No Gas

Rule:  No Gas.

Rule in practice: Avoid using fossil fuel-based means of transportation.

Local Motivation: Exhaust in my face, noise pollution.

Global Motivation:  Climate change.   

Key Tools:  The bicycle, of course!

Key Ideas:   The journey is the destination, or The only Zen you’ll find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you carry up with you.  Travelers’ clichés, I know, but they’re cliché because they’re true.  What’s the point of getting to wherever it is you’re going?  It’s in the hope that whatever you find there, then will make you happy.  Isn’t there anything around you right now that can do the trick?  As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Breathe.  You are alive.”  Take a second to step back from all the hurrying and experience the simple joy of being here, now.  It’s especially nice if you are surrounded by other living beings.  What is missing from this moment? Enjoy the way and you’ll enjoy the goal as well.

Bonuses:  Too many to list!  Spontaneous encounters with locals at all the in-between places, often leading to homestays, nice meals, and many a good memory; the wind in my hair and the sun on my back all day long (when conditions are good); plenty of good exercise and even increased life expectancy; nice camping spots; meals taste more delicious, sleep is slept more deeply; and I don’t have to pay for any of it.  PEDAL POWER IS FREE!

Exceptions:  When old friends visit.  When new friends offer to let me join in on a trip.  When visa deadlines just don’t allow.

Unavoidables: 

  • Fuel for my camping stove, and all the fuel used at restaurants to cook for me.
  • Fuel used to create fertilizer to grow my food, and fuel used transport it from farm to plate. I try to eat local and organic, but it’s hard to know what’s what.
  • Shopping for replacement bicycle parts, very few of which are made locally.

References:

  • Again, almost too many to mention. By now, the effect of burning fossil fuels on the stability of the climate has been well-established and is common knowledge just about everywhere.
  • Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth can serve as a decent introduction.
  • Mother Jones magazine focuses on climate change was well as many other significant global issues.
  • For those in search of hard data, look up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports.
  • I’ve also been greatly inspired by other cyclists who came through my life and showed me that there’s another way to travel.
  • Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. Not about the environment, exactly, but about cultivating peace and happiness in every moment.

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