The Power of Bikes

Fairly recently, when away on a gig out of town we decided to drive a lot less. This was based mostly in two factors. The first- our car is a piece of junk (I do quite love this car! I’m grateful every time I sit behind the wheel for how reliable it is, despite having nearly a quarter of a million miles on it, that’s the distance to the moon!)

Remember these guys?…wait…

After making it the 340 miles to our location we feared that we might need to baby it a little in order to get back home. The second reason is that as we were going over our annual spending via the Mint.com app, we noticed that we were using on average 100$ of gas a month. Granted, some longer trips skewed the numbers a little bit, but overall this felt really, really high. I would consider us people who barely use the car. But the numbers weren’t sitting pretty.

This was my fourth year returning for this same summer gig, and two years prior I did not come with a car. I brought down my bike instead. Encouraged by the fact that I had already succeeded once, I posed us a mini-challenge. We would only use our car once a week, and bike the rest of the time. We loaded the bikes on the rack and headed off…

How Mr. SS loads the car, “That’ll hold right?…Yeah, we’re not going far.”

… just to be stopped by a police siren about 3 hours later. Fair warning- you will get pulled over when you have a bike on the bike rack. It blocks the plates. You will be let off with a warning, but mentally prepare yourself that this will happen. Aside from that, biking is AWESOME!

  1. It is the perfect way to commute to a college campus (or other places where parking is a challenge)

Our summer gig, much like my regular job, took place on a college campus. If you’ve ever had the pleasure, you know parking is a bear of a task. Half of the time, the lot you are assigned is actually a 15 minute walk from where you need to be. Not the worst thing in the world, but you can easily travel 3 miles in that time on a bicycle. 3 miles! If you don’t live far, chances are this will actually save you time. At this gig, it would take us roughly 15 minutes to drive, park and walk over to our building. By contrast, it only took 6 minutes on a bike. And we all know how I love efficiency! Plus, there’s always construction on college campuses*, which is much easier to navigate whilst cycling!

  1. It will make you a morning person!

This is a big claim, and might not be true if your first journey of the day starts at 1pm. But even then, it’s just far more pleasant to breathe in the fresh air and feel the wind in your hair as the start of your day. The combination of awareness of your surroundings and the slightly elevated heart rate from physical activity is a great way to transition into full AWAKE mode. It puts you in a great mood for the rest of your day- this is especially true when your trail includes a large hill, and you happen to be going down it… although it does kind of suck in reverse, but in that scenario your heading home, which is reward enough!

  1. It’s good for the environment

Fairly obvious, but still worth saying. I used to think I didn’t much care about the environment. The flawed belief came mostly from the “make ugly useless things from your garbage” DIY tutorials and highly structured black bin, green bin ,blue bin trash day systems (beware of the three-bin neighborhoods, they’re a little…much).

In reality though, we are doing horrible things to our planet. So every time you can make a better choice, it does add up. The $100 on gas translates roughly to 800 miles. During our 5 week experiment we eliminated driving/ biked around 600 of that. Which seems crazy, but once again, it’s math not magic.

  1. You can do it in any weather

Full disclosure- I have not thoroughly explored this claim, but individual testimonies combined with internet articles makes me believe in its validity. I have bike in a torrential downpour. The key is not wearing a lot of clothes, so you’re not bogged down by layers of wet clothing. Jeans are the main villain in this scenario. I imagine biking in a snow blizzard is the exact opposite i.e. you wear all your clothes. Soon to be discovered- jeans, winter friend or foe?

“Nope!”
  1. Once you have a bike, IT’S FREE (and sometimes bikes themselves are free)

‘nuff said.

So with all of this in mind, a challenge to myself and others- bike more! What does that look like? In the summer, we were able to use the car only once a week (minus that time we needed to go to the ER, which feels like a fair exception). Once back, our usage has increased. We are doing construction on the land, which accounts for some of the travel. We used to haul water roughly 3 times a week (but we just got water on the land- “yay!” she said to Mr. SS proudly).

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We have some friends who live a decent drive away. However, I have started biking to work. Every day. And I love it. My challenge, therefore, is as follows:

Bike to work every day this semester. And next semester. We will see how it goes. Wish me luck, cuz we sure do have winter. I’ll keep you posted.

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