Sunday, December 30, 2012




More to follow in a couple days.

Marry New year, everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

71 Minutes and I can forget that spin class!

So I went out for 70 minutes yesterday, and now the "break even" time is a mere 71 minutes left!

Since I decided to not count the 45 minute spin class debacle of earlier in the month, this 71 minute deficit accounts for that, so if I can manage one more ride of that length or greater, I'll have achieved my goal of riding my bike for more time than I spent commuting to and from work in my car this year.

I invited my wife to join me on the final ride. Hopefully we'll go to the new bike path loop in Fredericksburg and ride around that a couple three times and have a good time on Monday.

What I won't tell her is that, while we'll drive the car over there, I'll ride my bike back, so as to completely eclipse the time goal because it's about 20 minutes by bike from the bike path to home.


It's been a fun year, tracking all this information and data. I look forward to examining it in greater detail in 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Current deficit: 63 minutes + commute time home (+ 45 minutes from that awful spin class!)

Finished a 66 minute healthy wellness ride at work. Looks like I'll need just 2.5 hours to get things squared away. I'm pretty sure that'll happen in a couple rides over the weekend.


4.5 Days Left, 3 Hours to Catch Up, 2 Days of Miserable Weather Ahead, 1 Goal to Achieve.

So as of this moment, I am just more than two hours short of meeting my goal of riding my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car this year. I have ome more trip home this afternoon, which should be about 40 minutes, and then no more work until 2013.

This afternoon I plan on a healthy wellness bike ride. It's supposed to be sunny but very windy, like 25 mph steady with gusts up to maybe 50, so that'll be really fun. If I plan the rest of my work day right, I should be able to get more than an hour of actual riding time in.

When I get home, my deficit will likely be a little under two hours.

It appears that we're going to get snow on Saturday, so tomorrow (Friday) will need to be the main day to ride to get ahead. It's supposed to be cold, but that's okay- two of my long weekend rides were in the cold, and with those chemical footwarmers in my shoes, I didn't freeze up too much.

So probably I'll be able to get two hours of riding in tomorrow morning.

Then I'll only have that pesky 45 minute spin class to make up. I think I can do that on New Year's Eve. By that time whatever snow will be cleared away or melted. This goal will be achieved.

Put into diffeent terms, when this is all done, I'll have spent more than twelve solid days riding my bike, and over 4,700 miles logged on a bicycle.

I regret that I had planned to but have not actually made charts to document what percentage of my bike rides were at work vs. at home. Without the healthy wellness opportunities, I am certain I wouldn't have been able to make this goal.

I'm proud that my recent rides have raised my average bike ride time to 80 minutes.

My main bike has been used almost exclusively for this effort. The yellow one was used about 100 miles, and the silver hybrid was used once, and I didn't even count it as I just went around the neighborhood for about ten minutes. Since acquiring the Windsor off the internet, I've ridden that bugger almost 7,000 miles in about a year and a half.

One thing I've learned on this effort is that it's pretty easy to enjoy almost every bike ride. There's usually something new to see, a moment where all is at peace, or an experience to share at the dinner table.

2013 probably won't see me riding as much as this year, and that's okay. I bet it'll be close, because if I don't ride for a couple three days, my body really feels out of sorts, like something's missing. It's still fun above all.

I am thankful that I have found something that I love to do that's also widely considered to be exercise. My morale at work remains high because they encourage such activities at my office, and my metabolism is thankful because I can eat pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want, and not gain much around the middle.

This has been a good year. I've enjoyed tracking my commute times, bicycling times, and gas mileage data.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Morning - Almost Time for...a RIDE!

So as of this moment, I am less than 4 hours short of my goal, with a week left in the year. There's still one day of work commuting left, but I plan on a healthy wellness ride on that day so the day's commute ought to be evened out by the ride on that day.

This morning it's about 30 degrees out, so I'll add some toe warmers to help prevent froze toes.

If I can eke out a 90 minute ride or so, I'll be pleased with things.

Yesterday after the football game I rode my bike to the Food Lion and bought a 12 pound turkey. So as I was riding home I was all giggling about how the turkey was riding with a turkey.

My round trip was 23 minutes, 8 of which I was not moving and standing there at red lights.

I wished I had a Santa hat so that people would have pointed and laughed. But I did not.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

1.5 Commutes Left, 10 Days to Make Up For It

So from the chart, we can see that my 224 bike rides total almost 300 hours of riding, and my 419 commuting trips are nearly 306 hours.

(Man, if I wasn't coming in to work next Thursday, It'd be 420 commuting trips for the year. Not that I know the significance of 420 in any sense of the word...)

Assuming my commute home this afternoon is close to normal, I'll get home in about 40 minutes, and my deficit will be just over 8 hours. Okay 9 hours because one of you feels the 45 minutes spin class shouldn't count, and I agree.

It's supposed to be rainy and cold for several of my planned days off. So that'll add challenge to my bike riding. I think on Saturday or Sunday it's going to be clear, but just cold, so I could probably get a couple hours on one or both of those days. Then maybe another rided of a couple hours either Christmas Eve or Boxing Day.

Man, this is going to be close. My wife is supportive of the plan, but seemingly only if I ride in the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping.

It's not that bad, really, but here we are in crunch time, it's about as close as I have been predicting all year, and I feel like these outside forces are pressuring me into missing out on my self-imposed goal.

If I had ridden in "one more" century ride I'd probably be all set by now. But I didn't so here I am.

I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.

This will be my last entry until next Thursday, so at that time I'll pose an end-of-year final post. Either I'll be wildly close to it and only have to coast my bike downhill for ten minutes next weekend or I'll be awake all night riding around the block a hundred times to make time.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's an Omen.

I'm just saying that as of this moment I am six hours and forty minutes behind with my resolution to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and form work in my car this year.

I have three and a half commuting days left of work for the year (going home today and three more work days), so call it four hours of commuting. So the deficit, if I don't ride any more, will spike to about ten and a half hours. If I can manage a two-hour ride on a couple three occasions over the long weekend, I'll be a shortage of about four hours at the close of my last work day next Thursday, 27 December, then it'll be about four days to make up four hours.

I can do that.

But I have that 45-minute spin class in my accounting that I am counting as time "riding my bike." I'm not sure if it was really riding a bike, since it sucked.

Probably one of this weekend's rides can get stretched into something longer than two hours.

Plus, today's a scheduled "healthy wellness" bike ride at work. I almost forgot aout that. Probably on Thursday, too. Oh, it is so on. And today's ride will be after my office's Christmas party. Probably I can sneak out of the party early and add to my ride time today so that my bike ride today will not just almost even out my commute for the day but actually chip away at the deficit here.

Ah, turns out it was an omen of goodness and happiness.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tank 338 - 12 December 2K12 (Probably the Last for the Year!)

So I refueled last night at the Fas Mart near my home, after driving the Mighty Corolla 382.2 miles, and I pumped in 10.953 gallons of gasoline, making for a mileage of 34.89 mpg for the tank.

I am resigned to think that this is my new normal. And that's okay I guess, as I am spending much, much less time in the car thanks to my office having moved to the new building 15 miles closer to my home.

There are six working days left in my year, so it's likely I'll not refuel again prior to 2013.

So several interesting things are now here that I can share.

2011: 39 tanks of gas
2012: 37 tanks of gas (2 fewer)

2011: 9.51 days between tanks
2012: 9.49 days between tanks

If I has waited until this morning to refill the tank, the number would be 9.51 days for both years!

2011: 38.19 mpg
2012: 38.77 mpg (and dropping!)

2011: $3.356/gal/avg
2012: $3.474/gal/avg

2011: $1475.30 spent on gas
2012: $1434.63 spent on gas

So I spent more per gallon of gas, but less money total because I drove fewer miles (16,767.5 vs. 15,524.7).

My average gallons per tank was similar, within 0.1 gallons per tank, and my average cost per tank this year was 94 cents per tank more.

Now I shift my focus to making sure I ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting in the car. I remain short by about 7.5 hours, and it's looking like rain for the weekend, plus my in-laws will be visiting, so this will make things interestingly close.

But tomorrow I am off and it should be a good day for a long ride. Hopefully I can go for such a long ride that it'll make up for the rest of the weekend. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 December Update - 6.48 Hours Short, 6.5 Commuting Days Left in the Year, 1 Flat Tire...

Well it looks like I'm going to make my goal, but only with dramatic drama. I went out on a ride yesterday and later in the afternoon, as I was changing the oil in the Mighty Corolla, I looked across the floor of the garage from under my car and saw that my front tire was totally flat.

Apparently riding through puddles and sandy grime of roadsides sometimes causes flats.

So my bike is now in the basement on my homemade stand awaiting front tire repair. I hope to get to it this evening or tomorrow night.

As I look at the calendar, there are 7 work days left for me this year, and 13 non-work days for bike riding. In a perfect world, I'd be out there riding for 2/3 of those days for 90 minutes or more. But in this world, each ride may end up being a tiny battle of wits between me and my lovely wife.

