The 3.219 Kilometre Challenge
In America Clif Bar run a thing called The 2 Mile Challenge. They’re a company trying to flog sports nutrition but the premise of the challenge is a good one – “Use your bike for trips of 2 miles or less”.
As they say on the website:
40% of U.S. urban travel is 2 miles or less – 90% of those trips are by car
I think we’d have similar numbers down here and wouldn’t it be great if a New Zealand company got behind utility cycling as these guys have? Sanitarium do a good job with the Weet-Bix Tryathlons, Meridian with their Kids’ Bike Jams, but these and many similar events always have a sporting focus. Encouraging cycling as everyday transport has more appeal to me.
Don’t get these short journeys confused with a work-commute, those trips can involve significant distances. What we’re talking about here is popping down to the dairy for bread or to the park with your kids.
I do a lot of these small trips by bike, especially on the days I’m looking after my pre-schooler, and they inject some fun into a mundane task.
Below are some photos taken on a recent trip to get a haircut. I hate shopping, I hate getting my hair cut, but if I can combine them with a bike ride it makes these unbearable tasks bearable and in most cases downright enjoyable.
People are put-off the idea of utility cycling for many reasons; They think it’s slower. It’s hard work. You can’t ride a bike in street clothes. You get sweaty… Bollocks. I’ve not found any of that to be true. If I’m riding up a hill (plenty of those on the Shore) and I’m getting hot, I just ride slower – it’s not rocket science! Riding fast can be hard work but ride at a comfortable pace and it’s easier and quicker than walking, “no-sweat” you might say. I wear my regular clothes and I’ve got flat pedals on my bikes so I can hop on wearing any shoes I damn well like, no Lycra-encasement, padded-undercrackers or special equipment required.
You can usually make a short journey as fast on a bike as in your car, faster if the traffic is heavy. Any time lost up the hills is invariably gained when you pull-up directly outside your destination and avoid the parking-space-hunt that often follows a car trip.
So here’s my latest 2 mile challenge (in photos) after six months successfully avoiding the barber. Fresh-air, sunshine, no petrol, safer than driving, stimulating conversation about the shade of pink of Dora’s skirt as opposed to Barbie’s halter-top. It’s a win-win for everyone!