Wednesday
Jul012009

« Mileage Through June: Half Year Mark »

  1. January 1: 209,855
  2. February 7: 210,000
  3. March 1: 210,120
  4. April 1: 210,203
  5. May 1: 210,309
  6. June 1: 210,367
  7. July 1: 210,532

In list form, here are the tallies I have recorded for the month starts this year. You read right folks—that is only 677 private miles in my truck for the first half of this year.

June saw me driving a tad more (but still remarkably little) because I began doing some volunteer work for Special Delivery, a charity that supplies meals to people with AIDS and other long term illnesses. My church apparently has a history of finding volunteers for SD so it was easy for me to be convinced, especially since for two and a half years I used to do home delivered meals for seniors, and my grandmother before that did some Meals On Wheels volunteer driving when I was a kid. My route is pretty small, and its a quick zip around North Park. Of course, as long as I have the truck out and about, it is easy to justify the running of errands that I let accumulate through the week. I've been entertaining the idea of getting a bike trailer and doing the route with that. It would be perfectly manageable; none of the food is very bulky and there are only about ten stops. It would be the same as toting some groceries home.

A bit of driving was also necessary since I took both my bikes in for some TLC, and used the truck to fill in the gaps. You say, why didn't I just ride the other bike? Well, each time I let the shop have the bike with an open end to the deal, so the first one it took a week and I didn't realize it would, so I trucked in each day thinking I'd scramble over after work and get it. The next bike didn't take as long but whenever I get the truck to work, I accomplish one or both of my "other" goals on the sly.

Since it is summer, I am feeding my compost heap with all sorts of goodies. I have an open mound that is just fed whatever stuff I can get from work, so having the truck to get boxes of discards is a lot easier than biking it all home :-) The heap is burning hot with all the stuff in there, and stuff is breaking down fast. My other order of unofficial business is to do some "guerilla charity" efforts. I've trained the guys in the warehouse to not automatically discard some still-useful food. A lot of dairy has been saved, and I've used whatever means to get it to Special Delivery, or to church nearby where there is a fridge, or to whatever outlet makes sense in the moment, even as I am often making clandestine runs in the work truck (shhhh...) to get some of this Lord's work done. It has been like the underground railroad in some ways. I haven't totally legitimized the effort, but since it is all discards anyway, I feel compelled to do it. You gotta realize how much waste I see in this business. Sometimes I have to use my truck to do some of this, but other times, I am pretty clever with my network of folks I call and get them involved to provide a link between the back door of the shop and the kitchen at Special Delivery. The other stuff can be composted and turned into some great soil.

As far as actual riding goes, I am still commuting by bike. I huff it up the big Presidio hill to church at least once a week. I tried a couple new things in June that I have never done. I pedaled out to La Mesa to take care of some business on a Sunday (and trolleyed back for speed and a tight schedule), and having other business on the very next day, I caught a ride out there with Kelli and pedaled back home. Each way was about 14-17 miles depending on which streets I took, and some detours to try to hook up with friends along the way. Another new experience was the group ride I did with the fellas from the bike shop that has been so excellent for me this year. I had never done a group ride before so it was all quite new. We left Balboa Park and rode out to Sunset Cliffs in OB, and returned by about the same path, with some of us peeling off along the way if we were passing our houses. That ride was about 17 miles too. All this is done on my single speed.

I spent some more money retrofitting parts on my older geared comfort bike. I got a replacement saddle given to me to replace the one that itself was a replacement. I was better informed by the far firmer saddle that has been under my ass this year with the new bike. Along with the newer saddle, I got a new stem and straight handlebars to make it a bit more compact and slightly more aggressive in its posture. Now both bikes are a bit more alike in my riding position. The older bike still is too small a frame, but it feels better to ride now. At least my ass doesn't hurt from the spongy saddle! I swear, I've bought that bike three times by now, piece by piece.

I have also got fixed gear fever. I have been prowling websites and bike shops to familiarize myself with what is out there, and to get a bit more time on that type of bike. I almost bought a used one yesterday but for the frame being the wrong size. I am also looking at how I can get Kelli on a bike that she likes. There is one brand that has a chainless design with an eight speed internal hub that might just be perfect for her. I had let her use my old bike but now that it is set up for me and my more aggressive posture, she won't go near it.

All these posts have been ostensibly about gas and vehicular mileage, but as you see, there is a lot more to it. The effort of composting is one good way to keep grounded in the purest of senses. The business of biking is grounding too (maybe a little too much—I destroyed both tires on my new bike in one shortcut across a brier-strewn traffic island. It only cost me $106 for new and improved tires and tubes which is perfectly manageable since I barely buy gas anymore). My work gives me the money to live, but also a couple chances to do some good outside. Church life ties it altogether and keeps me with open eyes for what might need attention that I can give. It is an odd but delightful synergistic relationship between these things right now. The world might be crumbling out there, but for me it is coming together. And plenty of it arises from leaving the car parked and figuring out how to live that way.

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