As we drove to an appointment together yesterday, I mentioned how I needed to change the oil in the Corolla that afternoon, before taking the girls to an event that evening. My wife asked why I didn't change the oil that morning instead of riding my bike. I explained again that I'm THIS CLOSE -----><----- to meeting my goal of riding my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in the car, and that every day counts.

And again she responded in tired frustration. I'm sure she'd rather me be so persistent in other "more important things," such as balancing the checkbook or paying the bills or planning dinners and grocery trips and such.

So I anticipate that my bike rides from here on out will be met with sour antipathy (disclosure: I'm not entirely sure what "antipathy" means, but suspect it fits in this context).

To add to the stress, it's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, which means I should NOT be riding my bicycle but instead should be squeezing the most out of every moment to spend quality time with the children who are going to be on Christmas break for most of the same days I'll be taking off.

The fact that my plans involve going on my bike rides in the mornings and leaving the house while everyone else is sleeping and returning while some are still in bed and the others are slowly waking up. Those morning hours apparently are the most critical times to spend in harmonious family love and bonding. How selfish of me to go out at dawn in the near-freezing temperatures while the family sleeps!

But you know, even in the early cold hours, riding the bike is fun and I totally enjoy it. I like the challenge of dressing warmly enough so as to not be too hot after I warm up, but not so cold such that my toes go numb. I enjoy the steaming head of sweaty hair when I am done. I like being out in the mornings when car traffic is light. I enjoy the solitude and peace of pedaling in rhythm.

I will ride and not feel guilt. I will be successful in my efforts this year.

And I will probably be the only person who cares, and that's okay, too.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December: 7 Days, 5 Round Trips Commuting in the Car, 2 Bike Rides So Far

It's not been a super beginning to the month of December. Indeed, I am now back to where I was at the end of November, I think, with a more than 8 hour deficit to catch up in the next three weeks.

One of my daughters is beginning basketball practices on Saturdays, and I've been told "that's a great time for you to get a bike ride in!" But it really isn't because the practice is just an hour long, and although I can enjoy a ride in that time, it isn't long enough to make much difference in the deficit here. There's only a few more Saturdays left for long rides to catch up, and I fear my assignment as basketball practice driver will eliminate these Saturday mornings for long rides.

Probably I'll be so far behind that I'll get to spend all of New Year's Eve day on a long bike hike to catch up and surpass my commuting time in one glorious swoop. That would be poetic and dramatic, but I don't want it to come down to that. I want to be able to sit here on 27 December and announce I have achieved my goal and that the last ride or two in 2012 will just increase the bicycling time side of the pie chart.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

12.5 Commuting Days Left, 6 Hours to Catch Up

Things are looking pretty good towards accomplishing my 2012 Resolution to spend more time riding my bike athan I spend commuting to and from work in my car. I have been averaging about 62 minutes of commuting each day, so for the rest of the year's work days I can estimate that'd be about 775 minutes driving in the Mighty Corolla.

Probably I'll have eleven or more bike rides between now and the end of the year. Three or four of them will likely be at work, so about 50 minutes each, and my home bike rides are usually 90 minutes or more, so eight home rides times 90 minutes each plus 150 minutes for the three expected healthy wellness rides at work would be 870 minutes, which would be about 95 minutes more time riding my bike than driving in that car.

But I'm currently about six hours and 15 minutes short, so according to this plan I'll still be about 4.5 hours short for the year.

Yay! I'll just have to go out for longer rides and stretch the 90 minute rides to 120 minutes, and go out a few more times! It looks like it's going to be a close finish after all.

I'm going to be at work on 27 December for my last work day of the year, so I ought to have a good sense of how it's going to work out by that point.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good ride!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Went to a Spinning Class. It Was Horrible!

So last Friday it was cold outside in the morning, and I must have been caught in a moment of weakness because my lovely wife managed to convince me that 35 degrees was too cold for a bike ride, so I should just go with her to her gym and join her in a "body pump" class and then a "spin" class.

For years I have routinely picked on people who go to the gym (in general) for spin classes (specifically). But I had the day off, my friend had already told me he didn't want to ride in the cold morning, either, and part of me was eager to "stick it to the (gym) MAN" by sneaking in for a free exercise time at the gym. So I went.

As we walked into the gym and past the check-in desk, I immediately felt that I was mispositioned. Instead of my wife being nesr the desk and me being casually distant and aloof, I found myself between my wife and the check-in desk. My wife had to hand her membership card to the woman at the desk to get it scanned, and I had nothing. So there I was, and as my wife's card was scanned, I looked at a sign there on the counter and muttered, "oh, man, the men's sauna's closed today. Rats!" and walked on past, confident that my wife's card covered the family membership and I was fine.

As I was walking away, I thought I heard some shuffling and movement like the desk attendant was trying to get my attention to ask for my card, but I walked confidently onward and didn't look back.

I was in!

We headed for the spin class room, apparently to lay claim to the stationary bicycles of our choosing to adjust them to our fit, so as to not need to worry about it after the body pump class. Happily, my wife's friend had reserved three bicycles under the overhead fans, and I raised the saddle and adjusted the toe straps and headed off to the body pump class.

The body pump class lasted close to an hour and was fun enough. It was a musical combination of mild weightlifting with a bar, some little bench presses on a step, and some sit ups and push ups followed by light stretching. The highlight for me was one of the songs was a gym-tempo remix of the Great Canadian Musician Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69." It was also nice to learn full-time, half-time, top-half, bottom-half, full press versions of various lifting and body pumping maneuvers.

Then it was finally time for the spin class. I have had conversations with my wife about which is harder, spin class or actually riding a bike, and I have received mixed responses. After we go on a bike ride together, she usually agrees that the actual bike ride is harder, but after her spin class, she claims the spin class is harder. I was curious to experience the spin class.

The general layout of the spinning room was triangular, like a quarter of a circle. The trainer was on a raised platform bike in the one corner of the room, looking out upon a four-row wedge of spinning cycles in formation. Probably 25 or so machines in all. The ceiling was high, at least 15 feet, and there were three ceiling fans hanging down. A couple of large speakers were on the walls and a stereo rack sat next to the trainer's station.

When the appointed time came, the trainer arrived (it was the same one who just body pumped us!) and her first act was to turn off the lights and turn the ceiling fans on low. The only light came in trhrough the handful of small square windows behind us. We started pedaling the spinners and tried to look at the trainer, who in the dark was only visible as a shock of short bleached blond hair and tall white socks. The music turned up and her voice started giving instructions.

The spinning cycle was not what I thought it would be. I have never ridden a fixed-gear bicycle (well, except for the Big Wheel as a little boy), so I was surprised to learn that the spinner was like one of those. When I stopped pedaling, the pedals still moved in conjunction with the wheel. It only took a couple of knee-jolting surprises to learn that if I wanted to stop pedaling I needed to either pop out of the toe clips and straps right fast, or just ease up on the pedaling slowly and gently.

There is no coasting in spin class.

And there was also a twisty knob in easy reach. Lefty loosey, righty tighty to make it easier or harder to pedal. Apparently this was the "gears" the trainer talked about.

For the forty five minutes, she did her job to describe our activities. First we did an easy warmup on a quiet road, which wasn't a road but just us sitting there on stationary bikes in a dark wedge of a room. After a short warmup, she described various things one encounters on a ride, like hills and sprint finishes and such. Unlike real bicycling, there was no traffic lights, stop signs, or barking dogs to chase us, which was nice, I suppose.

We were instructed to get ready for a big hill, which turned out to be "twist the friction knob to make it harder to pedal," and then instructions to stand up for the hill, and then sit down and continue to power up the hill, and then ease up and loosen the knob again. Lots of "let's go to a higher gear," and "shift to a lower gear," but honestly there weren't any gears to shift! It was just tightening and loosening this knob.

There were a few times where we were told to race. Apparently in spin classes "racing" is pedaling as fast as you can. A couple of the women there were pedaling so fast that it looked like the pedals were moving the people! Thighs, shoulders, and bums all bouncing up and down and jiggling. This is probably why the lights were down, to spare any potential embarrassment of fully-lit bum-jiggling resultant from ultra-fast pedaling.

Indeed, poor form was everywhere. Heads were bobbing, bodies leaning back and forth, and one young woman was just moving and shaking around so much she reminded me of the drum-playing Muppet, Animal, fully rocking out.

The trainer talked about the road we were on and the scenery, but really we were just there in the dark room. I pedaled harder and faster as I could, but was disappointed because I never went anywhere. And to add to that, there wasn't any way to measure my effort. The spinners didn't have a speedometer or odometer or anything to indicate how my effort measured up to anything. So as I followed the instruction I just pedaled hard until it burned and did that for a while and then eased up. But I dodn't know how long or hard that effort was. In the dark it was like time was standing still.

