Saturday, June 21, 2008

Follow Your Follie -- Tour de Fat Chicago 2008



A Celebration of Bikes, Delicious Beer, all Followed by One Lucky Volunteer Trading a Car for a Bike.
(linda and i are leaving shortly! If she'd hurry up and get ready...)

FROM JOE - OUR HERO & CHICAGO CAR/BIKE SWAPPER

When my wife, Allison, told me of seeing the post on Chicagoist.com about Tour de Fat, we were both excited for a bicycle ride with others. It was only when we read the rest of the information that we looked at each other with nervous excitement. We have been discussing what life would be like without a car for some time now. Our Jeep, a trusty and sturdy 2001 Cherokee Sport, was once our backbone. It got me to work, it got her to nursing school and in early 2006, it helped us find the perfect apartment in Chicago where we would be close enough to our jobs that we could ride our bikes or walk.

My job as a UPS truck driver has me behind the wheel of a semi truck five long nights per week, amassing more than TEN THOUSAND MILES per month. As I approach the morning rush hour into the city in a UPS truck, my view of the skyline is often obscured by a ring of choking smog. The morning drivers are ruthless, often driving over-aggressively, cutting, weaving, riding the shoulder, flipping each other off. The last thing I want to do after work is join this group of angry, smog monsters.

July sees us moving into a new apartment, within walking distance to bus stops and L stations. After the management explained the $200 a month parking fee there, our dinner conversations have revolved around, “what do we do with the Jeep” and “can we live vehicle free” for the next few years… or forever.

This challenge is now reality, as we both knew the Chicago Tour de Fat was the perfect opportunity to rid ourselves of the Jeep and accept the full-time freedom of living without a vehicle. I am as active in the beer community as I am in the Chicago cycling community, so seeing New Belgium Brewing’s involvement made me even more excited. I know about the brewery’s wind power and bicycle programs and consider myself truly lucky when I get my hands on a bottle of La Folie!!!

Signing our Jeep over to charity and pledging to live vehicle free for a year (oh, believe me, one is just the beginning) will hopefully inspire others in Chicago and other cities to do the same. I look forward to being a “spokes man” and am excited to keep in touch and plan on immediately starting a blog to publicly document my adventures in “vehiclelessness”. It is a win, win, win situation, as we will be helping a worthy cause, stop adding to that smog cloud and reap the benefits both physically and mentally from bicycling!!!

I will be the proudest (and safest) bicyclist on the streets of Chicago on a handbuilt Black Sheep Commuter, showing Chicago (and beyond) that living vehicle free can be a reality.

Maybe someday, that smog cloud will disappear.

Cheers
Joe M.

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