Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tank 279 - 25 May 2K11

So early this morning I refueled at the world's slowest gas pumps at the Fas-Mart near my house. 11.612 gallons later, using my odometer's reading of 432.5 miles, worked out to 37.25 miles per gallon.

I am increasing my effort to coast down hills. I can coast down hills for almost 6 miles of my commute. Some of the hills are over half a mile long, so conceivably I could shut off the engine as well. I wonder how much of an influence that would have on fuel economy.

Of course, the large factor of fuel economy crushing is the amount of driving around town I do on the weekends. This should become less, now that soccer season is over and there's less need to drive kids to two different locations on multiple evenings during the week.

Gas was $3.649 per gallon this morning. I'm worried about this downward trend, as when gas gets cheaper, people tend to drive faster, which actually ends up slowing us all down more.

I also changed the oil this past weekend. That was fun.

This was my 17th tank of the year. Last year, the 17th tank came much earlier, on the 12 of May. But I was refueling lots more because I was taking a class that was about a hundred miles away from my house and I was commuting to and from it each day. But that's another story.

Please enjoy this great picture of me in my bike race day finest!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summary of Bike Home From Work Day

I took a couple dozen pictures of my trip, and I think this link here links you to a public facebook album that "anyone can see:"

If you can't see it, it's probably for the best, as most of the pictures are random cars and bland scenery.

Overall, it was 49.5 miles of fun! There were some troubles, like the rocky, muddy, gravel roads of Prince William Forest Park that I wasn't expecting. And how the GPS didn't work so I got sort of lost on those wet rocky roads. But as good fortune would have it, I came across a paved road at the moment another cyclist was passing by, and I caught his attention with my bell and he stopped and gave me directions out of there.

And the Marine Corps Cemetery at Quantico was a challenge, as a maintenance guy told me "no bikes allowed," and I'd have to walk it out the way I came. I argued and he told me to walk the direction I needed to go until I got out of sight of the supervisor and then "haul ass" out of there. I walked for a good bit, maybe 10 or 12 minutes, since it was a straight road and he saw me coming and could see me going for a long time. But then I got frustrated and decided he wouldn't be able to catch me, if he even saw me at all, and if indeed there was a "no bicycles" rule. I'll have to check on that for next time.

My third hurdle was my planned "Wyche Road" shortcut past the regional jail. Google Maps showed it was a road that connected Courthouse Road and Route 1, but in reality it turned out to be a road that ended at a security gate at the jail. I didn't think it would be wise to jump the gate, so I had to turn around and take the busier Courthouse Road and Route 1. And that was another 10 or 12 minute detour.

Happily, it didn't rain on me. It did rain in much of the area ahead of me, so there were puddles and road spray, and mostly that helped cool me down. And I got home in time to make it to my daughter's band concert at school!

If I can ride my 39-year-old bike 49 miles home, so can you! Not every day, of course, but every now and then, for sure.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No point in checking the weather...

I will choose to celebrate the rain showers and further enjoy my ride home. Rain drops are just cleaner sweat to dampen my clothes!

My only concern is the safety of my electronics- the cell phone, camera, and GPS. They ought to stay dry enough in my backpack. But the camera in my backpack will reduce my ability to take pictures.

Surely I am smart enough to keep it in my jersey pocket and move it to the backpack when the rain comes.

I'll be leaving in about half an hour!

It's raining but I must not admit defeat!

Bike Home From Work Day is still on!

Happy Bike Home From Work Day!

So today I got dropped off at the office by my friend John and asked him to assist me as I shuffle all my crap to the office. I brought my bike pump so I could top off the tires for the ride home. They have "presta valves" which are different than the normal ones we got on car tires. Luckily my pump can handle both kinds. But the pressure gauge works less well with the presta valves.

So I thought it was at like 60 pounds, but it felt all hard. So I unattach the pump and re attach it and it says 130 pounds!! So I let some air out and try to remove the pump, and in the process I broke the little valve. So I walked over to Dick's and got me a new inner tube with a SCHRADER VALVE. And I am fixing the tire bit by bit here in my cube. At lunch I'll go out and take a couple test laps to make sure it's all good. And I'll re-true the wheel AGAIN!!!

Then I ought to be all set for my ride home. Which is in about 5 hours from now!

(and then he typed the words that doomed his journey:)

Now that my problem is out of the way, I am confident that absolutely nothing else can go wrong!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bike Home From Work Day is Tomorrow

So my secret evil plan was set into motion early this morning when my friend John parked his minivan in my driveway and I drove him to his work at the station.

The only way John can get home tomorrow is if I remember to pick him up at 7:00 a.m. He will then drop me off at my office in Woodbridge and drive the Mighty Corolla back to my house where he'll load up in his minivan and go off to his home.

My only way to get home tomorrow will thusly be my 38-year-old bicycle on a route that meanders over 46 miles. As I said before, I am happy it's in a southerly direction and therefore downhill most of the way!