The slow ceiling fans were ineffective, just taunting us as they slowly circled us with the false promise of air circulation. We all just got warmer and warmer, and sweatier and sweatier. And since we werent' moving, there wasn't any breeze to cool us off. When I was all done, there was a fair sized puddle of sweat on the floor beneath me. It was satisfying to see my production there manifested in a good-sized puddle of my essence, but then I had to wipe it all up to prevent slipping hazards.

Forty five minutes of constant pedaling. The non-stop part of it was nice. I think it's rare for me to actually pedal for that long without stopping, so that part was enjoyable. I liked the rhythm and cadence and consistency of the effort without interruption. But the lack of true hills and non movement was frustrating.

When it was over, my muscles felt like I had a good bike ride, but the rest of me was disappointed. I didn't see anything or go anywhere.

If "gym people" think spin class is equivalent to riding an actual bike, it's no wonder they don't want to go out and ride actual bikes.

As I walked out, there was a spin cycle next to the door that had an extension cord attached to it. It was one of those electricity-generating spin cycles, and one of the few unused machines during the class. I wish I had seen it earlier and set it up to use during the class. Maybe there was a computer on it to tell me how much electricity I was generating. That would have made the effort more fun, I think. I asked my wife if anybody ever used that one, and she said the people don't use it because it's too hard to operate. I guess that's irony...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tank 337 - 29 November 2K12 (Worst Gas Mileage of the Year!)

So I sneaked out after lunch today to put more gas in the Mighty Corolla. I drove all the way to work with the low fuel light on and although I'd probably have been able to make it home, I didn't want to take that chance.

So, after 391.3 miles, I refueled at the nearby Wawa with 11.452 gallons of gas. And thus my fuel economy was a dismal 34.17 miles per gallon. Not only is this the worse mileage I've gotten so far this year, It's about the 18th worst gas mileage I've ever gotten with this car.






On the bright side, thanks to Thanksgiving, I went 19 days between tanks, which is the third longest stretch of time between me taking this car to the gas station. So I have that going for me.

After today, I have just fourteen work days left in the year. So probably I'll put one more tank of gas in, and be near empty by New Year's Eve. So I'll have purchased only 37 total tanks of gas for the year, which is the fewest since 2004, when I only bought 5 tanks of gas (since we bought the car in November of that year).

I'm going to try to coast as much as I can and drive like a grandma for this tank and see if I can get back on track with my habit of trouncing the estimated mileage numbers from the window sticker and get back to my greatness.

Maybe I need to add more air to my tires. I haven't checked that in a couple of months...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Days of Thanksgiving Vacation Helps the Effort

So I had the happy joy of five days off for Thanksgiving, so no commuting to and from work in the Mighty Corolla, plus four days of bike riding to catch up.

So as of this morning's commute, I am only about five hours short in my goal to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car.

In fact, if everything was rounded to the nearest whole percentage, the pie chart would show an even 50/50 split.

On the gas mileage front, it's been sixteen days since I put gas in the car, which ties for the third longest stretch of not putting gas in the car. So that's nice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wasted Morning Ride - Wednesday Before Thanksgiving 2K12

Well I am off work until Monday and thought this morning would be a super time for a pretty long bike ride. But in my quest to leave the home in a quiet manner, I forgot my trusty mittens that were in my backpack in the bedroom.

I didn't want to wake up my lovely wife, so I stretched on two thin pairs of small gloves.

What a mistake.

It was 35 degrees outside and within 10 minutes I could not feel any of my fingertips. So I stopped and took off one of the two pairs of socka I was wearing and put the socks on my hands. It kind of helped, but I couldn't wrap my thumbs around the handlebars so my hands started cramping up.

So I came home. Lesson learned. 33 minutes and just over 8 miles.

Tomorrow I must be better prepared. But I'm still doing pretty good on my goal/resolution to ride my bike for more time this year than I spend commuting to and from work in my car. As of yesterday I was sitting on about a ten hour deficit. So if I can go on a couple good rides in the next four days I ought to enter the last week of November with maybe a 6 or 7 hour deficit, and if I can have a healthy wellness ride or two at work next week the gap shouldn't grow by that much more.

Mostly I learned that I need to be better prepared the night before so I don't get caught in this trap again. It would have been a nice ride if I had warm hands.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday Morning Commute vs. Bike Update

So I have just one more commute home in my car for the work week, and then a three-day weekend, in which I have apparently scheduled a long ride for on Friday.

With my current deficit of about 12 and a half hours, a long ride tomorrow and one more ride on Saturday or Sunday, discounting my anticipated commute home time today, should have me entering Thanksgiving week with a shortfall of only 8 or 9 hours.

I'm enjoying keeping track of this data. On recent bike rides I'VE BEEN REALLY GETTING INTO THE FEELING OF MY LEGS MOVING UP AND DOWN AND IN CIRCLES IN A GOOD RHYTHM (darned caps lock I'm not going to go back and retype that) and on a few occasions I've been fortunate enough to be riding along with the wind at about the same speed as the wind itself.

It's really neat when that happens. You hear more of the gentle mechanical noises of the bicycle and no wind noise to interfere with it and it's just one of those perfect bicycling moments when everything aligns just right and you just know it's all good.

Then the road turns and the wind comes back up and you get to keep on pedaling. Pedal pedal pedal...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tank 336 - 10 November 2K12 (Short Week, will it be a Short Post?)

So I put more gas in the Mighty Corolla over the weekend, after driving it only 382.7 miles. I went to the Sheetz that's kind of near the house, and bought 10.807 gallons of gas there. So my mileage for the tank was a less-than-good 35.41 mpg.

This was my 35th tank of gas for the year. Last year, I pumped the 35th tank on November 13. I ended up with 39 tanks of gas in 2011, and it appears I'll end up at 38, maybe 37 tanks for this year, due to the office move. 2013 looks like there'll be even fewer tanks. My daily round trip is now normally 39 miles, whereas before it was closer to 67 miles.

And the long-circuitous-super-secret back way home from the old office that was like 45 or 50 miles but kept me moving the whole time, well that's just about exactly my current method of driving home, so it appears that my days of long-meandering drives home are mostly over. Unless I act all foolish and indecisive and choose to take a super messed up way home.

Anyway, over last weekend I got some good bike riding in, and in fact on Monday (Veteran's Day Holiday Observed) I went on a delightful bike ride with my lovely wife. We actually drove to Mount Vernon, but when we got there we busted out the bicycles and rode a paved bike path about 14 miles towards Washington DC and ate a little picnic lunch of sub sandwiches at a park near Ronald Wilson Reagan National Airport where landing planes flew directly over our heads as they landed. It was fun.

So that was about three hours of riding, added to my normal ride on Saturday, so I entered my three-day work week with a sub-12-hour deficit between my time riding my bike and time commuting to and from work in my car. There are nine work days left in November, and nine nonwork days. It's quite likely I'll have a couple three long rides to help chip more away at the deficit here, plus a couple three healthy wellness bike rides at work. I'm feeling more and more confident that this goal is going to be met and my resolution will be kept.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Update (Four Days of Bike Rides + One Day of Commuting = Closing the Gap Over the Weekend)

I happily rode my bike each of the first four days in November. Three of those days were chilly morning rides in which I layered layers of layering shirts and clothes to keep the chilly winds at bay. Okay, it wasn't actually freezing at 40 degrees, but it was cold enough to make my toes tingle before going numb after an hour.

But they were all still fun. I got me some wool socks, little windproof shoe covers, and I tried little heat packets in the shoes, which kind of worked. But the bottom line is that I rode over a hundred miles in four days and looking here on Monday morning, my deficit lookd great at under 14 hours.

However, I have five scheduled days of work this week, with the potential of three days of "healthy wellness" bike rides, so this deficit will grow, as usual, during the week.

But then next week I have Monday and Friday off, so I ought to catch up a little more. And the week after is Thanksgiving week with even fewer days in the office.

Yes, November is looking good so far. I am optimistic that the deficit will be under ten hours by the end of the month, and I'll be successful in my yearlong resolution to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car. It's growing to be a good feeling of accomplishment. I think I can do it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October's Out, November's In (Fun Fact: November was originally the Ninth Month until Julius Augustus Caesar added July and August in the Summertime in his honor!)

Well, I should have known I junxed myself, as yesterday's bike ride of 54 minutes nearly matched my commute trip home of 49 minutes. VDOT's been repaving the area of the interstate near the exit I get off at, and the main road at that exit has construction on it to the west, which is the way I go for about a mile, and the last several weeks there has been slow traffic (slower than usual, anyway) at that exit. And yesterday was especially bad, so I took an overly circuitous route home in a vain effort to avoid stopped traffic.

So we enter November with a deficit just under 19 hours.

Last month I rode my bike 21 times, for 486 miles, in 1790 minutes. I commuted to and from work in my car 17 round trips, for a total of 1136 minutes. This month, I have 15 predicted days working, which will reduce my anticipated commuting time by about 140 minutes.

