Friday, August 29, 2008
Yet with all of the craziness, I am getting better and better everyday. I am continuing to meet interesting people...like Charleston Moves and the Holy Bike Co-op which are making my bike life a lot easier/less lonely and inviting me to fun stuff like the Lady of the Alleycat race, the Midnight Mystery Ride etc. More info at: http://holycitybikecoop.org/ I also just found this sweet online site that has an open forum and an awesome magazine that you can download for free: http://urbanvelo.org/about/ While waiting for & riding the bus I have talked to a Russian immigrant, a History Professor, four first time freshman bus-riders, three hotel maids, and a retired school teacher. I have even read an entire chapter of a book in between conversations.
One event I am looking forward to, but missed out on is Critical Mass... here is a video of what its all about in Charleston:
Two Wheels One Love - Critical Mass in Charleston, SC from ReallyFastPictures on Vimeo.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I had forgotten that someone once told me Charleston had been designed to channel wind to keep down mosquitoes and cool down the city- or in this case, create wind tunnels. Needless to say, I hurried to get all of my paperwork done and raced home to beat the storm. I was in the final stretch when the skies literally opened up. I had a rain jacket with me, but as I was frantically pulling it out an SUV nailed the puddle I was standing next to and soaked me from head-to-toe in dirty street water. Awesome. Thanks jackass. I'm so glad you support our troops by putting a yellow ribbon on your gas guzzling two ton, high emissions vehicle. Smack yourself on the back of the head for me. (I am not bitter- just amazed at human stupidity.) What really destroyed me was that at the time, I was standing near a bus-stop where an older lady was huddled under her wind-blown umbrella trying to keep her uniform dry as cars like my SUV friend sped passed, spraying her down. It is now my mission to get every bus-stop in Charleston covered because no-one should have to go through that, much less a seventy year old woman who rides two buses so she can make beds for rich tourists that will later speed by her soaking her clothes.
Side note: My friend and I were talking about classy drivers such as this one today and he suggested that I buy some tennis balls, so I can lob them at the cars in revenge . I was thinking this would also be good for moments when cars almost back over you coming out of driveways.
So... after venting with my bus-stop friend we embraced that there was no hope for us staying dry, looked to the sky and shared a good laugh. How many times do you have a great excuse to play in the rain? I biked through the 4 inch deep high tide puddles on the sidewalk and took my time getting home, letting the rain cool me off. You can see the result of this joyride below:
By the time I got home, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I realized that you just have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I managed to make it downtown two times after this without getting rained on and even discovered another fun sidewalk path on Lockwood. As for this week- classes start tomorrow- so let the adventures begin!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Who doesn't love a good fact of the day? I just came across some interesting statistics, facts, and random tidbits that I figured I would share with you. Don't quote me on any of this, because as Homer so eloquently points out, not everything you read is true.
1. Half an hour of bicycling daily can increase your life expectancy by up to four years.
2. Trips under 3 miles are often faster by bike and trips between 5-7 miles are take about the same amount of time as a car.
3. One-quarter of the carbon emissions produced in the US come from the tailpipes of our vehicles.
4. Two point three BILLION gallons of gas are idled away every year by Americans while stuck in traffic.
5. If one million people replaced a five-mile car trip once a week with a bike ride, CO2 emissions would drop by about 100,000 tons a year. (That is only 0.3% of the population)
So those are things that "experts" have come up with, all of which are impressive. There are hundreds more of these fun little facts and if you are lucky I will continue to sprinkle them into the mix on future posts (try to contain your excitement, please...)
Based on my own highly structured and official research, here is some data that might also be of interest.
1. When using a bike as transportation you are less likely to: take unnecessary trips, compulsively shop, and eat greasy food (ugly was the day that I horsed down fries before my ride home... needless to say, they did not make it back to the house).
2. Selling your car doesn't just give you the initial cash but also results in huge savings on gas, parking, and maintenance... based on my own finances over the last two months I have saved roughly $400 in gas alone and will save another $400 in parking this fall. (PLUS no more taxes, tags, insurance, or maintenance). Note: I am not factoring in all of the guilt meals, presents, and favors I am extending to my carpool friends.
3. Biking gives you sweet, sweet legs. (Hello, hottie biker calves...)
4. Who doesn't want to a legitimate reason to rock out in spandex?
5. Almost anything is possible with a bike... I mean, just check out this little guy below.
Monday, August 11, 2008
But all of my gas guzzling, CO2 producing, errand running did not go unnoticed by the bicycle gods. I managed to get locked out of my friends house at 5:30a.m. wearing skimpy PJ's with the two dogs and no spare key. While this may not seem like an obvious sign to stop driving, I think the fact that the car I am driving stalled out today is a more clear warning to get back to the two-wheeled life. I saw this cartoon by Robert Ariail today, it pretty much sums it up...
