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Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
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SPOUT | Rant, React, Chat, Blather

Self-Satisfied Cyclists

Nearing the finish, I spot another rider 100 yards ahead. I shift up and stand in the pedals for quick acceleration. Quads burning, I soon hit my lactate threshold. How long can I keep this up? Digging deep for a last burst of speed, I pass the lady towing her kid in a trailer. The kid waves, and I continue on to the train station.

It may be pathetic to chase down unwitting riders, but it makes for a more interesting commute than staring at the bumper in front of you. And per "The Underappreciated Bicycle", it's an order of magnitude more efficient. Best of all, the energy required comes from my breakfast cereal, not the Middle East, the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic Ocean, or, as Joshua Zaffos reports in "Busting Out of Boom and Bust," fragile public lands. Not that my fellow cyclists and I are in need of further reason to be pleased with ourselves, but our favorite form of locomotion just happens to be a powerful weapon against climate change.

To celebrate the arrival of high cycling season, Sierra has taken off the rain fenders, oiled the chain, and set out on new roads—late-season touring along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route ("Survive"), rambling from mountaintop lookout to lookout in Montana ("A View With a Room"), and pioneering no-car, no-pannier routes in the Alps ("Experiments in Swiss Cycling"). All these stories involved a certain amount of trial and error—sometimes too much of it. Our hope is that they inspire your own adventures and spare you from making the same mistakes.

But here's a statistic that might shock you: 97 percent of Sierra Club members drive a car. Naturally, many of them yearn to ditch the internal combustion variety for one of the burgeoning number of electric or hybrid models available.

With them in mind, senior editor Reed McManus presents "Rise of the Plug-in Hybrids", Sierra's new EV buyers' guide. Plug-in hybrids may—for the present, at least—represent the golden mean of alternate-fuel vehicles: able to run around town on plug-in juice but without inducing the "range anxiety" inspired by pure EVs.

Finally, electric car guru Bradley Berman chimes in on the holy grail of green driving ("Fuel From the Roof"). "I feel like a high-tech pioneer," Berman writes. "Thanks to the solar panels powering my EV, my own car's fuel is 100 percent clean and domestically produced. No risky drilling or oil wars required."

Almost as good as riding a bike. —Paul Rauber, acting executive editor

 

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