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Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-Country Search for a Greener Future

Overview

Is it possible to drive coast-to-coast without stopping at a single gas pump? Journalist Greg Melville is determined to try. With his college buddy Iggy riding shotgun, this green-thinking guy—who's in love with the idea of free fuel—sets out on an enlightening road trip. The quest: to be the first people to drive cross-country in a french-fry car. Will they make it from Vermont to California in a beat-up 1985 Mercedes diesel station wagon powered on vegetable oil collected from restaurant grease Dumpsters along ...

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Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-Country Search for a Greener Future

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Overview

Is it possible to drive coast-to-coast without stopping at a single gas pump? Journalist Greg Melville is determined to try. With his college buddy Iggy riding shotgun, this green-thinking guy—who's in love with the idea of free fuel—sets out on an enlightening road trip. The quest: to be the first people to drive cross-country in a french-fry car. Will they make it from Vermont to California in a beat-up 1985 Mercedes diesel station wagon powered on vegetable oil collected from restaurant grease Dumpsters along the way? More important, can two guys survive 192 consecutive hours together?

Their expedition on and off the road includes visits to the solar-powered Google headquarters; the National Ethanol Council; the wind turbines of southwestern Minnesota; the National Renewable Energy Lab; a visit to one of the first houses to receive platinum certification for leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED); an "eco-friendly" Wal-Mart; and the world's largest geothermal heating system.

Part adventure and part investigation of what we're doing (or not doing) to preserve the planet, Greasy Rider is upbeat, funny, and full of surprising information about sustainable measures that are within our reach.

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Editorial Reviews

SEED Magazine
“An amusing and informative look into alternative fuels, conservation, and what individuals and corporations . . . can do about climate change.”
Newsweek
"Melville's tale of a cross-country drive in a decades-old Mercedes converted to run on used cooking oil is... a hopeful, goodhearted portrait of those he meets—be they Minnesota wind farmers or hippie diesel mechanics — who are getting a head start on building the post-carbon future, a tomorrow fueled by a refreshing optimism, as well as by grease."
Newsweek
Audubon
"A lot of interesting data . . . about renewable energy's promise and pitfalls."— New York Post

“An amusing and informative look into alternative fuels, conservation, and what individuals and corporations . . . can do about climate change.”

Booklist
"From its punny title, to its unique premise (a man decides to drive from coast to coast in a car powered by used French fry oil), to its serious message (you, too, can be more environmentally conscious), to its easygoing writing style, this is just a splendid book. . . .An exciting and occasionally nail-biting adventure. . . .[Melville] is a lively stylist, and the book is both entertaining and educational."—Booklist, starred review
New York Times Book Review
“An entertaining combination of On the Road and An Inconvenient Truth.”—New York Times Book Review
New York Post
"From its punny title, to its unique premise (a man decides to drive from coast to coast in a car powered by used French fry oil), to its serious message (you, too, can be more environmentally conscious), to its easygoing writing style, this is just a splendid book. . . .An exciting and occasionally nail-biting adventure. . . .[Melville] is a lively stylist, and the book is both entertaining and educational."—Booklist, starred review
From the Publisher
“An entertaining combination of On the Road and An Inconvenient Truth.”—New York Times Book Review
Joshua Hammer
…the book comes alive when this enterprising pair burn through their waste-oil stockpile and start cadging the stuff from fast-food restaurant managers—or foraging in Dumpsters with the aid of a not very reliable handheld pump…What could have been a tedious primer on sustainable energy consumption becomes an entertaining combination of On the Road and An Inconvenient Truth.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Early on in this eco-travelogue, mechanically-disinclined magazine writer Melville notes, "I simply needed to look at my reflection in the rearview mirror to realize that nearly anyone can operate and maintain a french-fry car." Indeed, it turns out Melville is easily able to convert a diesel-engine Mercedes into a vehicle powered entirely on fryer oil, collected (usually for free) from restaurant grease dumpsters. Joined by his college friend, Iggy, Melville embarks on the first oil-powered cross-country road trip. There isn't really much suspense to the quest, especially once it's clear that they can use oil purchased at the supermarket. Unfortunately, greasy restaurant backlots don't make for great anecdotes, and the duo's banter isn't as funny or insightful as Melville seems to think. What keeps it from reading like a padded magazine article are Melville's side trips: he learns how Fort Knox has converted to geo-thermal heating and cooling, investigates just how eco-friendly Al Gore's mansion really is, and talks to representatives of various "green" U.S. Government agencies. These insights, and the simplicity of his grease-powered transport, propel an otherwise slight read into a thought-, and perhaps action-provoking lesson in alternative fuel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565125957
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 10/21/2008
  • Pages: 257
  • Sales rank: 985,486
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Greg Melville is a freelance journalist who's written for such publications as Men's Journal, Outside, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, the Wall Street Journal, Money, and National Geographic Adventure.

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Table of Contents

Preparation
Burlington, Vermont to Waterloo, New York
Waterloo, New York to Chicago, Illinois
Errand 1: The Ultimate Green Home
Chicago, Illinois, to Worthington, Minnesota
Errand 2: Wind Power
Worthington, Minnesota, to North Platte, Nebraska
Errand 3: Ethanol
North Platte, Nebraska, to Golden, Colorado
Errand 4: Find “Fence Swingers”
Golden, Colorado, to Little America, Wyoming
Errand 5: Heat
Little America, Wyoming, to Lovelock, Nevada
Errand 6: Green Wal-Mart?
Lovelock, Nevada, to Berkeley, California
The Final Errand: The Letter
Notes
Acknowledgments

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 10, 2008

    Green is not just for Greenies

    I doubted I would enjoy this book; I am not a particularly sensitive enviromentalist; boy was I wrong! This author can make a stop in the desert to pump gas and buy a coke an edge of your seat experience. He is good, really good. He constantly pulled me into his world and I could not wait to see what would happen next. An entertaining, often hilarious read and I even learned something about the world of "green" and who is and who is not doing something about it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2009

    Greasy Rider

    'Greasy Rider' by Greg Melville is a wonderful and easy to read non-fiction title about two guys, he and Iggy, driving from Burlington, Vermont to Berkeley, California. The two goof balls encounter numerous obstacles during the course of the novel, including one being that the air conditioner of Greg's 1985 Mercedes 300TD wagon will not work at any higher speeds than fifty miles per hour. Greg and Iggy must also be able to go inside restaurants and personally ask managers of real places for waste oil for their fry-oil powered car. For the most part, I enjoyed this book very much, It includes many interesting facts about humanity's attempt at preserving the planet and how easy it really is to save money on your electric and heating bills. Greg also must complete errands set forth by his wingman Iggy to find the "ultimate green home", a "going green Wal-Mart", and many others. As a not so much fanatic of non-fiction books, this one would not be on that list. It taught me a lot about the different cultures that are, on television, overly done like accents. Greg Melville does a good job at attracting the reader to this book and once one picks it up, it seems very hard to put it down. Until you finish it of course! I personally am not a big fan about summer reading as well. But, to tell the honest truth, I actually enjoyed this selection on my summer reading list. 'Greasy Rider' is just one of those books that you just don't want there to be an end to. Of course until one is asked to write a book report on it! I definitely give this book five stars for excellent quality and few mistakes. I would absolutely recommend this book to any reader out there who intends to find out more information of how, slowly but surely, our planet is becoming less reliant to the most popular fossil fuel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    Loved it

    Really good read. Interesting, funny, informative, page turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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