"Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

Discussion in 'General' started by BailOut, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. BailOut

    BailOut My favorite holiday is Earth Day!

    [xfloat=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/500/bike_ride_03.jpg[/xfloat]Brian Morris - CleanMPG - July 17,2008

    A friend of mine sent me a recent writing of his that I think is worth sharing. This is his story. -- Ed.

    I've been thinking a bit about how I live and how others around me live. While I do not want to preach (note, too, that I do not believe that my way is the best way for everyone) I want to share some of my random thoughts I have had over the last few months.

    As most of you know when we moved we found out we had so much stuff that we had to rent a second U-Haul truck and could not bring both of our cars with us so we only brought the Subaru. After about a month here I had started to ride my bicycle a lot more often and was using it for some errands since my wife was/is using the car to take our daughter to and from daycare as well as for getting to and from work.

    The time on my bicycle has given me a lot of time to reflect on an aspect of my lifestyle--mostly in regards to transportation. The other day, one of my thoughts was about our cars. About one month after my wife and I were married we bought a car (our short-lived Audi) so at that time we owned 2 cars, 1 motorcycle and 1 truck. In the time since then we have sold the truck, motorcycle, and gifted the Jetta back to my Father-in-law. We now only have 1 car. I thought it was interesting that we have gone from having 4 main-stream vehicles to 1.

    This weekend also gave me an opportunity that felt amazing and it is mostly what I wanted to share. My wife got sick this weekend (not the good part) and we had some shopping that needed to be done. I could have gotten in the car, but I figured that there was nothing that was super pressing so I hooked up the kid trailer to my bicycle, got our daughter situated and took off. We made our way to the local fruit stand and bought some fruits and vegetables for the week. I figure that with all of the things we bought it was a total of about 10 pounds or slightly more.

    We then left the fruit stand for the grocery store. We have several stores within a couple miles of our house, but I figured we would go to the one closest to our home. At any rate, the fruit stand was a wonderful downhill ride and the grocery store meant going back up a hill. The hill is about 1.5 miles long at an average 6% grade. Near the bottom of the hill a man rode right past us and started up the hill, a little more than half way up, we passed this same guy!

    As I pulled into the grocery store I noticed that the bike racks that used to be on the sidewalk in front of the store were gone! I looked around and noticed that they now have a parking stall in the parking lot with 2 bike racks in it so we parked and did our shopping.
    It was nice to see that some of the produce in the store actually cost more than the produce at the local fruit stand--especially when things are usually the other way around.

    We finished our shopping and pedaled the 1.7 miles to home--we added about 20 pounds of groceries to the 10 pounds of produce we had purchased. With the little girl weighing 26 pounds and 30 pounds in groceries/produce and the weight of the trailer I was towing 65-70 pounds!

    When we arrived home I was so excited from the ride. Sure I only saved $2.00 or so in gasoline as the entire trip was just under 9 miles, but I felt amazing. Something about getting my groceries and fruit in a different manner, getting outside on a beautiful day, having our daughter in tow, and so many other things. It was such a great feeling!

    It's been almost 10 years since I lived in Ogden but there was a guy I worked with who sold his truck and then only had his bicycles. He lived in Clinton and would ride into our store in Ogden which worked out to be about 14 miles each way; he did this in the rain, snow, heat, night, morning, etc.

    One day he and I were talking and I said something about how I couldn't get rid of my car and he said, "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle." It was the simple way that he said this that hit me the hardest. It was so simple from his perspective because he had gone through the change himself, but from my outside perspective it seemed difficult.

    Since moving I have mostly made the change and I love it. I have thought a lot over the last 12 or so years since this former co-worker told me about changing my lifestyle and this simple thought has had a fairly dramatic impact on my life overall. Whenever I think that something cannot be done I often wonder if I could change my lifestyle to make it happen.

