Car-Free Knee Rehab!

20160831_102205Well, I got me knee scoped a week and a half a go, and the Doc said that I can ride my bike already. Just have to be careful, build up, and do my exercises. Woot!

So, I did get a ride to surgery from my friend Todd. But as I was coming off the anesthesia his wife was getting off work from the hospital. So  I was able to “carpool” home from my surgery with my friend Jenny.

Then, I rode the bus to and from my first physical therapy/Doctor appointment. And he told me that I can already ride my bike!

Riding the bus took a little 20160831_105640more time that getting a ride, or even riding my bike, but I still saved a car trip and didn’t need to bother anyone else. Now I realize that I could have used the bus last year during my hip rehab and had a car-free hip rehab. Now I know.

Transfort, Fort Collins’ bus system, does service all of town, but many routes only run hourly. If you can’t use your bike or walk the whole way, you can make Transfort work. Here is the route map, http://www.ridetransfort.com/img/site_specific/uploads/ALL_ROUTES_MAP.pdf.

iridetherforeisaveWhen the Downtown Transit Center (DTC) first opened I worked for SmartTrips and had an office there. So I almost enjoy transfers at the DTC. That building definitely has a female ghost from the Old West when it was the train depot.

I’m glad I had my recent bus adventure. Now I’m comfortable using the bus when I can’t get there on my bike. It’s getting easier and easier to live without a car.

I do admit I would rather commute by bicycle, but the bus is a good back-up for saving a car trip!

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So grateful that the doctor said I can ride my bike instead of having to use a stationary bike for rehab!

Both Gas-free Lawn Care and Native Grass Lawns are about Conservation

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I started my bike courier service, my reel mower sharpening shop, my blog and the gas-free lawn care service all to promote conservation, and more specifically, to help use less gas.

I most recently started the Gas-free lawn care service because I have all of the equipment for it, and hod carrying was way too hard on my body. In the middle of May the constant heavy lifting at work hurt my knee. So I had to quit the stone mason job. It was good timing as I was just getting busy in my shop sharpening reel mowers. And I had wanted to offer Gas-free Lawn Care since Enviro Lawn Care left town a couple years ago. It just made sense. So I started :

Rob’s Gas-Free Lawn Care and more

Using Reel Mowers, Hand Tools, and travelling by Bike and Trailer only, to maintain lawns quietly and non-polluting, in North Fort Collins! Human-Powered, Gas-Free Lawn Care;

  • Basic Service – Lawn mowing using a Fiskars Reel Mower (human powered), which cuts the grass quietly, and like a pair of scissors. This is better for the grass plant, opposed to the violent, impact cut from rotary mowers (gas or electric).
    • Trimming grass, bushes, and shrubs with hand clippers or shears
    • Edging the lawn with hand edger, able to create an edge with spade if needed
    • (Quiet) Clean-up using broom and rake, no leaf blowers!
  • Additional Services –
    • Yard waste removal, by bicycle and trailer
    • Fertilize with push spreader using organic fertilizer
    • Hauling by bike and trailer (hourly rates)
    • Garden tilling, by hand, with garden fork or rake (hourly rates)
    • Shrub and Tree (low level) pruning with hand loppers or shears (hourly rates)
    • Compost set-up (hourly rates)
    • Minor Xeriscaping and Native planting help (hourly rates)

No more expensive than traditional lawn care but quiet and non-polluting, without burning any fossil fuels at all! Call Rob for a quote at 970-231-6794.


And other things fell into place too, like finding everything I needed second-hand, at yard sales, thrift stores and on Craigslist. That Fiskars mower I have really does work well, and new it costs $250, but I got it off of Craigslist for $100. Then shortly after that, I sold two mowers without even trying, which paid for the Fiskars. When getting advice from Marty who did this here before, he called that Fiskars mower a “real workhorse”.

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Marty suggested getting an electric/rechargeable line trimmer to make trimming faster. But I can’t do it at this point because first, human power works!, and then there are so many environmental impacts that go with; rechargeable batteries, new plastic products, and products from China.

