When the milk crates run out

You may have missed it, what with all the hullabaloo about the Tour de France beginning this past weekend, but here at Eugene Bicyclist we are certainly going to make time to celebrate the launch of the 2010 Le Tour de Milk Crate.

The speeds achieved in the short Prologue were mind-blowing. It was barely possible to capture them with a consumer-grade camera:

TdMC rules require sandals be worn during the Prologue. And a backpack, even if your milk crate is nearly empty.

Preparations along Coburg Road were under way early:

The riders huddled in their team RVs for pre-race strategy meetings as fans gawked at their machines.

Team Bungee is here:

Team Dumpster Dive, as well:

And of course, Team Quality Checked is always a favored contender:

I have to say, based on my careful observation, the milk crate fad is off the charts — at least here in Eugene. It is far more widespread than either the short-short handlebar fad or last fall’s wave of swine flu.

Of course, if you subscribe to an ethos of “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle/Do-It-Yourself” (aka: 3R/DIY), it’s an eminently clever and practical idea.

First and foremost, it is green — figuratively and literally — as it will happily transport your tomato starts from the garden store to your home.

There may be some unresolved issues regarding who actually owns some of these crates …

But let’s leave that alone for now.

There’s a bigger concern, given these amazing milk-crate consumption patterns: It’s not sustainable, people.

We need to start planning for the end of the milk crate age, for the day we encounter Peak Milk Crate. Some have suggested this day has already passed, and that 3R/DIY cycling culture is soon to enter a long period of decline, disintegration and outright havoc.

It’s got to be to the point now that dairy operators are scratching their heads and facing their own acute shortage. (“Where the hell are they all going?”) It’s only a matter of time before this trickles down to the cyclist on the street.

It is the poor, of course, who feel the brunt of this upheaval long before the rest of society.

But do not despair. There are brave, creative souls out there who can show us the way. Even while maintaining 3R/DIY street cred, they can lead us to an even more sustainable future using alternative Improvised Bicycle Cargo Devices (IBCDs).

Look at this ingenious setup, for instance:

This would appear to be salvaged from a 1970s-era 12-piece set of America Tourister luggage. Best of all, this person has found a use for the runt of the set, the piece that even American Tourister didn’t think people would use — but, hell, they couldn’t market an 11-piece set. (“Oh, just come up with something else. It doesn’t matter what. We just need a 12th. Something for someone to keep their cat in, maybe.”)

And to think, now it has a new life, carefree and cheerful in the fresh, open air. Living its Golden Years to the hilt. And not only does it have serious 3R/DIY cred, but vintage/retro cred, too. Hard to beat that.

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