Tuesday, April 10

Pedaling Against the Wind

My shed building shenanigans over the weekend left my body in wrack and ruin. I overdid it. Monday morning I dragged my ragged self out of bed, moaning and groaning all the way to a semi-wakeful state. Ugh.

I avoided making eye contact with the Cannonball. It leaned there behind the couch on its kickstand nonchalantly, as if to say: "I'm ready to go, what's your problem."

But then the bill came due. 6:10am, Monday morning...I had to make a choice: apply force to the pedals or call/text in sick. Well, I played the "sick" card the week before on Monday. I didn't want to establish an unsustainable pattern. I trundled the cargo bike out the door into the pre-dawn air light and with a heavy sigh I pushed off for Golden. Ugh.

I managed a normal commute time at the long end of my typical range. 55 minutes is not bad considering that I felt like I'd been run over by a moto-fascist. I wasn't in terrible pain as I rode. Oddly, the musckles I'd abused in building the shed were counter to the ones I used to propel my two-wheeled steed. The real pain began when I dismounted the bike and tried to walk it in to the service elevator. Ouch.

Switch the Cannonball X to walker mode. And when I say walker, I mean like the kind you'd see in a nursing home.

Much to my chagrin I discovered I felt best sitting still. But when I got up the stiffness and soreness screeched awake and hobbled me, restricting my movements to an elderly shuffle.

As I faced the long commute home at the end of the day I resolved that I would just take my time. I had to swing by and pick up Bean, so I knew it was just going to be a casual-type cruise back to the Bikeport. And so it was. We rolled home in another 55 minutes, but on a downhill commute that usually takes 30-40 minutes.

These are the factors that I had not anticipated when I decided to go carlite back at the end of 2009. I knew there would be unseen hardships. I wasn't naive when I reasoned that I could sell the car and rely on my bikes for my personal transportation. But I couldn't foresee all the myriad obstacles that would be flung up in my path.

When I admit to people that I ride every day I get the usual: "Even in the snow?" questions and the like. No one ever asks about days I am sick, injured, tired or just plain unmotivated to ride. Those days of riding are much harder to face than those with some precipitation or cold air. I can easily mitigate the effects of rain or snow. No sweat, man.

The hardest thing to articulate, when attempting to encourage new riders to ride, or experienced riders to ride more, is how to get past the "soft" obstacles. And, even when you really have no choice but to roll over them, sometimes the self-talk gets rather heated.

There are many days I am certain, that if I had a car at my disposal, I would choose to drive instead of ride just because of "laziness." Take the car out of the equation and laziness become a serious factor. Do I call in to work because I'm "tired?" That's a big stretch.

So how does one make the big leap to eliminate the car from the equation, or alternately, to leave the car parked when temptations are high to get behind the wheel? Honestly, the only answer I have is to look inside and decide for yourself what are the true costs and what is the real benefit of choosing bike or car.

To honestly answer that for yourself you need to have as much real knowledge and data to make an informed choice.

The simplistic answer is to always keep Ken Kifer's figurin' in mind: 93.8¢ per mile to operate a motor vehicle (in 2003!) versus 12.8¢ per mile to operate a bicycle. Given Ken's rough (and assuredly outdated) figures that is an 81¢ per mile benefit to ride a bike.

I think it might be good to update Ken's figures, though I would have to say the relative difference, that 81¢, is probably still close to being as accurate as it was in 2003.

1 comment:

  1. Clear Creek Trail in Golden (under Washington Street). I took it last spring I think...