Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Schmirth Day

Earth Day, what a bunch of hooey.  It’s just another Hallmark holiday to me, not any different than Valentine’s Day.  My wife and I don’t exchange cards or gifts on Valentine’s Day, even though it is in fact the anniversary of my proposal.  It’s Earth Day and the Earth shouldn’t expect anything extra from me today.  If you have a good relationship everyday should be as love filled and celebrated as Valentine’s Day.  If you really care about the environment, everyday should be Earth Day.  If the green websites and NBC logos are making you feel a little guilty about it, I guess it never hurts to put a little more umph into “doing your part” for fat mama earth today.  There's no such thing as too much of a good thing for Earth Day.  (Pictured: beautiful El Yunque National Forest-Puerto Rico)

Earlier today I updated the status of The Best Bike Blog Ever*’s Facebook page.  It read, “Happy Earth Day.  Do your part.  Pick up a piece of trash or two on your ride today.”  I had an early meeting and rushed it.  I wish I thought it out more clearly.  I guess that’s what I’m doing now.  If you’re a cyclist you should be pickin’ up a piece of trash whenever you can no matter what day it is.  I’m not saying to lock up the brakes at the front of the peloton and break a few collarbones to stuff a gum wrapper in your jersey pocket.  Seriously, if you ride a bike, stop at an intersection and see a piece of trash, pick it up and put it in the next recycling or garbage can you see.  It makes the ride that much more enjoyable next time you pass through.

That got me to thinking of other things an everyday cyclist can do to make everyday Earth Day:

You should never buy another water bottle again.  No lie.  I have at least 50 of them in my pantry dating back to God knows when.  It’s ridiculous.  If you need one, let me know.  Ask a friend.  Or, take a look around at the next rough railroad track crossing, chances are there’s one lying in the brush.  Trash becomes treasure.  I’ve heard pro tour teams this year are using bottles made from recycled or biodegradable material.  So you don’t have to cringe and wince when you see them whip a bottle into an empty field in a remote part of Spain.  They say at most pro races the fans snatch them up pretty quickly.  However, I don’t recall seeing too many fans in the desert during the Tour of Oman earlier this year.  The next time one jangles out of your cage probably best to go pick it up, unless you have cheering souvenir hunting fans along your training route.  Plus, Karma’s a bitch.

It was likely brain cell killing toxic and costly, but I used to practically clean my entire bike with degreaser.  Idiot.  Looking back at my carelessness, probably a few gallons of degreaser flowed out of my garage and into the storm sewer or through cracks into the ground.  Now, I drop a rag on the floor under the drive train; spritz a spray or two on the chain cleaner or tooth brush and scrub the drive train only.  When you’re done, you can use that degreaser dripped rag to wipe off your cassette and chainrings.  I’ve heard there are chain cleaners that allow you to recycle the degreaser with a filter.  That’s what the bike shops do, but on a huge scale.  That’s what that big 50 gallon drum in the back of the shop is for.  Degreaser never really loses its cleaning properties.  You can use it more than once.  Like motor oil, it just gets dirty.  The rest of the bike is cleaned with a squirt of dish soap into a recycled spray bottle of water.  We have 5 bikes that are ridden and cleaned at least weekly.  I probably fill up that old circa 2002 409 cleaner spray bottle three times per year.  That’s 3 squeezes of soap for hundreds of bike wipe-downs.  I don’t buy shop rags.  Instead I recycle old t-shirts into rags and use those to clean the bike.  Don’t tell me you don’t have a surplus of hideously ugly t-shirts from charity rides and races.

Not only will it keep you from littering the drive through at Arby’s with heavy metals and carbon fiber during a run-in with the overhang, it saves a ton on gas.  I’ve tracked the mileage savings.  With my car, there’s probably a 3-4 mpg difference between having a bike on top of the roof as opposed to being inside.  That makes a huge difference when traveling to races or on vacation.  Plus it stays dry, maybe saving a re-lube of the drive train when you arrive at your destination.  Lastly, your bike might be a little more secure locked behind tinted windows instead of advertising to the world that you have an expensive bike.  Of course there’s going to be times when you need the roof rack, hopefully that’s when you’re carpooling with teammates and friends, saving the gas you would’ve burned taking individual cars, and getting lost in the boonies trying to keep the caravan together.

While it’s fantastic to have new trails and bikeways, I am always surprised by the amount of trash and junk deep in the honey suckle jungle of unused park land.  At Devou Park in Covington volunteers from Give Back Cincinnati carted out literally hundreds of 5 gallon buckets full of ancient whiskey pint bottles, tires, old fencing, tarps, tents, single shoes, and some things that just made us scratch our heads.  So, when you help build a trail, you’re also helping to clean up your local public land, leaving you feeling double happy.

A Facebook Fan of the blog the other day mentioned that there must’ve been a quarter of a million dollars worth of bikes in the local Cat 3 race this past Sunday, fifty racers on five thousand dollar rigs.  He summarized a lot of the Cat 3 races have decent jobs and can afford a little luxury in their hobby.  Consequently, with wealth comes waste.  No doubt many of these riders simply whip in a new inner tube whenever they flat and toss the old tube in the trash.  I concur; most racers would hate to be sidelined in a race by flatting on a repaired inner tube.  However, for a few years now, I save my flatted tubes for a rainy day tube patching party.  I look forward to the bottle of Sierra Nevada and using up three patch kits.  While I still prefer to run unpatched tubes during races, the spare tube I carry on local training rides is usually a patched one.  Additionally, that makes it pretty easy to lend a tube to someone in need.  What goes around comes around.  


TRI-james said...

I always patch tubes and I will take other peoples tubes. I have a huge stash.

It does piss me off me I am not quick enough to get their spent CO2 cartridge. It seems everyone whips them into the bushes. The are made of steel %#@#%!!!

dean schmiedel said...

schmirth doesn't really rhyme with earth

Joe Biker said...

deano! hit me up on FB! Schmirth!