To be honest, I'm getting a little weary of this effort. I still enjoy the bike rides, but am not anticipating them with as much eagerness as I did earlier in the year. Maybe it's because it's getting chillier outside, but it may be partially due to all the miles I'm going. I've ridden 3943 miles this year in ten months. Last year I rode 3788 miles in the entire twelve months. And the year before was when my obsession was re-ignited, and I just rode 657 miles.

Not to say that I intend to stop riding in 2013. I'll just stop focusing on this bicycling/commuting relationship and just enjoy the rides.

But I shall press on and continue to pursue this effort for the next two months, finish strong, and hopefully achieve this goal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tank 335 - 30 October 2K12 (Plus an Update on The Resolution to Ride My Bike for More Time Than I Spend Commuting To and From Work In My Car)

So yesterday I put more gas in the Mighty Corolla, from the Sheetz store near my home (not as near as the Fas Mart, but I was near that Sheetz at the time). I had driven 391.4 miles and put in 10.866 gallons, so mileage was an uninspiring 36.02 mpg.

The notable thing about this tank was that it had been 16 days since I last refueled. 16 days is the longest stretch of time between tanks since August of 2008, over four years ago. In fact, there have been three other days where I had gone longer between tanks of gas, and those were back-surgery related or Thanksgiving-holiday-related, so this is quite a compelling statistic.

Or it was probably just because I skipped three days of work, two of which were related to the office being closed due to Hurricane Sandy.


On a more serious note, I did something I'm not sure I am proud of doing last week. I had read of people doing this before and rolled my eyes at such puerile behavior and wondered why anyone would do such a thing. But clearly time has worn me down and last week I did it. After much consideration, and looking at my work calendar and seeing a half-day full of sexual harassment prevention training and nothing else urgent, I fell and did it.

I called in (well, texted a message in) sick and rode my bike instead. And then I ate lunch by myself and watched The Avengers movie at an unreasonably loud volume. It was great and now that I have experienced such a day I wonder why it took me so long to do such a thing. I was all by myself with the kids at school and my wife at her office. It was super. Three hours and 50 miles of fun bike riding and a movie. Overall a great day.

And then on Sunday, on Hurricane Sandy eve, I had another opportunity for a good ride, and I went out for almost two hours as two kids were at youth group. Thanks to those rides, neither of which was really expected a week before, and thanks to two days off of commuting due to the hurricane, I made some great advancement upon my goal of riding my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car.

The chart above included my trip to work today, but not my trip home. However, I plan on a healthy wellness ride of about 50 minutes this afternoon, and my commute home should be less than that, so it's very likely that I'll end Octiber about 18.5 hours short of my goal.

This is good for me, because Entering October I was about 30 hours short and needed to chip away at the gap by about 10 hours a month in order to catch myself. So I got more than 11 hours closer this month as we go into the "holiday season."

So it's looking like I should be able to stick to my resolution and meet this goal. It's a lot of bike riding. I've ridden that bugger almost 4,000 miles so far this year, for almost 11 days straight.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Donated Blood and Then Rode My Bike - Like the Opposite of Blood Doping!

So on Friday I went to the vampires at the Red Cross and donated a pint of blood. It's a good thing to do, you know, altruism and helping your fellow man and such, but "mainly I do it for the snacks."

And also I like joking about how they instruct me to double up on my drinking.

The average person has, I think, about six pints of blood pumping around in the body, so losing a pint has notable effects right after it's over. If you stand up too fast, you might "swoon" and get dizzy and light headed for longer than you'd expect. Luckily, I have donated blood a number of times (because like I said, I like getting the snacks) so I don't normally experience this any more.

So my body probably went right to work replacing the lost blood, but it must take a while, because the Red Cross will only accept my donations once every 8 weeks. So I supposed there would be some sort of effect on my bicycling the day after. And since I am keeping painstaking track of my bicycle riding this year, on account of my resolution to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car, I think I am able to say with some degree of confidence that the loss of one pint of blood had a negative effect on my bicycling ability.

I woke up Saturday morning with a plan to ride for about an hour, since the family had plans to drive to the National Park and do some hiking for the rest of the day. I ended up going on a similar route from my house to the bike path behind the dump to the neighborhood behind the church and back home, close to 17 miles.

My average speed for this trip was 16.6 miles per hour. On other rides of similar distance and routes, my average speeds were in the 17.0 and 17.2 average (about three percent slower). Not that I'm bragging, it's just that this general route isn't very hilly so it's not too rough.

Anyway, this day after donating a pint of blood, I found myself breathing extra heavy, extra early in my ride. About 1 mile and a half into the route, there's a gentle incline that's normally no trouble. But on this day, I was sucking wind and I could feel my heart beating extra hard and extra fast. As I was huffing and puffing, I was also happy to be experiencing this interesting feeling of weak feebleness. In my mind, I knew I shouldn't have been feeling so tired and worn out so early in a ride, and that this experinece was probably due to my body running on about 5/6 of the normal load of red blood cells.

So my perceived effort to maintain any speed was quite high as I continued on my ride. And 64 minutes later I got back home and went on with the day.

Too bad I didn't go on a bike ride on Friday afternoon, right after I donated that pint of blood. I wonder how I would have done. Maybe next time...

Interestingly, I also went for a long ride yesterday afternoon, which would be two days after donating the blood. I mowed the lawn (which took an hour walking behind the self-propelled mower) and then rode for about two and a quarter hours, and that ride was more than 36 miles and the average speed was 17.3. So I tentatively am concluding that losing a pint of blood has a short term negative effect on exercise ability for about a day. Although, looking back at my previous recent rides of around 36 miles, my average speeds have been 16.6,17.7, and 18.0 average speeds, and under various weather and road conditions.

And finally, on the Resolution Front, you can see from my graphic here that I am just about 23 and a half hours behind on my goal. I think I gained about two hours over the weekend, keeping pace on my plan and I hope to end the month with a deficit of around 20 hours. November and December will see fewer commuting days, so that and the anticipated more bike riding as a result ought to keep me on track to achieve my goal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interesting Fact: I Left for Work at the Same Time Each Day This Week

So far this week, I have gotten into my car and turned it on to get to work at 6:02 a.m. each day. And on at least two of these days, the clock in the car has turned to 6:03 a.m. before I got out of reverse to move forward on my street, which is notable because my driveway is only about 2.5 cars long.

Commute times to work so far this week: 28 minutes, 27 minutes, 28 minutes. In fact, the last eight trips to the office have been either 27 or 28 minutes. So that's consistent...

I've also made an appointment to donate blood on Friday morning just before lunch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tank 334 - 14 October 2K12 (Plus an Update on Keeping My 2012 New Year's resolution)

I knew I was going to fill up the gas tank this morning, and also knew I'd probably feel pinched for time this morning on my way to work, so I refueled last night on my way home from "church meeting" instead.

The mighty Corolla had gone 404.4 miles and I put in 10.803 gallons, making for mileage of 37.43 miles per gallon. I thought I would have use more gas, but the pump at the Fas Mart shut off the second time at just 10.803 gallons.

It was eleven days between tanks. Six of the last eight tanks have had at least ten days between them. There has not been another period of time with such a length of time between so many tanks. One day in 2008 there was 26 days between tanks, but I suspect that was when I had my back surgery and didn't go anywhere for a couple three weeks.

I was happily able to ride my bike for three days in a row from Friday through Sunday, for a total of about 82.5 miles in a little under 5 hours. Currently, in my quest to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car, I am about 25 and a quarter hours short. I don't recall (because I haven't kept the data, although I should) what the magic number was last week, but I think it was like 28 hours or so. So progress is being made.

25 hours to catch up and 11 weekends left in the year, so quick math seems to indicate I need to catch up a little more than two hours every week inorder to achieve this goal. Of those 11 weeks, only four of them are currently scheduled for a full five-day workweek. This bodes well for my chances and ease of which to the extent of my ease and ability to achieve my goal, just as I anticipated back when I crafted this resolution and plan last year. "Achievable but difficult," I believe I assessed last year at this time.

Over the last couple of weeks, my lovely wife had shown irritation at my continued dedication to riding my bike in order to stay on track with this plan. But after a few talks, she is resolved (get it? She's resolved because I'm working towards achieving my resolution!) and resigned herself that I am determined to not be denied success.

To that end, she suggested that I drop the kids off at yourh group yesterday afternoon, and ride my bike for that two hour window of time. That was really a sweet deal for me, because I didn't wake up early to ride before church, and my ride was longer than it would have been had I done that. So I got to "sleep in" and also "ride longer." A couple more weekends of that and it'll be a landslide victory for the bike riding.

This week I have a four-day workweek and am off Friday. My wife made lunch plans with a friend on Friday, so you know what I'll be doing...

Yes, I hope to make an appointment to donate blood. After a good bike ride, of course!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Four Day Weekend = Lots Of Bike Riding!

So I had four consecutive days off work in a row, back to back. And the kids were in school on Friday, and my lovely wife wanted to "gym it up," so I had a glorious window of opportunity for a long ride on Friday.

