Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ride Report - Boulder Food Rescue 3/25/13

On Sunday, I posted about my night-before jitters about my Boulder Food Rescue volunteering. Today, the day after actually doing the work, I can exclaim that I survived, and had fun! I didn't take any photos or videos like I had originally planned, mostly because of the weather and road conditions, and the fact that I was being shadowed by my BFR trainer, PD.
I left my apartment, braving degrees in the teens, at about 7:30am, to head to BeauJo's, a "Colorado Style" Pizza Restaurant in South Boulder. That's where the trailer and lockbox are kept for the two Baseline Ave. grocery stores that participate with Boulder Food Rescue. There, I was going to meet PD, one of the BFR coordinators, who would give me an on-the-bike training of my specific route.
8am on the dot, PD arrived, we introduced each-other, and then began fighting with the "weatherproof" lock...which had frozen shut from the weekend's storm. We finally managed to free the shackle, and he gave me some tricks on using the seatpost style trailer hitch. We needed to bring the scale along, so I tucked it into my Green Guru "Dutchy" pannier next to my u-lock and seatbag (which I took off to utilize the seatpost hitch), and we headed to Sprouts.
As we gingerly parked our bikes (and trailer) on the icy loading dock ramp behind Sprouts, and entered the back of the store, I saw two carts. A large cart with four banana boxes full of produce, and a shopping cart with some bread loaves and other pastries. We wheeled the carts outside, and began sorting the boxes by "squishability". Then came the weighing...
For the first couple boxes, I was able to stand on the scale, holding the boxes, then subtracting my weight. Twenty pounds here, twenty pounds there. Then, I picked up the couple 40 pounders, and the scale gave us an error. (I'm not overweight, but I did have my loaded backpack, coat, helmet, and gloves on...). The reason, PD explained, that we weigh everything, is so we can keep a report and running total of Boulder Food Rescue's efforts. As the weight added up, I knew this was going to be big trailer-full. In fact, all said and done, it ended up being 200lbs of produce and bakery items.
We loaded the trailer together, PD imparting some wisdom of stacking techniques, and using bicycle tubes as tie-down straps. I had to use the downhill of the loading dock to get moving, but once I found a usable gear, we were off.
The ride up 30th was pretty painless, actually. Inertia and momentum are wonderful things, when they're working for you. It was nice having a ride-along as we were able to take the lane more confidently, in order to avoid the poorly-plowed, snow-covered bike lanes. PD encouraged and commented on my bike and trailer handling. If I could transport 200lbs of food in freezing, icy/snowy conditions by bicycle for my first run, it would only get easier.
After climbing the last little hill, probably the hardest part of our ride, we delivered the food to the Family Learning Center, which is surprisingly close to my apartment (One of the reasons I chose this particular route.). I'm eager to learn more about their organization, and hopefully, get to spend some time meeting some of the people I got to help. I'll want to brush up on my Spanish, but it's worth it.
Following the off-loading, we had to return the trailer and scale to the BeauJo's bike rack so it could be used later for the Whole Foods run. Again, we had to take the lane a few times, and I had to carefully navigate the trailer around "icebergs". The final hill on 30th almost killed me, but we made it, and after a handshake and a congrats, PD went off on his way, as I worked my way back to Foothills Parkway and the Arapahoe paths to get to Copy Experts.
The route's below (including leaving my apt and getting to work). It's definitely going to build up some core muscle strength dealing with these loads, but the interesting thing is how great I felt both physically (it was a Monday, after-all), and mentally, by the time I got to work. I've been looking at the shifts-needing-covered, and thinking I may grab one for Saturday...at least the weather will be nicer this time!

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