What this cyclist learned from the car v bike challenge

I am now having a cold beer recovering from the ACREC car. vs bike challenge.  Yes, I do realize it is 3:30 in the afternoon.  I have earned this beer.

A little history (see previous post), I challenged Stafford Jones, Chair of the Republican Party to a car versus bike challenge.  I never thought his devious mind would come up with what he did.

Here were Stafford’s rules:  We both had to wear business attire, obey all traffic rules, and complete the following course.

Here was Stafford’s course:

  • Leave Ozean Consulting at noon.
  • Goto M&S Bank at Hunter’s Crossing (1.7 miles)  Simulate a deposit.
  • Goto Quality Cleaners – pick up dry cleaning (same shopping center 1.8 miles)
  • Goto Publix – purchase half gallon of ice cream and dozen eggs (same shopping center 1.9 miles)
  • Goto L&S Auto Trim and Gary’s Bait & Tackle shop – Pick up award Ozean was presented by the Florida Airboat Association for political work we did (thank you FL Airboat Association) (now at 8 miles)
  • Goto Home Depot, purchase a 2×4.  (now at 8.5 miles)
  • Return to Ozean Consulting Office (13.6 total miles)

Here is what I learned.

1)  Stafford hates me.

2)  We were neck and neck for the first 2 miles.

3)  Ice cream in a back pack acts as a mini – AC unit on your back.

4)  Riding a bicycle in a suit jacket, in Florida, in July is NOT a good idea.

5)  Business owners do not like stinky, sweaty people.  I think Wally Grant told me that he had bait that smelled better than I did – right before he politely asked me to leave.  It appears I was having a detrimental effect on other customers.

6)  Two major things slowed me down – the entrance to home depot on 53rd and 441 added an extra mile to my trek and my dry cleaning flew off my back requiring me to stop riding, run back and pick it up out of the middle of the road.

7)  It is impossible to carry a 2×4 on a bike.  I had to ditch it 1/4 mile in due to safety concerns.

8) Who ever required speed bumps IN A PARKING LOT, should be shot. (Home Depot)

9)  I REALLY hate losing.

10)  Gainesville is a very friendly place to cyclists – almost all drivers gave me two feet of clearance.

11)  Riding a bike in Florida for most people is a completely stupid and impractical thing to do.   Recreation is fine!  For most people, it is just not practical.

Bike versus Car Challenge by the numbers:

    • 99 – heat index at start of race.
    • 95  – number of minutes for cyclist to complete errands & course.
    • 92 – degrees F – actual temp at start of race
    • 67 – degrees F – inside Stafford’s truck.
    • 55 – number of minutes for car to complete errands & course.
    • 40 – number of minutes  the car beat the cyclist by.
    • 30 – number of times I thanked God Stafford didn’t make me tow my kids along.
    • 13.6 – approximate miles of course.
    • 10 – times I cussed myself for popping off at the mouth and making this challenge.
    • 4 – approximate lbs lost by cyclist during race.
    • 3 – eggs broken in cyclist’s pack pack.
    • 2  – number of miles before car pulled away.
    • 2 – times cyclists slipped when in Publix while running down aisle in cycling shoes.
    • 1 – other cyclist on road during competition. (elderly lady on sidewalk)
    • 1 – number of businesses cyclist was asked to leave due to odor and appearance.
    • 1 – suit jacket for sale – VERY cheap.
    • 1 – pair of pants ruined.
    • 1 – dry cleaning order that needs to be redone.
    • .7 – gallons of gas used by Stafford’s Big Ass Truck for race
    • .5 – gallon of ice cream melted in cyclist backpack.
    • .25 mile – approximate length of time cyclist carried 2×4
    • 0 – eggs broken in car.
    • 0 – clouds in the sky during race.
    • 0 – messages of support from bicycling community.

  • 0 – times I will do this race again.

Ok – before you start – yes, the race is a little silly – but a reporter asked a very good question, “What policy ramifications does you proving that you are an idiot have?”

Here are a couple:

  • It is for a very, select few that cycling is a viable alternative to car use.
  • Those cyclists are most likely going to be located in the urban core with less than 1-2 miles in their journey.
  • The real question that people smarter than me will need to answer is how much do automobile owners and drivers want to subsidize cyclists?
    • Gas tax?  Automobile owners pay.
    • Proportionate Fair Share paid by developers?  Based on traffic counts.
  • The next item is – if cycling is a viable alternative for people in the urban core with commutes 1-2 miles – why are we narrowing roads such as millhopper to add bike lanes?  Please don’t get me wrong – I ride this road most weekends – nice rollings hills for a great workout.  Still, how many tax dollars for few recreational users?
  • Finally, how can we as cyclists pay our fair share?  What is our fair share?  It seems we are dis-proportionally receiving benefits for our contributions.

In the final conclusion, I had a blast.  I REALLY hate losing – especially after issuing the challenge, but I think the public debate has been a good one.

Time for a nap….

(all photos courtesy of Gainesville Sun)

About Alex Patton

3 Responses to “What this cyclist learned from the car v bike challenge”

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  1. Donna says:

    What I don’t understand is how people don’t see that the Progressive-Democrats/Republicans in this community have an agenda. There is no other purpose for the “annual” bicycle vs. motorized vehicle challenge other than to promote the U.N.’s Agenda 21. The Progressives want to keep reiterating (brainwashing) how much more convenient/efficient a bicycle is than a motorized vehicle, when it is NOT. There is no comparison, they are two different animals.

    If the Progressives so badly want their bicycle “conveniences”, then they need to start a donation fund that everyone can send their thousands of dollars to ON THEIR OWN and NOT BY FORCE (ie: our taxes).

  2. If this really had been a “Real World Challenge”, and if you had had any experience whatsoever in using a bicycle for transport, this race would have looked slightly different: 1) you would have used a regular bike, not a racing bike. 2) You would have used stores that are not this far apart, or would have biked the route in a more logical order. 3) You would have fetched the ice cream last.

    Really, you have to drive/ride 3 kilometres to get to your nearest bank office? My nearest is a two minute walk away, the next is less than a kilometre, and so on. Your American cities may be sprawly, but surely things are not that far apart?

    Tip (from experience) for readers who would like to carry lumber on their bicycle: unlike what Alex Patton claims, carrying a single 2×4 on a bicycle is the easiest thing in the world. It gets tricky at two or more. What I’ve done in the past is bring some duct tape, so that the beams don’t start shifting during your ride.

    Basically, it seems you did not really learn anything, just confirmed your own prejudices. Sometimes that is fine, but I feel you never really gave yourself the chance to learn something, and just engaged in a bit of reciprocal political grandstanding, which is a pity.

    For what it is worth, the majority of trips in the US are 3 miles or less. If your claim is that it is best to use the right tool for the job, fine, I agree, but then you should not have used a racing bike.

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  1. […] Party to a bicycle vs. car race. The car won by 45 minutes–probably because the race was a stacked deck, requiring participants to wear business clothing, make multiple stops, and carry such things as […]



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