiting the area to anything within Boulder city limits, which is spread over about 66 square kilometers (25 square miles). After all, while I do want to investigate the feasibility of such an endeavor, the reality is that most of us simply aren't willing to haul heavy masses of goods across great distances by pedal power.
Otherwise, anything's game, regardless of weather (remember, I'm in Colorado and this is wintertime), time of day or what I have to lug around. And we're not just talking groceries here. In fact, the very first trip involved walking a few blocks downtown to pick the bike up – along with a second mountain bike for test. It wasn't a pretty sight but I managed to stuff the wheels in one pannier and the rest of the bike in the other and pedaled gingerly home – and earned a few odd stares and comments from passers-by in the process.
I'll be tracking my trips on GPS and posting regular updates on this blog as the weeks pass, so watch this space. I'll also post reviews on the Trek Transport+ and some other associated gear. If this all goes the way I think it will, there should be some fun stories to come. Oh, and feel free to shoot some feedback, questions or comments my way. You can find me on Twitter at @angryasian.
So what can you really carry on this thing? We'll find out over the next month or so but this was a good way to start