Sunday, December 30, 2012

IT'S THE BIKE BY TWELVE MINUTES!

THE BIKE WINS BY TWELVE MINUTES!

THE BIKE WINS BY TWELVE MINUTES!

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.

haha!

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.

Yay!

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...