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Stories and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems, written by a beginning farmer/gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Memories of bicycling for bacon

On a recent bike ride with my younger sister Jeune Gal, she and I were reflecting on our memories of biking to our hometown's Main Street every morning for a few summers in a row to get coffee, bagels, bacon, and to simply enjoy the weather without any responsibility. Those were the days!

As we talked more about how much we missed those summers, we discussed how our bicycles really were our modes for freedom from home those days since neither she nor I had our licenses at that time. I was probably old enough to have one during those summers, but I didn't get my license until after going away to college. I believe I was 19 and had had two learners permits by then... I've still never owned a car, and I'm hoping I can continue to say that for many years to come.

By biking in those days, we were able to learn the contours of our hometown's streets, find the quiet streets with less traffic, visit little stores we came across, and enjoy the weather by being out in it when we rode from place to place.

One place we often visited was Coffee Beans & Bistro (or Coffee Beans & Things as my dad called it). It was located on a corner in downtown that is near a little plaza with a coffee shop, burrito place, and ice cream parlor, so it's near the part of town where people tend to gather. It's across the road from the Farmers' Market that happens every Saturday, as well. It's a bustling place on Saturday and Sunday mornings and after school.


When we used to visit this restaurant (which has since become a different restaurant called Café Main), there was a cook there named Felipe who always made our  bacon. We know because whenever we'd order, the cashier would tell us "Felipe will get you your bacon." And sure enough, Felipe always brought us our plate of bacon, right to our table. Knowing the name of the cook, becoming a recognized set of faces each morning, and enjoying that freshly cooked bacon brought us back quite often, always by bike. We'd get coffee and maybe a bagel on the way downtown and then without fail, we'd order bacon when we went into the little café.

In thinking about this pattern, I realized it was a real-life example of bicycling supporting the local economy in a particular way. I'm currently working on a research paper about how increasing support for bicycling in a community or business area can support the local economy because of how bicyclists spend money, where they tend to visit, and how people on bikes interact with communities differently than people in cars. I'll post the final version on this blog, and I'll likely continue to reflect on it throughout the next quarter of school.

I realized that the combination of our bicycles (which limited how far we really felt like traveling for food), the friendly faces that greeted us each time we visited (knowing Felipe was taking care of us and making our bacon), and the sense of our smalltown-feeling hometown community all worked together to bring us back to that café time and time again.


As I write this, I'm sitting in the same building, which is now a restaurant serving a wider variety of food--but they still have bacon and coffee. They still have large front windows right on the main street in town, and I still feel better spending my money here rather than at a non-local chain restaurant. I feel at home in this place, able to observe my town while enjoying delicious food and remembering all those mornings in summers past when my sister and I were free to bike as far as our legs could pedal and our wheels could roam.

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