Monday, January 30, 2012

Good Riding but Not Catching Up

Lots of good things happened over this three-day weekend to allow me to ride more than 75 miles and five hours on the bike. Sadly, it only kept pace with the hours I had spent in the car for the week, as I'm still about five hours behind my cumulative commuting time.

This is okay, because this is not a sprint, but a marathon.

As we finish up January, it's likely that the commute time will be about seven hours longer than my bike riding time (based on what's happened so far).

Doing rough math, when the office moves to the new location, my daily commute time should be shortened by about 40 minutes total. At roughly 18 commutes per month, that's about a 12 hour reduction in commute time for the three year-end months, and maybe 6 hours for September, as it looks we'll be moving the office in early September.

So if I run a 7-hour deficit for 8 months, that's 56 hours through August. Then a 12-hour swing in the bike's favor for the ending three months, and let's hope that September's a wash. That's 36 hours back to the bike, leaving about a 20-hour deficit for the year, holding the January numbers constant during the year.

However, January may or may not be normal in terms of bike riding or commuting.

If I take some vacation days this year, which I fully expect to do, that will help keep the gap close, particularly if I can ride my bike on those days. Also, I anticipate riding in two century rides this year, which will probably take 7 or 8 hours each, if I am lucky, which will help the bike riding time catch up with the commuting time.

I think if I can keep this pie chart looking much like this throughout the winter and into the spring, my chances will be good that I can achieve the goal of riding my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work for the year.

Miles ridden in January: 304
Miles commuted in January: 1088

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tank 304 - Two Clicks, So Close

Probably the coolest thing about today's refueling at the Wawa near my office is that the first click stopped right exactly at $37.00. But since my process is to squeeze the pump again until the second click, I squoze the nozzle and then the second click shut the pump off at.... 11.001 gallons!

That's pretty close to 11.00, so almost two clicks stopped at totally round numbers.

Anyway, I managed to go a long 444.7 miles on the tank, so my mileage was 40.42 mpg, a high for the young year and more than 10% better than my last tank.

Many of my commuting trips on this tank were spent behind tractor trailers, at a safe distance of course. Some of these drafting experinces were at much higher speeds than I normally would go by myself in the car (72+ miles per hour behind some of the trucks), so it's likely that some of the mileage gains were negated somewhat by the additional speed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Delta Touch Faucet is Still Terrible (With Video Proof)

So last night I was finishing up the dishes, quietly suffering the Delta Touch faucet's fussiness.

If you get the water temperature right, it's not coming out hard enough to do any good. If you get the pressure right, it's too hot or too cold.

And the freaking spray will splash all over the place and make the whole area wet and sprinkled with water at any pressure worth using.

So as I'm finishing up with the last pan, the spray feature obviously splashes up and some warm water lands on the faucet and this happened:

This was going on for long enough for me to 1) find the camera, 2) find the battery, 3) get back to the kitchen, and 4) STILL record 43 seconds of this horrible malfunction.

Imagine struggling with a horrible faucet like this every day.

Please don't make this mistake, people! Spend less money on a regular faucet and be happy instead!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rain and Slick Ice Ruin the Weekend!

Bad news is that Saturday was an icy washout of a day that halted my bike riding plans.

Good news is that Friday's commute home wasn't bad at all, and that I got to go out for almost an hour on Sunday, on the old yellow bike.

A short work week this week, and my friend John might be up for a long ride on Friday morning while all out kids are in school.

I'm 5 hours down, and it's looking to get worse this week as I have meetings in the afternoons that will preclude my healthy wellness rides.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Forecast: Slippy, Icy Rain

Well, I'm entering the weekend down about four hours on the bicycle, and the weather may not cooperate very well to let me catch up some time on this deficit here.

This week, however, I learned that the plans to move the office from here to ten miles closer to my home have been advanced, and now it appears that the move will be happening at the beginning of September and not the end of September as I originally thought.

I think the move will reduce my daily total commute time by at least 40 minutes, which would be about three hours and twenty minutes per 5 day week. Seeing on how I've carried a four-hour deficit for two consecutive weeks, I think I can conclude that I'll chip away at least three hours against the commute total each week after the move.

So instead of being all bummed out at the ever-growing red portion of commuting time, I'll remain calm and optimistic that the move in September will be the beginning of the time that the green biking part will grow and hopefully surpass the red car part.

