Champagne and the pantry

A personality test once described me as someone who might buy champagne even if the pantry needed filling. It was one of those corporate training programs to develop managers that emerged in the late 80s. Of course personality tests are disputable. They depict a slice of the person, not the whole. And for some tests, it depends on what context you draw your answers from. Am I the same at work as I am at home? Personality tests are not always right. On this point though, about the champagne and the pantry, it was.

But a decade later in the late 90s when I had what might be called an epiphany, to do more with less, things changed.

Cupboards were sorted. Garage sales become something of a fine art. Possessions thinned. Two houses became one. Two cars became one. And old patterns changed.

My experiment to travel by bicycle as much as possible is an extension of this decision. It’s about living more simply.

It’s about using our resources more wisely. Using less fuel. Saving money. Making the most of pedal power – an energy that gives more than it takes.

So how is it going?

I’ve just entered the final month of my year-long experiment to use my bicycle as much as possible. I don’t have exact statistics of how much I’ve saved but I can tell you this:

  • Pre-experiment we’d fill our car with fuel about once a week; now we fill it up about once a month.
  • In eleven months, I’ve ridden my bicycle over 3,437 kilometres with at least half being journeys I would have previously made by car. So I have saved by not buying fuel for approximately 1700kms.
  • There are also savings from journeys that I once did by car without even thinking but now choose not to do at all (like that drive to the gelato shop every now and then…🍦🍦)

It’s clear to me that travelling by bicycle as much as I can in everyday life has definitely changed my choices about transport, activities and resources. With that, it’s saving me money. And I can safely say I’ve outsmarted that personality test 🙂

This post is the first post in a 5-story challenge. Gary, from PedalWORKS was kind enough to nominate me for this challenge because he’d like to learn how my year-long cycling experiment has changed me. It also responds to a request from HARDCOPY writer Serina of Ms Frugal Ears who’d like to learn how my year-long bicycle experiment is saving me money.  

To keep the conversation going, I’m inviting you to leave a comment or write a blog post about how riding your bicycle has changed you or is saving you money. I’d love to read them! 🙂

19 Comments on “Champagne and the pantry

  1. Before retirement I was a commuter. Since retirement I ride even more miles. I did a blog post in September telling how many more miles I have on my bike than my car.

    On the flip side. My neighbor warms up or cools down his car every day. In the winter it can run for forty minutes, he drives to the market for his paper, comes home and leaves the car running before taking his wife to work. He may use more gasoline idling his car than I use driving mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the link to your blog post. It’s amazing how the miles add up: 3,307 miles – that’s over 5,000 kms. Nice work!

      And it’s interesting how changing to a bike can save so much not only in fuel but also in time. Living in a sub-tropical climate, warming/cooling a car isn’t something I’ve thought of… you’d be well on your way to your destination on your bike before he leaves the driveway 🙂


  2. Gail, I’m pleased you have taken up the challenge. You have made good progress this past year. I’m curious. Are you planning to continue to cycle more, or was this only a 1-year experiment, and what was the biggest challenge you faced in getting started?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Gary. My year-long experiment will be complete but it’ll move into a new phase where my aim will be to build on the things I’ve experienced over these past four seasons.
      Biggest challenge…? Hmmm, I’ll have to reflect on that…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One thing I have learned by going car free is how adaptable I am. And how fun it can be to adapt and change and grow. A few years ago change scared me but now I am braver and more confident.

    Isn’t it fun to look back and see how bikes have transformed our lives?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s definitely fun and a great feeling. As the fourth season is coming to a close in my experiment, I’m feeling some sense of achievement… which I hadn’t expected to feel.