    Often I am afraid to make a change (whatever that change may be), but once the change is made I feel great about it. It just takes some time.
  2. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    This is similar to the woman who reccommened just selecting one weekly errand and not using the car for it.

    As recently as 1970 less than 1/4 of US households even owned 2 cars - we still lived basically a suburban lifestyle back then and somehow were able to prosper with less than 2 cars per household. In 1970, 1/4 of households didn't even own one car !

    HCHCIN Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    Nice story. Thanks for passing it on.

    I often wonder about alternative means, whether it be biking, or a scooter, or something else. My city's (meager) public transportation is not set up for my particular commute. Even though my commute is just 7.5 miles, the roads that I take to work are not conducive to biking, or frankly scootering.

    Your article is encouraging and thought-provoking in that even if many of us can't commute by bike, part of doing our part could definitely include biking to the grocery, the farmer's market, the shopping center, or even local restaurants.
  4. lamebums

    lamebums Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    You know, I've always noticed how everybody has tons of cars these days. Even if the family is in poverty odds are they'll have two or more cars.

    I'm tempted more and more these days to get a bicycle even though the number of errands I can run is actually quite limited (to the store and back, and that is actually walking distance if I could spare an hour).
  5. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    When I used to complain about not having enough time - My mentor would say, Michealngelo only had 24 hours in a day also...........
  6. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    That was a great read. Thanks!
  7. owlmaster08

    owlmaster08 Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    I've been commuting on bike since I moved here, 8 miles each direction..I also take it to the grocery store and stuff. Unfortuneatly I got a flat today :/ I will have to go drive to work tomorrow and buy a new inner tube after work.
  8. mparrish

    mparrish Rosie the Riveter Redux

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    For those of you considering trading in a car for a bike, understand this. Just as there is a wide chasm among cars in the area of FE, there is also a wide chasm among bikes in the area of performance.

    Really good bikes are expensive. Mine, for example, cost $800. But viewed in the context of swapping for a car, they are a bargain.

    We recently went to 1 car (the Prius). We are lucky to be able to pull it off, as most days we only need 1 car. But the 2-car days are now 1 car / 1 bike days.

    But it's doable............because of the quality of my bike (Specialized road bike).

    So to anyone pondering a trade in........................borrow a really good bike for a day and ride your commute or something similar. You may be amazed at how easy it is and how enjoyable too.
  9. leanAztek

    leanAztek Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    This is a topic I can relate to. I commute 3+ days a week to work. I go 11.3 miles one way. I also regularly stop at stores on my way home. Today I went to Target to return some pants and get a different pair. I also needed to take a few days of clothes home from work. My rear rack had 2 panniers full of clothes and on top was my lunch and emergency gear. This about 30 - 35 lbs of extra weight. Surprisingly, I am amazed how it doesn't bother me.

    I am trying to get to not needing a car for myself. I got a kid trailer recently and have taken my daughter to the park several times. Thats a 5+ mile ride alone. I have also used the trailer to transport gear from work.

    I recently picked up a book called "How to live well without owning a car" by Chris Balish. Highly recommend it if you are interested in changing how you live. He talks about how to start riding the bike and public transportation instead of using a car. He even gives a method to slowly start.
  10. leanAztek

    leanAztek Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    When you plan your route try to use the subdivision roads and stay off the main roads. My commute by car is 10 mi but I ride 11.3 miles because I weave through 25 mph roads. Remember you can now cut through school lots, follow rail trails and cut through parks. The bike is very flexable!

