Ladies and gentlemen, in today’s post I would like to introduce you to another vital member of my team. Murphy is a 1999 Honda Civic. Over the last three years we have spent over 82,000km on the road together. We have been as far west as Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, as far east as La Malbaie, Quebec, and as far north as Prince George, British Columbia, and as far south as Chicago, Illinois (where we got some strange looks due to the bright yellow kayak on the roof).
I have come to the conclusion that high level training and racing would be extremely difficult, if not impossible without access to a vehicle. Cycling to ski races has certainly been done, but it’s not something that I have tried (yet?). A car provides the following advantages:
- quick access to training areas after work or school
- access to out of town races and areas without public transport
- the ability to carry large volumes of sporting equipment
- a place to sleep when all else fails
There are certainly are downsides as well:
- 43 days of my life spent driving
- 16 metric tonnes of CO2 produced
- maintenance costs
- time spent looking for parking, and shoveling snow
As skiers we are constantly worrying about the availability of natural snow, and the length of the ski season. Therefore, as someone concerned by global warming, it bothers me that my actions reveal me to be a hypocrite – I value the convenience of my car more than the desire to make a significant change in my lifestyle.
So I decided to do conduct a quick assessment of how Murphy compares to other cars on the road. I have listed a small selection of cars and their highway fuel economy below. I would have liked to have used L/100km but I took all the numbers from fueleconomy.gov and have presented them without converting units.
1986 Chevrolet Sprint – 53mpg
2012 Toyota Prius Hybrid – 49mpg
1984 Honda Civic, manual – 39mpg
2013 Honda Civic, automatic – 39mpg
2013 Honda Civic, manual – 36mpg
Murphy – 1999 Honda Civic, manual – 34mpg
2012 Ford Escape Hybrid – 31mpg
2013 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid – 25mpg
This list raised the following points and questions in my mind:
We aren’t doing much better than three decades ago.
I used to believe that a car with manual transmission driven well was more fuel efficient than an automatic – is this no longer the case?
The label of “Hybrid” does not necessarily mean that your car is fuel efficient – beware of green-washing in advertising!
At what point is it worth getting an inefficient car off the road, given the environmental impact of producing a completely new car?
How can we balance our desire for safety (which leads to heavier cars), with the desire for improved fuel economy (the lighter the car, the better). This is especially a problem with so many tractor trailer combinations on our roads – the laws of physics are not on the side of the driver of the aforementioned Chevy Sprint!
Well, that’s enough commentary from me for one day. I’m heading out for a training run. That should give Murphy a break – he has had a particularly rough year. In the past 12 months I have had to replace:
- the front right ball joint
- the radiator
- the brake lines
- the upstream 02 sensor
Let’s hope Murphy can make it through the next 10 months. As bike to work week wraps up in various parts of the world – remember to check your blind-spots and drive carefully when you’re sharing the road with cyclists!