Moving Across Boulder by Bike

Bed on a BIke by Zane Selvans on flickr

My friend Bryan, with whom I’ve been living for the last year, is heading off on a round-the-world bike ride for an indeterminate amount of time.   So I had to find a new place to live.  The Masala Co-op had a summer sublet opening, and I jumped at it.  I used to be on the board of the Boulder Housing Coalition, which owns Masala (and Chrysalis, another co-op downtown), and I lived here for the summer of 2004, before heading to Baja to kayak that fall.  And of course… I was determined to do the move by bike.

I was a little surprised to realize I’ve never moved by bike before.  Mostly I think this is because (regardless of the mode of transportation…) I hate moving.  My last few moves have been between California and Colorado.  Doable by bike only for the ultraminimalist.  I think my last real across town move was within Pasadena in the fall of 2001, and that was done with the cargo van I ultimately ended up living in the following year.

I’d always imagined having it be a big bike-move party, where you call in any friend with a trailer or a cargo bike to move en masse on one day.  But because I was remodeling my room at Masala before moving in, this wasn’t really the way it worked.  I didn’t know exactly when I’d be ready to move, and as it turned out, I was ready for different stuff to arrive at different times, so it worked out to be easier for me to just do it all myself, one load at a time, as I was ready for things.  I was able to skip the whole “living out of boxes” experience this way too, which was nice.  When I had a place ready for my bookshelf, I brought over the shelf and my books.  When I’d finally built shelving into my closet, I brought over my clothing and outdoors gear.  Everything always had a place to live, and I don’t think I lost anything.  At least, I haven’t noticed it yet if I did.

Using your own power to move every single physical thing you own definitely makes you think about each one of those things.  Whether you really need it.  Whether it’s really worth having.  Especially when in the end, it’s all got to fit into a single room, without the luxury (or curse) of a garage or shed for overflow.  I think it’s a good filtering experience.  In the end it took a total of 7 loads on the biggest of the Bikes at Work trailers that Community Cycles has, and lets its members borrow.  I don’t think it was significantly more difficult or annoying than moving by truck or van would have been.  With low enough gears (the kind found on any mountain bike) even climbing up the hill on 9th St. was very manageable.  Certainly not fast, but in this context, who cares?  It’s a once a year thing… at most!

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7 Responses to Moving Across Boulder by Bike

  1. Kerry K says:

    Hey, don’t forget the load of all your pillows and bedding that I piled high on my bike the night that you moved your bed! Wish I had had a trailer, too, that night. It would have been fun to help you move furniture…

  2. Rob Rowe says:

    Very cool move. We were contemplating moving in August, and would’ve only needed a truck for (literally) one piece of furniture. It would’ve fit perfectly on one of Community Cycles’ Bikes at Work trailers.

  3. Pingback: Riding with Live Cargo | Flat Iron Bike

  4. Aren’t Bikes At Work trailer great? I use these to do bike moves in Montreal since 2008, and I just wrote a how-to guide to help people choose the right equipement. It also contains lots of tips to work safely. Please let me know what you think.

  5. avaerewyck says:

    Zane – I didn’t realize you were a fellow car-free blogger. You do some pretty intense things on bikes. I’m impressed! And I look forward to more Flat Iron Bike reading. :)

    • Zane Selvans says:

      I’ve been doing it for so long now it just seems normal. It’s not actually physically difficult to go grocery shopping for a 12 person household by bike, or pick up couches, etc. It’s mentally difficult to do it because society says you can’t/shouldn’t.

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