Monday, December 8, 2014

Walk or Bicycle

I remember back in June of 2009 when I made the decision to be CAR FREE. It was a good move.
I now have a girlfriend who has three kids and she drives a huge SUV, and needs a car, well at least she has a life style that demands it. So now there is a car in my life...but I still manage not to own one and when I am not with them I am car free.

I love living without a car. Transportation is much simpler.
Cross Country Ski

I am healthier (mentally and physically), more in touch with my community, polluting less, and saving money.

Everyday I wake up is a good day and walk out my front door ask "Do I walk or bike today?"

I hope you can enjoy this life as well.

Tell me about your life style...are you living without a car, or do you have one part time?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Carfree American story

Carfree American story,

 I have been car-free (d. not owning a car) or car-lite(d. owning a car but using it on a limited basis) for 14 years now.

In 2000, I realized I was living my life for the wrong reasons: just to make a lot of money, accumulate things, get others to respect me for my business success who really did not care who I was or what I did.. I was also very depressed, out of shape, and very overweight.

One day I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw-a sad, frustrated, unhealthy person.

I had always admired the people I knew who lived car-free or car-lite and thought “that is cool, maybe someday that could be me”.

Living in a car-centric suburb of Kansas City I, like most people, drove everywhere. I personally had two cars. I thrived on the fact that someone would compliment me on the cars I owned, “wow nice car, congratulations” they would say as though I just did something incredibly noble. The truth was the car was completely unnecessary for my life: I lived a block away from a grocery story, I worked out my home most of the time. I could easily bike and walk to most my destinations.

My life was filled with endless “I wants” with little considerations of what I needed-the American Dream-like eat when your not hungry, drink when you are not thirsty, buy things you do not need, if you want it-then get it as you only live once. I needed change!

I started to walk for exercise. I gave up; cars, house, and much of the junk I did not need. After a few months I dropped 50 lbs and bought a bicycle. I got rid of the last car and became car-free. Over the two and half years I spent time writing about my experiences and about changes being made in my life. I became a yoga and Pilate’s instructor, and worked in a gym and eventually lost 140 pounds.

I kept a journal of my experiences and noting what it was like to live a car-free life in a city and suburb that was not car-free friendly; poor sidewalks, no bike lanes, little mass-transit, drivers not use to cyclists, my family even gave me grief. On the other side, there were many friends who were supportive of my life style choice and a lot of people were interested in it.

In 2004 I ended up taking a new job, and a short time later starting a business. I gave into pressure from my family to get a car (even just for emergencies they said) and become car-lite. For the next six years I became car-lite and missed the car-free life. I kept riding my bike and walking most places. Even car-lite I rode thousands of miles a year for transportation purposes.

In June of 2009 I decided to go car-free again, but this time for these reasons; for my health, my way to help clean the environment and respect the Earth, support my community relationships like buying only local products, and saving money by not owning a car, around $8,000 per year- per car.

In the last 14 years I have biked a minimum of 50,000+ miles most of which was for transportation, I have also walked hundreds, maybe even a few thousand miles. I have gotten more involved with alternative transportation advocacy groups, but still strongly feel the BEST way to advocate alternative transportation is to live a life where you incorporate it on a daily basis.

Now, in early in 2014 I am even more healthy than I ever been. in the last two years I lost another 80
lbs by eating more of a plant based diet. I walk more than I bike now only because I moved an live in an area where everything is two to three miles away. I still bicycle too, but have become more passionate about walking.

There are times when I wish I had a car, only for the convinence. I do love this life style and I realize, for those who live in a big city it may not even be interesting, but for the rest of us, living with out a car is a true adventure breaking all rules of the American tradition of having a car.

So, to you, want to be an Carfree
advocate, go walk or ride your bike and let people see you do it. As Gandhi said,

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Carfree is a good way to slow the ravaged plagued society of Obesity, Pollution, and Community degradation.

Being carfree you will be healthy in your mind and body, the health of the environment, and you will engage in a positive way in your community.

How I have benefited personally living carfree?
Bill Poindexter 2014

Here is a short list:

Healthier both mentally and physically
Doing my part for the environment
I have many friends in my community and meet more every day.
I feel great.
I am more passionate about living and life!

I hope you enjoy this site. Please let me know your thoughts or ideas on how to make this site or the world a better place. I you are living a carfree life style or want to let me know and I will share your story!

Be Healthy!


