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.