67 Reasons I am changing the way I do cycle tours
Last month, I sold the Hiace bus that has been the at the core of my cycle tour business for the past 10 years: transporting countless rail trail riders back to their start, taking cyclists exploring Gippsland and the magnificent Snowy River hinterland, day rides through our magical local forests and the 'sag wagon' on our annual event, the Great East Rail Trail.
It served me well.
It was not only sturdy and reliable, but was unmistakably covered in my business logo, was certainly recognisable and looked pretty fab. Over the 10 years I owned the bus, I drove it than a quarter of a million kilometres, and in doing so produced at least 67 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That's about a tonne for every month ( 6 / 12 months / year) that I run tours.
While intellectually I have been concerned about climate change and the resulting global heating for many years, it took the proximity of the Black Summer fires breaching the ridgelines in sight of our house, and creating a line of spot fires on our towns edge - including one that burnt out an acre within 50 metres of our house - to shock me into it's reality, and the very urgent need to respond. And so I have decided I cannot continue to burn fossil fuels in order to support a business that is not an essential service.
HOWEVER.... the bike rides will continue, but without the fossil fuel!
Self guide packages on the East Gippsland Rail Trail will now utilise the excellent local Vline coach service to return from one end of the trail to the other.
Cycle tours through the spectacular hinterland surrounding the Snowy River will continue as our Snowy River Adventure Cycle, as either a self guide or guided cycle tour.
I will be supporting these tours using one of two low emissions vehicles: a fully electric car, that will charge from our solar panels, and a four wheel drive operating on biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil.
Purchasing an electric vehicle was an eye opener for me in just how much energy we consume when we drive. A car battery is six to ten times the size of a household battery such as a Tesla powerwall. In other words, the battery equivalent of half a tank of petrol for the average car is enough to power a household for several days. It seems that while we have become very good at using low energy fridges and light bulbs, the amount of energy they consume is dwarfed by our use of cars for every day transport.
There is currently nothing on the Australian vehicle market with the range and capacity to replace my diesel bus with an electric one. Biodiesel production will be a time consuming process, and I could not possibly keep up sufficient supply to run my bus. Carbon credits? Well, yes, but it is essentially making a mess for someone else to clean up.
I firmly believe we must have a fundamental mindset shift away from unthinking consumption of energy, and material goods. We are truly eating the future of others.