But one less car is the goal. So - team car is going back.
Because I'm a small business owner I already track vehicle expenses and vehicle miles. Last year I drove just under 12,000 miles total. As a bike racer, I've always tracked bike miles using my Garmin and Strava. So the data collection process is already established. Now it's a matter of counting miles each week, and restricting driving mileage to at or less than cycling mileage. Cut out useless trips. Ride more to places. Save the driving for bad weather and absolute necessities. Small steps - prompted in my life by the National Bike Summit.
After making my VOW list I dove headfirst into a book I'd purchased at the summit called Bikenomics by Elly Blue. Positively fascinating. Stats and stories were absorbed by my already open mind following the summit. I inhaled the book flying home. I recommend everyone read it. Think how happy we could be as a nation if we pulled people out of their harried car-coma-induced states and put them on bikes. Weight loss, stress reduction, energy, fresh air, positive emotions and just heightened consciousness. Bikes provide that to us. I became intoxicated with my post-summit buzz and Bikenomics. I couldn't sleep last night. I am fixated.
Ten years ago I had a hunger for bike racing. Over the course of a decade and especially the past few years, my desires to compete and win have waned. I was looking for a new "goal." I have been hit or miss in my training -versus the old Me who would never dream of taking a day off! And suddenly post-summit I find myself re-invigorated with the bike - not necessarily in the racing sense, though I intend to keep competing... but in the lifestyle sense. I know I'll make mistakes. I know it'll be hard. I know sometimes I'll just want to hop in the car. But if I took away one lesson from the summit it was this: change starts with me. I cannot advocate for more bike lanes while logging 12,000 miles in my car each year. I cannot ask other women to join me in riding to the grocery store if I'm not doing it. I can't say we aren't spreading our message quickly enough until I share my riding bliss by buying a GoPro Camera and using it and sharing my movies. I can't inspire others without leading by example.
The bike revolution is coming. Technically, tt's already begun. It's no longer a rich, white man's sport. It's a way of life for people of all walks of life. (Pun intended). We can't afford more/newer/bigger roads. Many big citites can't provide more parking. Our cities are swollen with traffic. As one speaker said, "if you're not at the table, you're on the menu." I say - we don't get to sit at the tables of the policy makers and leaders when we aren't living the cycling lifestyle first hand.
So I challenge you - ride more than you drive, sell a car, teach a new person how to use their bike as a means of transport, learn your public transit systems and your bike share programs inside and out, resist the norms and get creative. I've asked the women in my neighborhood- most of whom don't ride -to grab their bikes and join me for a ride to our nearest grocery store. It's flat, short and easy. I'm going to persist until they accept my invite, even if just once.
National change starts one rider at a time. Bike racing is great, but bike living is...well- it's a whole 'nother world. I challenge you to start today. What are your VOWs?
AUTHOR ARTICLE UPDATE: April 9, 2014:
So I'm happy to report I've met all of the afore-mentioned goals! I did in fact turn in the team car pictured above. It was a great little car but it only sat 4 people and towing the trailer was NOT fuel efficient. It resulted in us all typically driving separately to team races and that's simply NOT green, and Not showing proper bike love to my VOWS! So... I decided if the right fuel-saving option came along, I'd consider it. And sure enough -a Dodge Sprinter DIESEL van came along... and we bought it for the team. We can now fit 6-10 people AND 6-10 bikes and average 20mph... thereby saving fuel for the long bike trips AND hanging out as a team.