If I get motivated enough, I might take my spreadsheets and fill them with dummy number estimates based on historical data to see how it might pan out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tank 303 - 18 January 2012 (Worst Mileage of the Year!)

So this morning I refueled at the most convenient gas station to my house. Yes, I stopped at the Fas Mart, home of the world's second-slowest gas pumps, at o'dark thirty, after going a mere 405.3 miles.

When the low fuel light lit at 381.7 miles yesterday, my suspicion that this would be a bad tank was confirmed. I put 11.036 gallons of gas in there, making for a fuel economy for the tank of 36.73 miles per gallon. Yuck!

I don't know exactly what I did wrong to achieve such mediocre results. But I'm ashamed. When I changed the oil last week, I noticed one of the little plastic covers underneath the front of the car had gotten loose, so I duct taped it back into place, as the little plastic connector piece went missing. I was hopeful that that would have improved things, since the plastic cover thingie was no longer flapping in the breeze as I drove.

Alas, my driving efforts for this tank were not rewarded with great mileage that I have come to expect from myself and this car.

However, so far I am averaging 11 days between tanks of gas for the year, which is a new record if it holds up.

On the bike ride vs. commute front, I am excited to be able to go out on a ride today. The weather report calls for wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour, so I hope to be going in the right direction when that happens on my "healthy wellness" bike ride this afternoon.

Finally, there appears to be a nearly abandoned little girls bike in my neighborhood. There's a sign on it, and from the pieces I can read as I drive by, I think that if nobody takes it by the weekend, the guy's going to take it to the dump. It looks like the bike is in decent shape. So I'm going to collect it on my way home today and fix it up and give it to our church yard sale in April.

So I guess this is step 1 in becoming the crazy old bike repair guy. There are worse things I can envision myself doing as I approach my golden years...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cold Weather Kind of Hinders Bicycling Time, Commute Has a Comfortable Lead.

If only my New Year's Resolution was to compare my commuting home times with my bicycling times, this graph would be always more green than red.

But common sense and fairness dictate that commuting time should include trips both to and from the office, so the chart will likely be skewing red for the foreseeable future.

I had a super ride on Saturday morning of two and three-quarters hours and forty miles, and I got to see a whole lot of the surrounding area near my house. It was cold, and I misremembered the distances of some of the roads I took, so the ride was longer than I anticipated. When I got home, my toes were very cold and it took many minutes to get them warmed back up by tucking them into the air register as the heat was blowing. Other than that, my layering was wildly successful in the 30 degree temperatures outside.

I skipped Sunday but went for a ride again yesterday morning. It was even colder, about 20 degrees in the morning, and I only lasted about 70 minutes and about 16.5 miles. But I managed to take down a fair number of ugly signs along the side of the road, so I got to do that. Again, when I got home, it was my toes that fared the worst. The little piggies were even colder than the big ride from Saturday.

Today it's a little rainy and I will be attending a doctor appointment this afternoon, so no ride for me. The appointment is after lunch, so I'm leaving work and going north. I suppose I'll start the "commute home timer" as I pass by the office on the way home from the appointment. That seems fair.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

An unfortunate place for facebook to truncate a longer posting...

Thursday Morning Update (If Only I Tracked Just the Trips Home!)

I expected the early pie charts to favor the commute, but if it continues to be this much of an advantage, my three months of a shorter commute to end this year just won't be enough for the bike riding to catch up!

If my trips to get to work weren't included, this chart would be slightly in favor of the bike riding: 479 minutes vs. 443 minutes. And it likely would remain in favor of the bike riding for the entire year, so it wouldn't be a challenge.

Happily, this is my last work day of the week and it's going to be a four-day weekend. Unhappily, it may snow/ice tonight to make for a difficult ride tomorrow. I'm going on a "healthy wellness ride" at work today for about an hour, but then will drive it home.

So when I get home today, it'll be about nine hours biking/fourteen hours commuting. And over a four-day weekend, I'll probably be able to get five hours of biking in. So next week it'll likely be back to a 50/50 split.

I think this is how the effort will go for the year. The car commuting will pile up during the week, and I'll valiantly try to catch up and ride more on the weekends. The days are getting longer, and the sun is rising earlier each day so I'll be able to get out earlier each Saturday. But there will be some weekends where I won't be able to ride for 2+ hours to help in this effort. I know in May I'm going to a graduation, and in June I'm going to a wedding.

But then again, in April I might ride a century ride, which will take at least 6 and probably 7 hours, so that'll make up for a Saturday or two as well.