Plus, I keep finding great lawn and garden equipment really cheap at yard sales and thrift stores.


An example of the “and more” part in the photo below, which includes minor landscaping, xeriscaping, pruning, garden or compost set-up, and native planting.

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Over a thousand pounds of flagstone hauled by bike and path installed with hand tools

Bikes and reel mowers are great, practical tools for saving oil from being extracted, refined, transported and burned. Using both bikes and reel mowers on a regular basis helps keep us fit also.

But greater conservation, especially of water, can be achieved when sustainable concepts like Xeriscaping and planting native grass lawns, are applied first.

We are in a semi-arid, high desert climate with an average of only 12-14 inches of rainfall per year. We also get more than half of our municipal water supply from the Colorado River, on the other side of the Continental Divide. So Kentucky Bluegrass doesn’t really make sense when Buffalo and Blue Grama native grasses grow so well here without nearly as much water. But Kentucky Bluegrass is what’s planted and many folks rent or don’t know how to change their lawns.

Another component of the “and more” part to Rob’s Gas-free Lawn Care and More, is that I offer to help customers take out their non-native grass lawns and plant native grasses. So if you want a turf-like lawn, I think planting Buffalograss and mowing it with a reel mower makes for a very “green” lawn.

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Cody Buffalograss
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This yard is Cody Buffalograss. It is more turf-like, doesn’t need water and can be mowed to look like a lawn.
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Yard with all Blue Grama. It doesn’t need to be watered and the city allows you to let it grow without mowing it. This yard hasn’t been watered, besides rain, all year and the photo was taken in late July.

Working toward Zero Waste

Equinox Zero waste staion
Blocking that garbage can like a hockey goalie blocking the net!
From Wikipedia,
 The internationally recognized definition of ZERO WASTE adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is:

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.”


 

The goal for the Zero Waste stations for Green Events is to recycle everything that is recyclable and compost everything that is compostable, and then send as little waste as possible to the landfill. We measure this by weight, and the six events I’ve worked we have had a 95% or better diversion rate. This means that only 5% of the waste generated at the event, by weight, goes to the landfill. The rest goes to be recycled or composted.

Vendors in this town are pretty good about buying the most eco-friendly products (utensils, cups) they can. Before the event I go around to the vendors and figure what can be recycled and composted. So besides figuring what waste goes where for the waste stations, I sometimes do this at their counters..compost me

Fortunately, most paper products can be composted, including waxy cups and paper plates with food. Paper is a natural carbon source so it actually helps balance out the nitrogen source from food, like adding dead leaves.

Although the fork in the photo is made of plastic, many vendors are getting utensils made from corn, which can be composted. You can tell if a utensil is made from corn if it bends and doesn’t brake, and typically it won’t be white, but beige. Plastic utensils break when you bend them.


 

20150920_101946My favorite part of working these events, besides satisfying my neurosis of conservation, is the way people react to my neurotic behavior. I really do block the garbage can with cardboard and eyeball everything being thrown out. I’ll make people wait in line so that I can make sure everything goes in the correct bin. And most people appreciate it. I get many people telling me “Thank you for doing this”, or they will pull their kids aside to watch me be OCD over trash.

So the international definition tells us that the concept ‘Zero Waste’ is not literal, but a goal, to guide us toward Zero Waste.

For bringing the Zero Waste concept home, besides recycling, I think a home compost system is key. Even if you don’t garden, you you can still use your finished compost to fertilize your lawn, trees, shrubs and flowers, while you avoid throwing food into the landfill. See.. A Home Compost System is the Backbone to a good Garden!

 

Car-Free Recreation Does NOT Mean Get Rid of your Car

I have a blog post about Car-Free Recreation with a link to the Car-Free Recreation Guide to Northern Colorado that I created in 2008, https://humanpowerworks.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/car-free-recreation/.

Cars are necessary, I never say get rid of them. I just say ‘drive less’, and be aware that our addiction to cars and oil has a large impact. I am no20150703_114422t doing ‘Car-Free Rehab’ for my recent hip scope. A friend let me borrow her car for errands and going to physical therapy until I could ride my bike again.

