Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Almost Halfway - Looks Like I Might Ride My Bike More Than I Commute To and from Work in 2K12

At the beginning of the year, I thought of a fun goal. Seeing on how I like to track how long it takes me to get home from work each day, and how I like to track how much I ride my bike for fun exercise, I saw that last year I totally rode my bike for more time than it took me to get home each day.

So I started wondering, what if I tracked how long it took me to drive into work as well? Would my bicycling time still be more than my round-trip commutes to and from work in the Mighty Corolla? A few quick calculations made it a clear "no." But happily, 2012 would be a strange year in that my office is moving from where it is now to a new building that's about 12 miles closer to my home.

The new building would reduce my trips home by probably about 30 minutes per day, as the 12 miles on the interstate generally were where the worst most heavily-travelled and slowest part of my trip happened.

The move would be in September, making for four months of shorter round trip commutes, and the possibility of riding my bike some days to and from the office, as the new building is equipped with exercise rooms with lockers and shower facilities.

Numbers were estimated and the goal was created: I'd spend more time riding my bike in 2012 than I would spend commuting to and from work in my car. Because of the move, I'd spend the first 8 months riding a deficit situation, and then after the move in September I'd be riding my bike for more time than commuting and I'd eat away at the gap and probably close the gap and end the year triumphantly with more hours logged in the saddle than in the driver's seat.

With two commuting days left in June, I'm about 33.5 hours short with the bike riding. A couple months ago, I'd have predicted I'd be about 42 hours down. But with recent developments with the office move, my Thursdays from here on out will be ending at the new building (where there's a weekly meeting to status all the facets of the new office construction), so my Thursday commutes home will be shorter.

Indeed, my last two Thursday commutes home have been 33 minutes each. The three before that averaged more than 75 minutes.

And the goal lives on. I continue to enjoy riding my bike for healthy wellness exercise, I continue to obsessively track my commute times and gas mileage, and I get to make nifty pie charts and graphs to keep track of all my data.

Thank you for reading this most boring blog on the planet.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tank 322 - 21 June 2K12 (Plus a Weather Alert. And a Small Rant.)

So I put more gas in the Mighty Corolla this morning at the Fas Mart near my home. It was 77 degrees and 5:55 a.m.

I had driven the car 419.5 miles and put in 10.931 gallons of gas, making for a fuel economy of 38.38 miles per gallon for this tank.

Gas was $3.169 per gallon. Fredericksburg is an interesting place, because gas is generally ten cents per gallon cheaper than most other places in Virginia, it seems. And by "most other places," I mean the Woodbridge area, which is the only other place where I see gas prices on a regular basis. Here near the office where I work, the "cheap gas at Costco" is $3.269/gallon today.

Meanwhile, people are going nuts that it's summertime and it's going to be hot outside today. I think it'd be a bigger news story if it was summertime and snow was in the forecast, but that's just me.

But we've all been lucky so far this year. There have been no sightings (and by "no sightings," I mean I personally have not seen any of this reported) of and global warming reports as a source of this heat wave. The weathermen are just saying it's a summertime heat wave. And I like that.

Not that I am a global warming unbeliever. Indeed, I am pretty sure that 7 billion people on a planet can't NOT have an impact on things. I do think that I don't like how it's portrayed in the media as two extreme positions: one where the ice caps are irreversibly going to melt and people in Boulder will find themselves with oceanfront property in five years, and the other where we need to drill for more oil and burn more gas in our V8-powered SUVs as we go one mile to the convenience store and expect nothing bad will happen.

I am all for being frugal with whatever resources you have.

I am all for spending as little on gasoline as I can, by buying it at a cheap gas station and also by driving like a Granny to get as good fuel economy as I can.

I am for ceiling fans.

I am against drag racing from one stoplight to the next during rush hour traffic.

I am against driving 40 miles an hour down a residential street. If you're running that late, leave your house a little earlier. There's people- your neighbors!- walking down this street you're speeding on.

I am confused by people who think that large cars that get crappy mileage are safer. It seems to me that they get into wrecks and crashes, too. Not only do large cars cost more, they use more gas and are generally more expensive to run and maintain. And they get stuck in traffic just as well as smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, so I don't understand why people would choose to spend more money just to experience the same sort of traffic woes as those of us in smaller cars. "Yay! Spend more money to sit in traffic, too!"

