Starting this spring I have been experimenting with using a reel mower to cut my grass. With all the rain we have had I have been using it just about every weekend and it’s been a lot of fun (and a lot of work).
The obvious benefit has been not spending money on fuel for a traditional gas lawn mower. Because this type of mower takes considerably more effort I have also gotten a nice total body workout. Additionally it is much easier to store, and can even be kept inside your home as there are no hazardous materials involved.
Bike to Work
May is bike month, and specifically, May 14-18th is bike-to-work week here in the Upper Valley of NH and VT. Also, a number of towns will have some special events on Friday, May 18th the official bike/walk to work day. Up in this area, there is a list of free breakfast spots for bike commuters on Friday. Check it out here: Commute Green in the Upper Valley.
Commute Green NH is sponsoring a contest from May until the end of the year for individuals or teams to replace their auto mileage with biking, walking or public transportation. Similarly, in Vermont the Vermont Bike Challenge runs from May until the end of August. Read up on these programs and start logging your miles.
Biking in the Rain
We’ve had some extremely warm weather here on the east coast last week. Fortunately (I think) the 100 mile bike ride for cancer last Saturday (the Prouty
) was entirely in the rain… which meant it wasn’t hot. It was wet, a bit more dangerous than dry conditions, uncomfortable in many ways, but not too hot.
As a matter of fact, it doesn’t take much rain to cool some people off to the point of hypothermia, especially when working very hard and burning lots of calories. For me, I knew if I stopped very long I would start to cool off rapidly and would start shivering… so I didn’t stop more than 4 or 5 minutes at any rest stop and I skipped about half of the stops (the Prouty is very generous in the number of stops offered).
View from Mt Cube
Kent and I went took full advantage of a sunny Sunday afternoon to hike up Mount Cube in Orford, NH. The picture on the left is the view from the top.
Why do people like to climb mountains? I think most people can really appreciate the connection with nature that you get by stepping outdoors, getting up high and seeing just how big and beautiful our planet is.
We were planning to see a new documentary this evening called “Collapse” (here is rotten tomatoes link). We looked at the trailer and thought, yeah, that is probably a movie we ought to see… some day … but today nature is calling us to get outside!
Tour de Taste
Two things that I like to do: go for a good bike ride and graze on good food in small quantities all day. Today Kent and I participated in the “Tour de Taste” run by the Upper Valley Trails organization… and it was just that. And we had some nice weather as well.
The Upper Valley Trails group did a great job of organization from the messages we received ahead of time, to the registration, the parking, the food stops, and the well marked routes so we didn’t get lost. I also appreciated their attention to the environment by asking people to bring their own spoons and forks (to use fewer disposables), and by providing recycling and (in some places) composting bins to cut down on landfill waste.
And, of course, encouraging people to get out on their bikes for something hard to resist like good food, may also inspire them to consider biking for local errands or even for commuting to work. There were over 400 riders, many of them families with kids. It was a great inspiration to me that there are so many people in the Upper Valley interested in taking advantage of a nice day, good food, and environmentally friendly transportation.
Since I opened my store one of the products I have been thinking about is an electric bicycle. I have been an avid cyclist for about 6 or 7 years now. My husband and I try to get in a one long bike trip each summer. (We just completed New London, NH to Boston, MA this weekend — it was great!)
The problem was that I couldn’t find an electric bike that people really liked. I do sell an electric scooter that gets a lot of attention and has a good reputation. But it is cost prohibitive for some (at about $3000) and opens up questions about whether it is a motocycle and requires special registration and special driver’s license, etc. Each town has its own rules they apply to moped or scooter class of motorized vehicles.
I love biking and I have been following the Tour de France for the last decade or so. Today was stage 17 of the 96th Tour de France. This race is an amazing display of human power. These riders can race 4 or 5 hours almost every day for 3 weeks. They get 2 rest days in the middle of the tour, but otherwise they are out there every day riding 150-200 kilometers.
The chart on the right from the Exploratorium of San Francisco shows the efficiency of various forms of transportation. Bicycling is the most efficient transportation available, even more efficient than walking or running. I used to think horses were efficient, but they use more energy to move one person than a full car a train of people.
I have a Honda gas-powered lawn mower. I got it as a gift a few years back and it has been wonderfully reliable. Starts on the first or second pull every time. But it burns gasoline and I would really like a quieter, more energy efficient lawn mower.
Electric mowers have been available for quite a few years, as well as electric weed wackers and other garden equipment, but they have a poor quality reputation. If you have a fairly large yard you can’t use the corded products. The battery products have traditionally had battery maintenance problems and low power. If you don’t use them, charge them and store them correctly they will last about one season.
Biking in San Fran
You have to admit that the most energy efficient means of transportation doesn’t require gas, diesel, or electricity.
Walk, run, bike, swim, or kayak to work next week — to celebrate ‘Bike or Walk to Work Week‘! Eat a good breakfast and that’s the only fuel you’ll need.
My husband and I are bike enthusiasts and have done a lot of commuting to work by bike over the years. Not every job will allow a regular commute by bike and, personally, I stop riding when the temperature gets below about 45 degrees. I think Kent can go to about 30… brrrrrrr.