Bill Poindexter

Monday, January 6, 2014

Exploring the country by foot in 1909

Kansas Adventurers: Tramping and Camping with the Walking Woolfs

I stumbled across a very interesting and charming old book, Tramping and Camping by the Walking Woolfs, written by Dwight and Stella Woolf of Kansas City, Kansas in the early part of the 20th century. It is an account of their “journey to health”, accomplished by simply walking long distances.
Tramping and Camping
The book’s introduction explains it pretty well:
The unique experience of Mr. and Mrs. Dwight H. Woolf, the champion Long Distance Walkers, has awakened general interest throughout the United States.
In 1909, Mr. Woolf’s doctor informed him that he would have to get out in the open and stay there, or he would die. He weighed only 107 pounds, including clothes, and was growing weaker daily. Yet he hesitated about giving up his business as a music publisher — his life work; and it seemed a little short of madness to forego all the luxuries — the so-called “comforts” — of civilization.
But Mrs. Woolf, who was a brave, sensible woman, thoroughly devoted to her husband’s interests, agreed with the physician and suggested a walk to the Ozark Mountains.
That was the beginning of a most remarkable series of trips through Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and up through the north Atlantic States to New York and Boston, then home to Kansas City — in the aggregate, a journey of about 10,300 miles.
Yet, wherever the couple went there was really but one destination—health. Mr. Woolf gained strength and, not long after starting, was able to make twenty-five or thirty miles in a day. Clad in neat khaki uniforms, he and his wife– now the leading woman pedestrian of the world — marched from city to city, accompanied by Dolly and Don, their faithful horse and dog.
The group was often surrounded by cheering crowds, or met by newspaper reporters and escorted with honor by delegations of police into the presence of mayors and other officials, who received the travelers cordially.
But the “Walking Woolfs” gained something far more valuable than honor or fame; and their advice to others who have suffered from the effects of sedentary work is: “When you get into a rut walk out of it.”
He who draws close to nature is rewarded in many ways, not the least of which is perfect health. The object of this book is to preach the doctrine of exercise and fresh air.
It’s fascinating to see how — even in the early days of the automobile and the heyday of the passenger train — walking for transportation was seen as “odd”, and yet something to be celebrated as well.
The Woolfs camped along the way, setting up a tent in the woods or in the yard or field of a friendly farmer. They encountered everyday kindnesses in the country they passed through, though not all were welcoming: “A woman who saw us and supposed that we were gipsies, pulled her children into the house for fear that we might steal them.”
The book begins with “Hints for Health”, and these are some good, pithy tips, as valid today as they were a hundred year ago:
Health comes first.
Get up early.
Go to bed early.
Get plenty of fresh air
Drink plenty of water.
Exercise daily in the open air.
Never be in a hurry at meal time.
It is better not to eat enough than too much.
Two meals a day are enough for persons employed at office work.
Don’t jeopardize your health to make money.
Wealthy men would give their riches for health.
Health is easy to lose and hard to gain.
There is a bright side to life if you look for it.
If you can’t think of something pleasant to talk about, be a good listener.
Don’t worry — get back to nature.
Don’t sleep with a closed window.
Open the window at the top.
Best Remedies — Fresh Air, Sunshine, Exercise, Water, Nature.
Remember — That the largest amount of your ailments come from the lack of exercise and fresh air.
What’s all this got to do with bicycling? Perhaps not much, but bicycle touring is just another form of the sort of tramping that the Woolfs enjoyed. It’s celebrated by some, met with derision or suspicion by others, and is simply incomprehensible to too many. It depends on the generosity and hospitality of the communities we pass through. And, like walking, it’s a marvelous way to see, and really experience, the countryside.
You can read the book online at, where it’s also available as a PDF download or an ebook for Kindle or Nook.
The Hutchinson News reported on one of their trips in 1912:
Tho Walking Woolfs Have Finally Reached San Diego. Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Woolf, who style themselves the “Walking Woolfs’, who passed through Hutchinson this summer, walking from Kansas City to tho Pacific coast, have finally reached their destination, San Diego, Calif. Speaking of their arrival there, the San Diego Tribune says “Walking down Fifth street about 10 o’clock this morning a man and n woman, both brown as berries and dressed in khaki on which the alkali dust clung in spots, came, head up and chest out, one on each side of a horse that was pulling a wagon plastered with cards and inscriptions of all sorts. The dog came trotting behind. They were Mr. and Mrs. Woolf, of Kansas City, Molly the horse who has tramped twelve thousand miles, and Don, the dog. They are known as the “Walking Woolfs”. When asked about his trip and the object of it, Mr. Woolf said it was mainly for health. “We left Kansas City May of this year,” Sir Woolf said. “We Walked across the Utah desert two hundred miles with great difficulty. When in the middle of the desert we smashed a wheel, which could not be remedied, and there we stuck for two weeks. We were beginning to get worried about the water and provisions when members of the Utah Construction company rescued us. “When we leave San Diego we go to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and then back to Kansas City, via Yellowstone Park.”
This article tells a little bit more of their story: “Finally, after having walked nearly 20,000 miles, Dwight, Stella, Dolly, and Don came home for good in November of 1915. From their daily journal, they published a 250-page book entitled Tramping and Camping by the Walking Woolfs. They also published a 34-card set of postcards from the numerous photos taken during their six years of walking across America. It isn’t known what happened to the Woolfs: What did they do throughout the rest of their lives? How long did they live? All of this is a mystery. But one thing is sure–they must have had some great stories to tell.”
Here’s one of their postcards:
Walking Woolfs Postcard
“Tramping and Camping” is the key to nature.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bicycling in winter

