Carlisle woman no longer has time to bike to the grocery

Susan Bacher lives in Carlisle and has pledged to grocery shop only by bike for one month. Here she shops at Hutchins Farm in Concord, then loads up the panniers on her bike for the ride home.

Jon Chase for the Boston Globe

Susan Bacher lives in Carlisle and pledged to grocery shop only by bike for one month. Here she shops at Hutchins Farm in Concord, then loads up the panniers on her bike for the ride home.

When Susan Bacher’s officially designated month of grocery shopping by bicycle ended, she hoped she would maintain some of the standards she had set for herself in improving her fitness and reducing her carbon footprint, even as the prospect of colder weather would make biking more daunting.

The Carlisle resident did not anticipate the more dramatic change her life would take later in the fall when an opportunity arose that she couldn’t turn down: a part-time teaching position at an independent school in Wellesley.


Though it was in many ways her dream job, with it came what she now views as almost a complete reversal of what she accomplished with her biking challenge.

“During September, I saved 70 miles a week of driving by biking to the supermarket and skipping the health club,” she said. “Now I’m driving three times that amount with my daily commute. Recently I stopped at the supermarket on my way home from work. Halfway through the store, I noticed how much comfort food I’d put in my cart. Sugar, fat, carbs, all the things we’d given up when I was shopping by bike.

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“It was the kind of food that makes you feel warm and fuzzy and is easy to prepare when you’re short on time. But it was a stark realization of how hard it can be to balance priorities. When you work full-time, and commute, and have a family, there’s so much to take care of. How do you fit in exercise? How do you make a good healthy dinner? How do you create a garden and take care of it?

“What I’ve come to realize in this latest transition is that it was really kind of a luxury to be able to ride my bike to the grocery store, and to put so much time into thinking about what I would bring home,’’ she said.

“Now I think there’s no way I could do that in my current circumstances. It’s a conundrum. What if I love what I’m doing for work, but it means a long commute and sacrificing a lot of time with my family? I’m still hoping to find more of a balance.”

Nancy Shohet West can be reached at nancyswest@gmail.com
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