And I can't forget that I'm still less than two weeks into the new year, and this is a year-long effort.

Let's Go, Bike!
Let's Go, Bike!

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's the Bike, by Two Minutes!

Yesterday morning I went out on a bike ride, but cut it short and came home after 46 minutes. Just for grins, I had installed my old 8-speed cassette with my new chain, and sure enough, it skipped in the gears I used most frequently, just like everyone said.

My choices were to suck it up and accept the skipping and chattering whenever I pedaled with more than gentle force, or use the biggest gears and smallest gears, as they didn't chatter, but that worked up to more cross-chaining than I really wanted to do.

And I immediately started thinking the worst- that every little skip and chatter of the new chain would immediately screw it up so that when I got home and switched back to the new 8-speed cassette the new chain would be totally ruined and I'd be compelled to start new again.

So I got home before my mind exploded from the painful thought exercise. I'd gone ten miles on the new chain/old cassette combination, and immediately (8:15 in the morning) took off the old cassette and put on the new one again. I don't plan on riding a "healthy wellness" ride today at work (It's supposed to rain, and I'm a wimp), but I will tomorrow, since it's due to be sunny and warm-ish.

Thus, my weekend bike ride efforts were truncated, but happily it turns out that I had ridden just enough to keep the bike riding ahead of the car commuting: 423 minutes vs. 421 minutes. This was primarily on the strength of a two-hour and sixteen minute ride on Saturday morning, where I covered just over 34 miles. It started out near freezing, but warmed up to about 45 degrees as I enjoyed the country roads of Spotsylvania and Caroline Counties. Plus, I found three pennies in an intersection.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tank 302 - 6 January 2K12 (It Took Two Gas Stations This Time)

So this morning it was dark and the Mighty Corolla had gone 438 miles, so I stopped at the Sunoco near my office. I'd gotten gas there before, but the pump was acting up. After a minute of squeezing the handle, only 0.041 gallons has trickled into the tank. Fourteen cents worth. I lost patience and drove down the street to a Mobil station. Happily, gas was about ten cents cheaper per gallon there, so thank you Sunoco for having a broken slow pump!

So the Mobil pump was a little faster and I put in 11.160 gallons there, making for a total gas input of 11.201 gallons for the 438.4 miles I had gone. And thus, my fuel economy turned out to be 39.14 miles per gallon.

I'm pleased with this result, because several of my commutes on this tank were following tractor trailers at unreasonably high speeds, for me anyway, of 70 to 75 miles per hour. So drafting at high speeds seems to result in fuel economies similar to driving granny style in the slow lane.

Meanwhile, I am driving to and from work every day this week and haven't ridden my bike any more. I hope to change that today and go out for a "healthy wellness ride" after lunch. And hopefully manage a couple good rides over the weekend. Then next week's a four-day week and a four-day weekend.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Early Swing Towards Car!

I fully expect, well hope, really, that this is just a factor of it's been cold and windy this week and I haven't ridden my bike for "healthy wellness" purposes at work yet this year, and I can't again this afternoon because I have a meeting with a guy at the place so I won't be able to ride again today, so tomorrow this chart will be even more skewed towards the car.

But perhaps I can bring the bike to work tomorrow and ride it before I go home. That'll help. And then I'll have Saturday and Sunday for some long rides- it doesn't look like it's going to be rainy for a while, and night time lows will stay above freezing.

I think this will be the format for the chart. It's got the easy visual pie chart, and a good summary of the supporting data.

My prediction is that the car will have a slight advantage for most of the year, but the bike portion will slowly make gains starting in October, as my office is moving closer to home at the end of September so my commute will take less time. Indeed, the worst part of the commute will be gone, the part that sometimes takes 35 minutes to go ten miles.

So now the challenge is so totally on.

I really hope the bike wins!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Commute vs. Bike - Chart Test

So I have my Excel spreadsheet all set up so all I need to do is enter my travel times for each item I'm tracking this year- commute to, commute from, and bike ride- and this snappy pie chart adjusts accordingly.

Right now it's just showing the relative proportions of time and nothing else.

But I have lots of data: times (of course) but also number of each ride, average time for each ride, and well I guess that's it for now.

Who thinks that's a good idea? I do.

Mostly today is a first try to get the pie chart into the blog post in an easy way for me.

As the year goes on, probably within the next week or so, I'll get the pie chart to look better with more information that will seem helpful

This was only a test. Except with actual data.