The weather reports indicate there still may be showers or thunderstorms, but not as severe as today. All week, I have been hoping that this is a case of the weather reporters being pessimistic about the speed of this particular weather system and that it'll be blown on by on Thursday for clear skies and smooth riding for me. It's looking more and more like this may not be the case.

But the die is cast and I will ride my bike home tomorrow in my little pre-emptive celebration of "Ride Your Bike To Work Day."

I'm pretty sure I will wear my brightly-colored cycling jersey, as it has little pockets on the back that are very handy. When I keep stuff in my shorts pockets, it all flops around and becomes annoying. So I will have my cell phone, spoke wrench, wallet, camera and snacks in my jersey.

I will not be wearing bicycling shorts. Mainly, it's because I don't have any and won't buy any before tomorrow. And also I think I will be stopping at the Chick Fil-A for water refills and I don't want to be seen wearing such tight shorts. I believe the tight jersey will frighten them off enough!

Boss said it's okay for me to leave for home at 3:00, so I hope to get home by 6:00.

I hope to take pictures of my trip. About 1/3 of it should be scenic as I will travel through a park and the Quantico Marine base.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tank 278 - 13 May 2K11

67 degrees, 427.0 miles, 11.452 gallons at the 7-11 by the old Ukrop's = 37.29 miles per gallon.

Probably this is because the Mighty Corolla was used in more around-town trips than usual.

I'm starting to hear a pronounced whirring noise when I go faster than 62 miles per hour.

So I'm starting to keep it below that. We'll see if it has a positive effect on this tank. I think I'll be able to nurse this tank for maybe 2 weeks. I'm taking tomorrow off as a sick day and I am also off this Friday, so there's just three days driving to and from work this week.

Actually, just 2.5 days for me because Thursday is RIDE YOUR BIKE HOME FROM WORK DAY!

I hope to ride my bike home from work on Thursday. The weather looks like it "may cooperate" and not rain. Currently, Adam Caskey says there's like a 30% chance of T-storms on Thursday. I hope it's morning storms because he's also predicting T-storms on and off all week this week.

But the weather may also affect this week's soccer games for the kids. There's a game scheduled for tonight and another on Wednesday. But if it rains, they'll be rescheduled. And on Thursday there's a band concert at 7:00 as well as a soccer game at 6:00 that we may have to choose to skip or something.

Basically, between the weather and Spotsylvania Parks & Rec, the conspiracy theorist in me is thinking that everyone's out to thwart my effort to ride my bike home this Thursday. I am completely excited about it, and don't want to miss it.

I'm seeing the foreshadowing much like my failed effort to go see TRON: LEGACY on opening night. My friend Ed got me a ticket ahead of time, I paid him for it, then a large blizzard blew in and I was forced to stay home so as to not drive in the snow.

It's fitting that at this exact moment, I have TRON: LEGACY in my home on loan from the Library. It needs to be returned this Friday. Will the weather and circumstances conspire to stop me again? And will the fallout also prevent me from watching TRON again, thus forcing me to get back in line for the movie and wait months and months until it's my turn again.

Until wild dogs stop me, I will ride my bike home from work on Thursday, dammit!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Don't tell anyone, but...

The route I plan on taking for "Ride Your Bike Home From Work Day" turns out not to be 34 or 35 miles.
It's more like 46.5 miles! I think this link takes you to a map of the intended route:
Probably it'll take me closer to three hours to get home and not the two hours I have been telling people. So it's likely I will ask to leave work an hour early so I can still anticipate arriving at home by 6:00 that afternoon.
Luckily, this is a distance I have gone a couple of times. And there's a Chick Fil-A at about the halfway mark, so I can take a break and get a snack on my way!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bike Home From Work Day is Next Thursday*!

*If it's not raining, and if there's not a playoff soccer game.

I have located my ancient (maybe three whole years old!) GPS unit and concluded that it appears to know the gravel paths in the forest park I need to cut through on my bike ride home next Thursday. Now I just will need to make a list of all the roads I'll take so I can be prepared and look super cool as I ride, wearing my helmet, $16 eBay jersey, and GPS strapped to my handlebars with rubber bands and/or zip ties.

I am hopeful it won't rain. If it does, I will totally need to do this another day. The playoff soccer game, I'm not as worried about, as the younger daughter's game apparently is Wednesday and unlikely she'll have another one the very next day. The older daughter's game is this Saturday, and there will be another game after it if the team wins, which is a 50/50 proposition. Then, if they win, the game would need to be on Thursday. If it is on Thursday, and it's not raining, I may leave work early for the trip home.

The route appears to be maybe 35 miles, so it may take me a little over 2 hours. Luckily, it's primarily going in the southerly direction, which as we all know feels a lot like riding downhill. I am fortunate that this is the case, and feel pity for those who would need to bike north, and thus towards the top of the map which would cause a greater effort to be asserted.