I went like 52 miles in like 3 hours and 20 minutes. It was totally fun and fantastic, and the weather cooperated and I felt totally triumphant when I was done. I saw Belvedere Plantation, the Courthouse, and lots of back roads in the area to complete my route. And I ate a large barbecue sandwich for lunch that day.

I also managed two other good rides over the weekend, too, which helped chip away at my deficit and now as of this moment I'm less than 27 hours away from meeting my goal of riding my bike for longer than I spend commuting to and from work in my car this year.

Of course, not every weekend can have a three-hour ride, so I happily share this story.

Also of course, my wife reminded me that she can spend lots of time in the gym, too, but that doesn't count. I can't see how a hot, muggy, stinky gym can be anywhere near a fun as riding a bike out in the fresh air and scenery.

The leaves are starting to turn, so I hope to bring along my camera one day snd snap a picture of a great fall tree for RANTWICK in the hopes of winning his throwdown. But as with most things, participating is enough.

Looking forward to a good week at work- 4 days, hopefully 2 days with "healthy wellness rides" to balance those days commutes, so a weekend with a couple/three hours ought to at least maintain pace with the resolution goal, and probably chip away a little more.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exchange I Had With Menu-Delivering Guy As He Tried To Stick A Menu On My Mailbox At My Home Yesterday

Me: Thank you for this menu. Mama's Restaurant, I will never give you my business.

Guy: Huh? What do you mean?

Me: I mean, I hate people like you who stick menus on mailboxes. I'm pretty sure it's illegal...

Guy: I was going to put it in your newspaperbox.

Me (looking up and down the street at all the menus he put on mailboxes): Yeah, if you'd actually mailed it, I might have looked at it. People like you have run into my mailbox before while trying to put menus and crap illegally on it.

Guy: I've never hit your mailbox.

Me: No, but people like you have done it before. I've had to replace this mailbox because of people like you who have hit it. So I promise you I'll never go to Mama's restaurant, ever.

Guy: You keep a list or something?

Me: Yes, I do. I also will never go to Pho Saigon, either.

Guy: What's your problem?

Me: My problem is people like you who do crap like this. I don't like it and I want you to tell your boss that he has lost a customer forever because of this unwanted solicitation.

Guy (starting to drive off): Whatever, man.... KISS MY ASS!



And that is how I was defeated by menu guy's superior wit and intellect.

Tank 333 - 2 October 2K12 (CaROLLin'!)

This morning I strapped the bike rack to the trunk of the mighty Corolla and strapped two bicycles onto it. Then I drove to work. But first, I got more gasoline at the Fas Mart near my home. The low fuel light turned on yesterday at 373.3 miles, I refueled at 396.3 miles with 11.222 gallons, making for a fuel economy number of 35.31 mpg. Not too good, really, but in my defense, I had a lot of little around-town trips over the last ten days.

Yes, I went ten days between fill-ups, this was the second tank in a row with ten days between them, and I've averaged 9.6 days between tanks since the office move in August (and that included several days where I drove back to the old building for shutdown activities, so it was like driving there for the day). For comparison, all this year at the old building, I refueled on average every 8.6 days, so in the last six weeks I've added a day to that line. So that's pretty good.

Last year at this time, I had spent $1,183 on gas. This year, it's $1,253, but I've driven about 500 more miles. Gas has averaged about fifteen cents more per gallon this year than last year...

So today I arrived at the new office with two biked on the back of my car. One of them I will ride for my healthy wellness exercise time this aftgernoon. The other I will lend to my friend (and coworker) Ed who lives about three miles away from the new office. He has a mountain bike and has ridden it to the office a few times, and has decided that it's just too slow. And since he knows I have an extra bike, he asked to borrow it to see if it'd be much faster.

So I was enthusiastic to assist in this manner. The old Yellow Bike is a little small for me, but should be fine for Ed, and I am looking forward to his report after riding it for a bit.

I've ridden my bike to his house (well, NEAR his house, I don't want to be "crazy stalker guy" who rides up and down his street waiting for a glimpse of him peeping out the window checking for me...) on a road bike, and some sections of the paved road shoulder have areas of rocks and gravel, which are a little challenging for skinny tires, so I'm interested to see what Ed says.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm Not Sure If I'm Going to Make It (I also stole this picture from (Call me "Leathertaint!")

So over the last couple of weeks I've been noticing strange feelings in my upper back, arms and legs. I think this all goes back to my back surgery I had about 4 years ago, where the doctor showed me an x-ray of my back (or more likely it was MRI images) and said "see those discs there at the bottom? How they're all grey and crackled looking? And see those discs there in your neck that look like that, too? Yeah, those are all bad. They'll be causing you problems in about 15 years, so I'll see you back here when they go. And also, your spinal cord is about a third of the width of a normal person's spine, so good luck with that, too."

After my surgery was all healed, I felt great! I had no pain or discomfort in my legs or back, and I walked without a limp for the first time in years. Now here we are today, and I am noticing that when I lie down flat on my back on the sofa or a bed, both my feet feel like they're just waking up from "being asleep." Not the pins and needle feelings, but the fuzziness, like a small buzz or a little tiny massage all over the soles of my feet and up my right calf a little.

And my upper right shoulder blade sometimes feels like a pinch is going on that needs to be stretched out.

So I'm thinking, is it my discs getting all broken down again? Am I freaking out because of the seed of uncertainty the doctor planted those years ago?

Now, when I 'm riding my bike, I generally don't feel any of this discomfort. Indeed, the only discomfort I feel is in my crotchal region because I sometimes don't have my shorts adjusted properly, or maybe it's my saddle is too high/not adjusted properly/not right for me, but I can manage that sort of affliction with various creams and lotions and such. But more likely I'll tough it out and let the blisters scab over and become tough, and thus earn myself the nickname "Leathertaint." But I digress...

So when I ride, I feel good. When I stop, my feet and lower legs have this odd but not painful buzzy feeling, and sometimes my shoulders feel pinches and minor spurts of momentary irritation. Is it because my riding makes these things happen later on, or is it my deteriorating back region is starting to flare up again? Because this is sort of how it felt when it all started-- in 1997 I was a runner. I ran and ran. Then I ran a marathon, and from that day forward my hamstring always felt tight.

The tightness remained until the fateful day when I went to bend over to pick up the hose in the yard (I made a post about it but probably won't ever link back to it) and blew out the disc. Then I limped, literally, everywhere and just kind of managed with the inconvenience for a long time before I couldn't take it and got the surgery. And all was well. But now I'm feeling these things again and I fear it's just like the years after I ran the marathon: will this weekend be the time when I move that bag of mulch and blow out another disc?

And the biggest fear I have is not that it's going to happen, it's that it might happen before the end of this year and I won't be able to complete my goal/resolution to ride my bike for longer than I commute in my car, because I'm still 31 hours behind (as of today)!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chipping Away at Destiny (or the less dramatic: Getting closer to meeting my New year's Resolution)

The attached chart is current as of today. Prior to driving to work, I ended the third quarter of the year 29.68 hours short of my goal of riding my bicycle for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car.

Although it seems like a lot to make up, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to average ten hours more on the bike than commuting in the car for each of the next three months, because of I'll tell you why: LONG WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS.

Oh, and also because apparently I've done it before. But there's a caveat, or a reservation if you will, because in September I spent about seven and a half hours riding in a century ride, and it's probable that I won't be lucky enough to do that again before the end of the year.

Still, on September 1 I was 43 hours short, and here on October 1 I'm less than 30 hours short. Taking out the 7.5 hours of century ride, I made up only about 6 hours against the deficit. September was 17 working days, and October will be 16 working days, November will be 15 working days, and December will be about 14 or 15 days as well. So it'll be a close challenge to meet, and I think I'll make it.

Plus, the parks & rec soccer season is finishing up in the next week, so I'll be able to go out Saturday mornings again for more than just a couple of hours. All signs are pointing in a positive direction, I hope I just didn't jinx it!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tank 332 - That's a Lot of Gas (Plus: A Good Weekend for Bike Riding)

So I refueled yesterday afternoon at the local Fas mart near my home, but the pump I almost always use had a yellow "out of order" bag over it. That was rough, because normally I shut off the motor and coast on in to the pump there, and I didn't notice the yellow "out of order" bag until after I had turned off the car, so I had to turn it back on again and whip around to another pump that was "in order."

So I did and I pumped in 11.369 gallons. After driving 416.7 miles on this tank, that made for a fuel economy of 36.65 miles per gallon.

It's looking like I should begin getting happy with mileages in the mid-36 range from now on, on account of how my shorter commute is on more twisty bendy country roads with hills and fewer areas to coast and draft and maintain steady speeds.

But the weekend was also a great time to ride my bike, not only for fun healthy wellness exercise, but also to help eat away at the deficit that's been growing since January. As you know, my goal (a real New Year's Resolution for 2012) is to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car this year.

