Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pedal Power Update - October 2008

Another month has gone by (is it really November already) and I have to say our weather is GORGEOUS! Some days are warmer than others. I actually had to wear jeans for a couple days last week. We're back up close to the 80's again during the day, but at night, we've been sleeping with the windows open for about a month. All that beautiful fresh air makes for a wonderful night's sleep. And I can hardly wait to see the utility bill now that we're not running the AC. Sure, I've had to wear a light jacket on a few morning rides, but all that peddling warms me right up. And after a long, hot summer, I'm not complaining about that little bit of frost we got a few weeks ago. Nope things are mighty nice here in Central Texas. Mighty nice. 

All that fabulous weather should mean really low numbers on our driving miles this month. Other than a few trips to pick up milk on Fridays and dates with my hubby on the weekend, I've been pedaling all over town. Most of my trips are short 30-60 minute round trips to and from the post office, bank, library, natural food store, pharmacy, etc. For National Campus Sustainability Day, however, I biked all the way to campus (about 1-1/2 hours round trip). It wore me out (I'm not sure how Dave does it day after day), but I'm looking forward to heading back to campus again soon. We're coming up on pecan season and the Texas A&M Horticulture Department grows and sells pecans out on West Campus. I got some last year both for us and for holiday gifts. They were a real hit so I'm planning on making the trek again this year for more. 

Despite all those pedaled miles, we did end up a little higher on the driving miles that we did last month, but still less than we did in July. So it was a good month, but not necessarily spectacular. Because of work demands, Dave needed to drive vs. bike to the office these last 2 weeks and the miles added up. But despite all the extra miles to the office, as you can see, we still logged in at 348 miles this month. That's a little over 11 miles per day. Still not bad. 

We're coming up on the holiday season, and with a trip to California planned for December (and yeah, we're taking the Prius instead of flying) our miles will be WAY up, but from what I understand, driving has less of an environmental impact than flying and we're not about to give up visiting Dave's mom in sunny Californina. As for November, we've talked about a short trip, but nothing is planned yet. We really are enjoying Elphie (the Prius). When we can't bike, she's a great little car and we've been going a solid 1-1/2 months between fill-ups. I consider that GREAT since she only has an 11 gallon tank. We're getting about 46 miles to the gallon with her so she's definitely holding up her end of the bargain. Sure, gas prices may be going down, but I feel better knowing that we're not pumping nearly as much CO2 as we were with the jeep, and besides... If more people bought hybrids, the demand for gas would go down, which in turn lowers the price of gas for everyone else. So, yeah, you're welcome (he he).

Anyway, the bottom line is getting out there and biking is not only saving us some cash (which is GREAT now that I'm not working), but it's also healthier for the environment and it's doing a wonderful job of keeping us in shape. As an extra benefit, the more I bike, the more confident I am. Not that I'm not cautious when I bike, but I've become more confident biking on roads (instead of sidewalks) and merging with traffic. It took some time to build up to this, but with a little more confidence has come additional freedom to visit new places in town without the use of the car. 

I know a lot of you out there are nervous about riding your bikes. I sure was when I first started. But don't start out feeling overwhelmed as if you have to sell your car and starting biking everywhere to be a "greenie." Start out taking small trips in your neighborhood. Then maybe start running an errand or two (near to home) to places you would normally have taken the car. Work your way up, but like anything else, start small. Take baby steps. Build your confidence. And before long, you'll discover the freedom of pedal power! Have fun!


story girl said...

This is way way off topic - but do you know when in where in the Brazos Valley we can get good, local apples?? It's fall and it feels like we should be eating lots of apples, but I don't even know where to look!

Heather @ SGF said...

story girl - Unfortunately, apples don't grow here in the BV. The closest you can get is north Texas. Here's a link to some orchards in TX:

I've been eating a lot of citrus lately (from South Texas), but you might call the Farm Patch and see if they have any fruit from inside the BV. Let me know what you find out :)

Beany said...

I didn't know pecans grew in Texas. I had some really amazing pecan waffles in Decatur, TX a few days back and learned that pecans are now in season.

The other thing that really shocked me was how many bicyclists Texas has. I thought you were some sort of anomally but then we keep running into lots of bicycle commuters. Its so encouraging and wonderful to see this. The more bikers the better.

Good job on the bicycling!

sunflowerchilde said...

Great job with the bike! And I'm jealous you have a Prius (I have a Matrix, which works better for us b/c we need a station-wagon-type car). I live in Davis, which is an incredibly bikeable city, so I've always felt comfortable on the roads, but it takes a lot more nerve to ride around Sacramento, where I work. I honestly do feel that riding on the street is safer than riding on the sidewalk, though.

I have a really nice road bike that I use to commute for work, but I need a more useful bike for running errands. I bought an older road bike and put a newspaper-delivery-style basket on it, but it keeps having mechanical problems and the basket is really heavy. I want to sell it and start over, but I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Heather @ SGF said...

beany - oh, yeah! We have lots of pecan. They should hit our farmers market in the next couple weeks too, although I saw a news report that this year's harvest has suffered. We'll only get about 1/2 the normal this year.

All the bikers must be in North Texas. We have some here, but not all that many. Most are students of the university or the poor trying to get to work. We have very few who actually choose to bike, but there are a few.

sunflowerchilde - I agree that once you get comfortable enough, you are safer biking in the street than on the sidewalk. You are FAR less visible to a car on the sidewalk. As far as selling your old bike, have you tried Craigslist or perhaps you have a university near by that has a for sale list on google? We have one here for our university called tamuforsale. It's a great place to post items. Hope this helps!