He and his wife having paid off student loans in the last year, Daniel Sarles wasn’t looking forward to the idea of going right back into debt. But the 20-year old Camry with more than 200,000 miles wasn’t getting any younger. The Minneapolis man, 28, a financial analyst for UCare, has been driving it since he was in high school.
That’s when Tour de Fat hit town, the New Belgium Beer promotion that trades a new bike for an old car.
Sarles took a shot at winning, submitting a video that explained why.
He won, and this week he’s started his year of living carlessly.
“Why would I sit in traffic for 30 minutes, then come home and exercise for another 30 minutes when I can ride a bike for 40 minutes? ” he theorized. “Tour de Fat is helping me become a more efficient person!”
He doesn’t consider himself a “biking guy,” at least by Minneapolis standards in which bicycling is a religion. “I liked biking, but that wasn’t my main mode of transportation before. It’s an upgrade and a commitment to living with a bike.”
His wife still has her car, and, no, he’s not banned from getting the occasional lift. But he’s documenting his year on a Tumblr, and he realizes people aren’t going to want to read much about a guy in Minneapolis who got a ride to work from his wife, or took public transportation around the city.
“The spirit of this… I do want to be going to the grocery store and using my bike to run errands,” he says. “I want to do as much as living without a car. I want to see how possible it is.”
We know for certain it’s possible, at least in August, and, perhaps, in September. After that, things get pretty dicey for someone who, up to this week, only had a Schwinn worth about $100.
“I thought those people were crazy,” he says of the bicyclists who ride to work all winter in whatever weather. “But when you talk to them, they don’t think it’s so crazy. And I’m pretty ambitious.”
His wife is mostly concerned about his safety, he reports. So he’ll try not to ride along Lyndale Ave., which is to bicyclists what hell is to mere mortals.
He has an 8.4-mile commute to work, which he figures he can do in 40 minutes each way. The toughest lifestyle commitment is waking up earlier to get to work, and maybe losing out on the occasional lunch or dinner with his friends, most of whom live in the suburbs, which can be to bikers what Lyndale Avenue is to the city.
Whether giving up a car makes sense financially remains to be seen, he says. “If I’m putting this many miles on a bike consistently, a lot of stuff is going to break. I want to see what’sthe financial side of this.”