I had six good bike riding experiences over the last four days. Last Thursday I partook of a healthy wellness ride at the office, and then rode for another 30 minutes while one daughter was at a soccer practice. Friday I had a fun ride with my friend John and we stopped halfway for a great lunch of cheeseburgers and waffle fries at the local brewery/restaurant, and it was delicious but a little expensive.

Then on Saturday I rode foa an hour and fifteen minutes at another daughter's soccer practice, and that ride was notable because the course I ended up taking must have been really really flat, because my average speed was 18.6 miles an hour, which is one of my fastest average speeds. (I just now did a little search and it turns out that of the seven rides with an average speed of 18.6 or greater, six of them happened while this daughter was at soccer practice, so it must be that her soccer practice locations are in flat areas. The other one was while I was visiting my in-laws in the great flatness known as Cary, North Carolina.)

And yeaterday was nice because I had a fun early morning ride, and then after church while two daughters were at youth group, my wife and I rode for about 40 minutes at a local Civil (Civil? CIVIL?! There wasn't anything CIVIL about it!) War battlefield, and also walked a trail there for about two miles, too.

So overall, a really good weekend.

And I am pretty sure I'll be able to go for a ride this afternoon during "healthy wellness time" at work, so the week of fun continues.

On my little pie chart graphic there's a white "31.51" there in the middle- that's the magic number, the deficit I need to make up. I don't know why I haven't been including it all year, because I've been tracking it, and since the only permanent record of this running tally is here on these posts, I've sort of lost the history of it's growth. I remember it was at 44 hours at one point in the last couple of months.

So three months and one week left in the year, 31 hours to make up. I can do it. We got the fall holidays coming up and all the associated time off. I'm optimistic I will accomplish this resolution and am looking forward to the continued fun of bike rides and keeping track of the data.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Few Things I Strongly Dislike About Other Bicyclers That If I Don't Whine About Right Now I'LL JUST DIE!!!

A couple of weeks ago, my friend John and I rode a century ride together. It was well organized and a fun ride over mostly country roads on a nice sunny and not too warm day. There were perhaps 150 people doing the century ride, and many others doing shorter rides as well, and for the most part, John and I rode by ourselves and rarely were in sight of other people.

There were five rest stops along the way, and we took advantage of each one to refill our water bottles and partake of the available snacks. We both have reached the conclusion that when we ride together, we go slower than we could go alone because we tend to visit and talk instead of ride, and that's okay, because the ride is the thing. So we finished the 100 miles with an average moving speed of 15 miles an hour (my little bike computer showed 15.0 miles per hour, his rounded down to 14.9). Turned out our rest stops averaged more than ten minutes each, which is odd because they didn't feel like they took that long, so the whole day went from about 7:00 am to close to 3:00 pm.

Along the way, two things happened that make me ashamed to be associated with most other bike riders. Okay three things. The first one happened when John and I were riding along, enjoying the day, and we saw another cyclist on the left side of the road on his cell phone calling the SAG wagon for mechanical assistance. We (well, John actually) asked what was up and if we could help, and the guy said "I have a broken spoke and am calling for help, thanks."

Neither of us had a spoke and couldn't help. But John had had broken spokes before so he said to the guy "I've ridden without a spoke before, do you want to try that?" (Like I said, we tend to go slow, so we had time for this whole conversation as we rode along). And the guy responded "Yeah, I did that once and destroyed a thousand dollar wheel." We went "oh, well have a good day, then," and pedaled on.

About ten seconds later, both John and I realized that 1) that guy's single $1,000 wheel cost more than both John's and my bikes combined, and 2) that guy must have had to replace his $1,000 wheel with another one exactly like it, and ended up in the same pickle of a broken spoke again, and 3) neither John nor I had ever had a wheel destroyed due to a broken spoke, and as previously noted, the combined cost of both of our bikes was less than the price of a single wheel for that guy...

So the modern proverb "MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS" seems to fit in this situation.

Not that I'm particularly jealous of a $1,000 wheel, it's that I'm shocked that after destroying one before, it was replaced with another one of the same price and it had the same problem! And the guy acted all proud that he somehow managed to destroy a $1,000 wheel before and was able to do it again! If I destroyed a wheel that cost that much, I'd be severely agitated to say the least!

And then later on, John and I were getting back on our bikes after a rest stop and a small group of guys rolled in for the break and gently settled their bikes on the tall roadside grass. One said to the other "I see you got a new helmet for your new ride, huh?" and the other guy said yes (It was one of those $200 Catlike helmets and I won't even go there). Then the first guy says, "if you don't mind, may I ask now much you paid?" and pointed towards the other guy's shiny black bicycle.

The other guy was responding as John and I slowly rolled away, "well, I spent $8,000 on the frame before I built it up with..." and then I was out of hearing range.


And I looked at my bike as I was riding it. The whole thing was $400 brand new just over a year ago. The crank arms are scratched, some of the bolts have rust in them, and several areas are scratched and smudged and permanently marked from where I lean it up against posts and bungee cord it to the bike rack on my car. After just over a year of heavy use, it looks used, and I like it that way. I wipe it down every now and then, and clean the chain and stuff. It's a good bike, solid and reliable.

If I paid EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR JUST THE FRAME, I'd sure as heck not be laying it down in grass! I don't even know if I'd ride the bugger! Sweat drips on it, little rocks fly up to chip the paint, cable housings rub at various points. EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A BICYCLE FRAME? THE GUY HAD A POT BELLY THAT MADE HOMER SIMPSON LOOK ANOREXIC!

I don't see the point in dropping so much money on something that only professional racers could take advantage of. I know it shouldn't bother me, but some people have more dollars than sense, if you know what I mean. And the guy was clearly bragging and smug with his fancy purchase.

So John and I were contemplating this, and the general priorities of people, and I admitted that I kind of also have a case of upgrade-it is. And I quietly told John that I, too, have a dream to one day upgrade my frame. And do you know what I want? THE TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR PLAIN WHITE NO-NAME ALUMINUM NASHBAR ROAD FRAME WITH CARBON SEAT AND CHAINSTAYS!


So for the rest of the ride, about 35 miles, every now and then John or I (mostly I) blurted out "eight thousand dollars? For a frame?"

Just unbelievable.

So eventually we rolled to the end and ate a great lunch that was provided for us: brisket sandwiches with cole slaw and potato salad and sodas. And we reviewed the day, we realized that during many of the segments between rest stops, we were passed by the same groups of people all "pacelining" and such, and they were all announcing "on your left!" as they went by. Then at the rest stops, they sat there and visited and ate, while John and I snacked and moved on.

And more than a few of these "on your left!"-ers were really weird in that they practically came to a standstill at the slightest of hills. I won't even get started on how illogical that is, slowing down before you get to the bottom of a climb in anticipation of the perceived effort. BAH.

So anyway, John and I wondered why these groups would put forth all the effort to ride a brisk pace and then take 30 minute breaks at each rest stop. It didn't make much sense to us. Yes, it's not a race, and there wan't any official timing, but still it's a hundred mile ride, so we both thought you want to ride as much as you could, not rest at fire stations and roadside convenience stores. It struck us both as odd that a few groups of people would collude in such a way as to ride the segments at a speedy clip and then lollygag at rest stops for so long.

Over the last couple weeks as these observations have sunk in, it's not surprising to me how the general public is annoyed at cyclists in general. Many of us are pompous arrogant pr*cks who overspend on things and don't know how to maintain or fix in many cases. Many of us hog the road because "we have the same rights as a car and should be able to ride side by side at any and every time!" but don't realize that we actually are not cars in that we can't go as fast. It's just good manners to try to be considerate to drivers and not get in their way if you can help it.

Still, with all the people out there inadvertantly screwing up our collective reputation as cyclists, I really really like riding my bike. It's totally fun and happily it's good exercise as well. So I'll keep on doing it the way I do it. But don't lump me in with those target-heartrate cadence monitoring freds.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tank 331 - 13 September 2K12

This morning I refueled the gas tank at the Wawa in Stafford. Gas was $3.729 per gallon, which is the most I have paid per gallon since 29 April, and higher than the average for the year of $3.496 per gallon.

Still, for 11.763 gallons, the cost of $43.86 is just marginally higher than the price I have usually paid for gasoline this year. Got a mileage of 36.89 mpg, which is okay but not what I have grown accustomed to.

It's becoming obvious that my new commute, while shorter, will require a little more gas over those fewer miles. And that's okay. Early statistics appear to indicate I'm spending much less time in the car now that the office has moved. Like 43 minutes less each day.

Meanwhile, The bike riding time is just about 34 hours behind the car commuting time. That's roughly 12 hours to make up for each month between now and the end of the year, if I want to achieve my goal of riding my bike for more time than commuting to and from work in my car. About three hours a week to make up.

In August, I rode my bike for about 18 hours, but commuted for about 25 hours. But August was just about my least-bike-ridden month. Indeed, I rode for 24 hours in July, and 29 hours in June. And the last three months of the year will see more vacation days due to Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I think this will totally happen.

