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NEWS | Aug. 14, 2008

Bicycling through the Gas Crisis

By Tech. Sgt. Levi Collins 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Tired of paying too much at the pump?

Two months ago, I made a life-changing decision to leave my car at home and use my bicycle as my primary vehicle. I'd like to share my experience as a bicyclist in hopes to see more Airmen switch to bicycling.

I live 13 miles from my work center here, so I complete a 26-mile trek daily. That may sound like a daunting task initially, but it has become easy; I usually make the ride in about 50 minutes on average. Surprisingly, that's only 20 minutes more than it takes by car.

The benefits to bicycling daily are numerous:
1. Save some money- I used to spend $60 every two weeks on gas; now I spend $10 every two weeks only using the car on weekends- that's a savings of $100 each month.
2. Drop some weight- At 34 years old, my metabolism was slowing down. Lately it has undergone a significant boost. My waistline was recently measured at 31 inches for my fitness test; that's the size I was when I enlisted 14 years ago.
3. Increase the longevity of your car- Why rack up mileage if you can avoid it? I was nearing 40,000 miles on my car at the beginning of June. At the beginning of August, I'm still not at 40,000 yet. That wear-and-tear you're avoiding is also money saved.
4. Help out your favorite planet- regardless of how you feel about global warming, exhaust emissions are a reality. A bicyclist emits only carbon dioxide, which plants convert to oxygen.

There a few drawbacks, but they pale in comparison to the benefits:
1. Shower twice- There's no way around it, I shower at the gym in the morning and again when I arrive at home in the evening.
2. High risk lifestyle- I follow every safety precaution possible- helmet, reflective belt, obeying traffic laws. However, I realize that if I'm involved in a collision, the odds will not be in my favor.
3. Eat a lot more- Remember I mentioned that my metabolism is racing? I have to eat a lot more than I used to. I eat five times a day, which is a healthier lifestyle as many nutritionists would attest.

Our nation is in the middle of an obesity crisis. Our planet is in the middle of a gas crisis. I feel as if I've just solved both problems.