Sunday, July 06, 2008

My new hybrid!

Some readers may recall that I have been fascinated by the Smart for Two car and put an online deposit of $99 to reserve a car. Thousands of people were waiting in line ahead of me. Months have passed. According to Autobloggreen, 25,000 have been made for sale in the US and they could use 15, 000 more. That was in March of this year. Thousands more orders have come in since March. Most folks on the waiting list are looking beyond 2008.

Smart enthusiasts have formed chat groups and are reporting mileage results that don't match up to Canadian Smart cars that run on diesel fuel and routinely reach 50 mpg. The new American model is a foot longer than the original models that can be found all over Europe. Another problem is that the Smart car is supposed to be fueled with premium gas, so savings are not going to be that big.

Where we save when buying the Smart is that it is smaller and thus uses less resources in the manufacturing process. However, it still burns fuel and is not the ideal choice -- as much as I dig the cool design and the space saving qualities.

The Smart is going electric, as reported here. Toyota has developed a rival to be called the IQ, which will be tested in Japan and Europe before coming to the US. So it looks to me like the greenest choice in automotive vehicles is not likely to show up on our roadways any sooner than 2010. And even then, I would probably wait to hear what people think of them before buying one.

So what to do? The Prius is way beyond my price range. No way will I ever spend 20K on a car! I looked at the Toyota Yaris and the Honda Fit, but for various reasons they didn't excite me. (To check out rankings according to mpg, go here.) Looking at my own driving needs, I'm realizing that the greenest thing I can do is to continue to drive my 94 Ford Ranger until it finally gives up the ghost -- which should be years down the road -- at which point I hope that cleaner and greener personal transportation devices have been invented and are in mass production everywhere!

But I did buy a hybrid this weekend. Check it out:

It's a cross between a comfort bike and a mountain bike and is just the thing for urban commuting and dwelling. Note the clown horn on the handlebars!

I also equipped it with a detachable wicker shopping basket so I can ride it to the farmer's market and the local Acme. There's a rack on the back for carrying books home from the library. And it rides really good on puncture-proof tires designed for urban riding.

True confession time. The truck I drive is the first vehicle I ever owned and I didn't get it until I was 43 years old. Prior to that, I had bikes and I took public transportation and life was pretty carefree. When I finally became a professional teacher and began to earn a bit more money, my world changed. I had to go more places and be more mobile. I had to go back to university and found myself driving to various campuses in the quest to get certified. Teaching is great job but it is very stressful. Long hours too. Long story short -- driving became a way of life that hasn't proven to be very healthy for me. Jump in the car, go here and there, and then get home exhausted with little impetus to get some decent exercise. I've gained weight, I've gotten lethargic, I'm ready for a change!

So this hybrid makes perfect sense for my immediate needs. I'm going to drive very little this summer and use the bike daily for exercise and errands. I'd like to be able to use the bike to commute in the fall, but that is to be determined later. I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, I did some riding this weekend out in Granger where I grew up. The weather was perfect, the scenic views incredible:

I found myself stopping to snap pictures at places that took me back to childhood biking days. I had a girl's Raleigh back then, with a wire basket on front so I could ride to Grangerburg every two weeks for the Bookmobile.

In those days, the roadsides all looked pretty much like this, with great fields of corn or hay, beyond which are always far away mysterious woods just begging to be explored.

Here's an old country graveyard, tucked in by the side of a sleepy country road. Some of the stones go back to the early 1800s. You can find lots of these scattered around the rural areas of our counties.

Here is one of the few remaining barns. Most of the farmland has been sold and carved up into McMansion allotments these days. (I chose not to take pictures of those-- maybe another post when I can rant about Americans living in huge houses while the rest of the world is choking on our toxic emissions.)

This barn is particularly special, because it is where we stopped on our way home from the Bookmobile. We had a fort built in the hayloft out of bales of hay, and there we'd eat our penny candy from the Granger store and ready our books during those summer vacations that felt like they would never end.


Dave P. said...

Nice looking bike! Is it a Specialized? I have a Specialized road bike and a Trek hybrid. I got them both from Eddy's, who have been great (I highly recommend Jeff at the Stow store).

Have fun (and be careful) riding!

Village Green said...

Yes, it is a Specialized and it is from Eddy's (Montrose).

An old Donovan song runs through my head as I ride:

"All is not as it would appear
Nothing ever remains the same
Change is life’s characteristic
Bend and flow play the game
Lose your chain
And do what you like
Get on your bike and do what you like..."

KevinBBG said...

Congrats on the new bike. You not only get to use NO gas but you get to get in shape. A win all around.

microdot said...

I had a Trek Hybrid for 10 years in NYC and road it everyday to commute and for recreation and exercise.
I gave the bike to a friend when I moved.
Now I have a hybrid made by a French Sports Store chain called GoSport.
It is equivalent to the Trek and I love it.
I admit that I am in my late 50's, but I ride every day and the hills here are a real challenge.
The amazing thing to me about biking is that I seem to enter a state of foreverness...It is something I have done all my life and I seem to enter a continuum in which I am always 15 years old.

Keep riding!