Suburban Assault

My 2012 Bike Commuting Goal Was Reached

with 11 comments

LAUNCH

I’ve been riding my bicycle quite a bit for the past few years – mostly for fun, but sometimes to get places. Last year I decided to try commuting to work. I gave myself a goal of replacing the distance equivalent to what I would drive with 1 tank of gasoline. That’s approximately 360 miles.

Well, after easily reaching that goal, I decided to double it for this year. Starting in late April, my new goal was to replace the distance of 2 tanks of gasoline (720 miles) with bicycling. Breaking it down, this required me to ride my 13.5 mile (each way) commute to work, once or twice a week – pretty manageable. I also decided to include any other bicycle trips that I would normally have driven – not recreational rides.

This distance goal was reached by the end of July, but then I started to question some of those extra trips. How many of my weekend rides were made longer, simply because it was more fun on a bike? Were they a true apples to apples replacement for driving? I decided to alter my goal at that point, where I would just track the miles that I used to get to and from work.

I was at a good pace to reach that new goal until things got a bit busy. I was having to keep longer hours at the office, school was ramping back up for the kids and I had a few, further away, appointments throughout the week that required using the car. Eventually, that all tapered off and I was able to reach my new distance goal this week.

Overall, since April, I’ve replaced 1,082 miles of car trips with my bike (3 tanks of gas). Of those trips, 730 miles were commutes to and from work (2 tanks). And, I’m not finished yet. Even with the days getting shorter, I feel that I have a few more commutes left.

Here are a few things that I’ve learned this year while commuting (I’ll add more, later, as I remember them):

• Headwinds suck
• Set realistic goals – As much fun as riding is, this always helps with motivation.
• Education is fundamental for a confident ride – I can’t tell you how much TS101 and Cycling Savvy have reduced my stress level and increased my ride enjoyment.
• Headwinds suck
• Lighten your load – when I first started commuting, I tried to carry everything from spare clothes to my laptop, on my back. It felt like I was carrying another person. Now, I keep spare clothes at the office and I try to reduce my homework on days that I commute.
• Hydrate, a bunch – I’ve learned that I can’t neglect my body when it comes to the Texas heat.
• Look behind you – The best thing about a mirror is how it reduces my stress, not by letting me know when cars are behind me, but how few.
• Headwinds suck
• It’s not a race – It used to bother me when folks speed past me on the road. Now I just stick to my pace and enjoy the ride. Please, just announce your passing.
• Don’t fear the dark – One of my worries was the limited amount of daylight, because I was concerned about riding in the dark. I’ve since discovered that I like night riding (especially early in the morning), because there are fewer cars and it’s quite peaceful. Having a good set of lights is key.
• It really is uphill and against the wind both ways – You never really notice when you are riding on subtle downhills, but the subtle uphills are a nice reminder. Also, is it me or does the wind shift directions in the afternoon?
• Enjoy the ride – as soon as commuting becomes a chore, it’s no longer fun. Every once in a while, slow down, look around and say hello to people.
• Hand signals work – Sure, you might feel a bit nerdy using them. However, you’d be surprised at how many people you really communicate with.
• Headwinds suck

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Written by dickdavid

September 14, 2012 at 5:46 am

11 Responses

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  1. There have been times it seemed the wind turned with me on exercise rides. And energy level can make the return trip seem more uphill, too.

    Brian Rogers

    September 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

  2. Great post!

    My goal is to do a 1000 miles for the year, but honestly I lost track of how many miles i have done.
    I was doing exactly like you riding and communting here and there at least 3 times a week and riding on the weekend for fun. Now I am commuting everyday 14 miles a day have lost over 20 pounds and love it.

    And I could not agree with you more headwind sucks and the wind does change direction.

    – james

    jamesjay

    September 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    • Congrats on the weight loss. Just another awesome benefit to cycling.

      dickdavid

      September 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

  3. Congratulations! I’ve been having success bicycle commuting too – a couple times a week. It gives me something to look forward to and breaks up the day.

    Bill Chance

    September 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm

  4. So, you don’t like headwinds? If you work SOUTH of where you live, the prevailing winds help the commuter. If you work NORTH, well, things are less pleasant…

    Steve A

    September 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    • I’m mostly an east west commuter, but I do live south of my office.

      dickdavid

      September 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

  5. I agree if you work south of where you live the prevailing wind helps. I work north of where I live and the wind is always against me both ways morning and night. I also try to commute every day unless it is raining or snowing hard. I have a 12 mile commute one way and enjoy every bit of it. I also agree that riding in the dark adds an additional pleasure to the ride with good lighting.

    dave

    September 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  6. [...] work day, energizer station. – I participated in my 3rd Wild Ride. – I doubled last year’s bike commuting goal. – I read a few good bike books: here, here and here. – I saw a few good bike movies: here and [...]

  7. [...] be? I used to dominate North Shore and L.B. Houston back in the day. During the summer, I’d commute to work – 14 miles (each direction) in 100+ degree weather. Really, how bad could 2.32 miles of dirt [...]


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