We did it!!
This past May, my partner made a suggestion, “Let’s try to put more miles on our bikes than we do our cars between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.” To some, this may seem like an impossible task, but when we bought our home a few years ago, we chose a place with a bike path in the back yard. I am an environmental educator, and our family values reflect a constant consideration of how our actions affect the other species around us.
Back to the challenge…
As I considered the reality of this situation, I made a pros and cons list to see if this could actually work.
First, we both work from home, so our daily commute consists of walking upstairs to our office. If I have meetings, they are generally within a 5-6 mile radius from my home. Both pros for making this a reality. I love my bike, my partner got it for me as a birthday/Chanukkah present a few years ago. It also helps that my partner rides 3x a week with a local cycling club, and they average about 40 miles per outing. This was also a great year to do it since he was also participating in Ride the Rockies – 550 miles added to our bike odometers. I was making a pretty good case.
My only real sticking point came when I looked at my adorable 19 month old daughter who would have to accompany me on most trips in her flashy yellow and blue bike trailer. She weighs in at about 20 pounds, 1/5 my total body weight. Add the weight of the trailer and the accompanying CSA share/groceries/library books etc., and we are looking at a considerable amount of weight to add to my biking experience.
When I thought about it, the challenge boiled down to one thing. How do I want to live my life in each moment? What data do I want to use to inform my daily decisions?
I thought differently this summer. Every time Lilianna and I wanted or needed to leave the house to run an errand, go to her gymnastics class or attend story time at the library, we had a decision to make. Do we drive or do we ride? If we are going out with friends farther than would be workable via bike, our friends offer to drive, and we carpool.
We had a few challenges at first – my bike odometer was reading incorrectly; we needed to figure out if we were going to count road trips that would be impossible to bike; and other little bumps (like the time we misjudged our route and had to off road with the bike trailer down a particularly steep and slippery mud hill).
As of September 2nd, Lilianna and I have taken countless bike trips to pick up our CSA, purchase groceries and go to story hour. I have biked to meetings with a computer and projector in tow. The other night, we were heading out to buy some rags (we have been working off of the same roll of paper towels since we moved into our house) and it began to rain. Instead of getting in the car, we postponed our trip to the following day when we could bike without getting wet. We hit our groove.
By the Numbers
Total Car Miles Driven = 2079.4
Total Bike Miles Peddled = 2273.81
Difference of = 194.41!!!!!
Training for a Hazon Ride? Training for another ride? Take the 3 months before the ride and put more miles on your bike computer than you do on your car’s odometer. If you carpool in someone else’s car or ride a bus, those miles are considered “neutral” and do not count for or against the challenge. If two people in the challenge bike to the same location, you can count both sets of bike miles. If you drive on a long car trip, you have to count those car miles. The day after Labor Day, add all of your bike computer miles, subtract all of your car miles. Those were our rules. Have fun making your own.
Amy Atkins is a member of the Colorado Advisory Board, an environmentalist and a Jewish Educator.