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Happy Cranksgiving!

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Savannah Bicycle Campaign volunteer Maggie Rickenbaker organizes food at Cranksgiving, a pedal-powered food drive benefiting Emmaus House.
  • Savannah Bicycle Campaign volunteer Maggie Rickenbaker organizes food at Cranksgiving, a pedal-powered food drive benefiting Emmaus House.

LATE LAST MONTH the Reading Eagle newspaper offered helpful guidance for people who ride bikes in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

“It’s important to prep your bike before storing it for winter” the headline advised. The article provided tips for putting a bicycle into hibernation when it’s “too cold to ride.”

Those who subscribe to cycling magazines will see similar articles describing strategies for winterizing both bikes and their riders for the trying times ahead. These stories of winter weather woes can be a bit disorienting for us in Savannah as we enter the best time of year to be on a bike. And word is getting out.

As I was writing this, a couple from Cooperstown, N.Y. stopped by my office to pick up a copy of Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s Bike SAV map and guide. Back home it was 33 degrees with snow showers.

To say they were enthused about the weather here is an understatement. I think I’d receive similar reviews of our weather from the members of the VBT bike tour group I saw on Habersham Street last Friday.

The ad copy for the tour promised them the opportunity to “savor the relaxed charm” of Savannah as they “cruise past towering oak trees draped in Spanish moss” in our “elegant” city.

I’m here to tell you, friends and neighbors, you can do the very same thing almost every day this time of year. Even on a Monday morning. Even on your way to work.

If you’ve ever thought about bike commuting, now’s the time to try it. Bike commuting can be a tough sell locally in July and August, and it seems like September is officially one of the “too hot and humid months.”

Now, however, it’s a great time to commute by bike, for more reason than one.

A study from the University of Copenhagen, published in the International Journal of Obesity this month, finds that riding a bike to work is “just as effective as exercising at a fitness center for people who want to lose weight.”

Fitting a workout into a busy schedule can be a challenge and that’s part of the good news from the study. “Our results show that it is possible to combine transport to and from work with effective physical exercise,” the authors report.

The bad news for us, despite our climatological advantages over Copenhagen this time of year, is our lack of safe cycling infrastructure. This discourages many people from trying bicycle commuting and enjoying the numerous benefits.

It’s also important to note that many of our fellow citizens ride to work by necessity and must travel dangerous streets that we have the privilege of avoiding.

Even if commuting isn’t an option for everyone, other types of transportational cycling are viable options for many.

Running errands, going out to dinner, and shopping by bike are all ways to combine transport with effective physical exercise as advised by Danish scientists.

Grocery shopping by bike can be particularly enjoyable and this Saturday offers a master class in how it’s done. The Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s Fifth Annual Cranksgiving ride is a pedal-powered food drive benefiting Emmaus House.

This Saturday, Cranksgiving participants will shop by bike for staples needed at Emmaus House. Prizes are offered for the most stores visited and most cargo transported. The first Cranksgivng ride was held in Brooklyn 18 years ago and has since spread across the country.

The local event not only helps feed hungry people through Emmaus House, which provides food and day services to the homeless and needy, it also demonstrates how bikes can be used for chores which we might assume would be possible only by cars.

Cranksgivers will use bags, baskets, panniers, and cargo racks to convey food and other items needed by Emmaus House.

“You’ll see some truly ingenious ways to transport bulky items,” said Caila Brown, chair of the SBC board of directors. “Other competitors enjoy the challenge of visiting as many stores as possible.”

Brown said she hopes participants will continue shopping by bike long after they’ve done their good deed for Emmaus House. We certainly have the weather for it, at least this time of year.

The fifth annual Savannah Cranksgiving Ride is Saturday, Nov. 18. starting at 1 p.m. Cranksgiving is half bike ride, half food drive and a 100 percent fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon helping others.

Registration for the ride starts at 1 p.m. at 1301 Lincoln St. At registration, participants will receive a shopping list of items needed by Emmaus House. The challenge begins at 1:30 p.m. when riders roll out to shop by bike.

Participants should buy items from the shopping list without going over $15-20 price limit. Riders may compete by themselves or on teams. Prize packages will be awarded in the categories of most items carried by a single person, most stores visited, best team effort, and most innovative cargo rig.

Participants should bring $15-20 to spend on items from Emmaus House’s needs list, a helmet, lock, and a backpack or other cargo carrying solution.

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Speaking of Cranksgiving, Savannah Bicycle Campaign

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