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Update (Summer 2006): > !!! GASOLINE FREE FOR ONE YEAR
!!! And now FREE GAS when (IF?) I need it !!! (Near bottom of page.)
Why not a tow behind trailer? (See bottom of page.)
Ever since the local grocery store moved in it was in the back of my mind that it would be nice to travel there and back on a bicycle. But I never did anything about it until one day in July 2005 when I was accidentally locked out of the truck by the built in security system after I finished transferring the groceries from the cart to the truck. After not being able to find a ride I ended up walking home. So I now had proof that I could walk the distance. The only problem was how to carry groceries.
While walking home my thoughts once again turned to riding a bicycle. But most modern bicycles are not equipped to carry much of anything. My reason for wanting to try the bicycle is I knew from past experience that this is something I like to do. I never once gave any thought to the prospect of saving gas. But about the same time I started doing this gas prices started to rise ( AGAIN ! ) but I wasn't buying any because I no longer had any need for it! That's when the full impact of what I was doing really hit me. Not only was I enjoying what I was doing and at the same time improving my health but I was also saving money and a LOT of it! The trip to and from the grocery store is approx. 6 to 10 miles depending on the route I take. Anytime the weather is nice I take the longer route! Over the course of a year this mileage and the cost of gas saved starts to add up. I have now proven that it's not neccessary to use a gas guzzling 2+ ton vehicle to pick up groceries, stop at the Post Office, pay bills or visit the dentist!
Many thought I was a bit crazy to start riding a bicycle again. After all bicycles are for kids! Once I found a way to haul stuff on my bicycle I figured maybe I might be able to ride it through late fall then store it till next spring. Much to the surprise of everyone I continued to ride the bike through the entire winter as the colder temperatures simply were NOT a problem. The human body generates an incredible amount of heat when riding a bicycle! See > Keeping warm in winter
I have now gone ONE YEAR without purchasing gas! Although I very seldom use the truck anymore, I keep it around for emergencies as there are occasions when I have to be somewhere and it's not always practical or safe to get there on a bicycle. When I got the truck inspected this year it was emission exempt. It was when getting the truck inspected that I found out I put less than 500 miles on it since the last inspection! Looking back most of that was between June and August of 2005 before I started using the bicycle on a daily basis.
I now go everywhere I have to go on a bicycle! I've been doing daily runs to the grocery store for over a year now, not because I need groceries daily, but mostly because I like riding a bicycle and the health benefits have been incredible. I've even noticed my eyesight has improved to the point where I no longer need glasses! Doing this on a daily basis also keeps the size of the loads I have to haul to a minimum although I have hauled over 100 pounds of groceries in one trip on quite a few occasions such as when items are on sale and I decide to stock up or it's time to haul another 40 pound bag of cat litter along with my normal items. My average load is around 50 to 60 pounds.
I have now traveled more than 3,100 miles by bicycle since starting this project. That's 3000+ miles that is NOT on my truck! The official 1 year aniversary will be sometime in August and I expect that number to rise to somewhere around 3500 miles by that time.
I am now on my THIRD bicycle. The first one was returned less than 30 days after I bought it. The second one was replaced under warranty when the rim of the rear wheel started to split and the repair shop accidentally replaced the WRONG WHEEL! Since I made it known I needed the bike NOW they offered a NEW bicycle which of course I took! I had around 1500 miles on the original bike when it was replaced. The original bike was on the verge of needing new wheel bearings and tires so being able to exchange it for a brand new bike was a GREAT deal at just the right time! When I got the new bike home I immediately tore it completely apart, sprayed the frame and all parts with Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic spray then took the wheels apart and greased the bearings as I found out the hard way with the first bike that salt spray is hard on the frame and parts and the factory grease job done on the wheel bearings was totally inadequate especially in cold weather.
!!! FREE GAS !!!
59.225 Gallons of gas. Total cost? SIX CENTS !!!
The local grocery store became a Giant Eagle on May 14th 2006 and offers something called Fuel Perks. For every $50 spent you get 10 cents off per gallon of gas, good for up to 30 gallons per purchase. Even though I did not need it I made my first gas purchase near the end of July 2006, (almost exactly ONE YEAR since my last gas purchase in July of 2005) using the fuel perks I accumulated as they were about to expire. After draining what gas was in the truck into 5 gallon cans, the lawn mowers and anything else that used gas, I managed to purchase 29.225 gallons of gas. Total cost THREE CENTS! And I had enough fuel perks to this again so on August 8th I went back and got 30 more gallons of gas also for THREE CENTS!
|I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all the FREE gas as I just recently bought an electric lawn mower, I have not been using the truck and I now have enough fuel perks to do this again!!! At least TWICE again! And if the price of gas keeps dropping and I keep earning fuel perks at this rate maybe THREE TIMES! (90 gallons of gas for FREE!)|
WHY NOT A TOW BEHIND TRAILER?
Several people have suggested I consider a trailer towed behind the bike. Although I'm sure that could be made to work and I was actually considering building an electric assist trailer at one point (before I could pedal even myself up a hill let alone carry groceries) I am now of the opinion that towing a trailer up and down the hills that I have to navigate would be unsafe and would only slow me down. There is nothing worse than coming down a hill while braking the bike and have the trailer try to pass the bicycle! I quite often hit speeds in excess of 40 MPH on the bicycle even when fully loaded. I just don't see that happening while towing a trailer, especially downhill! The only way I would consider a trailer safe on most of these hills is if it had it's own brake system!
The other issue is the weight of the trailer itself. By attaching the load directly to the bicycle I don't have the added weight of the trailer! Using the present system I've carried as much as 105 pounds on the bicycle which is more than enough load capacity to carry home most anything that I could want, especially from the grocery store.
I have now traveled more than 3600 miles using what I have and it's working better than I ever expected. And now that I have the physical capability to make it work, I'm in no hurry to change anything but I'm still thinking about some other types of bicycle based vehicles such as a tow behind cart (with built in brakes!) or even a three wheel recumbent bike with electric assist. In fact I actually started building a recumbent bike with electric assist but work slowed to a crawl as I became strong enough to haul what I needed to haul using what I had. I still intend to complete it but right now I'm having too much fun using what I have!
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