But the point of Car-Free Recreation is that when you’re going to play outside, stay outside, and get there on a bike. Save the car trips for the rare, or bad weather, adventures.  And then never idle at a trail head and ask anyone who does, not to. 

This is especially for very fit and active people, who are capable of modifying workouts, runs and rides to using a bike instead of a car. Compromise, innovate and be creative. Just leave it parked when when going outside to play. Stay a little closer, buy more touring gear, and build up to longer trips. Why put your bike on your car to go for a ride when you can start your ride from your doorstep?

Look at what Goran Kropp did in the 90’s for the purpose of a Car-Free goran-kropp-660Adventure. He rode to Mt. Everest from Sweden, reached the summit without help or extra oxygen, then rode back to Sweden.

And last week, the women who won the Great Divide Race rode 2,000 miles from her home in Anchorage to the start of the race in Banff. Then she raced the Great Divide Race and won, crushing the previous record.

In Fort Collins there are so many amazing places to play within a an hour round-trip ride, including: Horsetooth Reservoir (and a Cycletote trailer could easily carry a Stand Up Paddleboard or two!), Coyote Ridge, Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge Natural Areas, multiple climbing areas, the soccer complex and so much more!

Then, within a days ride to and a days ride from, we have: The Pawnee Grasslands, Soapstone and Bobcat Ridge Natural Areas (both can be done as one-day, to and from adventures, just pack food and rain gear), Poudre Canyon, Pingree Park and nearby wilderness areas, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

So for the people using the outdoors to recreate and exercise, it’s our responsibility to protect our air quality as much as we can.

I know that Car-Free Recreation can be done at all levels and is so worth it.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Car-Free Recreation

mountain riding

In 2008 Wolverine Farm Publishing put out a local, grassroots sustainability guide called the GER (Great Ecstatic Reporter). They let me do a piece on Car-Free Recreation that went in the Transportation section. I used to ride to soccer games I played in and refereed, I rode to trail run and boulder in the foothills, and I rode to the gym regularly, so I always felt that it just made sense.

I say tfall mtn bikinghat as fit as we’ve become, with ultra-marathons and Ironman distance triathlons, and as extreme as we can be, we have no excuse. It can’t be as hard. Especially trail runs or mountain bike rides can be done without getting in a car. There are so many bike-hikes close to Fort Collins that it should be more of a trend.

I had a housemate in the early 90’s who left a big impression on me. He was a climber and telemark skier. He also had just spent five years in Mali, Africa with the Peace Corp. I remember once someone was trying to one-up Jack. They told this elaborate story about Macgyvering a broken down, motor-powered surf board two miles out with sharks circling.  After explaining how he did it mechanically, he asked Jack, “what would you have done?” Jack says, “I don’t know because I don’t rely on fossil fuels when I recreate.”

But Jack did use a car and fossil fuels to get to the back country for skiing and climbing. So I say let’s go a step further. When going to play outside, let’s stay outside and get there on a bike. Yes, you can’t get as far, but the trade-offs are worth it, like enjoying and getting something out of the whole trip. In Fort Collins there are so many recreation opportunities within biking distance. Then the more you do it the further you can get. You can build up to bigger trips. But for everyday and weekly recreation, from bouldering, going to the gym, to soccer and all other team sports, they are all accessible by bike in Fort Collins.

I feel that biking to the soccer complex north of Budweiser is only 8-15 miles from almost anywhere in town, and makes for a great warm-up and cool-down before and after playing a game. Just be prepared. Have plenty of food and water, appropriate gear for weather, and a flat repair kit and pump. Also, make sure tires are aired up properly.

bike and golf clubsThe gym and other in-town sports are obviously more feasible by bicycle. Going to the gym by bicycle makes for less time at a cardio station, or else gets you more ready for that ultra-whatever you’re training for. Even golf is something we can do by bike. 

Another outdoor activity that’s more fun by bike is taking the dog to the dog park or for a close hike. It might take some work training a dog to ride in a bike trailer, but I’ve seen many dogs riding happily in bike trailers. Cycletote, based here in Ft Collins, makes a large and small bike trailer specifically for dogs, https://cycletote.com/shop/large-dog-or-pet-trailer/.

