Life Post Car–The Beginning.
Posted by Pedal Powered Anthropology
So several months ago I began seriously thinking about getting rid of my car. I owed on it. A lot. Needed a new windshield because a truck kicked up a stone and cracked it. I obviously got gas regularly. I paid insurance on it. And it was super convenient to eat out for both breakfast and lunch during work.
It added up quickly.
So, with the means of a chapter 7 bankruptcy, I got rid of it. And some other stuff. Mostly just credit debt. But whatever with that crap.
This is the beginning of the story of my life post car.
I’ve said elsewhere that every year I feel like I’m finally getting serious about cycling. It started with needing to get around to apply for jobs. Then a bike was stolen so I got one I thought was good for $150 and I used it all the time. Then I bought a really nice bike from a bike shop. And things have snowballed since then.
Going up to the bankruptcy it was tough. I wanted to get rid of my car but didn’t know how. I wanted to commute at least primarily if not solely by bike, but my car made it easy to slack. And then when I would commute by bike more, I felt like I was paying for the car for nothing and would start driving more.
In awful, winter weather I would be more hesitant to commute by bike with such expensive bikes…I just wouldn’t have enough time to clean it as often as I should.
Plus, of the two bikes I had at the time, one was a full carbon racing bike, and the other had a carbon fork (thing that holds the front wheel). They’re good and sturdy bikes, but not what you want to subject to road salts and mud that’s gonna potentially have to stay there for a few days.
But I had had some awful experiences with lower end bikes since buying these. So when I did commute through the winter, to school, I would wipe down my bike every day, and completely strip, clean and rebuild it every weekend to make sure it stayed in top shape.
Then my car was gone. I started sharing with my fiance. Then once the chapter 7 was paid for and things started coming to reality, I felt I had some more money to breathe with.
Then with my christmas bonus, I bought myself a new bike. It wasn’t pricey. It wasn’t carbon. It really wasn’t even that great of a bike. It was $275, with a decent saddle, pedals and bottle cages.
By contrast, my road bike was ten times as expensive when you take into consideration the saddle, pedals, cages and the gearing I changed out. One wheel from that bike is as expensive as the bike I just bought.
It’s a Schwinn Super Sport 2 Disc. A hybrid bike with disc brakes. My thoughts were that if it was awful, I could mess around with it and get it decent enough to get around the city when I needed to. But if it did work out well enough, it was inexpensive enough to kind of stretch the time between maintenance if needed.
It’s also aluminum with a steel fork. Meaning it’s a tank and I can beat the shit out of it and it’ll stand up to what I need it to do. Hybrid means you’re not sitting curled up in a ball like you’re racing. It also means it’s got chunkier tires and is more stable on slicker surfaces like mud and snow. Disc brakes mean it’ll stop super well in any conditions.
It’s got little bolt holes on different points to attach cargo racks and fenders and all sorts of goodies. It’s versatile.
Now on to what I have to say.
My car was gone in either October or November. I got the new bike shortly after the new year. I set it up and realized that I would need to tweak the shifting. Which I did.
And I can’t believe how much I love this bike. It’s been my primary vehicle for a full month now. Cycling had become something different to me in the past couple years. As my stress grew, I started seeing the privileged aspect of cycling. It’s the only sport I’d ever truly grown to love and I started seeing the elite athletic end of it as almost…the inevitable progression and something that didn’t fit with me. At the same time, the hipster douches weren’t my people. I was always kind of in the middle somewhere. So I would commute on my racing bikes, and in my free time I would change into spandex and be mistaken for a racer.
But I still saw an endless progression of higher end bikes, or even just high costs in the event I had to replace something on mine.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I began to resent the sport, but my feelings probably did fall somewhere within the definition of that word, as much as I loved it.
So, enter this bike. It’s twice as heavy as my nicest bike. And I love it. I look forward to my ride home tomorrow, after I’m already home for the day. That’s never happened.
