Thursday, April 4, 2013

Announcing a new Bike Garden Bike Challenge

I've been super crazy busy the past couple of weeks, so I haven't made as much progress on the sound panels as I would have liked. I have made some, though, with one panel done (except for some staining of the cedar planks) and the other about half complete. When they are both done (hopefully sometime this weekend), I'll do a proper post about them.

In the meantime, I can't get this video out of my head (check out the link, but then come back here, because I have something to tell you): 62 years of global warming in 13 seconds.

I'm cooking up a new bike challenge--one that will involve using my bike more for all those short little trips around town. But I'm doing it with a twist: I'm going to see if I can raise a little money for Alzheimer's research at the same time. Moreover, I'm going to try to get others on their bikes for their own short commuter trips by asking them to join the team.

Here's how it will work:

I'll figure up a ball-park estimate of how many commuter miles I think I can ride in a six-month period (June 1 to December 31). Then I'll ask people to pledge some amount per mile, based on the estimate. In other words, if I think I can ride 400 commuter miles, and someone made a pledge of a penny a mile, then they would donate $4 to Alzheimer's research. Two cents gets you $8, three cents is...well, you figure it up. And so on, and so on. The 400 miles is a rough goal, though, and so if I were to ride more, then the amount donated would go up, which gives me some incentive to keep going once I pass the mark.

I came up with 400 miles as an estimate simply by thinking about little trips I take every day that are perfectly do-able by bike--the less than one mile commute to school, the two and a half miles to my favorite grocery store, the occasional (ok, more than occasional) trip to Rudy's Barbecue for a chopped beef sammie--and figured up roughly how many miles a week that would be. Then I allowed for things like trips out of town, illness, inclement weather that would lower that number. Then I added 15% more to that total to make it interesting. Then I multiplied the weekly number by four for a month's total, and then by 6 for the half-year length of the challenge...and then my head started hurting and so I just picked 400 out of the air.

The beauty of this is that if I fall under the mark, I will still have achieved something, and if I go over, well that's even better.

But since this is also about changing our lifestyles in response to carbon emissions, I want to get others on their bikes, too. I realize that commuting by bike is not practical for everyone. Many of us are not lucky enough to live somewhere that is easy to get around by bicycle. But the reality is that it is easier for most of us than we realize. Maybe you can't ride your bike to work, but there's this one little trip to the corner market that you make by car each week for something. With a little planning and a smidgen of will power, you can ride a bike for that errand. It doesn't have to be a lot--that's the beauty of this challenge. You figure out what is possible, throw a tiny bit extra on top, and give people an estimate. They chip in with the encouragement in the form of a pledge. Do as much or as little as you think you can bear.

And there's this: We can do it all over the place. Lubbock! Toronto! Fargo (who just lost to Lubbock in the World's Worst Weather semi-final round)! You could support the Alzheimer's cause or choose your own. It could be for MS or breast cancer research. It could go to your local food bank. Wherever! It's all good.

If you want, we can post it all here, on the side bar, keeping tabs on our progress together. It all starts June 1, so you have some time to pick your cause, plan your routes, fix those flats, load up on the sunscreen, and buy a new helmet.

Whaddya think? Are you in?


  1. I love the commuter bike challenge! How about expanding it to foot-powered commuters of all sorts? I walk a mile errand route around town every day. Maybe that's only seven miles a week, but still.... Seven times four times six adds up. (168 miles, and I could bump that up to 200 to challenge myself.) If I added in all the steps between my current house and the job-site where we just broke ground on my tiny house, I'd break 200 miles in half a year easily!

    1. Susan, I love this idea! I'll incorporate it into the challenge.

  2. Yey, Susan!

    I'm with the Susan above re foot-powered errands. I'm totally looking forward to being able to walk (can you imagine this?) to a regular grocery store in Asheville (when we 'graduate') that's under construction now, along with a Trader Joe's, too, in addition to the Greenlife Market within a 10 minute walk (now owned by Whole Foods).

    All totally pretentious, of course -- but hey, I'll be able to walk to a grocery store. How cool is that?

    This is after a working life (in the Southern U.S.) of living close to work, thankfully (1-2 miles), but NEVER being within walking distance of a grocery.

    1. Ah, Lisa, your life in Asheville is looking more perfect every day!

  3. We are in. Jared and I will donate- are you going to have an account set up again, like last time? We'd still also be interested in jerseys if that is still an option??

    We are looking forward to walking to a grocery store, too- we sometimes bike with the kids to Market Street, but it gets tricky pulling kids and groceries across Quaker. Luckily, if everything goes according to schedule, there will be a grocery store within walking distance to our house by Summer 2014. Rumor is it's an HEB. We'll see!!

    1. Yay! I'm glad to hear that an HEB might open up within walking distance for you. That will be super.

      I'll figure out the donation part this month and post something on that. It would extra special super cool if I did get some jerseys to show our support for Alzheimer's research, so I'll check into that.

  4. Really enjoyed that video!

    Thanks for sharing and really enjoyed reading this post,

  5. I have started commuting to work, weather permitting, no so much for environmental reasons, but for my own expanding waist. My trip is just under 7 miles each way, and whether I lose weight or not, it has been good for my head.

    I do not have time to organize any kind of fundraiser on my own, so I will gladly support your cause, as it is near to my heart. You can put me down for 5 cents a mile.

    1. Les, you're the best! Thank you. I'll keep you posted on how it is all going to be set p. I met with the rep from the local Alzheimer's organization today and we came up with some good ideas. In the meantime, I've got you down for a nickel a mile. :-)


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