Miles are smaller by car

The toughest part of participating in the No Impact Experiment has definitely been Transportation Day. Today we didn’t drive our car to school, but instead used alternative transportation: our bikes. We rode in the rain (we live in Seattle after all). Uphill. With our school things on our backs.


One and half hours later, we arrived at school exhausted but happy. Our journey took much longer than we anticipated. My nine year old cruised up small hills without the aid of gears, but had to walk up the larger hills.


What did we learn from this experiment?

  • Hills are hard
  • Everything seems close when you drive
  • Seven miles on our bikes was the equivalent of driving 90 miles (timewise anyway)
  • Hills you hardly appreciate by car are mammoth by bike
  • Rain pants and fenders are nice, but not required

When we arrived at school my girls were incredibly proud of their accomplishment. Our ride was the story and the adventure of the day. How much did we pay for our family fun? Nothing. How much carbon did we save? Unknown. How much money did we save? About 84 cents (14 miles at .06 per mile). What was the value of the experience? Priceless. 

Later in the day when we drove our car, we were in total appreciation. Our car was so fast and so smooth, keeping us and our things warm and dry along our merry way. 

Today my girls were a source of inspiration and joy for me; both were so determined to complete the ride. And they both made many fun comments like…

“I never knew I could get so hot and sweaty in the pouring rain.”


Have you ridden your bike to school or work? What did you learn?


5 thoughts on “Miles are smaller by car

  1. You go Girl! What a powerful lesson you learned (and shared with your children).

    I couldn’t agree more — small hills that seem inconsequential in a car, are HARD on a bike. Sometimes I don’t even notice them in my car!

    My husband often bikes to work, but I always drive. But, maybe, if I get into better shape, that will be my goal for next spring!

  2. Awesome!

    Even though it’s obviously not feasible to do that every day, your girls will never forget the day they rode their bikes to school, and I’ll bet it will affect their view of when it’s necessary to drive, etc.

    I learned about getting hot and sweaty on a bike in the rain when I did the AIDS ride back in 1995. It rained one whole day and while wearing a poncho I was surprised that I really didn’t mind it. But I did get just as “warmed up!”

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