It’s Elementary…

I bought my Honda Element back in 2006, and on Friday the odometer turned over 100,000 miles. Appropriately, when we reached  six figures Stoker and the CoMotion and I were on our way to Ione in search of some hills to climb. For most of those 100,000 miles there has been a bike, or two, or a bicycle for two stowed inside.

Tandem, Single Bike and Bags for Two: Brumby Road to Kalispell Montana

Tandem, Single Bike and Bags for Two: Brumby Road to Kalispell Montana

I chose the Element specifically to haul bikes around, stowed safely inside out of the weather and at least somewhat protected from thieves. With a little creativity it is remarkable how much stuff I could get inside. I could fit our tandem and my single bike, luggage for two and an ice chest with lunch, plus a six pack tote of wine for post ride recovery. Stoker and I did multiple week long tours when we were both younger and more energetic, and the Element got us to the tour starting points, if not in style, at least reliably and economically.

I have driven my Element to Eugene Oregon (twice), Portland, Tuscon, Kalispell Montana, Death Valley and Grand Junction Colorado for bike tours. I have also used it to haul my bike (or sometimes our bike) to Southern California to ride in the Santa Monica Mountains and to Solvang. And two or three times a week I use it to get to the Club ride start in Ione or Wallace or Valley Springs. Occasionally I drive over the Altamont in search of  hills to climb: Mount Diablo, Sierra Road, Mines Road and other favorites.

As is typical for a Honda, over all these miles and 13 years I haven’t had a single problem with the Element. It has a 5 speed manual transmission with a 4 cylinder engine, and it doesn’t have a huge amount of power but it did make it over the Sierras and the Rockies without any problem. The ride is a bit rough, and the body is a bit upright and boxy so it catches some  wind, which adds to the noise level and decreases the mileage, although it regularly gets 25+mpg.  I remember I paid $18,600 plus tax and license, and I certainly think I have gotten my money’s worth.

Craters of the Moon in Idaho on the Way to Montana: All That Stuff is Inside!

We  don’t do week long tandem tours any more. I look back and I am really quite amazed at what we did do. Oregon Coast (6 days, 360 miles, not flat!). Death Valley (4 days 220 tandem miles, not flat and unseasonably hot for March). Logan Pass (elevation 6,700) in Glacier and Highwood Pass (elevation 7,250) in Alberta on a tour of the Canadian Rockies. 270 miles in 6 days around southern Arizona.  Our legs aren’t up to these efforts any more. Or perhaps our legs could do it but our minds are not quite willing to make that kind of multi -day commitment. We still can ride though: for the last two years we have spent a month in France and Stoker has done over 400 miles both times. But we keep the rides shorter and take days off.

Since the Element can’t get us to France, it has spent the last few years close to home instead of ferrying us through the Western United States in search of cycling adventures. I sometimes think about getting a more up to date replacement vehicle, but I probably won’t. For the designated purpose of being a bike box with an engine and wheels, the Element is hard to beat.

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  • Blog Author

    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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