Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pedal Power Update - February 2009

Just as 2008 renewed my dedication to a life without driving, I've started off the new year with some serious pedal power. Despite chillier temperatures, I've done just about all my errands on the bike or on foot. It turns out, as long as there's isn't more than a 15 mile-an-hour wind, I can bike in just about any temperature. It's just a matter of layers. 

And layering is certainly something I've been taking advantage of. On one of my last bike trips to the farmers market, I was sporting 5 layers on the top half, and 4 on the bottom half. It was the only way I could bike to the market, stay for several hours, and still be warm enough to bike back home. All I know is it worked!

I did use the car a few times. Poor Kelsey (our dog) has had a horrible ear infection that required a vet visit 4 times in the span of 2 weeks. Yeah, not exactly her favorite car trip. But putting her in the kennel and onto the back of the bike just wasn't going to work and having access to the car made things much easier. I did take advantage of those days I had the car and ran any extra errands we needed that I'm not normally able to do on the bike. 

It also looks like I'll be using the car a bit more in the future. As I mentioned yesterday, I've been working with the board of our local farmers market to launch a new volunteer group, "The Friends of the Brazos Valley Farmers Market." One of the activities of the group will be hosting an informational booth on market days to help spread the word about the benefits of eating locally, tips on shopping at the market, and other ways we can support our local community. Starting this past weekend, I got up extra early and with pamphlets in hand, had my own little booth at the market.  Of course, since I need quite a few materials with me, it means a short car trip, but if I'm able to spread the good news about eating a local diet, it's VERY much worth the 2 mile drive in the Prius. 

Never fear. I may be driving a little more often, but my commitment has not wavered. Just about every other day of the week, you can find me biking around town, my bike basket full of goodies. Some days you'll find me parked in front of the natural food store, other days the library, and about once a week along the railing outside the Village Cafe where I plan all my lunch meetings - their food (all local) is so fabulous that I strategically plan all meetings around lunch time!

So what about everyone else? Have you been making a greater effort to leave the car in the garage and bike or walk some of those errands? 


Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

What do you think is the average distance you go? I'm curious because my kiddos go to school about 5 miles away and I think it's not too far to ride their bikes (with me going along too) but to hear them talk, it would be torture! Ha We're going to be incorporating a lot more bike riding in anyway ~ just have to find fun places they want to go. Since we live on the edge of town, it does feel like it's all so far away. Farmer's Market is nearly 9 miles. Just curious.

Chile said...

Pedaling around with your basket full of goodies sounds so bucolic....until I remember the number of layers you said you were wearing!

How do you get 4 layers on the bottom? All I can think of is 3: thermal underwear, pants, rain or snow pants. That's what I'd wear in Oregon on a rainy winter's day.

The biggest problem I had, though, was with frozen toes. Even with 2 pairs of socks, the bike shoes, and neoprene booties, my toes would be numb within about 15 minutes anytime the temperature went below 43 degrees. Any suggestions?

Heather @ SGF said...

Melissa - It varies. Downtown (library, my favorite restaurant, etc) is about 2 miles one way. Natural food store is about 3 one way. Dr/Pharmacy is maybe 4 miles one way? Campus is the farthest I go, however, 7-8 miles away (depending on what building your going to) and as long as it isn't over 100 degrees out side, it's a easy ride, but then I don't do it every day.

I find the "length" doesn't matter as much as the "stress" of the trip. If most of it is in a neighborhood or along a sidewalk, it makes the ride easier (less stressful) than when you are in heavy traffic or along the highway. You might try it one day just to see. Maybe the kids will end up loving it!

Chile - Oh, I'm good with layers. The bottom consisted of thick sweat pants, long underwear, wool knee socks (up to my knees), and winter boots (almost up to my knees). It was super toasty! :)

I have trouble with my fingers and toes too, but the wool knee socks inside those boots (Ugg knockoffs) really is super warm. Of course, they don't sell wool knee socks here in TX. I ordered mine online eons ago. It was from a company that sells winter gear (bought them originally for when I went to China in Nov/Dec - Brrr).

sunflowerchilde said...

