Bye-bye car, hello bicycle

Every man has his breaking point. I found mine when gas broke the $3-per-gallon barrier.

•••

Published May 29, 2007 by The Cary News
By Tim Candon, Sports Editor 

Every man has his breaking point. I found mine when gas broke the $3-per-gallon barrier.

As a result, I’m scaling back the use of my car and my reliance on those money-grubbing oil thieves for the use of the energy housed within my free, pasty white legs.

I’m hopping on my bike and counting on it to take me as far as its two wheels will carry me.

As long as the weather cooperates, I’m riding to the office and I’m riding to games I cover.

A couple years ago, I wrote a column about how I was sick of being out of shape, sick of being out of breath every time I played with the dog, sick of having to take a deep breath to bend over and tie my shoes. I pledged I would get fit.

I didn’t.

But thanks to OPEC, it looks like I now have no choice since I’m done forking over my hard-earned money for a privilege I can live without.

When I started driving 10 years ago, gas hovered close to $1 a gallon. It started to creep up about three years ago (if memory serves). I was fine when it got to more than $1.50, then swallowed it when it got higher than $2. I cringed as it got above $2.50, and when it cracked $3, that was it.

I’m turning in my keys, for the most part.

I’m not giving up my car altogether. I’ve still got 36 months of payments to make, plus insurance and taxes, so I might as well get something for my money. On rainy days, I’ll choose the comfy confines of the dry car as opposed to the soaking — and cold — I’d get with the bike.

But I live fairly close to work and most everywhere I need to go is a reasonable distance.

My no-drive zone is set at 8 miles one way for the time being. Once I get in better shape and the threat of heart failure reduces, I’ll up it incrementally.

May 23 was the first day I got myself around almost exclusively on two pedal-powered wheels.

I biked to work (about two miles) in the morning. As I rode by one gas station and its $3.09 a gallon gas, I thought about offering it my feelings with a hand gesture, but decided it would be wiser to keep both hands on the handlebars. This gesture, surely obscene by someone’s standards, is aimed not at the gas station owners or workers, but at the petroleum barons getting away with pillaging consumers for a product they have little choice but to use.

I enjoyed my quick ride that morning, but it didn’t take long to realize this project is a work in progress. I must bring a change of clothes to the office. (the next day, I came with a change of clothes but didn’t have my wallet or a belt. By Friday, I’d gotten it right).

I’ve found that the morning breeze is quite refreshing — better than a cup of coffee, even. Early in the afternoon on that first day, I took off for the Cary YMCA (about five miles from our office). After a 60-minute workout, I hopped back on and headed home (about five miles).

I planned to bike to Apex for the Apex-New Bern soccer game that evening, but the wife was a tad wary of me riding around after dark on roads with little shoulder space. Since she married me less than two weeks ago, I conceded to her wish.

In retrospect, this was a good idea. By the time I walked back to the Apex parking lot after the game, I was gassed. It was quite refreshing being able to drive home rather than hop on the bike and pedal there.