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).
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.
Where is the solar panel?
On Monday I participated in a golf day to raise money for Camp Horizons
, which is a group providing opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities. We had great weather and for someone who knows very little about the game of golf, I had a lot of fun.
But… it struck me that there is all this sun and all these electric golf carts and no solar panels to provide at least some of the energy needed to charge them. So I decided to figure out what it would take to charge those carts with solar panels.
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 own a 2002 Toyota Prius, which I bought second hand in 2003. It had less than 8,000 miles on it and it was re-certified by the dealer. There had been only a few years of hybrid cars out on the street so I was concerned about whether they would hold up, what parts of the hybrid system might have problems after 30,000 or 70,000 miles, etc.
As I saw it, the two areas of concern were the batteries and the hybrid drive. I remember reading that if the batteries died, it could cost something like $5000 to replace them. No one really knew how long these batteries would last. The risk with the hybrid drive was that it was new technology. No one knew if it there might be a serious problem that shows up 1 or 2 years into its use.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Once a year the TED conference brings together some of the worlds most ‘fascinating’ thinkers and gives them 18 minutes to speak on their subject of interest. More and more of them are focused on sustainability, renewable resources, and general green topics. Here are some of the recent talks that I really liked:
Shai Agassi talks about his bold plan for the electric car. He believes his company will be instrumental in created an oil-free car industry across the US by 2020. In his vision this can only happen with all electric cars (hybrids are not good enough) and renewable energy sources creating that electricity.
Guest posting today.
I work for Linden Lab, the company that makes Second Life.
Second Life is the largest non-game virtual world today — we have more than a million unique users every month, and over 7000 individual servers. At a couple of hundred watts per server, that adds up to a lot of power.
A couple of weeks ago, Linden Lab had a blog post on its corporate site that talked about Second Life and its business in the context of power consumption.
Stop Idling sign
One of the issues we have been discussing on the Enfield Energy Committee is a ‘No Idling’ policy. The idea is that when a car is left idling while its owner goes into the store, it continues to spew its carbon dioxide in the air — hurting the environment and wasting fuel.
I have been thinking about it a lot lately because I really do like to put the car in park, jump out for the quick run into the post office or to buy a newspaper. I found a bunch of signs on the internet that I found interesting and added to this blog.
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.
Using the sun to heat your hot water in the summer is probably the most sensible (and cost effective) place to trade off fossil fuel use for solar energy. It makes sense — the sun is out, it is bright and hot, why would you want to use oil or gas to heat water?
I think another very sensible project is to use the hot sun to cool things off. Once the sun has gone down, you generally don’t need as much cooling, so a solar powered air conditioner just makes sense to me. The system works hardest when the sun is at its hottest.
Solar Attic Fan
The first product that struck me as making this kind of sense is a solar powered attic fan. Your attic generally gets really hot in the summer as the heat rises and collects there. Installing an attic fan which can move that heat outside the attic will drop the temperature of your whole house. And it is completely self-running — a solar panel mounted on top of the fan generates electricity when the sun is out, which starts the fan turning and starts cooling the attic space. No timers or computer controls or anything. Easy to install, very few moving parts to break down.