 "Your not riding your bike in this are you? How do you do it?" Someone will asking when the weather turned cold and snowy.

I smile and tell them, "I am riding in this, and I will be riding all winter and when I can't ride, I will walk." I smile.

And they roll their eyes, and say cliches like, "Well, your a better person than me. I could never do that"

But truth be told- they can.

Winter cycling to me is the most fun. The extreme, often unpredictable weather, adverse road conditions, and lack of day light, make it an adventure.

I think having a positive attitude is a big part of it as well.

Here are some things I do to make my rides and  commutes safe and fun.

BE Prepared:
I am always prepared for changing weather. I carry extra clothing-shirt, gloves, neck gaiter, socks, hat, helmet cover, pants, and whatever else I may need.
Temperature drops of 30+ degrees are common in winter.

Bike prep:
My bike is well prepared for winter. I have fenders, rear rack, and multiple lights.

Actually three lights in the front an three in the rear. May seem excessive, but it is not, being visible is very important with the low light conditions of winter. Reflectors and reflective clothing are OK, but nothing catches the eye of a driver like a blinking light. And if you can, don't go cheap on a light- it can save your life!

Lubrication-I use a generous amount of oil on my chain, gears, and derailleurs. The salts and sand are very harsh on the bike.

Obeying the laws:
One should ALWAYS obey the laws of the road. If you have a driver's license you know you know the laws.

Winter is a time for me to be hyper aware of my surroundings. I know the road conditions, what is in front, behind, and on my sides 100% of the time. I am also aware of options to get off the street if I have too-especially in icy conditions.

One great strategy to have, all year round, is to assume you are invisible. Too many times people are distracted, and if they are un-use to seeing cyclist, they may not be looking for you!

Biking skills in winter: 'What if you slip on ice or snow?" I think one of the best ways for a cyclist to prepare for the adverse road conditions is by learning how to bike on dirt and gravel trails with multiple terrains. Like mountain biking, winter road cycling has its share of obstacles: sticks, leaves, walnuts, sand, ices, snow drifts, branches, slush, mud, just to name a few. Mountain biking prepares you in that you learn how to go over and through obstacles like these. Tires are not as important as you might think, it is more about the pressure in the tire so experimenting with different tire pressures can help insure a safer ride. Studded snow tires are an option, but I have never felt the need for them....yet. Peter White offers an excellent article about studded bicycle tires at Peter White Cycles

Why ride in winter? Why not ride in winter?!
Layering, layering, layering! That is the key, there is no magic one piece of clothing, and in most cases less is more. For instance in winter I usually wear, in temps of 20f to 35f, skull cap, helmet rain cover, neck gaiter, fleece gloves, two light weight wick able long sleeve shirts, a light weight wind breaker with a back vent, cycling shorts, wind pants, or micro fleece pants, wool socks, hiking boots ( I use platform pedals).

I went to platform pedals four years ago and have not looked back! They are easier to use and less
hassle than their clip-less cousins. If you race, you should stick with clip-less. For commuters, in winter, going platform is a better option as use are not clipped in and you can where your winter boots. Better to be able to get your feet down if you hit some black ice.
Our friends at Rivendell Bicycle Works wrote a great article on the benefits of use platform pedals called "the Shoes Ruse". I use platform pedals on all my bikes and all year round, including my long distant tours of hundreds and thousands of miles, much on gravel roads.