One wildcard variable is my growing concern with my rear wheel. I am needing to true it up almost weekly, sometimes with more frequency. Replacement wheels start at about $50, and I can get a decent pair (front and back, but my front wheel's not a problem) delivered for about $160. Then I'd get to figure out how to remove the freewheel and put it on the new wheel. Or maybe get a new freewheel too. But for now I will keep on truing up the old rear wheel. It's the best wheel I have!

I dare say that nobody in my office is aware of my intended plan. They most likely won't know until it's too late for them to try to talk me out of it, and they will be forced to drive home and shake their heads in amazed confusion at how eccentric I am becoming.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bike to Work Day is Friday, 20 May...

...but that's a day I am regularly scheduled to be not working.

So I am thinking about participating on "Bike to Work Day Eve" by riding my bike home on that Thursday the day before. It seems like cheating a little, but my path home looks to be about 35 miles, so biking to and from work that day would be a major, major effort. Plus, my tentative plans call for carpooling on that day and the day before with my fireman friend so that I'll be carless on Thursday and compelled to ride the bike home. (Because carpooling is a nice thing to do anyway, I think my bike home scheme is enhanced/offset by the fact that my drive in is a carpool so it's all in the spirit of the day, or the day before, right?)

On the attached map, my planned route is a red line. Sorry it's so small, hopefully you can get the general idea of what I am planning. I'll be cutting through a park, and across Quantico Marine base. Luckily, I have an ID that will get me on the base.

Will I follow through with this plan? Maybe. If it rains I will not do it. If there's no groundswell of public support I might not do it either.

I think it'd be more of a social statement than anything, but that's what the day is all about, I think.

So, gentle reader, and I use the term literally, please to be encouraging me to not wimp out on this effort. I am pretty sure the distance won't be a problem. Indeed, I rode my bike 53.9 miles last Saturday, so I have the ability. I think I will do it if it doesn't rain. It will be a grand adventure.

Also, thanks to your not-encouraged to be cl1cking on the @ds, I am over halfway towards my goal of getting revenue from this blog to purchase a set of pedals and shoes. But I may get a new rear wheel, as the current one won't stay true for longer than a few dozen miles. It gets all warped and out of true after one long ride. The front one is fine but the back one just is terrible. And I fix it so much that a couple spokes are stripped now, so I need to adjust the spokes around them more severely.

But thank you for your not-encouraged support. Please don't tell your friends.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tank 277 - "Cinqo de Mayo 2K11"

Please enjoy this picture of a Mexican owl celebrating the triumphant victory over France.

This morning as I Corolla'd to the office at fiesta-dark-thirty, my low fuel light became en fuego. So I adios'ed my cubicle and ole'd to BJ's for el gasoline, as I had rollo'd 435.6 miles and was concerned that my hombres on my way del casa this afternoon would be el jammed up and I'd be all el concerned-O that I'd run out of fuel.

So el BJ's gas, 10.931 gallons of it, entered my gas tank, and at $3.929 per gallon, this was the 7th-highest amount I have ever paid for a tank of gas. Not that it bothers me, as my trips home have averaged 59 minutes over the last month, as opposed to more than 63 minutes on average during the same period last year, when gas was more than $1.00 less per gallon.

So I continue to be pleased that the increase in fuel prices is helping me to get home faster, as more people are deciding that darting through traffic wastes gas. I hope they realize that their reduced darting and weaving also reduces the accordion effect that shows up in their wakes, and conclude that the slow waves of traffic they themselves experience result from aggressive weavers and darters ahead of them on the road.

I have charts and stuff that graph gas prices v. my trip times to get home. There appears to be a correlation between gas prices, once they go over $3.50 a gallon, having a positive effect and reduction in my time it takes for me to drive home.

This was my 15th tank of the year. My 15th tank of last year came on May 4th, and at that time I had spent $453.61 on gas. So after an equivalent number of tanks this year, I have spent $565.98, $112.37 or 24.7% more, which works out to be, wait for it...


Yes, these super high gas prices still amount to an increase of less than a dollar a day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


"According according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, Virginians spent 131 percent more per household on gasoline in April than we did just two years earlier. According to the Oil Price Information Service, which provides daily fuel price data to AAA, we spent $422.83 per household on gas in April vs. $182.98 in April of 2009."

This would be shocking news had it been April 2009 last month. But it was April 2011 last month.
We've had two years of gas price changes over that time, changing week by week. Two years to adjust to changing gas prices. It's not a great shock like it's being made out to be.

When spread out across the month, it's about $10 or $15 more a tank, unless you drive an SUV or something, which is another sort of problem. If you fill up once a week, it works out to $1 or $2 more you're paying in gasoline per day.

But saying that gas costs $1.50 more per day isn't nearly as scandalous, since few people think twice about dropping $1.50 on a candy bar and cup of coffee from vending machines at work each day.