I hated to do it at first, not wanting to ruin the lines of my beautiful bike, but my better sense won out in the end, and I bought a rack for my bike. To finish it off I got a decent pair of panniers, and with them I greatly increased my carrying capacity. This was actually several months ago, but it's the build up to my minor gripe about something, so deal with it.
Whether I'm grocery shopping or visiting the library, I always have room now, and I have the option of not always having to have a backpack. That's nice in the summer here in lovely east TN.
But really, the grocery store is the best reason to have these things, and I proved that once again today. I got a few days worth of meals and actually didn't completely fill the panniers. I also didn't need the backpack and didn't drop my bike while turning it to get the bags on or moving it to get myself on.
That's actually a point worth making, because the weight and where it sits on the bike does make it move a little differently, most noticably when you are not on it and moving. That isn't even the point, but maybe I'll talk about it some day.
Because that weight can effect the bike, it's worth it to take a minute in the store and pack the panniers properly. Additionaly, you're at the grocery store spending money on the food your kids will be uninterested in over the course of the next few days, so you might as well pack it safely.
Meat, cans, beer, bags of flour, these are the kinds of things that you know will go into the bag first and therefore be on the bottom. I stick the meat in a plastic bag in case it somehow leaks. I don't want to have to bother cleaning my panniers that thoroughly until I have to, so I'm not inviting the comingling of chicken and pork in liquid form.
Tonight involved enough produce that all of it went into their own pannier. The rest was meat, a can of beans, and some rice. In addition to all of the above, I always have my giant ulock along, but it fits neatly in the mesh pocket on the outside of either pannier, though it tends to go on the left side as that's the side I carry if I only need one. For what it's worth, I also put the meat on that side tonight so that the lock wouldn't be pressing against any of the produce, the bulk of which was potatoes and a cabbage. And that's why I separated tonight's load as I did.
As mentioned, the bags each have a mesh pocket on the outside which is usually only the lock pocket, but it's nice to have as it came in handy, sorta, tonight. They also each have a large top pocket that can hold a medium broccoli crown. I did stuff them so full once that the broccoli was the last thing, and I laughed to myself at how perfectly it fit that last pocket.
All of that is a set up to today at the grocery store and one of those times when no help would be more helpful. I'm getting good at packing groceries in panniers. Part of that involves knowing what I'm buying and setting up the process as much as possible. It is easiest with the uscan, but once I'm buying that much stuff I start to feel like everyone waiting behind me wishes I'd hurry. I kinda get that at the regular checkout, but not so much if I just do it myself and the bagger fucks off and lets me.
I try to start the process by lining my groceries up so that the scanner operator sends them to me in the order I want them going into the bags. If I can get set up and get the bags open, then if he/she sends them in the order I've put them on the conveyor belt, the system works. Of course I don't want to be an ass, so I don't insist the scanner person follow my set up, but I'm gonna have to just run the bagger off in the future.
"Hey, you don't need to bag those," I say, and I indicate the panniers that I'm moving toward the upper reaches of the shopping cart from where they've been resting out of the way below. Inevitably the bagger is now stumped, completely uncertain of what to do with their life in the present moment. They've just been told, by a customer, that the aid they are employed to provide is not necessary.
They of course never take the hint and want me bagged and gone as soon as possible. That would happen but for their, hopefully, good intentions. He insisted on helping, but he didn't bother with understanding that I didn't want bags, that the bags I had would be sufficient. I did tell him about wanting the meat bagged, which he did, but he then began trying to force things into the mesh pocket, the small mesh pocket that I don't want him putting things in, and not just because it's not the actual main place where that item goes.
Andd I don't want to have to explain wieght issues or balance or which side is up. I just want him to let me do it, and I'm trying to load one while hoping he will stop. I'm going to have to undo anything that he does, and it's going to take longer. In the end I just paid, put everything into the cart as it was and rolled my happy ass out to the foyer, or whatever the room is where all the buggies and the crap for a quarter machines are.
I was then able to very quickly fix the mess Mr. Helpful had made and was soon on my way. I won't discuss now the laws I broke, just minutes from the store as I brazenly pedaled through an intersection, and not across like I was supposed to but right through the middle so the three directions involved were all having to deal with my wanton disregard, and it's actually the best and safest way for me to cross this intersection, though I could arguably go to the next slightly different to cross one.
And I just keep remembering that guy trying to stuff all that stuff into the one pocket. How could he not figure out that what I was doing was right and that what he was doing was so obviously not the right way. Never fucking mind! I'm getting all worked up again. It's actually time to go read some of The Hobbit to The Boy so that he and his brother can go to bed.