Car-Free Diet Skeptics Blog

Is there any situation where Boys II Men lyrics DON’T help convey an emotion?  I don’t think so.  Go ahead and try to find one.  Boys II Men will have you covered. However, if you find yourself stuck, New Kids on the Block will work as a suitable alternative.  Here’s an example:

You: Hey Car-Free Matt, how have you felt about all of your trips on your bike? Also, do you think you have the right stuff to be able to win this challenge?

Me: (While doing infamous NKOTB leg swinging side to side dance)I’ve loved it.  And I’ve definitely got oh oh ohhhhh, oh oheeeo, oh oh ohhhhh, the right stuff.

So that’s a stretch.  But it’s nearly my last official Car-Free Matt blog post and I wanted to have a little fun.  And what better way to do that then by discussing Boys II Men and New Kids on the Block? Ok, there are probably better ways to have fun.

Sadly, the time for fun and games is coming to a close.  It’s serious face time, decision time.  Tomorrow, there will be a winner of the competition. And it will be me.  Or Kyle.  But let’s stick with me.

And I look back now on the past month.  The ups, the downs.  There have been plenty.  I wish I had more time to show you everything I’ve seen over the course of thirty days.  But like they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

I’ve been able to make several videos.  They’ve definitely helped get people talking to me about the competition and what I’ve been experiencing.  If you feel so inclined, please feel free to repost them on your own facebook, twitter blogs, etc.  I’d love the help sharing:

Trip to Jay’s Saloon featuring the song Happenstance

Capital Bikeshare Scavenger Hunt featuring the song Post Script as well as music created by my very good friend Ryan MayenSchein (Manshine)

Rebuttal to Kyle’s video announcing he sold his car

Trip to Maddy’s in DC featuring the song The Lights in DC

PSA #1

PSA #2

PSA #3

PSA #4

PSA #5

PSA #6

PSA #7

PSA #8

National Walk at Lunch Day featuring the song Two Sides to Coins, Walls, and Us

First Bike Ride, Missed Interview, Shenandoah, and my first video blog

In the past thirty days, I’ve been able to lose five pounds just by biking and walking more.  No gym.  No working out at home.  Just getting from point A to B.  Another eight months of this, and I may just be high-school skinny. We’ll see… but if not, I’m still way healthier than I was and it will only get better.

I’ve also saved between $175-200 in gas alone.  That doesn’t include the amount I’d have spent to park on the street or the almost guaranteed parking tickets I would receive for parking on those streets.  There have been no meters to feed, no parking police watching me from afar.

Learning to plan is something that takes time, ironically.  Because people who don’t plan well usually don’t have time to learn how to plan well…  But through out the course of this contest I’ve become much better at planning ahead, and getting places on time.  When I drive, I show up late.  That’s sort of what I do.  But with using the bus and metro system, I’ve learned to find the time I need to be there, and BE THERE at that time.  I show up places on time.  Mouths drop.  It’s a big deal.

My stress level has decreased substantially.  No more sitting in traffic.  No more wondering where all of the people in the cars around me came from.  No more wishing I lived in 1784 just so I could find an open rode somewhere.  I just sit back and relax and someone else drives me to and from my destinations.  I read, I listen to music, I zone out, I play games on my phone, update my social networks, etc. It’s sort of like being wealthy, or a celebrity.  Take me to Rosslyn driver. Pip pip, cheerio people stuck in traffic.

I’ve also been able to see people and places I never would have seen if I wasn’t going car-free.  Maybe you don’t find enjoyment in seeing the world around you, but I’m a huge fan.  Today, as I sat on the bus, I watched two guys talking with each other.  As an attractive girl passed by them, one of the guys followed her with his gaze and the other guy tapped him and gave him the, “No way brotha.  She’s out of your league look.” Then they both laughed and continued on with their conversation.  I love moments like that, when I get to see people being people.  I call it people watching.  You may call it being creepy. But that’s why you’re wrong and I’m right.  (This style of arguing is a tactic I’ve learned from my girlfriend, Dana.  You can read about it in my new book, Always Be Right, Always.)