Here is a sample of what’s in The Car-Free Recreation Guide to Northern Colorado;

  • In-town Opportunities (Ft Collins) – The city bike map is available at bike shops, city services and http://www.fcgov.com/bicycling/bike-maps.php. Our bike system accesses everything from gyms to disc golf, and team sport facilities to real golf.
  • Edge of town
    • Bouldering –Rotary park – County fee area, Day passes $7, four bikes per pass or one car. On Centennial Drive by road bike, right above the ‘A’; top of Maxwell trail by mountain bike.
      The Piano Boulders – City non-fee area, bikes can be locked to fence, located two miles south of Rotary Park on Centennial Drive.
    • Trail Running and Bike-Hikes – All four city Natural Areas on the first foothill, Reservoir Ridge, Maxwell, Pineridge and Coyote Ridge are less than 10 miles from anywhere in town and all have a place to lock your bike. Bobcat Ridge and Soapstone Natural Areas are both city owned, within cycling distance for a strong rider, and both have wonderful hiking. http://www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/
    • Wildlife Viewing – The city’s many great Natural Areas are accessible by bike and you can see everything from Pelicans and Bald Eagles to beavers, deer and other wildlife. Also, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program at The ELC has large birds of prey that were injured in the wild and are on display for educational purposes, while being nursed back to health. Donations accepted.
  • Bike camping This guide highlights two different 2-3 Day Adventures from the Fort, The Comanche Peak Summit and The Pawnee Grasslands Camp
  • Cultural Opportunities Bingham Hill Cemetery is an early pioneer cemetery with graves from the 1800’s, and only 1/2 mile from the bike trail and Overland Trail road.

Click on this Copy of carfree for your own printable version of The Car-Free Recreation Guide to Northern ColoradoThanks to Desmond Yap and Susan Hazel-Rich for laying it out, to Jason Shelman for writing the Pawnee Grasslands Camp, Todd Reinert for photo. Also thanks to WFP for including it in the GER!

 

Bike Touring                                 bike tour with friendly cows

From weekend getaways to summer-long rides, bike touring is a great way to have a car-free vacation. There are so many benefits, from not spending money on gas to being outside more. It also makes you a stronger year-around bike commuter, and provides gear for commuting by bike.

Here are some great resources to help you get started:

  • Adventure Cycling Association – This non-profit has mapped out bicycle friendly routes across the country, up and down the country, and all around the country. The maps are so helpful that I felt like I was cheating when using them. They let you know about all amenities along the way, so you can know your options throughout the trip. They also offer much more, like guided tours where you are self-supported.  http://www.adventurecycling.org/rails to trails bridge
  • Rails to Trails – These are old railroads turned into long trails. If you live close to one you can ride to it, then out and back, without getting in a car. What’s really nice about being on one of these is that there are no cars on these trails.  http://www.railstotrails.org/
  • RAGBRAI – Started in the 70’s, Iowa’s cross-state bike ride is run by The Des Moines Register newspaper, which is where the acronym comes from, Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. This was a very fun way for me to be introduced to bike touriRagbrai breakfastng. I rode it in ’93, along with 10,000 other people. We did it officially so we were supported. That means our gear rode in the trucks and we were able to camp at the official sites.  http://ragbrai.com/ The photo is of Todd and friends’ self-contained bikes while at breakfast. 
  • Supported tour companies – Experience Plus is a company based here in Fort Collins that offers all level, supported bike tours in Europe and South America. These are great ways to see other parts of the world, by bike, with guides and supported. It is also a great way to get familiar with bike touring and learn about it.  http://www.experienceplus.com/

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This is Goran Kropp in front of Mount Everest. He rode from Sweden to Everest in 1995-96, where he reached the summit by himself, without extra oxygen, then rode back to Sweden. Extreme Car-Free Recreation!

You don’t need to rely on a car and fossil fuels to have a great vacation or to go outside and play! Hope this helps.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Rob