In fact, I think I'll go out for a healthy wellness bike ride this afternoon at work!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rather Unfortunate Ad Placement...

And I was going to comment about how the collars on the home team jerseys look like they're from the '70s.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tank 330 - 5 September 2K12 (First Tank on New Commute)

My new trip to work is about 19 miles. It used to be about 33 miles. My new trip to work is about half on curvy, hilly, country roads. It ised to be almost all on the interstate.

With this in mind, my last tank was mostly commutes to and from the new office, so I got a mileage of 34.63 miles per gallon (11.310 gallons for 391.7 miles). But I did go 12 days between tanks of gas, so that was nice. I've only gone 12 days between tanks on two other occasions this year.

Meanwhile, I rode my bike over a hundred miles over the three-day weekend, and as of this moment am just shy of 39 hours short of riding my bike for as long as I have commuted in my car for the year. With the new commute, I'm in the car for just shy of an hour each day, so theoretically if I do three healthy wellness rides at work each week, plus a two-hour ride on one day of the weekend, I'll stay even. But I'm not quite back to normal with being able to take healthy wellness bike rides at the office just yet, as there are things I need to do at the old office still, which takes time in my day and causes me to feel guilty about exercising when I spend a couple hours out of the office at the old building anyway.

This weekend I'm signed up for a century ride, so that ought to chip away at least 6 hours from this difference. Plus, it'll be like a day of bike riding so I'm really excited about that.

Friday, August 31, 2012

August Roundup

So the month is ending, the office has moved, and there's a deficit of 43 and a half hours to chip away at over the next four months.

I rode my bike for about a thousand minutes in August, which is much less than I have been riding before. I rode almost 1500 minutes in July, and over 1700 minutes in June. September ought to get better, as I'm registered for a century ride next weekend and will be able to continue healthy wellness rides at the office.

I did manage to experience an healthy wellness ride at the office this week, but only for 40 minutes and 10 miles. My start time was delayed because of an unannounced visitor to my cube for a visit that lasted much longer than it needed to.

The neighborhood across from my new office appears to have almost enough roads that I can crisscross the whole area in about an hour without much overlap or repeating any road. And it's pretty flat. But there are stop signs that I slow down for and stop at when there's car traffic.

After two weeks, my new morning commute is averaging 28 minutes, vice 41 minutes over the previous months. And my commute home has averaged 40 minutes, vice 59 minutes in recent months. So that's about 42 fewer minutes of driving each day. Not bad!

My commute is now about 19 miles to the new building. It was about 33 miles to the old building, so a prevention of 28 miles of driving each day, or about 140 miles a week, close to 7,000 miles I won't be driving in the next year, about 190 gallons of gas I won't be using, close to $700 I won't be spending on that gas, about $12 a week not spent on gas.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tank 329 - 24 August 2K10 (First Week Commuting To and From The New Office)

So I refueled last Friday at a Wawa not so near my home. The Mighty Corolla had gone 417.7 miles and I put in 11.316 gallons, making for a mileage of 36.91 miles per gallon. I'm a little bummed that my last three tanks have been less than 37 miles per gallon.

But the more exciting news from last week is that it was the first week of actual commutes to and from the new office (except for last Monday where I drove to the old office at o'dark thirty for the start of the move). So with one week's worth of data, it appears that my trips to the office will be about nine or ten minutes faster than trips to the old building, and trips home will be about 24 minutes faster. This is about what I thought it would be. Well, a little bit less savings than I thought it would be, but it's nice.

The cats at home are used to me showing up right around 5:00 pm, which is traditionally their dinnertime when I make a big production out of taking the measuring cup to the pantry and filling it up with their diet cat food and distributing it to their food bowls.

Now that I show up at 4:30, they think it's dinner time and we all have to sit there listening to them howl and meow as they are expecting dinner.

Oh, the trials and tribulations I must suffer through. Will they never end?

With things starting to calm down with the move, I can begin to focus more on actual work at the office, and also re-commence with my healthy wellness bike rides in the afternoons. If I can ride for an hour at work, that time is equivalent to the time I spend commuting for that day. So I am here today with a 41.39 hour deficit that I am starting to eat away and in the next months I expect to see it disappear, thus achieving my New Year's Resolution of riding my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tank 328 - 16 August 2K12 (Last Tank for the Old Commute)

So I refueled today at the Fas mart near my home. This tank I had gone 405.9 miles and refilled with 11.148 gallons, making for a mileage of 36.41 miles per gallon. The second tank in a row with worse than average fuel economy. It's probably still because I am driving with a heavy foot at times.

More happily, this is most likely to be the last tank I use while officially working at my current office. On Monday, we're moving offices. I'll be showing up at the "old office" to help get the trucks packed, and finish the day at the new office to watch the trucks get unloaded. I suppose that starting on Tuesday, I'll go to the new office first before going to the old office for final move-out and leftover tasks.

But the traffic powers are doing their best to make sure my last days of the current commute are as exciting and lengthy as possible. On my way home yesterday there was a major slowdown because (I kid you not) all of us needed to slow down to admire the heavy traffic driving north! And today a pickup truck decided to flip itself over and cause 2/3 of the lanes to be closed during the morning commute (I know the truck didn't magically come alive and decide to flip itself, but that's unfortunately how most people see it so I'm just catering to the masses).

I had a couple long bike rides over the last weekend, so I'm sitting at a deficit of almost 40 hours to make up for with the bike riding between now and the end of the year. I think it's totally do-able and am looking forward to seeing this number shrink over the next few months.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tank 327 - 5 August 2K12 (A Week of Commuting Home from the New Office)

My last three tanks of gas have been dispensed at the same pump at the same gas station. This time, it was on Saturday, and it was the tank right after one in which I got really good mileage. Usually in these situations, the next tank (this one) is lower than average, and this tank was no exception.

400.2 miles, 10.839 gallons, making for mileage of 36.92 miles per gallon. An interesting almost-coincidence is that I spent $36.52 on the gas, which was kind of close to the 36.92 miles per gallon I got.

My explanation for this poor performance is partially due to my continuing fast driving on the interstate, only without the benefit of drafting behind a large tractor trailer. And also more than a few times of enthusiastic acceleration in little trips around town.

Happily, though, last week I had the opportunity to drive home from the new building instead of the current office. So my four days of driving home from the new building were about 28 minutes faster than average - 32 minutes. Even on Friday when traffic was bad, I got home in 38 minutes, which is among the all-time fastest commute trips home from the current office.

So now we're in August. The move is happening this month. The difference between my bike riding time and my car commuting time is 38.41 hours as of this morning's commute. Also in August, we have 4 birthdays, and I know that for one of them I will be instructed to not ride my bike for the day of, before, and after, out of deferential reverence towards the noble birthday celebrants. So that'll hinder my progress towards my goal of riding my bike for more time than driving in the car.

But there will be opportunities to catch back up. If I man up and actually park the Mighty Corolla at the commuter lot and ride my bike the 6.7 remaining miles to the office a couple days per week, the drive part on those days will be about 20 or 25 minutes each direction, and the bike part will be about 30 or 35 minutes each direction - advantage BIKE. My current situation allows me three days of healthy wellness rides per week, at about 50 minutes each, which covers only my trip home time in the car, so the half and half commute will result in a positive gain on the bike for those days.

But I'll also have sunrise/twilight situations to worry about, so I need to account for bike lighting and stuff. But that will work itself out.

These next few months will be great for collecting and compiling all this great data!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tank 326 - 27 July 2K12 (Car - 39, Bicycle - 101)

I had the opportunity to refuel the Mighty Corolla on Friday morning, filling it with 12.038 gallons after driving 475.9 miles.

This was the farthest distance ever driven on one tank in this car.

So my mileage worked out to be a great 39.53 miles per gallon. I think this is due to my fortunate commutes behind tractor trailers doing 70 miles an hour. I had several of those on this tank.

And I had a three-day weekend, in which I was able to go out for three pretty good bike rides. I totaled 101 miles over the three days, which made me feel good, and due to lots of odd irritants I had to drive the Corolla around town on mindless errands, going 39 miles on the same three days.

So happily I can report I rode my bike more than I drove my car over the weekend.

The month of July is ending, and unless a miracle happens, I'll be ending the month with about a 38 hour deficit on my quest to ride my bike for more time than I commute in my car. According to my January projections, I would be about 49 hours short at this point, so I'm pretty happy.

Coming up in August, the office move will finally be happening, and I should be able to start hacking away at this gap. My "healthy wellness" rides should be able to resume on a more frequent basis, plus I aim to implement my "drive halfway and ride the bike from the commuter lot" plan, which could have a major impact on my stats.

Plus the fall and winter holidays with no work commutes will help my commuting time not grow as quickly, too.

This has been an interesting year, and I have been enjoying keeping track of all the data of my commutes and bike rides. My pie chart has been a pretty steady 56/44 split between riding and commuting, and I'm looking forward to the last 4 months of the year to see the green part grow and hopefully become larger than the red part.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tank 325 - 19 July 2K12 (Not Just Any Thursday...)

