OH YEAH: Plan a Bike Picnic in 15 Minutes


A gentle breeze and sun that wants to warm your back is calling. What would be better than a picnic by bike?

The plan sounds dreamy, but I worry over the details. How many deviled eggs? Should I bring my lace parasol? Hypoallergenic or anti-bacterial baby wipes? I’m a sweaty mess even before I touch the saddle.

I’m not much of a planner so I have learned that I need to get my pack assembled in fifteen minutes at to avoid fretting too much. First, I plan for a familiar picnic spot. A day courting recreational sunstroke goes much better when you can count on some familiar creature comforts. A functional restroom and water fountain are picnic gold.

My happy-fun-sunshineoutdoors time is bound to be ruined if I get stressed trying to make a Pinterest-worthy lunch spread. I skip the fancy glasses and leave the decanter at home. A trusty water bottle is perfect.

Photo by David Niddrie
Photo by David Niddrie

I avoid the chips and dip. Scooping spilled hummus out of a pannier is no way to spend an afternoon and potholes on the way make chips crumble into savory dust. Bananas are also too delicate for me.

For a boozy afternoon picnic, I ban the glass bottles. In romantic scenes they never mention the pain of carting around a bottle that adds 40 percent undrinkable weight!

Beer comes in delightfully portable and collapsible drinking contraptions. There need to be more options for wine, like in a box or in a fabulous pink can with its own straw.

Today’s alfresco occasion does not call for daintiness or precision. Besides, a sandwich is like nature’s edible plate: Peanut butter and jelly, Parmesan and prosciutto, Nutella and pear. Go with shelf-stable spreads, hard cheeses, and cured meats. These pre-made combos benefit from a bouncy trip on your rack.

Am I really short on time? Grab a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, and an apple. If I feel like sharing, a pocketknife comes in handy.

I’m a hippie who balks at the thought of disposable plastic wrap so I prefer a reusable sandwich cloth made of organic cotton and beeswax. A zip-top plastic bag does the trick too, as long as you promise to reuse it.

Sandwiches will soothe some of the hunger pains, but working on a base tan is more tiring than you think. The fight against hangriness requires vigilance. So I grab a couple of tasty little treats, like a packet of savory almonds or a chocolate bar.

Dining while reclining appeals to my decadent inner Roman. I pack a thin, cotton coverlet or tablecloth. No one likes a wet blanket, so I slip a bike poncho or a Mylar safety blanket between the cloth and soggy ground. I add this bundle to my pannier last so it is first at hand when reaching my destination.

Bonus points are awarded for setting up on a gently sloping hillside. Angle your blanket just right for a natural chaise longue. My helmet makes a surprisingly comfy support for my head and neck for reclining while people watching.

Or maybe this is too complicated for today … maybe I’ll just find a nice bench and order a couple of pizzas to the park.