Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting there

Getting where? Well, last night, I was getting to the grocery store. I had a few items to pick up at the furthest of the grocery stores in my 2-mile radius. Things we had to have were only available there. Oh Joy. I'm lazy, and usually choose to stay closer to home for things like groceries. The large item protruding from my pannier is a 12-pack of 7-up. I could have gotten that closer to home, but I really felt like lugging 144 fluid ounces of HFCS-laden goodness for two miles instead of less than one. I'm just goofy like that. I've also come to the realization that these panniers work great for lugging stuff to work and back, but I would probably be better off with smaller, squarish grocery panniers or Wald fold-out baskets. Too bad the Walds are not Quick Release but I guess my saddlebags would go over them when they're collapsed. Ah well. More crap for my wish list. Oddly enough, last night was my first trip using the panniers and the fenders at the same time.

This morning, getting there was getting to the bus. The temperatures were below 40°F and there was a decent headwind still coming out of the north. Those two combined kept me from riding the whole way to work. Had it been above 40 or had winds been calm or tailwind, I would have jumped on it. So, here is my bike in its current commuting setup. I'm actually diggin' it and with the panniers on, the fenders really do complete the look. Well, that and the coffee press that's sitting on the seat tube. Damn, I love French-pressed coffee. And coffee on the bike is just... zen. Or maybe I'm just a helpless caffiend. Yes, I made that word up.

The weather is also getting there.

But really, I am getting there. Slowly. In August, it seemed like 170 miles in a given seven-day period is where I started to get fatigued. That was "The Wall" so to speak. There were times that I blew past that figure, but it was painful. Clinically, I was over-reaching and probably under-fed in the area of proteins. I was likely doing more harm than good those times. Evaluating my current situation, I was feeling pretty worn down after a 65-mile rolling week 2 weeks ago (using Wednesday to Tuesday) and now I'm at about 75 miles and feeling a bit better. I guess I thought I'd be ready to rock and roll and just hop back into 150-mile weeks no problem but it's been harder than I'd imagined. Things just don't want to work without hurting. Back, core, and legs mostly. I'll get there.

Last but not least, The Twelve is getting there, too. Really, not much has changed since I bought The Twelve on May 1st. I bought the NiteRider, the pedals, bottle cages and rack the same day I bought the bike. Here's a current run-down of my setup for those who are interested:

I Started with a bone-stock 2006 Trek 1200 54cm
Pedals upgraded to Shimano SPD M525
2x Specialized cheapo bottle cages
Blackburn XR-1 Cross Rack
Banjo Bros. Saddlebag Panniers
NiteRider Evolution Headlight (Upgraded to a 15W bulb)
DiNotte 200L-AA-S
Trek Discotech rear light
Mars 3.0 Rear light (helmet mounted)
Headland CMT Wedge
Shimano WH-R500 rear wheel (OEM got trashed)
Bontrager Race-Lite Hardcase rear tire (I've never flatted since)
SwissStop Green brake pads (OEM brakes sucked!)
SKS Commuter Fenders

Really, it's pretty much perfect for what I do. I've replaced the chain once, the brake cables once, and replaced the crappily-executed original bar tape. That's it. In several thousand miles, that's all this bike has needed save for a few adjustments here and there. How much has this all cost me so far? I'm afraid to total it up, but I know it's probably close to $1400. The original purchase with the accessories I got ran me almost exactly $1000.

So maybe the bike is the one thing that's already there. The rest of my situation is just playing catch-up.

Random Tunage:
Crystal Method - Busy Child
Hybrid - I'm Still Awake


sallymander said...

It would be great to see a rough tally of your bike commuting costs, including bus fare compared to the gas/parking/maintenance savings on your car. You sound stressed about spending money on your bike, but I bet in the long run you've more than made up for it.

Noah said...

Not at all stressed by any means.

My company actually pays for most of the monthly bus pass. I pay a mere $15 per month for the bus and my company pays the rest.

If I were to park my car downtown it would be $3.75 per day or $75 per month.

Also, via highway, there's the 35 miles of stop-and-go traffic round trip. This 1-hour, 15 minute round trip car commute would burn about 2 gallons of gasoline if not more simply because of the stop and go nature of traffic. My fuel efficient compact car doesn't do much good sitting in traffic. That's about $6.60 per day or more than $130 per month in fuel expenses alone, using $3.27/gallon, which is certain to go up soon.

By those calculations, without even figuring in the percentage of my car wear-n-tear, insurance, and other operating costs that my work commute would be responsible for, my car would cost me over $200 per month if I drove it to work daily.

Let's assume I started with the Trek 1200 from scratch, bought it, decked it out, $1400 worth of bike and goodies, plus $15 per month for bus passes since May 1st.

By the beginning of March (10 months from may 1st), I would have spent more than $2000 just on fuel and parking if I used my car daily.

$1400 in bike goodies plus $150 for 10 months of bus passes means I would have spent $1,550 total, or $450 less than driving over 10 months.

This is, of course, a broad-sweeping generalization of things. A high-level exercise in long term financial impact of buying a bicycle to replace your car for only work commutes.

Figure in the fact that I rarely drive my car for anything less than 2 miles these days, and how much fuel gets used just in starting the car.

Figure that by adding only 45-60 minutes to my commute time, I'm getting 120-150 minutes of cardio without paying a dime for gym membership.

Figure that I'm sleeping more soundly at night because my metabolism is up and I'm actually getting tired and that makes it easier to sleep.

Figure that I arrive at work alert, heart pounding, ready to face my day productively instead of arriving in a tunnel-vision traffic trance like so many office drones.

The benefits of riding are so vast and ever-present that you'd almost have to try to NOT see them in order to miss them.

Apertome said...

The bike looks great, a very nice setup indeed. The one area I feel lacking in my bike is lighting. I have enough to be seen, but not enough to see very well when it's dark -- I haven't been able to bring myself to spend the money on high-quality lights. Eventually, I will, and I'm sure it'll be worth it.

I like the French press mug. I have a mug that fits in my seat tube water bottle cage, and mine doesn't have the French press, but I love taking good coffee to work with me.

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