Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gas or GU?

Does it cost more to commute to work by car, or by bike?

Seems like the answer would be rather obvious. Gas is expensive and cars are inefficient and heavy--while bikes are cheap, light, and efficient. Surely, then, riding a bike much be cheaper!

But fancy energy foods like GU and Powerbars aren't cheap. One packet of GU (100 calories) costs about $1.35 at REI. How many GU packets do I need to pedal my bike to work?

Time for a spreadsheet. According to my Garmin bike computer, I burn about 1700 calories on my 34-mile ride to and from work (I ride fast, since I'm training for the CTR). That translates into 17 GU packets, for a total cost of $22.95.Yikes!

OK, but what about driving. Between my Honda Element and Honda Fit, I get about 28 miles/gallon. Therefore, I burn about 1.2 gallons of gas getting to work and back. At today's gas prices, that's about $3.95.

So, it looks like riding is WAY more expensive than driving. Even adding in the cost of wear and tear on the car, maintenance, etc., I'd have a hard time stretching $3.95 anywhere close to $22.95.

But I don't eat GU packets for breakfast--or for lunch. How about if I power my bike commute with Cheerios and skim milk (the breakfast of Cat 6 champions)? That comes out to $3.62. Much better!

Lots of college students ride their bikes to work, and they're not exactly flush with money to buy GU. When I was in college, I ate a lot of Ramen noodles. My spreadsheet reports that commuting on Ramen only costs 76 cents. Yeah, WAY cheaper than driving! Maybe I should eat more Ramen.

Now that I've got my nifty spreadsheet, I'm going to plug in some more foods. Steaks, pinto beans, etc...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Plans for 2012

Here's what I've got planned for 2012:

Horsetooth Time Trial Series (April)
Yep, road racing. Since most of my rides and training already take place on roads and bike paths (I commute from Windsor to Fort Collins, about 34 miles round-trip), I figure that it will be fun to take my "Cat 6 racing experience" to the next level. Rather than endanger other riders by attempting to compete in a group race, I hope that entering a few time trials will safely assuage my competitive spirit. If nothing else, riding that hard is bound to be a good training! Thanks to Alan Shenkel, the husband of my wife's good friend Jamie, for the inspiration.

Kokopelli's Trail (May)
I really enjoyed riding Koko with a couple of buddies last year, so we're going to do it again. I originally planned on organizing an officially-sanctioned race for 2012, but instead I'm looking forward to just getting out there and riding the trail with a handful of friends. We are definitely not racing each other, rather just riding hard and hoping to make it the entire way in good style.

Colorado Trail Race (August)
Although I finished the CTR in 2010, last year's attempt didn't end so well. Still, I learned a lot, and I'm excited to get out there again. No time limits in 2012--just a good solid effort to finish quickly and safely. Now that I have more experience, I don't need to obsess over planning so much this time around, although I am looking forward to refining my gear and getting as much stuff into bike bags as possible. No more panniers, and hopefully not too much weight on my back.

I run a fair bit for cross-training. So I'm also thinking that it might be fun to run a marathon or something in 2012. But I don't have anything planned yet. If I manage to run a rnough through the winter, this is more likely to become a reality.