Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pedal Power Update - July 2008

July - month three of Pedal Power. Despite temperatures topping 100, Dave and I are still managing to bike to work a couple days a week and I'm biking all of my errands around town (library, post office, farmers market, recycling center, bank, etc). Even in the heat, biking just feels good. And it's not only the fact that we're saving money and reducing our carbon footprint - physically, I feel wonderful after a nice sweaty bike-ride. My heart is pumping. My muscles are primed. I feel accomplished. I feel strong and unfortunately, I probably smell strong, too... 

It's such an amazing feeling - little ole me on a bike. Me, the weakling who would rather walk because I just couldn't do the whole bike thing. Right. You can't get me off my bike now. Long distances, short distances - I just grab the helmet and go. Granted, we still drive to our milk pick-up on Fridays, and twice this month, Dave drove me to work because I had early morning meetings, but otherwise, bicycling has become freedom. A quick and easy way to get around. Who knew I would love it this much?

So how did we fare as the temps started to soar in July? As I mentioned in my last Pedal Power update, rather than tracking drive-free days, we decided to track miles (it makes more sense since we are trying to reduce our impact), so it's kinda hard to say. My feeling is that we drove more often and more miles that we did in June. As far as actual numbers go, we clocked in at (drum roll, please...) 402.5 miles. Really? I was completely shocked when I saw this number. That's less than 5,000 miles in a year. I guess I thought it would be much higher. It seemed like we were driving all the time. Hmmm. That's not so bad, is it? I bet we can still beat it, particularly when the heat starts to drop (oh, I don't know, 3 months from now) and we're not risking heat stroke each time we leave the house. Wow. Only 402.5 miles...

Anyway, another interesting factor that will shortly come into play is the fact that we're on the waiting list for a Prius. How will owning a more fuel efficient car, a hybrid, affect our driving decisions? A friend recently asked me if I thought I would drive more often in the Prius because I'd feel less guilty about it. My answer was "no," simply because I don't enjoy driving (besides where would I drive - I won't be working after Aug 15 and I don't shop), but we'll know for sure before too long. 

So that's where we stand. We tracked our mileage for the month to get a baseline and now we bike our little hearts out (yep, during August, the hottest month of the year here in Texas) to see if we can get our numbers down. Wish us luck (and no heatstroke)...


eco 'burban mom said...

WOW! I am so impressed, you should be so proud of yourself. It has been so hot and humid here we haven't biked in awhile. Too lazy I guess.

And, I am looking forward to pictures of your new Prius-baby soon! The expectant parents must be so excited! ;o)

Beany said...

I am impressed too! I know there is no way I would ride in 100 degree weather (with water bottle or not).

Are you inspiring your neighbors though? People at my husband's job think he is smart for riding his bike now that gas prices are up, but really he just LOVES riding his bike.

We think we've inspired our friends to begin riding bicycles.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Wow Heather, you must really enjoy the pedal powered transportation to ride in those temps. I walk as my area is kind of scary to bike around, and after I get home, I am hot and sweaty (and of course, still smell like roses - hehe), but it DOES feel amazing.

You guys are really cutting down on your mileage - you should be so proud. I think tracking mileage as opposed to days the car wasn't used is a better gauge as well.

Good luck keeping it up!

Iris said...

"Me, the weakling who would rather walk because I just couldn't do the whole bike thing."

Wow...you give me hope, because the pre-bike you is TOTALLY me. I stopped biking in college when I realized it took me less time to walk to class than to bike because of the hills. Maybe one day I'll get to where you are! :)

CindyW said...

Great job!!!

If you and Dave can bike in Texas in the summer(I lived there. Think big, hot and humid), anyone should be able to bike to more places.

I am inspired.

Green Resolutions said...

Really? You haven't always biked? What was the turning point?

Heather @ SGF said...

eco 'burban mom - I'll tell you what, I'm looking forward at seeing pics of that new Prius too. Where are you, baby???? :)

beany - It's really not so bad first thing in the morning. It doesn't hit the 100's until the afternoon and then since I'm just going home, I don't mind the sweat. Although the last time I rode home I had to lay on the kitchen floor for a few minutes before I could make it to the shower. I got a little too hot, I think.

I'm not sure about inspiring others to ride their bike, but I've had neighbors come up to me and say that they are now walkers because they see me all over town. That makes me feel good!

Jennifer - I love walking too and walk a lot around our neighborhood and to the grocery. Are you able to bike on some of your sidewalks? It would be safer if you're concerned. We don't do that everywhere, but we take advantage where it makes sense.

iris - it' all a matter of just hopping on and letting the addiction take hold. I hadn't biked since I was a kid and was completely panicked that I would get stuck somewhere with a flat. I just felt more independent on foot for some reason, but once I got past some of those irrational fears, it became so much fun, I can't get enough. Give it a shot :)

cindyw - I hope this encourages others to bike more. It takes some planning, but it's doable and in a ride to work, I've logged my exercise for the day. No extra effort needed. I love it!

Green Resolutions -The turning point. Hmm. I've had my bike since 2004 when I found out my office was moving onto campus. It was a 30 minute walk to work and all the sudden it was going to be much, much further. So my hubby convinced me to buy a bike (he's always loved biking). It was real slow going at first. I just love walking and I was always worried I'd get stuck with a flat and not be able to get to work. I ended up walking to the bus stop (30 min walk away) and then taking the bus in because it felt more reliable than me biking so far. But that meant that to go 8 miles, I had a one-way trip of about 1-1/2 hrs. Yikes! I did that for a couple years before I realized the freedom I had right there in my garage. I mentally walked myself through each of the fears I had about biking and troubleshooted each one, listing what I would do in the rare case that what I feared happened. Once I had a plan, I decided to try biking shorter distances. It turns out, my fears were mostly unfounded and the more confident I got, the better biker I was. Soon it turned into longer distances and eventually going all the way to work (about 8 miles). It was a process, but the key was probably taking a mental walk through of my fears and realizing how silly they really were. I hope this helps!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Heather - Yes we are able to ride on the sidewalks everywhere but downtown, which is where my job is, so I couldn't feasibly ride daily, but for my other errands I could.

A lot of it is my being scared, it's been ages since I rode a bike! You are inspiring me to get back on one though - I should call this summer the "conquering my fears summer", I've gone swimming for the first time in over 10 years and am trying to brave it and learn how to properly swim, I am trying very hard to get over my irrational fear of butterflies, and I may just get back on a bike after all. :-)

Heather @ SGF said...

Jennifer - what a great summer you're having! All those milestones! Just remember to take baby steps. Take your bike on some short trips and build up your confidence. You'll do great!