In mild dry cold weather I now prefer wearing wool is possible: trousers, underwear, socks, sweat, shirt, hat, gloves, neck gaiter, with a good tough boot. When wet, the one piece of high tech clothing is my Transit Jacket from Showers Pass it is hard to beat for functionality, made by cyclists, for cyclists. A little pricey at $160US, but considering the benefits, well worth it. Also great for Walking, hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, running, anything outside in winter. The Adventure Cycling Association has some great gear options for you

I regulate my temperature buy the zipper on my jacket, and on my level of exertion. All this takes practice and what works for one person, may be different for another, so be patient. The only rule is: to go ride and experience it for yourself!

I have biked in blizzards, sleet, 31f degree rain, snow storms, when temps were well below zero, and all I have to say is: it is FUN...AS LONG AS YOU ARE PREPARED!

So give winter cycling for transportation a try! Here are some resources that may help.

Happy Cycling  and stay warm,

(All pictures were found online if you are the taker, let me know.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gear Review - Light and Motion Solite 250EX

Light & Motion Solite 250EX

From the Adventure Cycling Association
Daylight savings ends in a little over a week, and that's a sad day indeed for cyclists hoping snag a few hours in the saddle after the 9-5 grind. If you're looking for a light to extend your ride time, or perhaps keep yourself visible for those dark commutes to and from the office, the Solite 250EX from Light & Motion is a solid option worth checking out.
This light runs off a portable battery pack that is micro USB rechargeable. It takes a good eight hours to top it off, and at full charge, the Solite 250EX puts out 250 lumens for up to four hours. If you want to burn through the battery at a slower pace, there are some more economical runtime options of 8 hours at 125 lumens and 30 hours at 50 lumens. If you take this along on a camping trip, there is also a 7-lumen setting more at the Adventure Cycling site...

Carfree American is a huge fan of the Adventure Cycling Association. When we first started to bicycle for transportation...14 years ago, Adventure Cycling was, and still is,  the go to site for: gears reviews, how-to articles, types of bikes to ride, feature travel essays, and much more that promoted adventure cycling and it all translated well into transportational cycling, which, if you commute you are a adventure cycling guru!

You can also get a FREE COPY of Adventure Cycling Magazine, which is really fun and interesting!!!
Click for a free copy

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Commuting tips from Arkel

This shared from the Arkel Website, these folks make some excellent panniers!

Commuting tips

Going to work by bike? Welcome to the growing group! Some are doing it by obligation, for health, because of money, political reasons, because it feels good or to save the earth. The following are but tidbits of ideas on commuting.
My idea is to help fellow commuters to share our combined experiences. Just here at Arkel do 85% of our staff commute to work on a bike, with dedicated indoor parking!! If you don’t do it already, by all means try it—for whatever reason you want

our Quality Control specialist . . .
and author of these commuting tips

 What to wear
What to wear depends on where you live, of course. The Canadian climate is not the same as the California climate, but some basic rules can be carried over.

Work clothes are pretty much off, except maybe for some very short commutes. Two things make that unpractical: sweat and wrinkling. Most of us will sweat somewhat, which is not really appealing when wearing a shirt, but even if you don’t the pedaling motion will wrinkle well-pressed pants in no-time, like behind the knees and at the crotch. Instead wear light, comfortable clothes or breathable cycling wear to maximize your experience.

Maybe you have a place at work to hang or store your cycling clothes. Maybe you don’t. If you don’t then keep some room in your panniers for them. If you sweat a lot and have to store your riding clothes in your panniers, maybe it would be wise to carry a spare pair of shorts. Spandex are great because they're light and you can wash them in a sink, and they dry in no time.

The classic spin on work clothes is to prepare a complete set of matchable outfits for the week ahead and drive the lot to the workplace once a week and bring back the old ones for washing. If you’re like many of us here at Arkel who don’t even own a car, it’s not realistic. Commuting can still be accomplished without great pains, as we all at Arkel are good examples of that. For instance, our California guy, Daniel, has his shirts cleaned and “boxed” so there is enough space inside the individual plastic bag they are folded in, to also fit a pair of folded pants, underwear, t-shirt, socks, tie and a belt. For him the T-42's fit everything perfect and give him enough room for a laptop (laptop pannier) , business files, books and his lunch! Everything is so tight that nothing moves during the ride for a wrinkle free look. He even uses the plastic bag to put his bike clothes in.

Paul, our General Manager, commutes with our Briefcase. He uses one compartment solely for clothes. By compressing the webbing he effectively stabilizes everything for fresh garnments at work.
 Safety first
First and foremost. always wear a helmet. It's cheap brain insurance and it's only a question of time before you will use it, ask anyone!

