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5 ways to transport varying sizes of Christmas Tree home by bike.
Christmas time for me, as it is for most, is the most anticipated time of year. It brings to mind visions of fireplaces, hot chocolate, brilliant lights, and… green felt? And then there’s Christmas trees. It’s really not Christmas without a Christmas tree.
But here’s the issue: If you prefer the bicycle as your main choice of transportation, how are you supposed to get your tree home? Every year, it’s this huge schlep to load my little fir, pine, or spruce on to my bike and make my wobbly way home. And I’m not just kvetching for sport. Even with my small apartment, I would never want to be the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, so here’s a list of ways to bike your Christmas tree home just like Momentum Mag and me.
Now if you have the chutzpah to join in on the increasingly popular tradition of carting your Christmas Tree home by bike, it helps if you already own a bakfiet. Just like Santa’s sleigh, having the space to carry a larger item will reduce a lot of stress. But like any other item you’re trying to pedal across town, take the time to consider the size of the tree in relation to your own experience and physical limitations. Just because you think you’re some sort of Samson doesn’t mean you are. Picture yourself more like David taking on Goliath. Take your time, and construct a game plan to take down that giant.
Also remember to factor in the time of year. Winter is not the easiest season to bike in in many areas, so the width and weight of the tree may affect your speed and balance in the wind or on icy roads. Take your time and stay alert to your surroundings.
For a larger tree, you also have the option of carrying the tree diagonally across the box, attached by tying it into place so it’s not flopping around while you ride. In this case, unless you are a Christmas tree biking veteran, are extremely confident in traffic and don’t mind taking up an entire lane, plan a route in advance. Be a mentsch and choose streets with less traffic so you can moderate your pace until you get a feel for the new weight and imbalance of the tree.
Many bicyclists have found a work-around for non-cargo bikes: the bike trailer. You can trail your kids, your pet, groceries, so why not trail your tree? While your bike trailer may not fit your tree perfectly – it may stick out the back or the front, you can get creative. Bring bungee cords or rope (or both), and before you set off, do make sure your Christmas tree is well secured so it doesn’t slip off without your knowledge and cause the shmegegge behind you to curse and shake his fist at you.
If you have neither a bike trailer nor a box bike, a longtail such as a Yuba or an Xtracycle will do just fine. If this is your choice of bike, you can strap down your Christmas tree lengthwise on the deck or strapped to the side if you can figure out how to pedal around it. Many models have side bags for just these sorts of carrying purposes. Just remember that your choice of tree may have a bissel more length than your already lengthier bike, and its considerable weight may have you shvitzing on your ride home, so clothes you don’t mind sweating in might not be a bad idea.
Hard Work always wins out in the end. If you don’t have longtail, a cargo bike, or a bike trailer, your regular no-frills commuter bike will do just fine. The bags on your back rack are always an option. Do not bite off more than you chew, scale the tree to the size that is safe and reasonable to carry. The plus-side of a smaller tree is less clean up after the Holidays. I mean, there’s enough cleaning to do without having to sweep every twenty minutes. If you find yourself itching because of some pine needles sticking you in the back – refer to your zeide’s advice and wear an undershirt for an added layer of protection.
You can grab an open top pannier or a large basket and simply ride home with the shrub standing out of the top, supported by a few ropes or bungees. If you’re going the basket route, take it slow and ensure you can always see in front of you on your way home. Again, do choose a route that you feel safe taking your time on, where you can pull over if need be. Having a couple friends or family along for the ride can never hurt either.
Another option if you don’t have the bags or baskets, is to simply wrap those tree branches tight to the trunk and wrap the whole tree over your shoulder with a makeshift sling. Don’t use just any old thin scarf. Use a material that’s thick enough to secure the tree and is in little danger of tearing. Make sure to really secure it to yourself, though. Otherwise, if the tree falls in the middle of traffic you have bopkes to bring home once it’s been run over a couple times by motorists.
Really you could just carry the tree. I mean we need to account for Christmas miracles, right?
No matter how you choose to bike your Christmas tree home, stay safe and recruit back-up when needed. Just consider your friends or family tailing you as your own personal Christmas Reindeer. Picking up a tree by bike may not be easy, but it’s an enjoyable tradition many are choosing. Plus it’s a great story to tell while you nosh and schmooze during Christmas dinner when someone compliments your beautiful tree. Hopefully our tips will make the mishegas of biking your Christmas tree home a little easier. Happy Holidays!
In the interest of full disclosure and to explain the occasional Yiddish peppered throughout this article, Geffen Semach is Jewish and as such has never purchased a Christmas tree, and/or biked around with one. She does, however, love to cart other large and oddly-shaped items around by bike and thoroughly enjoyed writing this article.