Friday, April 25, 2008

One more parked car

Date: April 24
Mileage: 35.5
April mileage: 604.6
Temperature: 47

Today was errand day. I had time to squeeze in a decent ride while my car was at the shop, but for the most part I spent a beautiful warm day knocking mundane things off a list that I had let build for a little too long. It made me miss Geoff that much more. I really took for granted all the little things he was always the one to do ... grocery shopping, recycling, repairs, cleaning. Now that I need to do all of this stuff for myself, I won't be able to just let my life revolve around working, eating, and biking anymore. I actually have to be self-sufficient again.

Much of my day revolved around my car. I had the summer tires put back on (only nine days past the legal deadline. Better than last year.) I had the oil changed. I vacuumed up a winter's worth of dirt from the upholstery, scrubbed all the panels, cleaned out the trunk and sprayed down the exterior. I took it on all the errands I need a car to do ... haul multiple boxes of trash to the recycle center, and buy calories in bulk at Costco. Then I put some gas in it ($3.75 a gallon), drove it home and parked it in my designated parking spot, where I plan to let it sit for quite a while.

My summer of bike commuting has officially begun. I nearly have my road bike ready for on-demand transportation (lights, trunk bag, bike lock mount, rack with optional waterproof panniers and new tires.) It still has clipless pedals, which I think are bad for commuting because they require use of cleat-bottomed shoes that are unpleasant to walk in. I can't mount my platforms yet because Geoff took the pedal wrench, so I need to buy a new tool first.

I plan to use my bike to commute to work every day, as well as evening outings, the library, and other miscellaneous errands. I will probably still use my car to go grocery shopping, since I dislike grocery shopping so much I usually only go once every two weeks and pile up $126 worth of food at Costco. (It is possible for a single person to shop at Costco, as long as you don't mind eating a big spinach salad and a chicken breast for dinner every day for a week.) And I have never been good at quitting anything cold turkey, so the car will probably still come out on rainy days when I am really grumpy. But for the most part, I want it to sit.

It struck me today as funny that I was doing all this work on my car only to not use it for most of a season. Some of the work was necessary (getting my illegal studded tires removed.) But the rest struck me as a form of winterizing - similar to the way people clean and tune up their bikes before stowing them in a basement for the winter. It just seems that if you are going to neglect something, you might as well do it with dignity.

And so my car sits. Let the commute begin.


  1. Hey Jill, a cycle maintenance trick for you, Check on the inside of your cranks and look at the pedal thread bolt end, some pedals have an Allen key fitting so you don't need the pedal wrench. I just found this out the other day! After nearly wrecking my pedals trying to get them off. Sorry you are missing Geoff, I hope Spring sunshine comes soon for the commuting!

  2. I think you'll really enjoy commuting. It makes my days at work SO much better knowing that I get to ride home. I find it a fun challenge to grocery shop on my bike and without my car. If you have a sec check out my BIG basket that altered to put on my back rack for my BIG loads of groceries. Matt, my boyfriend leaves for the summer in a couple weeks. So I totally know what your feeling. Just when you get used to them taking care of things....

  3. I've been car free for nearly a year, it can be done. A bike trailer makes even Costco and recycling trips possible :)

  4. Eggbeater mallet pedals. I got mine last year. Sometimes my wife drives me to work and I ride home. Some of those times I forget my SPD shoes. Doesn't matter. I can ride with or without being clipped in. Or if I ride off the paved roads onto gravel where I'd rather not be clipped in, I take my feet out of the clips and ride almost as well. Or sometimes on a long day's ride I just need some different foot positions. I take my feet out of the clips and keep riding.

  5. You might want to put some gas stabalizer or whatever it's called in your gas tank. Believe it or not it's actually bad for your car to sit for long periods of time. At least go out and start it once a week and drive it around the block.

  6. Maybe every other week for the car. One other note for the pedals. The left side is a back wards thread. I like to wear gloves to keep the cranks from moving. Both sides should turn towards the back wheel to loosen and turn towards the front wheel to tighten. Apply grease to the thread when re-installing. If there is not an allen on the inside you can just use a nice big cresant wrench.

  7. ride on! enjoy the commute. maybe you'd like to write an article for about it...

  8. Jill,

    There are folks trying to setup a "can Juneau bike 10000 miles in a week" promotion for bike to work week. I'm marginally involved as a "beta-tester" for recording the miles at velog. You could kick in some big miles! Check out

    velog doesn't seem to do group plots, so we've put some together at

  9. You can always become an airitarian and get rid of the shopping and recycling trips altogether! Good luck on the commuting. Have fun.

  10. dump out that box in the bedroom. there should be a more narrow crescent wrench in there that will work.

  11. $3.75 a gallon, bargain. It'll cost you £4.16 ($8.25) for a US gallon in England. You've got it good.

  12. Thanks for the tips, everyone. I tried pedaling my clipless pedals with regular running shoes today, and it felt fine, so now I'm thinking about leaving them on for the longer rides when I prefer clipless. Hmmmm.

    About letting the car sit ... After I was away in Anchorage for two weeks, I barely got my car to start when I came back this March. Plus, the brake drums had rusted to the rims and I couldn't get the back wheels to turn ... it was like there was a boot on them. I really had to gun the engine before they cracked. So, yeah, I do plan to start and drive my car at least once a week. I'm not quite ready to get rid of it yet, so I'm not going to put it up for sale. Plus, I'm pretty sure its net worth is in the negative dollars.

    Yeah ... grocery shopping with the bike does seem to be a challenge. Definitly doable, but I'll have to change some habits. Every time I go to Costco, I buy two gallons of orange juice and 36 cans of Diet Pepsi - those two things alone must weigh at least 50 pounds. Add all the more necessary groceries, and that's kind of a tall order for a bike trailer, not to mention my legs.

    I agree that $3.75 is still a bargain for gas. My driving habits are such that I only spend $5 to $9 a week on gas, even at ~$4 a gallon, so I'm definitely not bike commuting for the huge savings.


Feedback is always appreciated!