Someone asked me this weekend if it was nice having a car again and while I enjoyed the convenience, I had to admit that I am sooooo over dealing with cars and definitely addicted to my new bicycle lifestyle. To further prove this point, I actually said no when someone I work with offered to let me use her old car for awhile (yes, my co-workers rock.) It has not been a smooth transition so far, but it also has not been rocky enough to knock me off course. Like anything new, the beginning is always a little awkward but everyone is being so supportive that it has been fun so far (or at least funny). There is such a huge community surrounding biking that it impossible not to make friends and enjoy the experience. A lot of cities have bike co-ops and ours in no different... thanks to a tip from a fellow blogger I have hooked up with: http://www.holycitybikecoop.org/
A majority of the population does not realize that owning a car is a choice... so much so that people have said to me "but you HAVE to have a car". Well damn. I must have really missed something in middle school biology. Air, Water, Food, Sunlight, Shelter, AND Automobile- obviously. For some this might be true, but it is not the case for me. I am lucky enough that I do have the choice. While I do not judge my friends who choose to own cars (especially those that are rad enough to pick me up and carpool), I am sad that their transportation will never help them make new friends, get in shape, or protect the environment. I am looking forward to returning the car tomorrow and getting back on my trusty steed...which I have named "the grasshopper".
I just want to say thank you to all of the people that have been cheering me on, giving me rides, and laughing with me through all of the craziness so far. Special thanks to Ash for the bike :-) I hope you all continue on with me... I have no doubt that it will stay interesting.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It may be a work-out, but I'd still rather have the wind in my face and a view like these on my morning commute... you can keep your air-conditioning and bumper-to-bumper :-)
"When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart." ~Diane Ackerman
I am passionate about being the change I wish to see in the world.
Monday, August 4, 2008
On the trip to the store I realized that the greenway was a mud-fest and that I might have a little bit of a challenge ahead, but I did not give up hope. My plan was to buy this little rack for behind my bike, fill my whole foods bags with binders, strap it all to back and be on my way. As I filled my cart with 34, 1/2 inch binders and two reams of paper I realized that it was quite a lot of stuff. I made my purchase and headed out to my bike, still hoping that I could still make this work. I unscrewed some of my reflectors and slid on the rack, only to realized that no matter how much I tightened it, it was waaaaaaay too loose. I wedged some paper in around it but the grease was just too slippery. I had to get this stuff home, I didn't have my cell-phone to call anyone, and I didn't have time to make more than one trip.
I stopped myself and thought: "What would Mcagyver do?" So, of course, I went back into K-mart and bought a roll of duct tape, a basket/trashcan thing, hemp string, and a pair of scissors. At this point, it was about 100 degrees outside, humidity 200 percent and I am covered in sweat, realizing that my time is running out fast. As I am strapping the rack on the back and the basket on the front with every last inch of tape/string, this jack-ass walks up and starts telling me how I should be attaching this ridiculous contraption. Man, did I ever get lucky! What are the odds that a professional rack-basket-bike-duct tape-string installer had come to my aide?! I turned to him and said: "Did you hear me? .....Oh, you didn't? Thats because I didn't ask for your help." He started to say something but instead just opened and shut his mouth silently in shock before walking away. Needless to say, I got the whole thing on and slowly started my trip to the greenway, without anyones help. This is the part when you are going to start thinking: "Really Nikki, are you making this up?". My answer: Believe me I wish I was.
Right as I hit the entrance of the greenway, the dark skies that had been threatening all day, opened up and poured down rain. I mean, there might have actually been cats and dogs coming down- I just couldn't see anything because my glasses were so wet. I guess the rain loosened up the hemp, the tape, or something, because the basket sagged down and hit my front tire. Not enough to stop me, but enough to feel like I was biking up a mountain (a very slippery, muddy one, at that) . Of course, as I rode past a fellow biker, he alerted me to the fact that this wasn't safe. While this should have triggered anger or tears, I was so far beyond either that I started laughing... the desperate on-the-edge-of-crazy kind of laugh. Realizing that I was never going to make it in time, I got off my bike and just started running with my bike for the last mile. I got home in time for my ride to pull into the driveway. I jumped in the shower only to wash off the mud and pulled on the first clothes I could find. We rushed together trying to load the car and deconstruct the abominable duct-hemp monster I had created. In the end, I showed up to my own class 15 minutes late with empty binders to a class room full of people expectantly waiting. In all of my hurry, I had not realized that I had managed to put on a white t-shirt that was at this point completely soaking wet. Ah.... the icing on the cake.
The moral of this story...
Know your limits, always come prepared, wear dark clothing in the rain, and however long it takes you in a car, double that time when you have a bike.
P.S. Don't worry-I am still optimistic about all of this :-)