Grocery Gitter

13 February, 2006 Temperature: 15 degrees F (-9°C)

I’ve been contemplating this homely milk crate today. So ugly, yet so useful. In a way, it sort of legitimizes us, the Baron and I. Let me explain…

Grocery GitterBelieve it or not, we have been caught speeding a time or two on West River Road. When I say “caught”, I don’t mean pulled-over. I mean that a cop has seen us before we could react and slow down to the limit. The Minneapolis Park Police and regular force officers seem to be more creative in their ambush techniques than their Saint Paul colleagues. West River Road is their turf, and they patrol it aggressively. We tend to ride a bit over the limit most of the time, and this is where I have to think that maybe the milk crate saves us.

If the Baron was wearing his sporty, color-matched trunk, we would look guilty as hell. But as soon as they see that goofy, bungied-on, salmon colored milk crate, they relax: “Ah, just another poor working stiff, probably running late. Give him a break…”

Call it The Anti-Bling Factor.

The humble milk crate also serves a very useful function in that it carries so much more than the trunk did. Now that my wife is working part-time, she occasionally calls me with a small grocery list. I ride right past our neighborhood supermarket every night, so it really isn’t much of a hassle to stop in for a bag of essential supplies. It’s truly amazing how much stuff that milk crate can handle, especially when you stretch a couple of bungie cords over the top of your load to hold it inside when riding over the bumps.

Yes, the milk crate turns the Baron into a small utility vehicle. S.U.V.? Oh no, that’s not right. I can pretend I am a redneck and call it a Grocery Gitter, I suppose. Why not? The point is, I am only now learning firsthand what people in other parts of the world have known for quite some time. In places like the Philippines or Thailand, I have seen whole families piled onto one scooter, heading into town. They transport livestock to and from the market, and carry all manner of large objects, sometimes balanced precariously and held down by a myriad of rigging. That humble scooter is nothing less than the family car over there.

I have often fantasized about selling my neglected pickup truck and just putting that money into savings, maybe investing it. Can you rent a pickup truck when you really need one? Doesn’t that make more sense than suffering from all this depreciation, maintenance, and poor fuel economy?

I’d better shut up about trucks now. Somebody down at that Ford Ranger plant is going to read this, and we will never be safe on East River Road again.

15 Responses to “Grocery Gitter”

  1. Stranger #529 Says:

    >Can you rent a pickup truck when you really need one?
    Yes - Uhaul

  2. David Eakin Says:

    >Can you rent a pickup truck when you really need one?
    Yes - Uhaul

    And Home Depot - or you can put a hitch on your wife’s car and get a utility trailer for about $400 (about 1 month’s payment on a truck). And it’s easier to get a cycle into a utility trailer than a truck.

  3. Texas Scott Says:

    Hi, great blog.

    Winter commuting on a bike is simple here is Houston: put on your vest and scarf under your jacket and go. :)

    I commuted (9 miles on way) on Bicycle in Seattle for 3.5 years. I owned a truck then but it sat in the parking lot until ski trip time. I was also very fit.

    On moving to Houston my commute turned into a 35 mile one way ordeal. Most of my coworkers drove trucks similar distances to get to work (we’re in the boondocks). That’s when bought a 1997 Honda Magna to ride instead of the truck. The difference in gas money was enough to make the payment and insurance on the bike. I literally went every where on that bike for about 6 months when I moved to a BMW sport touring bike so I could grocery shop, etc. I rode that BMW essentially every day for 3 years.

    Moral of the story is I got tired of have the high mileage truck just wasting around in the driveway. I traded it in on a small car (as a bike back up). I own a home and when I need things like lumber to build a porch cover, if I can’t TIE IT TO THE ROOF of my small car, I rent the dang pickup for $25 and I’m done.

    No muss, no fuss, no 1.5 extra tons to drag around everywhere I go.

  4. Administrator Says:

    “The Anti-bling factor”

    I Love It!!!! Needed now days more than ever. For all the raised eyebrows and snickers I get for my green milk crate on the back of my KLR, I’ll just have to say that it’s my anti-bling factor.

    You are right, the milk crate is the perfect size for the motorcycle/scooter. Just the right width, sturdy, can attach bungies in a million different places, and now a new added feature, its anti-bling.

    Keep up the great blog Gary.


  5. Seagullplayer Says:

    You know they now have great paint that works on plastic at Walmart.
    What could be better than a color matched milk crate?
    More advertising room too; “To rent this space call…”

    If you use the black rubber bungee cords with the steel hooks, put tubing over the hooks to keep them from scratching your fender.

