Friday, January 12, 2007

I Was Saving Carbon Before it was Cool

The new commisioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Tom Burack, was on a radio call-in show this morning on New Hampshire Public Radio. He was saying a lot of good things about how we live in an interconnected world. Everything affects everything else.

It all comes together in the environment. When he mentioned carbon emissions, he suggested that people should look for more fuel efficient vehicles, since carbon emissions are based on gallons burned, not just hours of operation. "And you'll save money," he said.

No one talked about carbon emissions when I started using a bike for transportation in the late 1970s. But the idea of saving money really appealed to me. I had no idea at the time how many years I would spend shampooing and conditioning the hairs on the underbelly of the economy. I just knew finances would be tight until my brilliance was recognized and a flood of money started flowing toward me by itself.

Still waiting, by the way.

During those long years I had my brief fling in racing. While there I decided that I didn't really like throwing elbows with a bunch of hyper-competitive people, but I certainly liked riding my bike efficiently. I could take what I learned from racing and apply it to transportation.

A lot of criterium mentality applies very well to riding in traffic. You often have to throw your elbow in there and claim a place, sprint for a gap or lay into a corner. Okay, maybe you don't have to. But it opens up new areas for you if you are willing and able to do it.

The decision to use my fitness and energy for something practical and environmentally helpful was absolutely conscious and purposeful. If I was going to be riding anyway, why not use it to get around?

In terms of fuel, if I was going to be eating anyway, why not use it to get around? With a sedentary lifestyle, it's easy to eat too much food. Food is around. You don't have to be making much money at all to have access to too much of the wrong sort. Don't deny yourself both food and the pleasure of riding. Enjoy both. Food is fuel.

I harp on this a lot, but it can't be said enough. Before too long, I hope more people will join me out there instead of staying sealed in their sensory deprivation tanks, hating me and people like me.

We're not IN the way. We ARE the way.

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