And in just a few weeks I’ve already started to accumulate ways to make my commutes easier.  As you go car-free, I think everyone will begin to shape their own version of what works best for them.  But little things here and there go a long way.

  • Bring an umbrella (you can never trust the forecast and a wet Iphone is a uselss Iphone).
  • Wear regular shoes to and from work so you aren’t walking in uncomfortable shoes.  Change at the office or where ever you’re headed.
  • Pick up some reusable grocery bags for groceries.  It’s better for the environment AND reduces the chance that your bags will break.
  • Bring along something to read or something to do while you’re on the metro or the bus.  You can spend your time watching people too if you’d like.
  • Invest in a Smart Trip card.  This a no brainner.  It’s faster and it saves you money if you’re transferring from bus to bus or metro to metro.
  • Try to NOT transfer if you don’t have to.  My commute into Rosslyn could be done a few different ways (bus to bus, bus to metro, etc).  But the easiest way is to find a bus that goes right there.  That way there’s no chance you’ll miss the next bus or metro.
  • If you’re biking, don’t hug the shoulder! I know that it seems like it’s safer to do so, but it’s really not. Be visible and give yourself distance from parked cars.  They’re actually JUST as dangerous as moving vehicles.  People getting out of their cars or stepping out from in between cars aren’t looking for you.  They’re looking for cars.  Slamming into a car door or a person won’t be fun.  Well, it won’t be MUCH fun.  I bet it’s a little fun.
  • Use the trip planner located here. It’s a really useful tool when planning your trips.
  • Planning the “there” trip is much easier than planning the “return” trip.  It’s one thing to know you’re meeting friends for diner at five. But that dinner could go for one hour or four hours and planning your trip home is a little more tricky because of that.  You can never really plan perfectly for the return trip.  So make use of the aforementioned trip planner.  I have it saved on my phone so I can bring it up whenever I’m ready to head off.
  • Make sure you have enough money on your card BEFORE you get to the metro line and try to go in.  This is especially true if you usually only give yourself a few minutes to make sure you get to the metro.  Taking time to put more money on your card can cost you a missed metro which can cost you a missed bus which can cost you a wasted night.
  • Don’t leave your bike unattended.  Sometimes Kyle will sneak by and sabotage your chain.

There are plenty more.  I’m still learning, and so will you if you give going car-free a chance. I’d love to hear any more suggestions any one has.

There’s so much I want to say, and so much I want to learn still.  It’s a shame the contest is only 30 days.  I’d love to extend the challenge, but alas, it’s not up to me whether I beat Kyle in 30 days or 365 days.  But I’ve had a blast doing this and I wouldn’t change any of it.  Has it been easy? Nope.  Has it been possible? Yup.  And it gets easier with each passing day.  So I’m not looking backwards, focusing on stumbling blocks along the way.  Towards the past is no way to be facing when you’re biking, running, and metroing into a new future.  I really do want this competition to be the beginning of something greater for me.  In a year’s time I want to be thinner, richer, calmer, and above all else, happier.

I’m extremely thankful to everyone who has helped out with this competition.  To all of the stores and organizations that donated; to all of the people who have offered up advice, support, and encouragement; to everyone who helped spread the word about the competition; and to anyone I’m missing: thank you.  I joke around most of the time, but I offer that thanks with the utmost sincerity.  It has been nothing short of an amazing month and I couldn’t have done it without any of you.

With any luck, the next time Billy Ocean comes around demanding that I get into his car, I’ll be able to look him straight in the eyes and say, “No way Billy.  I’m Car-Free, plus you’re creeping people out by demanding they get in your car all the time.  It’s really not an acceptable practice and no one enjoys an ultimatum.”

And don’t forget! Kyle and I will be at the Rosslyn pit-stop bright and early tomorrow to hang out with fellow bikers and to find out who will win the competition.  I hope to see you all there.



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