Wear bright colors. They are not only more visible during the night, they are more eye-catching during the day too. You can’t be too visible. When riding at night not only should you have all the equipment required by law, but also make sure to adhere to the “see and be seen” mentality. Use active lights front and rear. Make sure your panniers have reflective stripes, wear reflective leg bands and don’t shy away from a reflective vest. It looks dorky, but not more than a suit in a coffin. Your loved ones will thank you.

Obey traffic laws. We can’t stress this one enough. One day it will save you life. And if it don’t save yours, it may save others by demonstrating the proper example and not antagonizing motorists. Stop at all red lights and stop signs, even when there's no traffic. It's a good habit to get into.

Obey traffic laws: Keep off the sidewalks.
Obey traffic laws: Stay off narrow, one way streets.
Obey traffic laws: Act like a car which never has the right of way.

Be predictable. Hand signals were invented for cars. When cars had no directional lights hand signals became mandatory. Use them to indicate your moves to motorists. They’ll love you for it, because neither of you will be guessing what the other is doing.

Look through the back windows of parked cars to spot drivers about to exit without warning. If passing such a car with unclear intent, extend a hand forward as you come about the door in case the door opens on your side. Providing you are forceful enough you may stop the driver from opening the door in front of your least long enough for you to pass.

Don’t shout to motorists, unless absolutely necessary. Life is too short to waste your precious time and energy, and often will do nothing but distract you thus making an accident even more likely. Learn crash manoeuvers, think of possible last minute escape routes and how to ditch, and if all else fails, apply your first aid knowledge for whomever is involved. Practice over grass in your backyard or in the park. It’s a good skill to know anyways. Sometimes in life you must learn to let go.
 Day-to-day necessities
Commuting and seatbags don’t go well together unless you can park your bike inside your workspace. Leave nothing on your bike that can be removed or stolen. Try to use panniers and stuff everything inside.

There’s no denying that a backpack or a courier bag is quicker to use than a set of panniers, but consider the following. Panniers are not hard on your back, heavy on your shoulders, hot when you sweat, make you lose your balance during quick manoeuvers or risk snapping a vertebra in case of a fall. Similarly, consider that a backpack will not protect your derailleur on a side impact, will not cushion your bike on a brick wall and does not look good inside of corporate buildings. Our vote: panniers, any day. Are your surprised?

Be sure to have some money in case of an emergency. A calling card is a minimum and enough money for at least a snack and drink is preferable.

Stack basic tools inside an old sock that you can then use as a glove for roadside repairs. Basics are a spare tube, a pump or 2 CO2 cartridges (if it fits with your philosophy), tire levers, and anything else you feel comfortable with. Anyways at that point you’ll be late for work! And it will be on the most important day, so always give yourself extra time and use the "spare" minutes to enjoy the flowers along the route.

Carry I.D. where they can be found. Better to be safe than sorry! While you’re at it, put basic identification inside the seat tube of your bike. Something like "This bike belongs to Jane Smith, 34 Main Street, 555-5656" in case it gets stolen. You never know, you could get a phone call from a bike shop later!!!
 Bike rigging!
We’re talking commuting! Stay low-key and stay away from loud colors. If you lock your bike outside, think of masking most areas of the frame. Make the bike unappealing.

Fenders are a must, unless you live in Tucson. Minimal weight, maximum payoff. Hey, bonus advantage: most people think it looks . . . errr . . . un-sexy (well we kind of like them ourselves, but that’s just us), thus less appeal for the would be thief.

Tire liners, Thorn-proof tubes, Kevlar tires, Slime, whatever makes your tire less prone to flats is a blessing to your boss.

Anything else is up to you. Racing bike, mountain bike, hybrid, fixed gear, one speed, city bike. Whatever suits you, as long as you enjoy it and it's road worthy.
And the small details . . .
If a shower is available to you, by all means indulge yourself. Don’t forget the towel, and a regular hygiene kit that you can stash in a drawer. Soap, shampoo, deodorant are the basics, plus a toothbrush and toothpaste.

A hand dryer machine in the restroom also makes a good blow dryer.

If a shower is not available to you, leave a package of "disposable wet napkins" at your work place. They’re practical and will degunk all but the most intimate parts of your body, leaving a fresh scent too!

Intricate hairstyles will sometimes discourage riders from wearing a helmet or riding a bike altogether. Small tip: most mousses or hair gels will be reactivated with a little water, easying the task to rebuild a presentable, loveable look.