I'm starting to look forward to going home on Tuesday July 3. I think I'll ride my bike home again and whizz past all those solo drivers in their giant metal boxes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tank 321 - 13 June 2K12

So I refueled the Mighty Corolla early this morning at the Fas Mart near my home. The last time I refilled at the Fas mart was on May 16th, three tanks ago.

This time, I'd gone 447.3 miles, and I pumped in 11.547 gallons, making for a fuel economy number of 38.74 miles per gallon, which brought my average for the year up to 38.42 mpg. It was the second farthest I've gone on a tank of gas this year.

And then I got lucky for the highway portion of my commute to work this morning. Not only was traffic relatively light and therefore smoothly free-flowing, I immediately was able to tuck in behind a tractor trailer that went a comfortable speed of about 62 miles an hour. And I was able to follow in the draft of that truck for about 23 miles.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Minding the Gap (between commuting in the car and riding the bike)

I had two great bike rides of about two hours each over the weekend, and my bicycling time is way ahead of all other months in the year so far. This seems good, but it's going to rain pretty hard here tomorrow and Wednesday, so I may not get much riding in to balance the commuting I'll be doing this week.

However, I am off on Friday for a three day weekend, but that will be used up by a road trip to visit relatives. But I'll strap the bike to the minivan and hopefully go for a ride whilst there.

Meanwhile, I am pleased that we're a third through the month and the bike riding/car commuting deficit is a shade under 30 hours. According to my rough estimate guess from the beginning of the year, I ought to end this month with a 42-hour deficit and still feel like my goal of riding my bike for more time than commuting in the car is achievable.

My office move appears to have been delayed by a week, but it's still going to be in August.

Maybe I'm just tracking this stuff because as I get older I'm realizing the futility and lack of control I have of much of my life, and this keeping of meticulous records concerning a couple things I foolishly believe I have control over is helping me to keep sane.

That and my fuel economy.

And then my mind wanders towards what my life might look like after the office moves and my commute is not a Herculean effort in patience and tedium every day. Will I sleep in more? Will I get home sooner? Will there be a measurable difference in the quality of my life?

I certainly hope so. I've recently been feeling more twinges and pangs of pain in my lower back and upper neck, and it would be great if it's because of these unnatural hours spent in my car driving to and from my office (where I tend to sit in a cubicle most of the time), which can't be good for my general muscle tone.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tank 320 - 2 June 2K12 (I forgot amidst all the excitement)

I refueled the Mighty Corolla last Saturday at the Giant near my house. The low fuel light had not come on, but I'd gone 405.1 miles. Plus, my wife had some Giant Points and we got like 20 cents off per gallon, and we broke the rules and refilled the minivan and Corolla at the same pump.

So some quick math revealed that 10.572 of the 28 gallons went onto the Corolla, making for a fuel economy of 38.32 miles per gallon.

That's about it. It was nine days between tanks, which was higher than my average for the year, but expected since it was coming off a short Memorial Day week of work.

So far this year, I have spent $754.24 on gas for the Corolla, at an average price of $3.575 per gallon, and getting an average of 38.40 miles per gallon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bicycle vs. Commute Tracking Update: End of May/Beginning of June

Turned out on my last working day of May, I had an appointment on the base, which put me nearer to home for my afternoon drive. Then, when I got home, I went on a little ride around the neighborhood, and maybe to the library and back (I don't remember), so for the month of May, I ended with a deficit of 34.7 hours, like this:

I was not at work on Friday, 1 June (scheduled day off), and I went on a long ride with a friend. And I got in another almost two-hour ride on Sunday (yesterday) for a weekend total of a little more than six hours of bike riding. So I am starting the working month of June in a good way, with a deficit of "just 29.13 hours."

I have 17 scheduled working days this month, compared to 20 last month. That's about 5 or 6 hours of commuting in my car that I won't do this month (when compared with last month). It's looking pretty good that I will remain on track to achieve my goal this year of riding my bike for more time than I sit commuting to and from work in my car.

I'm finding that my hours in the car feel long, boring and tedious. But my hours on my bicycle seem to fly by. When I get home after a particularly long commute home, I drag my feet and trudge around and I'm all "ugh! It took me TWO HOURS to get home today!" And when I return from a long bike ride, I'm all "wow! I rode for TWO HOURS and feel great! That was so fun, I should have stayed out for even longer!"

120 minutes each time, but one of them sucked the life out of me, while the other pumped the life back into me.