    Rubber down

  6. mnscooter Says:

    You guys rock!

    I really love all the great ideas I get in this comments section. The utility trailer is a great idea.

    The question about renting a pickup was rhetorical. I’ve done it in the past from U-haul.

    Does Home Depot really rent pickup trucks? What a cool idea!

    SGP - I’m not sure about wanting to paint this thing to match the body color. That would probably damage the anti-bling factor some. Kind of like putting chrome on a stealth bomber.

    Ride well,

  7. irondad Says:

    You mentioned hauling livestock. Two summers ago I saw two young men on scooters. They were wearing the blue FFA jackets. ( Future Farmers of America ). Both scooters had little luggage racks on the back. On one scooter they had put a piece of plywood across. Guess what was on the plywood? A struggling sheep that looked full grown. It was trussed up in a way that would make a Boy Scout proud. I can’t imagine trying to pilot a scooter with a flopping sheep on the back. This young man looked like a snake sidewinding down the lane but it seemed to work.

    S.U.V. How about “Smart Utility Vehicle”?

  8. Greg Beck Says:

    Hi Gary,
    Been reading your blog almost from the start. I’ve been riding to work for almost three years now & just wanted to thank you for (hopefully) showing
    other folks that a scooter is a viable form of tranportation & we aren’t really crazy!

    Happy Riding,

  9. Mad Says:

    I misread your posts title until I’d read most of it. I thought it said “Grocery Glitter” so I’ve been expecting bling not anti-bling. Thought you’d got some new high visibility modifications on the Baron.

    I have never seen a milk crate on the back of a bike or scooter over here. maybe the Brits are too proud to for such a mundane accesory? I personally think it’s a grand idea but I haven’t encountered anything that I can’t carry with my tank pack or cargo net … yet.

  10. mnscooter Says:

    Irondad, no SUV for me. I don’t care WHAT it stands for. ;^)

    Greg, thanks for writing. I’m doing all I can. It’s not very glamorous, but on most days it IS fun. And as you know, it is also very, very practical.

    Well Mad, let me ask you this: Do you have any rednecks over there? Do you have any people for whom duct tape is the very sinew which binds their lives together? Yeah, didn’t think so. Between that kind of attitude and your oh-so-proper accent, I shouldn’t imagine you will be seeing milk crate luggage anytime soon. This is strictly for us colonials.

    Ride well,

  11. Buster Brown Says:

    ” Two summers ago I saw two young men on scooters. They were wearing the blue FFA jackets. ( Future Farmers of America ). Both scooters had little luggage racks on the back. On one scooter they had put a piece of plywood across. Guess what was on the plywood? A struggling sheep that looked full grown. It was trussed up in a way that would make a Boy Scout proud.”

    Why is it the conversation these days always comes around to “Brokeback Mountain”?

  12. mnscooter Says:

    Well, Buster, you just KNOW it’s gotta be due to that Liberal Media Bias.

    But you know, until you intruded with your filthy city-boy innuendo, I assumed this to be an innocent, agrarian tableau. Now you got me wondering why the poor animal was all trussed-up. Irondad didn’t mention any black leather devices…


    This is, after all, a Family website.

    Ride well, you prevert.

  13. irondad Says:

    I have never seen the movie and I am not into “M & M’s” or whatever they call that stuff!! I am assuming the sheep was the one that was sick and not the riders! :)

  14. Mad Says:

    We don’t have rednecks it’s true but we do have “chavs”. They are our equivalent and frankly I’d rather have rednecks than chavs…
    Personally I think the milk crate idea is a brilliant one and has been added to my mental list of “innovations to consider when trying to carry stuff”. ;)

  15. scootermom Says:

    I like the milkcrate idea too…my son and I scooter all over our little town on x-360’s (I know I know - but WE think they’re “real” scooters LOL) Since my son is only 13, he doesn’t need a license for an x-360. I like the idea of not adding one more car to our already conjested community.

    I was able to talk the local grocery store manager into giving me one of those hand baskets you carry around the grocery store with you. Viola! It fits perfectly onto the luggage bar. Now more guessing how much groceries me little scooter can carry. The milkcrate however, has much more space, hmmmm…

    The cops in our town never drive by without taking a long look at us as we tootle down the shoulder or sidewalks…funny though, they are always shaking their heads and grinning. Oh well, as long as they don’t point!

    Carpe diem!

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