I’m getting rides in in the morning from a guy I work with who essentially passes by my house on his way in. The way home involves a lot of traffic, so I just ride home. Starting next week I want a couple of my days to be biking in in the morning, too.
I have lost somewhere around 5-7 pounds since getting this bike. This is weight that I normally put on in the winter, but don’t shed until maybe May. I’m months ahead of my yearly fitness. I can’t wait until July…
I calculated how much I spent on average, between car expenses and just how much more I would eat out. I’m saving between $700-900 monthly.
Every month. I can’t even comprehend that yet.
That means that I could just throw this bike out. With the pedals and cages, fenders and flat kit/pack. My gloves and jacket and balaclava. The bike and all the accessories I bought with it. I could just throw them out at the end of the month.
And the savings alone from riding would pay almost double the replacement cost.
That’s the part I expected. I roughly forecasted the savings but didn’t realize the extent.
I didn’t expect to get so much more into cycling. I didn’t expect how little stress I would feel at work, or about biking because of work stress. And with the reduced eating out…I’m producing a LOT less waste.
I use plastic shopping bags for recyclables at work. I would fill one, maybe one and a half every week. 3-5 monthly. It’s been a month and I’ve yet to fill one bag. I’m rounding up random stuff, straw wrappers and the little perforated bits you pull off your paychecks. I’ve still not filled a bag and I started this one before christmas break.
It’s so much more in line with who I am.
I had wanted to do this for years. At times, I would be biking in more than driving. Some times I would drive in on monday and bike home. Bike in on tuesday and drive home. Just go through the week like that. I would worry about the weather or about sleeping in. My anxiety would be through the roof.
So I would bring my bike with me and bike almost every day after work. Every day that I realistically could.
It was a constant slow easing into everything, and always is. This is a change that’s been long in coming and I realized at some point that it would have to be a drastic change. A new job only a couple of miles away, or getting rid of my car. Maybe moving away altogether. I don’t know. But I realized that something about my life would have to change in order for things to align…my mentality with my reality.
This kind of crap isn’t for everyone. I’ve been really into fitness for several years. I love cycling. I despise driving.
But with everything in my life, it’s been small changes. I looked for jobs on bike. I got a job and tried biking to work. I got a better bike when I found the limitations of the one I rode. I got in better shape and got some cycling clothing. I tried a pedal and cleat system that would let my feet clip onto the pedals.
Slow changes. Small changes. I got my house in 2008. It was a foreclosure and I would bike there to try and make the yard to more lived in to dissuade would-be copper thieves. That was the bike I replaced when I found it’s limitations.
Every change I’ve made has been tiny. Getting rid of my car has been the biggest yet. But with this new bike, the equipment I have, and with my almost unrealistically supportive fiance, I feel like I’m ready for that change.
I don’t care what it is you’re into. Small changes can be made. Little things can be found that can be tweaked and adjusted. It could be organizing your desk or getting into school. Losing weight or learning to cook.
There are always little things you can do to move your routine just a bit further to your goal. Eventually that snowball brings you to become noticeably more like the person you envision yourself to be.
It’s just a month. I’m not sure I can keep this up long term. But I would like to. I want to start riding in in mornings. It’s hard because of how early I have to get up. But we’ll see.
At the end of June, after 6 months I plan on updating y’all with where this has taken me.
I plan on bringing good news.
About Pedal Powered AnthropologyI have a degree in anthropology from Rhode Island College. My focus was in biological anthropology but I also have a broad interest in cultural anthropology, archaeology and linguistic anthropology. This blog is intended to be for the development of my own positions and ideas, mostly regarding paleoanthropology and paleontology in general, with a heaping helping of evolution on top...but also includes bits about a lot of different aspects of culture, primarily race, gender, privilege, the environment and my own personal relationship with anxiety.
Posted on 01/30/2016, in fitness and athleticism, Health, Health, fitness and athleticism, identity, introspection, mental health, personal perspectives and tagged anxiety, Health, identity, personal perspectives, privilege, social issues. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.