I am not green


I'm not green. I eat food, our food supply isn't remotely green. Even if you only shop Trader Mings and avoid meat. The cost of my daily meals is extreme when measured in natural resources and environment impact. I live in a house much too large for two people, even two people who need a lot of space... I heat that house to 69 degrees all winter. My dogs eat mostly meat. I read somewhere that a 90 lb dog requires more petro a year than driving the 12,000 miles a year the average american drives their SUV. My 3 dogs alone probably burn up enough gas a day just to lay around and exist than I would towing my camper to every race I do this year. I don't really care, I love the dogs.

I recently calculated that my inefficient ass gets slightly worse gas mileage than the mini cooper. Seriously, assuming that I eat the typical american diet (and who am I to argue otherwise) the 1000-1200 extra calories I burn each day on my commute require more fossil fuels than would be utilized in driving the mini cooper. In fact, I'm closer to the Tahoe than I am the Mini.


I'm not cheap. I pay for that food, it costs me a lot. Most of my budget that doesn't go towards that, too large, house or those, too many, dogs goes towards feeding my ass. I have XTR and Dura-ace bike parts. I have a carbon road bike. The bars on that bike alone retail for over $400. I commute on a bike many people would love to have as their race bike. It has carbon bars/stem, a thomson post etc. etc. all kinds of unecessary crap. I think that crap makes me more likely to ride it (in fact, it does! and my knee doesn't hurt) but the more I ride it the less "green" I really am and the more money I spend. It's easy to justify it- I've got 770 miles on the Nokians I bought this fall for $95. That is 12 cents a mile. 700 miles on the nexus 7 speed hub I paid $125 for already built into a wheel, 17 cents there. In fact, I can tell myself the entire bike, through all it's iterations since I purchased it this spring, has only cost me about 11 cents a mile. So what? In the end biking costs me and the world/environment more than driving would.

I'm sick of people thinking that I ride because I'm cheap or green. I'd like to be better at both, but I'm smart enough to know that my biking habit isn't helping a whole lot.

I'm sick of people who think they are cheap and green just because they bike.

I'm loving it how more and more people in Rochester seem to accept that I ride without questioning why. I've been here for four years and commuted most of the time. I feel like over the last year things have really changed for the better. It's pretty awesome. Every week this winter it seems I get fewer weird looks. Life is good!

Why do I ride?

It gives me a purpose and it makes me happy. I make extra laps through downtown Rochester just to see the beauty of the lights almost every night. Here are some crappy pictures.

I hope you ride for some of the same reasons. I hope you think about the actual costs (and benefits) of your riding. If you are riding to be cheap or green, make sure you are. If you are riding because you love riding, good. If you are riding because it is keeping you sane and saving your soul, even better.


  1. I ride to burn up stress and to try to stay young and healthy, both physically and mentally....and because I just like it and like most of the folks I meet out there doing the same.
    I love it when I'm out riding the trails or through town or when I have BOB (Bike on Bike)and some elitist biker type asks me what I do and I tell them I sell equipment to papermills.... I like to watch their face make that barely visible little twitch like they just smelled a really bad fart and slowly move back a few steps then turn away or kinda give that all knowing nod of the head then say that's nice...you know they're trying to connect the dots to try to make sense of it all and just can't.

  2. Gotta say I ride to keep my head right. It has saved many a $$$ in head doc bills over the years!! ;))
    Plus there's something to be said about being self-reliant.
    I have no misconceptions about saving the planet by riding my bike. I
    t's just something I do.
    I also love showing up at the local road rides in town on my fat bike, and not having the local hardcore road riders not being able to drop me!! That just ticks those guys off, and I really love that!!! Hee Hee

    Oh yeah..... I love it too!!

  3. I've had people assume that I ride because I'm cheap, a health nut or green-holier-than-thounick and some tell me so to my face. You wouldn't believe how much joy I take in telling them it's None of the Above. If I'm healthier, richer or greener, that's great, but I'm a bike geek. I love riding. Full stop.