Yes, I'm biking a lot these days! As soon as I figured out I could use my cross-country ski pants as rain pants, I've been biking in the rain, too. My commuter/road/racing bike is in great shape, but my around-town errand-running bike is in awful shape and I don't know what to do about it. I don't have space in our storage closet for, so it stays out in the rain and gets rusty. Also, with the baskets full, it's heavy and hard to balance. But I don't want to buy something nicer if I don't have a place to keep it. It's a quandary.

katie z said...

I've been riding my bike almost every day lately. I work 3/4 mile from home, but I have two little girls that come with me, so I don't always bike. When it's really cold, they can't stay warm no matter the layers!

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

I would say that the reasons for using your car (vet appointments and activism) shouldn't make you feel bad at all. Those are things that are wonderful to do, no matter how you have to get there.

Do you guys have any sort of public transportation in your area, even buses? Public transportation isn't very good in Missouri, but in my town (Columbia), we have a bus line. It isn't the most convenient way to get around, but most of our daily needs are in walking distance and we only use the bus to get to work and to errands that would take too long to walk to.

I hope Kelsey is feeling better, poor pup.

Heather @ SGF said...

sunflowerchilde - ooh tough choice. I know they make bikes that fold up, if that's an option. It's great to hear that you found a way to bike in the rain! There's nothing like multi-purposing some of those seasonal clothes!

katie z - Good for you! That's great!

Jennifer - we do have SOME public transportation. The city bus comes pretty close to our house (runs once an hour), but it doesn't run nights or weekends, which kinda sucks. We also have a university bus system which runs far more often and runs weekends, but it's a 30-40 minute walk to the nearest stop (depending on how quickly you walk).

I use the bus for places where it's too far to bike or walk, but I'm limited to weekdays for the most part. Otherwise it just makes more sense to take the car. Thankfully we have the Prius which makes me feel a little less guilty about driving :)

Sybil said...

I wonder if you'd mind sharing your bike basket theology? I have a wire basket bungeed to a back rack, (using bungee cords so it can be removed easily for recreational rather than errand-running biking), but it's not as stable as I'd like. Opinions on front baskets vs back baskets? How about the saddle bags over the rear wheels? And do you know anything about the hybrid bikes Giant makes???

Lots of questions from another Pedal Power fan!

Heather @ SGF said...

Sybil - I chose a basket on the back because I thought it would be harder to steer with everything on the front. Plus it gives me more space.

You can kinda see my setup in these two posts:



Just the saddle baskets on the back work for most trips (library, post office, light market loads), but when I need more room I either use a box or a rubbermaid container (each pictured in the posts above) bungee corded to the saddle baskets. It's really stable this way and I've never had anything fall off. Of course, when the weight is higher on the bike like that, you have to be careful when you stand up to pedal, because the bike will sway a bit, but you get used to it.

I've thought about getting a basket on the front for extra space, but so far haven't really needed it.

That's a Giant hybrid that I have and I LOVE it! In fact, my hubby, who has had many bikes in his time, also just got one and loves his too. It's great for commuting and I'm more comfy than the bikes where you're practically lying forward. The hybrid much easier on the tush.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. Yeah, Pedal Power!

Beany said...

My husband has (for now) convinced me to lay off buying a car until we bring up our savings and are a bit more stable (like have a full pantry, and bikes out of storage). I've mainly been walking everywhere (and taking the bus to work from our new place). I'm a bit nervous of getting on a bike again, because we live at the bottom of a very steep hill. I don't want my brake pads to wear out while I'm on that hill.

The past two weekends I had the zipcar's car so we combined errands (went to stores, moved, got more heavy supplies). This weekend will be more of the same including bringing our bikes from storage.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - do you know what to look for on the brake pads? I'm sure there's something quick you could look for to know if they're up for the downhill ride or not. When you mentioned the hill, my first thought was the agony of trying to go up it, not down :) he he

I've always thought the zip car would be cool to have access to. I bet it's SUPER convenient. Is there usually one close to you?

Beany said...

The brake pads get frayed (not sure how to describe it, but the rubber gets worn out). So the brakes can become ineffective depending on how much is worn out. Not sure if that's clear.

I am a big coaster. I love coasting, but going up a hill is what's good for reducing my bun size which is always threatening to bloat up.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - I'm a wimp when it comes to up hill though I totally understand the whole butt thing. I love walking up hill for that exact reason, but I'd most likely get off the bike and walk it up hill (as I said, I'm a wimp :)