Thursday, April 22, 2010
Darren Alff- carfree American profile
Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, carfree or carlite, where you live).
"Hello. My name is Darren Alff. I'm 26-years-old. I run a website called http://www.bicycletouringpro.com/ where I teach and inspire people to travel the world by bike and I also own a small marketing company called Silver Mountain Marketing that helps small/medium sized businesses make money on the Internet. Owning my own company allows me to work from home (or just about anywhere in the world), so I don't have a traditional commute from my home to the office, but I do live without a car and every errand I run is either on my bike, on foot, or occasionally I will take the bus. I live in Park City, Utah, USA - an incredible ski resort town located just 30 minutes east of Salt Lake City, Utah."
When did you start using a bicycle for commuting?
"I've been traveling the world with my bicycle ever since I was 17. I had just graduated from high school at the time and I spent the summer before going off to college riding my bicycle with three of my best friends down the coast of California. Since that time, I've spent several months per year traveling with my bike. In late 2008, however, I made the decision to rent out my home, sell my car, and travel to Europe for about 9 months. I could have kept me car at the time, but the car (a 1992 Ford Explorer) was on it's last leg and I didn't want to pay the money required to put the car in storage for such a long amount of time. I figured I would just buy a new car once returning from my European adventures. Anyway, I got to Europe and spent 9 months without a car there, and upon returning home I found that I did not really need a car. I live in a city where everything I need is within biking distance and because I plan to do more International traveling in the future, I decided to continue my life without a vehicle of any kind. I haven't missed the car one bit... and I've saved a lot of money!"
What inspired you to start?
What is a day in your bicycling life like?
"It's really difficult to describe what my typical day is like because each and every day is so incredibly different. Most days however include me waking up, checking my email and attending to any important work that needs to be done. Then I head outside and go on a bike ride, go skiing, hiking or something of that sort. I'll usually come back about 4 hours later, take a shower and then get right to work. This is the time of day when most people are finishing their work, but I am just getting started. I'll work for a couple hours and then, if there are any errands that need to be run or I just simply need to get away from the computer, I'll go outside and go on yet another (shorter) bike ride. It's about 1.25 miles from my house to the nearest grocery store, bank and post office, so it's a short, quick ride to just about anything that I need. After the bike ride/errands run, I'll come back home, work until about one in the morning and then try to go to sleep. When I'm traveling my schedule is a little different, but not much. It's pretty remarkable how similar much my life at home and my life while traveling actually are. "
Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/others? Have any taken you up on it?
"I have never really tried to push cycling on my friends or family. I know for a fact that no one in my family would ever do it, so it's not worth the effort. I don't push cycling on my friends either, but many of my friends have seen what I have done and then gone out on their own and purchased bicycles and started riding. I led by example and they started to follow. But I've never pushed anyone to ride a bike."
"Actually, now that I think about it, it was my second college roommate that gave me the idea of starting my website at www.bicycletouringpro.com in the first place. He had seen me going on these bike trips all through college and a couple years after we graduated he called me up and said that he had bought a touring bike and that he wanted to make a trip. So, while I never really forced the idea of riding a bike on him while we were in college, he picked up on what I was doing and later decided that it was something he would like to try as well."
What kind of bike are you currently riding?
"I have three main bicycles at the moment. My commuter bike is a black, super old, beat up Sierra Schwinn mountain bike. This is the bike I used on my first two long distance bicycle tours. It's been run over by a van and hammered back into place. It consists of bike parts from about a dozen different bikes. I call this bike the "Resurrection 9000" because that's how many times I've brought the bike back to life. It really is a junker! But I love it."
"My other main bike is a Fuji Touring bike. I bought this bike in 2003 for a long-distance bike ride up the East Coast of the United States... and I've since used the bike on four additional long-distance tours. It's a great bike for touring, but it's a great commuter bike as well. With the racks on the front and the back, it's a great way to carry my groceries and other items from around town back to my house or wherever they need to go."
In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling?
"My favorite part about cycling is that it is a great way to meet people. When you are just walking around on foot or driving around in your car, it is too easy to just keep to yourself. You don't really have a reason to talk to people. But when you ride a bike you are much more approachable... and it is a whole lot easier to approach people as well. As a naturally shy and reserved individual, this is the part of cycling that has benefited me the most."
What’s the worst?
"I think the worst part about cycling would have to be... um... other cyclists. Over the years I've just encountered so many people riding bikes who think they are better than I am because they are riding a more expensive bicycle or because they have the high-tech racing jersey's or whatever else. Not all cyclists are like this of course, but many of them are. I call these people "bicycle bullies" and I avoid them like the plague. I don't race bikes (although I used to - in college) and I rarely ever go over 20 miles per hour. I don't see cycling as a sport... and therefore I don't feel the need to dress up in fancy clothes or tweak my bike in order to make it more aerodynamic. More than anything though, I don't go out of my way to put people down because they are wearing clothes or using gear that is in-superior to my own. In much the same way that I don't try to coerce my friends or family into riding a bike, I don't go out of my way to put other cyclists down. Some people like to do this, however, and it really ticks me off. "
What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/ considering commuting by bike?
"I don't have three pieces of advice. I have one. "
"My piece of advice is this: If you still have your car and you want to start commuting by bike, your car is going to constantly be calling to you each and every time you leave your house. You'll think to yourself, "I need to go to the store. I should take the bike, but I think I'll take the car, because it will only take a minute." But if you get rid of the car, you'll force yourself to ride your bike instead. So that's my advice! Just get rid of the car, or at the very least, make it extremely difficult to drive the car instead of take your bike. Maybe you could have a family member hide your car keys? Or maybe you could store your car at a friend's house on the other ride of town. That way, you pretty much have to take the bike. "
"I think a lot of people have this misconception that you have to be a cycling nut in order to ride your bike or commute to work or anything like that. The truth is, you don't have to be a cycling nut. You don't have to wear special cycling clothes. And you don't have to have a thousand+ dollar bicycle. You just have to know how to ride... and you have to want to be out there."
"Get in the habit of riding your bike; do it for a month or two; and before you know it, you'll be addicted!"