    mparrish is right about a good bike. I got a Surly CrossCheck. Cyclocross bikes are very good commuters because of the road frame but beefed up to handle hopping curbs and small jumps. Just ask to be sure it can take a rear rack. I love not having a backpack on, especially when it is 90+ degrees out.
  11. fitmpg

    fitmpg Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    I just bought a "Burley Bee" like the one pictured this evening. I'm going to start taking my daughter out with me on light trails. Bikes are great!
  12. jarvek7

    jarvek7 Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    I was looking to begin biking to work in a few weeks after i built up a little more stamina. Its just 3.5 miles one way... but the hills have me a little worried. Thanks for your uplifting article... I'm going to "go for it" tomorrow morning!
  13. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    Once you learn how to properly use your bicycle's gears those hills will be easier. What I don't like about cheap bicycles is you have to "feel" for the gears. The gear selector lever on cheap bikes are plastic and have no markings as to which sprocket the lever controls nor which gear is which position. I've heard that someone made a bicycle with an automatic transmission. I can just about imagine how much that thing cost.
  14. MT bucket

    MT bucket I want my MPG!

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    I kinda miss those days. I didn't have a car for a couple of years. I remember the buses taking forever...like way over an hour to commute 12 miles after the transfers and all.
    Then one day I tried a bicycle, and even when I was totally out of shape I whoooped the bus by over a half an hour! :)
  15. aca2983

    aca2983 Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    Only 5 more weeks until my 15 minute, mostly flat bike commute begins!

    (And on lazy and rainy days, the bus is $1.25)
  16. Bike123

    Bike123 Well-Known Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    Seven years ago, my wife suggested that we get rid of my car. I resisted, and we added on to the garage to make room for the bikes. I sure like the bike garage, and the money wasn't a problem, but I still sometimes think it was the wrong decision. We just don't use two cars very often. Tomorrow, my car will have been stationary for 2 months (but I haven't gone more than 2 weeks without being in a car).

    Cars seem like freedom, but I think we often are enslaved by our cars. Two cars are needed so both parents can get to work, and both parents need to work so they can afford two cars! Of course, it could be argued that I'm captive to my log of my auto use!
  17. Earthling

    Earthling Trying to be kind to Mother Earth

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    If you ride a bicycle, you need to make yourself very visible with a white or hi-viz helmet, and a hi-viz vest. You are in some ways more vulnerable than motorcyclists, because traffic is moving faster than you and is constantly overtaking you.


    As a motorcyclist, I am very aware that I am vulnerable in traffic, and bicyclists need to appreciate that, too, and take steps to reduce their risks.

  18. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    On expensive bikes... I got a Bridgestone MB-5 Trailblazor back in the early 90s. I took it to college in 96, where someone stool my seat/post (which was CHAINED to the @!#$ bike). I only just got around to replacing the seat this year, but that bike has seen a lot of miles. It cost somewhere around 4-500$ new, but you'll never find a wal*mart bike that will endure.
  19. beatr911

    beatr911 Tightwad

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    As for the tired factor, bike commuting actually helps you produce more energy. I commuted by bike for years when living in Guam. Long 13 hour work days in hot humid weather and a mostly uphill 4.2 mile ride home. Some days it was really tough, but when I realized how much energy I was putting out during a day I felt not the least bit bad about using the easy-pedal gear to take a break up the hills - or for that matter driving once in a while. Also, when riding home it's kind of rejuvenating to actually enjoy the ride home. No blabbing radio, backups at stoplights, etc.. Biking actually has some rather nice side benefits.

    The key for changing the lifestyle is creating a new habit. It takes somewhere between 30-45 days to creat this. Then it's easier to maintain the new lifestyle.

    Here the commute is 61 miles round trip with a VERY convoluted bicycle alternative route, next best thing is the motorcycle, or a closer job.
  20. beatr911

    beatr911 Tightwad

    Re: "Sure you can, you just have to change your lifestyle."

    +1 for the good bike thought. My old Diamond Back Response Comp wasn't top quality but a mid-range $550 ride. Road raced it and commuted it for years in Guam with skinny tires, off-road raced it in California with knobbies, and towed a kiddie trailer on bike paths in Washington. Sold it after 12 years and thousands of miles of good use for $60. Just did basic maintenance and had ZERO failures.

    Look for a used good quality older bike. If you don't need the latest bling these are by far the best deals and will take you a long way.

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