Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tucson Bike Fest

For three years I have been biking to school, making a trip of over four miles each way. For a while I rode a Scattante street bike, but realized I wasn't getting much of a workout on it. It was almost like I was cheating. Consequently, I decided to get the cheapest Walmart bike I could find. We found one that had been banged up a good bit and was marked down to $35. It served me well for almost a year and a half until one night some brazen thief came and took it off my front porch. The one day I got careless and failed to lock it up after parking it on the porch was the day someone came and stole it. But this is Tucson, I should have suspected that. As a result, I woke up to a slight sound--usually nothing but an alarm clock will wake me up, just ask my wife. I instantly remembered I hadn't locked up my bike, so I quickly looked out the window and saw it was gone. The next instant I was running down the road in sandals after a white mini van that was speeding away down our normally quiet street, but I was too slow to get a license plate. I take a little comfort in knowing that one of the brake pads was missing, the other three were worn to a frazzle, and the wheels had been wobbly from the time I bought it. But they probably still managed to get $10 or so out of it to help pay for their next drug fix.

I spent the next few days trying to find a similar bike that would give me a good workout and that would be within my price range. I got lucky after calling around to several local stores. Once again I found a bike for under $40. Like the one before it, it has served me well for some time now, and also like the one before it, I need to change its break pads. While most drivers are quite courteous to bicyclists here in Tucson, some force you to make abrupt stops. On one occasion, not very long after we moved here, I started riding my bike through an intersection after the light turned green. As I was nearing the middle of the road, I heard brakes screeching for what seemed like an eternity. I was lucky to get to the middle of the road before a pickup truck slammed into the car that had been beside me at the light but that had started out a little slower. The two vehicles slid right behind me and took out a sign posted on the center median. That experience along with two or three others has made me ride with more caution, and perhaps, use the brakes more than I need to.

Fast forward to the end of March 2009. As I was waiting at a stoplight near the University of Arizona, I noticed a plastic container with brochures announcing the Tucson Bike Fest, a month-long drive to get people to stop driving and start cycling to work or school. I grabbed a brochure and two or three times a week I entered all the times I rode my bike to work and school during the month of April. The organizers of the event along with the numerous sponsors had various events throughout the city, including an occasional bike station where cyclist could stop and grab a quick breakfast, a t-shirt, a bike bell, etc. During the second week of April, I won a water bottle from Ajo Bikes in the weekly drawing. In addition to prizes, the camaraderie of the event, and the opportunity to talk to new people, I also got to see some of the benefits to biking that I had kind of overlooked. For the month of April, this is the data I received after entering online all my trips to school on my bike. I'm not sure how the cost in savings was calculated, but I'm sure I saved at least that much after factoring in gas, wear and tear to a vehicle, and a very pricey parking permit at the university.

Your estimated cost savings is $76

Vehicle Miles Saved
Transit 0
Walk 0

Pollution Reduction
Reduction in carbon monoxide:

3.85 lbs.
Reduction in oxides of nitrogen:

0.56 lbs.
Reduction in organic compounds:

0.41 lbs.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Reduction in carbon dioxide (and other gasses):

160.26 lbs.

On the fourth of May I received a phone call from an employee of the city of Tucson informing me that I had won one of the two grand prizes, a $540 Trek Allant donated by Trek Bicycles of Tucson. I went and picked it up today and was treated to some of the best service I have ever had at a cycling store. Not only did the store throw in a few bells and whistles such as front and rear lights, a bike bell, and an insulated bag to go on the back rack, but they also took the time to answer other annoying questions from someone who knows very little about bikes aside from the basic tire changes and a foray or two at replacing the bearings in the bottom bracket. I rode the bike home from the Trek store and enjoyed one of the smoothest rides I've had in a long time. The only setback was that whenever I stopped, I had to remember that I was no longer riding a woman's bike (the last two bikes we found below $40 were women's bikes).

Anyway, I offer a heartfelt thanks to the many sponsors of the Tucson Bike Fest for a fun and eventful month.


Trena Doll said...

woo-hoo! congrats on the win. I love that more comfortable "commuter bikes" are becoming more popular. Racing (street) bikes and mountain bikes seem to be designed more for performance than comfort.

cking said...

Just make sure you lock this one up very securely so it doesn't get stolen too.
I should bike more:)

fawndear said...

Sooooo happy you won! Deserved it you did!

Em said...

That's awesome! I'm jealous. :-)

Sandy said...

Congrats!!! I hope you are still able to get a good workout on the smooth ride. Way to go.