    That said, I don't buy the claim that bikes are less green than cars or that eating more for cycling is less green than driving. I suppose that either could be valid at the extreme ends of their spectrums, but generally both are nonsense.

    In the former, look at the total resource cost of one car versus the total system cost of one bike. Put money aside for a moment and look at the materials, energy and time required to make, use and dispose of a car versus a bike. No way does a low-end bike exceed the dollar cost of a low-end car, and I suspect the resource cost is more comparable to their respective curb weights. Likewise for their high-end counterparts.

    For the latter, yes, there are extra calories. But for most people it isn't half again as many. The bigger difference is in whether the majority of one's calories come from industrially-raised meat or locally-grown plants. I suspect that in your case, the addition of cycling to the "typical American diet" doesn't make you less green, it just makes you less fat.

  4. probably true- and I really don't eat no typical american diet either... but no data on the footprint of exactly what I eat, obviously.

    my math makes no sense when you consider buying a new car, which would eventually have to happen.

    my math does make more sense than "throwing away" your old car to replace it with a hybrid.

    It also does make sense for my exact situation- paid off Tahoe, Girlfriend owns/pays for the mini. Only costs are gas. Both vehicles are reliable and haven't had any unforeseen costs pop up.

    Plus, I tend to ride all over the place rather than go straight to work.

  5. in the end- I just wanted to make ya think...

  6. Oh, I thought it was a great post, and far more thought-provoking than most of the drivel coming from self-proclaimed environmentalists. That's why I wrote such a long comment.

    Also, I wanted to challenge those arguments because I've read them both in a lot of other places...sometimes in jest, but a lot of times not. Neither one does anything to help people overcome their fear of using bikes for transportation or even just for fun.

    The main point I keep hammering on, and tell me whether you think it makes sense, is that Every Little Bit Helps. I've long since given up the idea that bikes are going to save the world, but do think that even just using them part-time, on nice days, could help a lot of personal budgets. It doesn't have to be a sell-your-car, all-or-nothing proposition to be worth doing.

    Just like it's plain crazy to scrap a perfectly good vehicle before the end of its useful life. Folks who do that seem to have no idea how much goes into building a new vehicle. I'm not sure they even do the $ math.

    And yeah, taking the long way to work or the long way home is a great way to pile on the miles!

  7. "Just like it's plain crazy to scrap a perfectly good vehicle before the end of its useful life. Folks who do that seem to have no idea how much goes into building a new vehicle. I'm not sure they even do the $ math."
    Cash for Clunkers, anyone?
    Oh, by the way. My last 3 Jeeps mileage:
    325k (hit a deer, deer and Jeep died)
    295k (got hit on the freeway by another driver, Jeep and GF CAKE died, but nobody else, thank God)
    current ride just turned over 210k.

    Say, for more on this topic...much more I might add, check it out: http://arcticglass.blogspot.com/2011/01/footprints.html
    Let me know you found this comment post, buried as it is in your post, Drew.

  8. yo drew I check your blog now and then and i have to say this is the best post yet i'm laughing my ass off right now. thanks for calling it like it is, w/out all the P.C. bullshit that all the pussies in this country eat up w/a spoon

  9. I did just find these now-

    yes, on the vehicle mileage thing too...

    last suburban hit 340k before being sold. The '99 Tahoe is at 225k?

    Greener than two prius'??? after junking the battery packs?

    For what it's worth- I'd bet I vote the opposite way of both Mark and Death Rider... but that doesn't mean I don't see what's bullshit from both sides.

    I was mostly just really sick of seeing facebook and blog posts about how cool bike commuting is that were just full of stupid crap... anyone with a brain can make the "numbers" work out any way their heart desires.

  10. Drew...that vote comment probably isn't very true..I don't vote Liberal as often as you obviously think I do. ;-)

  11. Now I went out and bought a Toyota to replace my Tahoe... Maybe I am green now!

    (small print- I bought a Sequoia)