Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 426, July 15, 2007

"Get a rope."


Most of the time,
these are my cars!

by Marc V. Ridenour

Credit The Libertarian Enterprise

When gas hit $3.00+ a gallon the first time around, I decided that I was going to use my bicycles as much as possible for my short-trip transportation needs. One of them is a Giant Rincon, circa 2004, and it has well over 2,000 miles on it by now—that's 2,000+ miles' worth of gasoline I haven't had to burn making short trips from my home to Safeway's, Coffee Mania,[1] the Show Low Public Library, and just about anywhere else I need to go to that's not on the White Mountain Boulevard.[2]

The other is a Trek 4500; like the Rincon, it's a mountain bike with a nice wide range of gear ratios enabling me to climb those long, steep upgrades that are everywhere in Show Low—and, for that matter, the White Mountain area.

The potential energy-crisis situation is real. However, alternative-energy vehicles such as the hybrid gasoline-engine/electric-motor vehicles, while they are a nice option, but cost so much and I for one can't afford one. Nor am I the only person in this particular bind.

The need for kits allowing one to retrofit new technologies to existing motor vehicles is there, but so far, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has come up with anything practical yet.

The only immediately-available alternative to gasoline/diesel-fueled motor vehicles that is within the price range of just about everybody is the common bicycle. Yes, I know the bike has several deficiencies—such as not being able to carry very much. However, there are trailers available. The Fresh Aire trailer shown attached to my Rincon is made by the Fresh Aire bicycle-trailer manufacturing company in Ames, Iowa, which I acquired in 1995.[3]

The one hitched to my Trek 4500 is the B.O.B YAK, available from Cycle Mania.[4] The single in-line wheel configuration is different than anything else I have seen, but the weatherproof bag it comes with makes carrying moderate loads—35 to 45 pounds or so—quite easy.

The weatherproof bag—unique in that it has no zipper—you just press the edges together and roll up tightly to form a seal and snap the retaining strap to the D-rings at the bottom of the bag on each side to form a good weatherproof seal—makes carrying your load of groceries, books, or anything else rain-sensitive quite simple—the twin carrying handles makes it comfortable.

When I've done my shopping, I just load the bag into the shopping cart and use it at the checkout line to replace everything in after the clerk rings it up and I've paid for my purchases (ouch!).

As for the Fresh Aire trailer, you can easily acquire the big plastic chests like the one attached to mine, and an insulated ice chest for carrying home perishables like chicken, butter, meat, pork, and ice cream (yeah, Doc, I know, I know. . .).

On an average month of riding my bicycles instead of driving, I rack up between 60 and 125 miles. That's 60 to 125 miles of gasoline I haven't had to burn.

The advantages of riding bikes as opposed to using cars and other motor vehicles is several-fold; besides reducing our per capita gasoline/diesel fuel consumption, it would also reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. It would also increase our individual levels of physical fitness, which is nothing to laugh it, either.

Yes, I know—there are some occasions when the bike isn't feasible—like when it's below freezing and we've just have two or three inches of snow fall. Or when the mercury is heading for the century mark on those sunny days (but that's why they make sunblock with a PF of 50, isn't it?), or the wind is so strong the weather service is issuing high-wind warnings.

But much of the time, for short-range trips, the bicycle is a very handy, convenient and fun-to-ride alternative to motor vehicles. What we in the Show Low/Pinetop-Lakeside area most urgently need are bikes-only lanes on the Deuce of Clubs and White Mountain Road/Boulevard avenues, because those are the main routes in this immediate area.

With safe lanes for bikes-only travel, we then could begin using bicycles not just for recreational riding around Fools' Hollow Park and other like venues, but for serious travel as well.

(Hey Messers Mayors and you folks on the city councils! Get together with ADOT and start figuring out a way to get bikes-only lanes on the White Mountain and the Deuce Of Clubs avenues—how about doing it ASAP!?)


1. Coffee Mania is the only coffeehouse that I know of in this area with sugar free hot chocolate and a Wi-Fi hookup for your notebook computer! (You got that, Starbucks—and everyone else?)

2. After several close calls, I flatly refuse to ride a bicycle on the White Mountain Road/Boulevard anymore—at least while trying to travel southbound—up the road, at least.

3. They may have since changed their name—I don't know to what; a Google search might be able to find something—I would try that.

4. Which is where I got both of my present bicycles, by the way; just up the road from the Deuce-White Mountain intersection, two doors east of The Pizza Factory in that strip-mall complex on the right-hand side of the street as you're heading up the White Mountain Road/Boulevard.

Additional Illustrations


This sixty point three miles I racked up was done in the period of just one week! That is sixty-point-three miles' worth of gas I didn't burn that week!


When I first saw this, I couldn't help laughing. But I'm not laughing anymore—it might get to be almost that bad!

protective gear

And speaking of bad, I wore a respirator similar to this one when I was residing in Phoenix—the air pollution levels down there were so bad I had to; breathing deeply and rapidly and inhaling all of that crap into my lungs was something I could do without.

With the way traffic congestion is rapidly increasing—especially along the Deuce of Clubs—cars and trucks blowing lots of exhaust in my face as they pass me—I might have to start wearing it again—up here this time!

Oh, and the thing on the front of my helmet is a little white light powered by two AAA batteries—all it's good for is letting oncoming cars know I'm there, but the headlight on top of my helmet is a super-bright LED lamp powered by four C batteries—it has the brightness of a 10-watt halogen bulb, and with it, I can actually see where I'm going after dark. The pouch hanging from my neck holds the C batteries for the light.

Marc V. Ridenour is a Web Designer, freelance Writer & Photographer. He lives in Show Low, Arizona. His web site is


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