Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saving money at the biking!

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? That may not be on your calendar, but it is nevertheless.

  This year I have been watching the gas prices rising and rising and decided that once the weather was warm enough I wanted to see how long we could go without filling the tank on the van (which is our family vehicle and I drive it the most while Ken drives the car to work). I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and had contemplated challenging you all too and seeing if you wanted to join me for a race of sorts (How long can your tank of gas last?) on my blog. I didn't get around to blogging about it but I still thought it would be fun to try ourselves.

  I knew I had a lengthy drive early this month to get the bees and our wheat so I decided to start my challenge after that was over. That happened the first week in May so we officially started on our challenge on May 8th (Mother's Day).

  That first day of biking for the season ended up a little eventful! Ken had blown the tires up before we left but it ended up that a couple of them were blown up to much and they popped! Thankfully we had made it to church okay but we discovered them popped when we were headed home. We had some interesting times of trying to change tires, it starting to rain, wishing I hadn't forgotten my cell phone at home and then Ken having to rescue us with the van. I don't think we saved much in gas but it was a day to remember anyway.

That week we just stayed home all week except for church (I think that the 3 church services were are only outing anyway) and we had fun. I loved how relaxing it was to stay home! Ken had ordered more inter tubes for the bikes (because we ended up popping the spare for the trailer too) but they didn't come until the end of the week.
 The following Sunday we rode to church again and then we rode home for lunch and then rode our bikes to a special biking event. We were able to get some new helmets (very economically!) there for some of us, get our bikes tuned up and the kids got to make a smoothie with a bike that had a blender hooked up to the back of it. It was a free community event and we had fun at it.

On Tuesday we started to ride to our homeschool event but discovered that there was a nail in the trailer tire. I think maybe we should buy stock in the inter tube company! We ended up driving instead.

So far we have rode our bikes to church on an average of 2 out of every 3 times. We have also rode our bikes to our baseball games and out a couple of other times. Mostly we just aren't going a lot. We did make some rather long drives in our van that I hadn't anticipated when I started this challenge. We were invited to a birthday party, a graduation party and I was asked to play at a funeral all of which where quite a ways from our place and to far to bike in an afternoon.

  Our biggest biking adventure so far this month was a day of errands and shopping in town. (I had basically put everything off and tried to avoid stores but we were needing to get some things done so I planned a day of it.) We had lots of fun and I took pictures so I thought I would share our day with you. I am hoping it will also make others realize just how much can be done on bikes.

We left home at about 10 am after the boys had done most of their schoolwork (Mara is already done for the year).  We rode the 3 miles into town.

Our first stop was the post office where I mailed a letter and a package.

Second stop was the library. We had hauled our 30-40 books in that needed to be returned. We checked out around that many again. I had decided it might not be the best (both because of weight and because I didn't want them to get stolen) to haul them around town so instead we just hauled them over to where Ken parks his car while he is at work and put them in there for Ken to bring home that evening. We stopped in at Ken's office to drop something off as well and say hello.

Next stop was the eyeglass place as Mara's glasses needed to be adjusted. That was a quick stop. The cool bike stand above was just outside the eye doctors.

  We also went across the street to a used book store. I had brought 4 books to trade in. We found 5 books we wanted and with the value of our trade in we had to only pay 50 cents. I think I like that used book store!

  Next we rode to Ben Franklin where I hoped to find ribbon for an upcoming wedding. Unfortunately no success.

 Then we went across the street to Good Will. We were very excited to find tennis shoes for Jonathan that looked brand new and they were just his size. He really needed new ones and his old ones had holes in them. Megan also found some new looking "Hello Kitty" dress shoes and so we got them too.

 We rode on to another 2nd hand store where I found a salad master steamer for $1. I was looking for camping cooking pots and that won't work for that but I think it might come in handy. It looked brand new.

Then we rode across town to the bread store. We got bread and then also splurged on crackers and some sweet treats to add to our picnic lunch. We were able to put what we bought there in Mara's pannier bags, I hauled pretty much everything else in the trailer.
 Next stop was the park for a picnic lunch of PB and J sandwiches, oranges and the aforementioned treats.
 The crackers that we got were scrabble cheese crackers so Megan was trying to spell her name with them.
Here Jonathan was having fun with the cable bridge.
 Aaron and Mara climbed up high on a "rock". This park had all new equipment and so the kids had never played on it before. We had a fun time there.

After that we headed to the grocery store where I got a few things including a heavy watermelon and muskmelon and some pansy plants that weren't the easiest things to haul on a bike. We managed however!

 Next stop was Target where we did find some new running shoes for Aaron (but no church shoes for Mara- we can't seem to see any anywhere that we like) and I picked up some dressing and Mayo that were on sale and I had coupons for. Those weren't exactly light things to add to our load but oh well. We also had fun looking over the bikes. Both Jonathan and I are dreaming of getting new ones but we want to be careful this time. When Ken and Mara got new ones a couple of years ago we got cheap ones and we have not been impressed with how they work. I want to read up on whatever type of bike we buy next.

We ended up getting home around 3:30. It was a pretty full day of errands but we had fun and it worked to go on our bikes so it was fun to have that success. We were all pretty hot and tired by the time we made it home but we were ready to ride to baseball at 6 pm and the kids had fun playing that evening.

 Mara commented that she really liked doing our errands on bikes and getting to picnic as well. I love getting the exercise plus getting to really see things as we go by. We had such fun looking at all the flowers we passed. A day like that certainly isn't the most time efficient but it was fun and there were several benefits:
  • We saved money on gas.
  • I had a memorable time with my children.
  • We got some good fresh air and exercise.
This weekend we hope to get some more bike riding in though it won't save us gas as we are planning on driving to try out a new section of trail where we haven't ridden before. It should be fun.

 Do you like to ride bikes? Are you doing anything to make it so you spend less on gas? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Julie Wasson said...

What a great day! we walk or ride to our playground nearby. My husband used to be a triathlete but he hurt his knee so he doesn't ride any more. We have thought of a trailer for the 3 year old. I suppose we could ride to and from my son's school too. Thanks.

Nola said...

How fun! We bike or walk when we can. Mostly walking for when its just me and the kids and biking when its all of us. I can't haul both my kids (trailer and tag along bike) attached to my bike on the way home myself. We have A LOT of big hills here. The way there is easy but not the way home! We usually bike to the library. Unfortunatly our church is farther away and so it the main grocery store we shop at (the closer one is very small and doesn't have everything). We bike or walk to the post office and when we can to friend's houses.

My husband bikes to work 21 km round trip. We also enjoy biking as a family just for fun. Sometimes we go to garage sales on bikes.

I can't believe how expensive gas is getting either it was 149.9 the other day (per litre) not sure what that is for gallons. We try to not go places we can avoid going to and also group errands together.

angie said...

You inspire me! I was thinking of riding to the library today to drop off and pick up. Your trailer gave me the idea to look at yard sales for a child trailer to use to haul things. We are 2.5 miles from the lake club we joined this year. If I had a trailer, we could take our chairs, towels, cooler bag, etc with us to the lake on bikes.

Jackie said...

How fun! We live too far to bike to town, but I would like to ride more with the kids.

Anonymous said...

I love riding my bike! I do not ride to work or anything but I work at a Target store, so I just shop (using my discount as well) after work so I don't have to make an extra trip to the store!! That way I only use gas for work, and church. And if I hang out with my friends, unfortunately I live too far away to ride my bike to many places. But I really like your idea of riding bikes more! And I definitely agree that it's great exercise!


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