      No doubt for you, riding through your northern hemisphere winter really showed you what you’re capable of… and now you’re looking forward to the snow! What a wonderful change!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gail your writing is an inspiration to me. Lately I have been questioning the need in today’s society to possess. We seem to search for meaning in our lives whilst accumulating so much “stuff” along the way. I have been one of these people. Since my time off the grid in Italy I have learned that the simpler my life, the happier I am. I am watching and learning from you as I venture forth on this wonderful path.
    In saying that, I don’t know if I’m quite ready to give up my little car just yet 🙂
    Ride on sister!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your thoughts on the treasures of simplicity Kylie. Travelling for an extended time like you did in Italy can open that door. Just a single backpack or a small suitcase and the joys come from the experiences had and people met, the serendipity of the unexpected and unplanned, and the feeling of being unencumbered by all that ‘stuff’. It’s been enjoyable reading your reflections while you travelled and perhaps there’ll be more insights as you see how life looks now you’ve returned.

      Ride on? …will do, for sure! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, one way cycling changed me when I started again after a 30 year break was that it made me become aware of how our road system has changed since I was a child. Over the years infrastructure has become much more carcentric. It made me look around and notice how many children are driven to school when “in my day” they would have cycled. That’s the negative part. The positive part was that I also became aware of the passionate people involved in improving the situation and the steps that have been taken to bring cycling back as an alternative. On a personal note, cycling made me healthier and happier which has saved me money. It encouraged me to slow down and notice more about my environment. I see the world with different eyes now. Thanks very much for sharing this experiment with us, Gail! I find it very interesting and look forward to reading more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, riding a bicycle really does make you aware of how the needs of motorists have dominated road design. And without changes to that, it’s harder for people to say ‘yes’ to riding their bike – because it feels too dangerous. Thankfully, there are changes happening in our neighbourhoods to give more thought to what’s needed for safe cycling.

      That’s a really good point Jane about saving money from being healthier and happier. I’m aware of the positive impact on my health (and that’s coming up soon in another post in this 5-story challenge) but I hadn’t thought of the financial savings the flow on from that. Thanks!
      And thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts along the way. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Congratulations Gail! The experiment is yet to be completed so I’m referring to the personal evolving that’s taken place since you took that personality test. It’s such an inspiration to see someone take on a challenge, complete it AND be transformed as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Robyn! 🙂 Three weeks until the end of Spring and the completion of four seasons of cycling. You’ve seen the full cycle (pardon the pun) 🙂

      Some things stick in the mind and that champagne and the pantry comment was one of them. It’s great to create change and feel the difference and sort out what’s to stay and what’s to go. A bit like the pruning that you’ve written about in your latest blog post. Trimming back to encourage new growth.


  7. Congratulations Gail. It has been interesting to read/watch/listen to your stories. What an achievement and such a fabulous experiment. I agree with you that simplicity does make one happier. Enjoy your upcoming birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Maree! 🙂 It’s been wonderful to reconnect with you this year.
      The experiment has been invigorating in itself – the riding, decision making, new experiences – but the energy around it has been amplified by sharing it through the blog stories and reading/hearing people’s thoughts, stories and experiences. It’s enjoyable!
      Thanks for the birthday wishes 🙂


  8. Hi Gail this may be of interest to you.

    Sean from The Cyber riders Club

    Postal Delivery Officer (bicycle)

    What are the responsibilities of a Bicycle Postie?
    •Manually sorting mail each morning.
    •Delivering mail to customers by bicycle supplied by Australia Post.
    •Maintaining accurate clerical records in relation to all changes that occur within the Postie’s allocated area (eg redirection notices).
    •Meeting all conduct, diligence and efficiency requirements.

    What are the essential requirements for Bicycle Posties?
    •Ability to ride a bicycle in a safe manner.
    •Our bicycles have a safe working load limit which requires you to weigh 115kg or less when fully clothed.
    •Fit and able to lift up to 16kg of mail on a repetitive basis.


    • This reads like a very good role for the right person Sean. Having to lift 16kgs though might exclude some candidates… me included. My personal limit is 10kgs!

      Great to hear from the Cyber Riders Club. Once again, always at the cutting edge of bicycle riding opportunities.

      Your Patron,

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, this has been a marvelous journey and it is wonderful that you shared it with us. Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday. Lift a glass of champagne to toast the beginning of your next year’s adventures by bicycle!

    Liked by 1 person

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