Is the American concept of manliness at odds with being a conservationist? The tough, truck driving, surly attitude that is pervasive and usually obnoxious. However, I think it is possible to be very green, in touch with nature, but also what American culture defines as “manly”. Is a cowboy on his horse not manly and green?
Today I pulled into our outdoor, covered garage and realized that right now we have something special going on. Our garage is exactly how a man’s garage should look (or a women’s… and I would love to take her out to dinner). It is full of tools, bikes, gear, and a few empty bottles. However, we are very ‘green’ friendly. We have 4 motorcycles, 1 moped, and couple really cool car projects. I can’t take that much credit as it is an amalgamation of my roommate’s and my stuff. But, now you’re asking, “how the hell is this ‘green’ you cylinder head, petrol hypocrite of a conservationist?” Our garage is green (you can even see the corner of the green recycling bin in the bottom right), earth friendly, and dare I say more sustainable? First, of all keep in mind. I live in Miami, I could ride public transit or a bicycle. But Miami public transit does not exist for 90% of the whole city, and the only place with a bike-lane is South Beach.
5 ways to have a manly-as-hell garage and still be ‘green’
1. Drive Motorcycles. All the time.
My two roommates and I don’t even own working cars. Do you know what our average miles per gallon is? 58 mpg. That’s the average. The top end between our bikes is 72mpg, and the lowest (for the 750cc Suzuki) is about 45-50mpg. Take that and suck it Prius owners. We can reeve our hearts out, and we still get much higher MPGs. What about the car in the picture? That’s a 1954 pick up we are putting back on the chassis after doing a rebuild. But is that thing green? Well see number 3. And once complete, that will be used for taking our kayaks and surf boards to the ocean for green pursuits.
2. Keep it outside, and work at night like you’re god damn Batman.
Our garage doesn’t have walls, just a roof. We don’t use AC at all, keeping our utilities and materials used much lower than other modern affairs. “But Miami is freaking HOT, you can’t work on a bike outside 5 months a year!” Well guess what AC-lovers, the sun sets, it gets dark, the temps drop and a couple shop lights are much cheaper than a huge AC. Plus working at night is by far more manly. And you can justifiably drink even more beer while cleaning out the cylinders of your old 1980s ‘banger’ bike at night
3. Drive old stuff.
Getting a fixer upper is a form of recycling. It uses far less material to maintain an old bike than buying new one. And, I’m sorry but driving an 30 year old bike you fix with a hammer on a weekly basis is WAY more manly than driving your brand new plastic covered, crotch-rocket with only 25 mpg. Get something you can work on, older bikes are much easier and mostly metal that lasts forever. And hell, try to fabricate your own parts if you can. I’m not talking about building your own cylinder, but you would be amazed at what you can do with a few tools and ghetto-rigging stuff bought at home depot. Check out some of the bobber or KLR forums if you don’t believe me. What people do with no budget and creativity amazes me.
4. Mopeds are not the devil, and do not prevent you from being manly.
We have a moped. I admit it. And it’s fun. Now if your thinking,”FAIL, that’s not manly!”, you have never been to Asia. Ever seen a moped gang in Taiwan or Tokyo? 6 legit gangsters with beautiful women on the back of there mopeds? Doing f-ing wheelies? Manly-ness is just an idea and honestly the manliest thing a guy can do is be confident. Can you rock a moped on a beer run? Can you split lanes, cruising past the sneering looks of the hummer driver stuck in traffic and not care? If you can do that, you’re manly as hell in my eyes. My one tip however: wear some dark-ass aviator glasses. The only people who will actually make fun of you is another man. Mopeds can be manly and are like a gateway drug to motorcycles. Not just for you, but in my experience women who are scared of riding on the back of a motorcycle, are far more willing to ride on the back of a moped.
5. Follow the above, and you will get wet, hot, cold and thus be closer to nature (and manly).
Everyday I have to ride, I look up. I don’t check the radar report. I walk outside and look off into the distance thinking about the daily eb and flow of the earth and clouds. I didn’t realize I do this until I saw my roommate adjusting his riding gloves, squinting off into the distance like sailor in a GQ magazine ad for Nautica. See those dark clouds? Which way are the clouds moving? Is the hot air causing lots of wind coming in off the ocean? Is it gusting hard? Will that blow me around the freeway? My dad once warned me as I was leaving for a ride, “careful for deer, they are in rut this week so they are moving around a lot at night.” Naturalist and rider unite. But god damn I get hot on a bike. I get soaked. I get cold. And I guess what? I feel closer to nature. I wish I had a video of my roommate coming in out of the rain, not giving a fuck, and tosses his rain soaked jacket over a chair to let it drip onto the floor. Leaving a puddle, he walks over and kisses his girlfriend (a legit clothing model) like he walked out of a scene in Man From Snowy River.