My main mode of transportation while living in Japan were my bicycles.  They went everywhere I did.  This is where I learned to bike with groceries*.
I was fancy enough to have two bicycles.  The first was free, and it was a black, heavy momma of a bike – with a basket.  The upside was the basket, which held my school gear, groceries, and anything else I could fit.  I had my laptop in it for a while, but that seemed bad for the laptop.  The downside was that it had no gears, which made riding up the hills extremely painful.  The second bike gave me the luxury of gears and shocks – but sadly, no basket.
Both with their pros and cons, I would determine two things before embarking on my errand running:  the amount of purchasing to be done and where it would be done.
Being ahead of their time, Jusco, my local Japanese grocery stores would limit the amount of plastic bags you could use to bag your groceries.  But their environmental consciousness meant that your grocery bags were going to be heavy.  The cashier would dole a couple bags depending on your load.  One was great to sit in the basket.  Two were great for balancing the bike.  Three got tricky, but there was space for them all.  Four, really wasn’t much fun – but the ride was short.
In time, I got really quite good at this balancing act.  Even with the mountain bike, I could negotiate busy streets and sidewalks with bags dangling from the handlebars.  If it was very windy or I was going quickly, I’d have to manage the swinging of the bags into the tires.  I’d use a knee or foot or anything available, to stop the swinging.  The sound of plastic rippling along the tire spokes is still a familiar one.
Even with my growing expertise, there were ‘situations’.  Eggs got cracked.  Bags broke open.  I ran into a girl on her way from from school.  I ran into a mini-van when it was raining (or rather, she ran into me).  I knocked down an old man (I felt horrible about that one.).
After I left Japan, I tried to keep my biking-with-groceries skills honed in Honolulu – using my hot pink, Huffy mountain bike.  That lasted for about a month before I realized that the busy Honolulu streets were no place for grocery bags on handlebars.  I started walking to the grocery store.
*Warning for the kids-at-home, this is a really dangerous and stupid skill.
(Photo by Dion Hinchcliffe on Flickr.)

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