26 January 2014

Cycling Clergy, second installment

Necessary Updates (CO2 savings will be forthcoming at the end of the month).

1.  I have ridden my bike in sub zero weather several times now.  First Surprise: how warm you get peddling a bike.  Second Surprise: the fraternity with other winter commuters, when we pass we offer a "may the force be with you" wave.  Third Surprise: wind has the amazing ability to find the slightest sliver of an opening.  

2.  The Bus is my friend.  My new rule of thumb: if school is cancelled due to extreme cold then I will take the bus.  I have taken the bus on three occasions.  I have a pretty good read now on necessary bus routes, transfers, and the like.  I have missed the bus on two occasions, throwing my timing off for the rest of the day.  I have had to run to catch the bus, throwing my breathing off for a good piece.  And I have gotten to know a bus driver.  

3.  Myths dispelled.  Many times I have heard callous folk refer to the poor as lazy.  Here is my response: You try standing in sub zero temps (possibly with inadequate clothing) and tell me that it is easy.  And you try standing, completely vulnerable, at bus stops waiting for a bus and tell me how easy that is!  My respect for the determination and toughness for the working poor who take the bus to work has greatly increased!  

4.  Community.  It occurred to me the other day that I could not attempt this experiment without the support and grace of the community I have in the Judson Memorial Baptist Church.  They not only encourage me, but also offer help upon help.  

5.  Style.  If one were to peruse my wardrobe and closely inspect my suits, all from Always-on-Sale-About-to-Be-the-Subject-of-a-Hostile-Takeover-by-a-Competitor, you would notice that they are getting near threadbare status (a little hyperbole there, but not as much as usual).  Which brings a certain decision to be made in the near future: invest in more suits or invest in clergy shirts?  I think I am going back to clergy shirts.  Not black but blue?  Why blue?  Baptist = Water = Blue, according to my reasoning.  I'm also curious what, if any, conversations emerge on the bus or on the street when I go back to wearing a clergy shirt, fair trade clergy shirts that is.  (I originally wore them because of the large Catholic presence in RI, when I wore a clergy shirt to the hospital I felt like Moses: doors opened, people smiled, and no one questioned my presence).  The shirt also reenforces my desire for a "public ministry" as a pastor.  

6.  Finally, Bling.  My bike needs a slogan.  I am in the process of rebuilding an old bike for my commuter bike but it will not be ready until spring.  In the meantime I keeping my Breezer (an older model they dont make any longer).  I am likening my bike to Pete Seeger's banjo.  Any ideas?

08 January 2014

The Peddlin' Parson, or the Cycling Clergy, or the Velocipeding Vicar, or the Fast Footed Friar, or... Installment 1

This morning I mounted my winterized commuting bike and pedaled to work.  It was -9 outside, but no wind.  I figured if I could peddle to day, I could pedal any day.

How was it?  Well it was cold...at first, but once I got going I warmed up.  There were a few expected hiccups: my goggles iced up, my bones were rattled due to all the icy snow on the bike path, my digits took turn getting cold, and it was a slow ride, with studded tires, extra clothing, and books in my saddle bags.  Nevertheless, I did it.

So how will a pastor make his/her way with no automobile?  We'll see, but I'm sure I'm not the first.  For centuries pastors got by with just a horse.  And most cities were designed before the advent of mass automobile transportation.  But still...


Thoughtful planning of pastoral visits.  I am planning on designating Wednesday as my day to do pastoral visits in areas outside of my comfortable bike/public transportation range.  I will simply have to plan my days better. 

What if there is an emergency?  I recall asking my father for a 4WD truck, he replied, "you know you really only need a 4wd a few times a year.  Is it really worth the extra cost and insurance just for at most 10 days a year?"  Although he made perfect sense I still wanted a 4wd (didn't get it). In my 14 years as a pastor I can only recall 2 or 3 times when I had to drop everything and run to be present with a someone or a family.  If there is an emergency, I can take the bus, hop on my bike, ride back home and get the van, I can ask someone to borrow their car, I can use one of the many car-sharing options:Car2Go, HourCar, ZipCar, CarShare or some other service. 

What happens if the van breaks down?  Well, that actually happened this week. The good old van is on the cusp of its usefulness.  This week the van's engine cooling system we kaput.  I feared this was the end of the ole mule but it was not.  A bottle of Bar's Leaks temporarily solved the problem.  This will enable us to investigate new van options.  And how did we get around?  A kind family loaned us their car for a day.  

Lastly, I cannot get over how giddy I feel.  Then again, this is just day one.  But I have a supportive congregation, community of year around commuting cyclists, and this article from Salon

Any other cycling clergy out there?

03 January 2014

The True Costs of Having an Automobile

Again with a low Sunday (a work day for me) of -24 it looks like I picked the wrong week to sell my car and use my bicycle as the main mode of transportation.  But luckily, I live close to the bus line and the church is too; I can ride in comfort!  

Nevertheless, I am anticipating an increase in the daily availability of cold hard cash.  How so?  True, my wallet will not look like a George Kantanza wallet filled with money (rather than sugar packets, napkins, & etc.) but I do expect a savings each month.  I will no longer have to pay for auto insurance, gas, and maintenance costs.   I will have to pay for some bus tickets, bike maintenance, & tools.  But what was the true cost of having a car?

This week I calculated how much having an automobile cost me.  I bought the car I sold used for roughly $6,500.  Shortly afterwards and throughout the last few years I put roughly $5,500 in repairs for the car: new brakes, tires, battery, oil pan (nola roads), alternator, axle kits (nola roads again), and such.  Plus the maintenance, gas, and insurance costs made for an additional $5,000.  Which means the monthly average cost for having the car I sold on Saturday was $358.  The cost for my bike, commuting gear, and tools >$1,000.  Bus cards?  Possible rental car costs for special trips?

C02 savings - weekly totals forthcoming.

01 January 2014

Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit...

On Saturday I sold my car.  To be honest I hated that car.  I was glad to get rid of it.  I was even giddy after I sold it.  I sold it because I hated it and because I am giving up my car for this year.  I will now be known as the peddling parson or something like that.  The Twin Cities has a nice public transportation system, extensive bike trails, and we have our other vehicle which the missus and I can share on the days I need to do visits and other crucial ministerial deeds.  Over the next few days I'll share my motivations.

But when the forecast consecutively reads -8, -10, & -22, and on a Sunday for that,  all I can hear is the replay of the character played by Lloyd Bridges in the movie Airplane.