THE STORY: I once owned a Blue Subaru Leone and even though she was older than me and made funny noises (not from the radio, it didn’t work) I loved her. We’d been through a lot together, but after years of faithful service and not being properly cared for, she broke down. I left her on the gentle slope where she had breathed her last. I couldn’t bear to pay for a tow truck that would cost more that the car was worth!
Parked well off the road and in town I assumed she would be safe. A few days later I went to check on her to see if a few days rest had revived my Blue Beast.
Unfortunately she hadn’t come back to life, but, more shocking was the dead fox that had been placed under her windscreen wipers. I was worried and took anything of value from the car (coins from the ash tray) and vowed to rescue her after the weekend.
By the time I returned my precious darling had been tipped onto her side. My poor car would rest in pieces rather than in peace if I didn’t do something. A friend helped tow the car back to our house and she lay peacefully in the front yard.
I didn’t have a car and I didn’t want one. I couldn’t be unfaithful to the Blue Beast, not yet anyway. I decided to go the next year without owning a car.
The year was spent running, walking and riding to places nearby, then scabbing a ride, a car or taking public transport for longer trips. It was amazing noticing all the “new” things I had missed while driving everywhere. I got to know all the different streets, parks and shortcuts around Traralgon.
It was tough at times, one of my bikes suffered a similar fate to the car when I left it locked up in town for too long. I found it buckled and bent at the bottom of a three storey car park. The most annoying thing was having to replace the $15 lock!
I missed a car at times, like when I would collect a garbage bag full of bread and take it to school on a far too small, purple kids bike. Even then, there is something satisfying about being independent of a car and knowing you did all the work yourself. Not only that but I was able to reduce the amount of pollution I was responsible for and get really fit.
I wanted to share this with others so I started a ride to school program, much like a walking school bus, except faster. Once a week students from Flinders College would join me on a 20km route to school. I really enjoyed this time and dreamed of one day riding around Australia with a bunch of young people.
Eventually I was given another car as my friend Barry moved overseas. It was a huge blessing, one I was able to fully appreciate after spending a year without owning a car.
THE EVENT: Riding around Australia is an enormous task, one that would take a whole year and lots of preparation beforehand to run as a group. I wondered if there was another way to do this without having to leave school, pitch tents and carry everything with you.
There was. This version of riding around Australia would be very simple. Form a group, record your distance each day on a shared spreadsheet and together try to cover the distance around Australia (about 20,000km by road) in a month.
This was very low maintenance, all I had to do was set up the spreadsheet so it would calculate the totals for each rider and the group as a whole. Being a Maths teacher I added some other fun calculations for the group, like how many Mars Bars had been burned off, laptops were charged or light bulbs they had powered.
The top Female and Male rider from each school would receive (potentially free of charge) a Bike>Car shirt for their efforts. Other awards would be handed out at the end of the month to mark each riders achievements. What they are (Certificate, Medal etc) would depend on each School/Organization.
Check out an example spreadsheet below
- To reduce reliance on cars and save money
- To promote bikes as a legitimate form of transport
- To slow down and enjoy your surroundings
- To get active, get fit and challenge yourself.
- To reduce negative impact on the environment
- To enjoy the company of others