The Simple Things

A good friend of mine is an outdoor adventurer of sorts. His agenda for the next few years includes hiking/climbing in Nepal, a trans-global motorcycle expedition, and a 6-month hike from New Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide Trail.

My aspirations are not nearly so loftly. Mostly I hope to continue bicycle commuting on a daily basis with the goal of eventually going completely car-free, and someday I’d love to build a green retirement home.

My friend is an environmentally conscious person, but he’s yet to fully embrace the idea of bike commuting. His commute is essentially the same as mine and I’ve been subtly working on him for a while now, dropping little hints and pointing out how easy it would be to leave his car at home. So when we met up the other morning for a bike ride and stop at a local coffee house for breakfast, I used the ride as an opportunity to demonstrate how pleasant bike commuting can be. Instead of taking the direct route to the cafe, I followed my morning commute route, taking only back roads and trails, and avoiding the main automobile commuter routes. It was quite a pleasant ride, with little to no traffic and perfect weather. Along the trail we heard multiple pheasants calling while we admired the wildflowers sprouting in the vernal pools and the rabbits only partially concealed in the brush. Pretty sneaky, huh?

We eventually made it to the coffee shop and spent a couple of hours chewing the fat about traveling, bicycling, cameras, and whatever else came to mind; it was a good time. On the way home, when we stopped to part ways, my friend mentioned how much he enjoyed our little adventure and he said “It really is the simple things in life, isn’t it?” I couldn’t agree more. And although I didn’t say it, I had the thought that regardless of where we’re at in the world (even our own neighborhood), the bicycle has the power to get us out there and put us in touch with those simple things.

9 Responses to “The Simple Things”

  • Tamia Nelson says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the value of “the little things” and finding pleasure in one’s neighborhood, Alan, and have been saying so for a long time to anyone who could listen (or read). Congratulations on helping your friend to understand that.

    As for green retirement homes, had you ever considered straw bale designs? Or the “small house movement”?

  • Madness says:


  • jamesj says:

    Awesome story!

    i enjoy your stories they make me want to get out there and ride more. last season i spent most of it being sick.
    now its too hot.
    i guess ill have to sneak it in somewhere…

    on a side note. is that a pixel in the photo above the green spot?

  • Alan says:



    “on a side note. is that a pixel in the photo above the green spot?”

    I think it was a flare. Now that you mentioned it, it was driving me crazy, so I stamped it out in Photoshop… :-)


  • Alan says:


    Straw bale is so cool. The small house movement is very appealing as well. It’s going to be a while, but we’re watching with interest all of the new developments in this area.


  • A Bike Commuter says:

    Is it more green to build efficiently or to renovate an existing structure? Is it more green to buy a Prius or to get a used car? Maybe these questions are misguided in the first place. Maybe we need to work harder to ignore the siren call of consumerism and consumption.

    Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Peace.

  • Thom says:

    On the “little things” theme: my wife and I ran an errand to the local fabric/notions store on Sunday to pick up a few things, including some material for a roll-up tool kit and a musette bag. The few things turned into a few more things, including an ungainly folding cardboard fabric-measuring thingy. Never one to be daunted by such things, I wedged the board under my messenger bag strap and under my arm, and off we went. Incidentally, most of our route home was in a bike lane. It felt great to run just the one small errand and to make it work without a car, and have it be so darned fun and easy.

  • PB says:


  • cafn8 says:

    Isn’t it funny how as we start something new with the intention of sacrificing a little bit, we often find that we don’t want to go back? That’s how my bike commute is. At first it was an effort to do the 8 miles, twice per day. I did it a few times to see if I could. After a couple weeks of intermittent bike commutes I began to miss it when I would drive. The world from behind the windshield seemed to drag along while feathering the throttle of the cumbersome 3000 lb machine to maintain a constant 25 MPH through town. A dramatic contrast to the light quick world of two wheels, where I could go as fast as my legs could push me, which seemed much faster. Eventually I bought a bicycle more suitable to the trip than my mountain bike. The cargo rack allowed me to avoid the soggy back syndrome and with full fenders I found myself shrugging nonchalantly at rainy weather forecasts. I now really miss riding to work when I must drive for one reason or another and those days when it seemed like a sacrifice seem so far in the past.

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