The Fox, Goose, Running, Bike Commuting, and Beer Puzzle

We all know that the aversion some people have to commuting to work is partially because of the logistics and planning involved — at least in the beginning.

After a time, these logistics become as second nature to us as, say, stopping for gas, or texting while driving is to many motorists.

Bike commuting has become so mundane for me, that I need a new logistical challenge. I’m also not getting enough exercise from my puny bike commute — less than two miles when I take the shortcuts. I never even work up enough sweat to worry about changing clothes. I just commute in the same clothes that I will wear all day.

I’ve even been forgoing beer because of this imbalance between my caloric input and output.

River Crossing Puzzle
Similar to the Sheep and the Butt-Sniffing Wolves Puzzle

Something needed to be done. I need to start running again.

Figuring out how to get some running back into my schedule presented something similar to a “river crossing puzzle.” You know the kind where  a farmer must carry a fox, goose and bag of beans from one side of a river to the other, but the boat can only hold the farmer plus one other item, but the fox can’t be left alone with the goose, and the goose can’t be left alone with the beans, etc.

Only it wasn’t quite that hard.

The best time for running is during my commute to or from work. My only constraint is that I don’t want to carry anything on me when I run. I need clean clothes waiting for me at work, and I need to get the stinky running clothes home.

I was motivated by the prospect of having a beer with dinner again.

So today I loaded up my already cluttered Vaude Silk Road Plus racktop bag with the following items:

Running LogisticsI will run home today, leaving my bike at work. So I need:

  • Running shirt
  • Running shorts
  • Running socks
  • Running shoes
Vaude Silk Road Plus Rack Top Bag
Note: This bag is already loaded with clutter: a rain jacket, a fleece pullover, a video camera and accessories, and other ballast.

And I will run to work tomorrow morning, so I brought what I will wear tomorrow.

(Sorry, coworkers, if this eliminates the suspense.)

Tomorrow afternoon, I will stuff everything into my rack top bag again and take it all home on my bike. Then I’ll have a beer with dinner.

Puzzle solved.

This cycle lasts two days. If I can do this twice a week, that’ll be four runs a week.

So, I’m curious: What logistical puzzles have you solved that allowed you to continue to bike commute within constraints that might have more easily been solved with a car? I’m interested even if your puzzle and solution don’t involve beer.

Tell about it in the comments.

*And now there is no mystery left in our relationship.

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8 thoughts on “The Fox, Goose, Running, Bike Commuting, and Beer Puzzle”

  1. locus says:

    My puzzle: cart two young boys, work bag, gym bag, and various other things (lock, tools, raingear) on a regular basis around DC.

    My solution: get an Xtracycle (in my case, a Big Dummy)

    Now I have no problems carrying everything back and forth to school and work.

    The added bonus: it can carry a lot of beer at once!

  2. Joel says:


    You have raised an interesting dilemma. My current bike commute is almost ideal: I bike six miles each way to the bus station and it takes me anywhere between 22 to 37 minutes one way depending on wind, fatigue, heat, and traffic. Combine that with a spirited 40 minute dog walk and I feel very good at the end of the day.

    There exist the possibility in the future of an alternative public transportation system which would cut my commute to 2.5 miles each way. Like yourself, this presents a caloric problem. Short of deflating the tires and dragging some chains, 2.5 miles is hardly enough to get the heart going after you are used to the longer distance.

    I guess I would have to walk the legs off of the dog in order to make up the lost metabolic calories. Quality walking shoes are not cheap. I just might have to keep the longer bike commute going.

  3. BluesCat says:

    My 16 mile round trip bike commute is the perfect exercise distance. On the days I don’t commute by bike (not because of laziness, now, but because I need to drive 50 miles to our other office), I still have a method for getting in some good pedaling exercise.

    My favorite destination for these off-days is a Starbucks about a mile and a half east of my place. Rather than heading east directly to the store, I head south, wind my way through some quiet neighborhoods, then head east, ride around a park for a bit, then head north to the Starbucks. I usually get in about 7 to 8 miles that way.

  4. Ted Johnson says:

    I celebrated my run home with an O’Doul’s Amber last night.

    Lessons learned:

    Running to and from work with keys, wallet, and cell phone bouncing around was kind of a problem I hadn’t expected. I put my wallet in the tiny pocket of my running shorts, put the cell phone in my sock, and held the keys in my hand. I need to come up with a better solution for carrying these things.

    The run still isn’t long enough, even though I took the “long” way. I need to add another ten minutes.

    Running to work needs to be on an empty stomach, so that requires that I eat breakfast at or near the office.

  5. Andrew Bizon says:

    I ride every day, but, like you, my ride is really short and isn’t a workout. I also want to run a minimum 3 times a week, which means a minimum of two runs per week on workdays. This either means running at lunch from the office, or riding home, changing shoes/shorts, and immediately going on a run after my ride. I can still have dinner by 7.

    If I run, or do the gym at lunch, this means a separate change of workout clothing. Workout shoes stay at the office.

  6. Jack says:

    My puzzle?

    Why run? Why not just leave work and head away from home and then return later.

    Running is bad for your health. I’ve got a cobalt steel hip to prove it.

    Use a good mapping website, there are tons, find a long,scenic, round a bout way home, and enjoy the ride.

    No puzzle. Just ride.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Why run? Good question.

      Some people do better running than others. I’ve never had a running injury, but have had two or three cycling injuries.

      I feel like I get a better cardio workout in a shorter amount of time when I run.

  7. BluesCat says:

    I’ve got to agree with Jack on this one.

    Years of running, backpacking, land surveying and just general WALKING have left me with flat feet and plantar faciitis.

    Bicycling doesn’t stress my feet, so at my … ahem … mature age I can stay active.

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