Early this morning I refilled at the Fas Mart near my home. 417.5 miles, 10.887 gallons, 38.35 miles per gallon.

Gas was $3.249/gallon, which is nine cents more than it was last time I filled up nine days ago.

It was 78 degrees and 5:55 am.

The news is reporting about this increase in gas prices again, like it's a bad thing that's going to put us all in the poorhouse (if we're not already there). But to put things in perspective, two weeks ago when it was still nine cents cheaper per gallon, my whole tank of gas would have been about 99 cents less expensive. I'd have spent $34.00 on it instead of $34.99.

If I drove a larger car and had to put in 16 gallons, then the difference in cost would have been about $1.50. One dollar and fifty cents. For one tank. If I refill twice a week (which I don't), that'd be about three dollars a week difference for a nine-cent-per-gallon jump in gas prices. Or about twelve dollars in a month.

As I've said before, if your budget can't absorb a twelve dollar expense in a month, you probably need to reassess your life priorities.

It's like people didn't realize that they'd ever be buying gas for the cars they bought. Gas is not free.

Indeed, I believe car window stickers now have an estimated annual fuel cost printed right there on the label, so if you can't understand the mileage number (hint: higher mileage means you'll spend relatively less on gas!), you can look at the estimated annual fuel cost (hint: higher is more!) and get some information to help you make up your mind.

If you don't think you want to spend $2,500 on gas each year, maybe you should reconsider the purchase of a 6,000 pound 4x4 SUV with a 400-horsepower V8 engine.

"But I use it to tow my boat to the marina in the spring and then to the storage unit in the fall!"

I can't even respond to that logic without going off on a cuss-filled rant on stupid people and their stupid priorities, so I'll end here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Don't Ride to Make a Statement.

About two years ago, I started riding my bicycle again. Since then, I've ridden over 7,000 miles on three different bicycles, and enjoyed every minute of it. It's not just exercise, it's fun and interesting.

I began riding again because I needed some sort of exercise to help keep my back muscles toned to help reduce lower back pain. I found that the riding posture helped stretch out the trouble spots in my back, and riding the bike also helped to gently exercise the back muscles.

So it's my exercise regimen as well as a source of fun and entertainment. But riding my bike quickly grew into something that couldn't properly be done in a neighborhood. Running is great exercise, but generally it is done in neighborhood streets, on sidewalks, and in parks. Bike riding can be done in neighborhoods as well, but there are stop signs to mind, and (my neighborhood, at least) the neighborhood is generally too small to go out on a one-hour ride without repeating the same small loop over and over and over. So I go out on my bike and leave my neighborhood and see the town.

At that point, my personal exercise becomes a public event. My private activity is occurring in public places. Yes, my neighborhood is a public place, but my rides take me across neighborhoods to other subdivisions and on other connecting roads. It just happens that way. I like to ride my bike for exercise purposes, and doing that puts me out there where lots of people can see me.

Yes, I frequently wear a bicycling costume: tight shorts and a vibrant-colored shirt. At first I was against such foolishness, but soon realized that the costume has a few purposes. First, the tight shorts make hours of pedaling much more tolerable because there's less friction and chafing due to loose shorts moving around as my legs spin on the pedals. And the bright, obnoxious bicycling shirts I have concluded are that way so that other people in cars can see me more easily. I'm riding on the right side of the road, along with traffic, so it's hard to make eye contact with drivers to verify they see me. So I wear ugly shirts that are bright and highly visible. My shirt makes eye contact because I can't.

I need to be seen so I don't get hit. I don't watch behind me, so I'm trusting that each and every driver is paying attention enough to see me on the edge of the road and gives me enough space as they pass. The bicycling costume helps achieve that goal.

Plus, the bicycling shirts generally have pockets in the back that are handy to hold snacks and things.

Since I'm well aware that my chosen method of exercise is out there on the roads that are used by everyone who drives, I do my best to be a considerate bicyclist and I try to go out there when there are fewer cars on the road, like on early weekend mornings. And when I am out there when lots of cars are out, I try to avoid major roads that have a lot of car traffic. My purpose is to go on a ride and enjoy myself, not to go out there and be a rolling road block for people driving in cars.

Of course, there seems to always be a few "enthusiasts" who make it their mission to ATTRACT UNNECESSARY ATTENTION TO THEMSELVES WHILE RIDING BIKES, who ride in the center of the lane even when there's a shoulder on the road because CYCLISTS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO THE ENTIRE LANE, TOO, and otherwise just seem to go out of their way to treat their rides like a parade that commands everyone's attention, respect, and praise.

These people brag about how their bikes cost as much as some economy cars (yes, even more than certain Mighty Corollas!), and their shorts cost $100 a pair because they're made from the silken threads of rare Malaysian spiders. While expensive bikes and clothes look nice, it's still the motor that needs to do the work. I say, if your bicycle's motor can't keep up with traffic, get yourself along over to the shoulder. The stack of cars piled up behind you has no idea how much your bike costs, and probably doesn't care, either, so stop being a jerk and let them by.

Just because you "can" occupy the whole lane, doesn't mean you "should" occupy the whole lane. Your ignorance and arrogance only makes it harder for other people who ride bikes. Do the right thing. Stay at the side of the road as much as you can and don't be a turd and take up more than your necessary space, and definitely don't get all aggressive and conceited when those cars honk their horn at you in anger when you are only managing 13 miles an hour on your $12,000 carbon fiber tri-bike with deep-section aero wheels.

I ride because I like to ride. I go out for long rides today so I can go out for longer rides tomorrow, and next week, and next year. I don't mean to be in your way on the roads, it's just that I must use them as I'm out there enjoying my private exercise activity. I'll do my best to not be a nuisance to you. Please don't lump me in with the other middle-aged white guys who spend more time polishing their bikes than they do riding them. I ride a bike like they do, but I'm not a part of their fraternity.

//steps off soapbox//

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tank 324 - 10 July 2K12 (I'm Ahead of You, Because I left Home Ten Seconds Before You!)

Refueled this morning at the convenient Fas Mart near my home, after driving the Mighty Corolla 414.0 miles in 11 days. My heart sank as I pumped in 11.448 gallons, which made for a pitiful mileage of 36.16 mpg. I should be happy, I suppose, since the government estimated the car should only ger 34 mpg on the highway.

Still, since we bought this car, I've achieved a lifetime fuel economy of 37.19 miles per gallon, so I'm disappointed that I didn't even achieve the average here.

* * * * *

I've been bothered recently on the road by people who drive erratically and/or aggressively. I tend to stay in the slow lane going about the posted speed limit. I try to let people merge at the onramps if I can't get over to the middle lane to open up the slow lane as they merge. I think that in general I'm a fairly conscientious and predictable driver.

On a regular basis, as I sit there commuting in the slow lane in my car, I see other cars speeding up feom behind, weaving in and out of the lanes in an effort to get past the immediate "obstacles" of other cars, only to reveal even more of the same "obstacles" ahead to keep them from speeding along at whatever top speed they thing they're entitled to drive.

Sometimes there's a perfect storm of coincidences where the slow lane is wide open behind me, and the aggressive speeder sees the wide open lane from across the road, and he sweeps across two lanes to the slow lane and lays the hammer down in an impressive display of acceleration to get past the slow people impeding his progress.

So this guy quickly sees that the slow lane is not entirely empty, but instead has a car in it (mine) that's being driven at a slow speed (by me), although "slow" must be relative because 65-70 mph is still pretty fast to me.

So the guy's faced with the embarrassing prospect of slamming on his brakes and waiting for a gap to open up amongst the people he just sped around.

If only he looked around at his surroundings, a little ahead of himself on the road, he would have seen that I was there. But no, he doesn't see me until he's committed to the move and zoomed past other cars in an aggressive fury of right-foot-stomping.

Sheesh. If you're in that big of a rush, LEAVE HOME SOONER!


I drive a freaking Corolla and the speedometer goes up to 110! If I want to go fast, all I need to do is push down my right foot a little bit more, just like you.

A fast car does not make you a stronger person.

A fast car does not make you a better person.

A fast car does not make you a happier person.

A fast car does not make you better than anybody else.

A fast car only means you can push your right foot down a little bit more than normal people.

A fast car only gets you stuck in traffic faster.

And that fast car also adds to the accordion slow-down effect that slows down all the other people trying to go in the same direction as you. And that's selfish, really.

How is that supposed to impress other people, especially when it's very likely that these other people are complete strangers?

It's all well and good that you spent $50,000 on your luxury car or SUV, but when I see you driving it like Tony Stewart (which you're not) and getting stuck in the same traffic as me (which you are), I actually feel bad for you. My Corolla was $15,000 and look at me, stuck here on the same road with you.

Was that a good use of your money? Spending three times as much to sit in the same traffic jam as the rest of us unwashed masses? I almost laugh at the situation, if it wasn't so sad, because you probably don't even realize what a fool you are for acting like that.

//steps off soapbox//