Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

2008 was my first year as a full time bike commuter. I'll use this post to close out the year, and speculate about what 2009 might bring.

The Beginning

July 14, Monday
In a lunchtime conversation with my friend Jeff, I learned that he had bought a new Cannondale F5 mountain bike over the weekend. That got me thinking about cycling. I had commuted for the better part of a Summer in Huntsville, Alabama in my late teens, so I was already familiar with the process, but didn't really know much about the equipment and techniques.

July 15, Tuesday
Schooled myself about what kind of bike I needed, and learned about bike commuting through sites like Commute By Bike and mapped potential routes using Map My Ride.

July 16, Wednesday
Walked into the Trek Omaha store and clearly stated what I wanted to do. They put me on a Trek 7300 with lights. They were out of racks, so I had to come back over the following weekend and pick it up.

July 17, Thursday
My first commute to work. This was a life changing event.

And then a lot of days...

I won't log every day here. I just wanted to recall how quickly this all came about. I'll summarize and say that in the same week that I got my bike, we got a MT 220 for my daughter, and the following week pick up another 7300 for my wife.

Over the Summer we participated in the Corporate Cup Challenge and took many pleasure rides. One way we found to encourage our daughter to ride was to buy her a book at Border's after every five rides, or to ride down to the neighborhood Arby's for a soda and some curly fries. Emily says that her friends almost didn't believe her when she described riding 20 miles in one day.

Commuting To Work

According my logs at Map My Ride, I've ridden a total of 1,554 miles since I started. If I keyword search on "commute," I see 1041 miles.

If you figure that my truck gets 20 MPG, then I've saved 52 gallons of gasoline. When I started bike commuting, gas was near $4 / gallon. Now it's under $2. If we say gas, on average, was $3 /gallon, then I could estimate that I've saved $156.

Parking downtown can be free, if you walk far enough, or $3 to $8 a day. Monthly parking at my employer cost about $80 a month. If we say that I've saved $3 a day since mid July, and that there are about 20 working days on average each month, then I've saved about $330 on parking.

Estimated saving in gas and parking for cycling to work are approximately $500 for my first half-year. You can see that it doesn't take long to pay off the cost of a decent bicycle.

I started July 17 at 213 pounds. Yesterday morning I was at 196 pounds. That a net loss of 17 pounds. Other than cycling, I'm not doing any extra exercise. I'm eating more, and feeling better. My blood pressure is well below normal, and my resting heart rate is lower than average. At my fattest several years ago, I was near 250 pounds, so this 196 feel good, though I know I can do better.

An Intro To Long Rides

In early October, my wife, Roxanne and I rode from our house, over the BK Bridge, and to the trailhead of the Wabash Trace. We rode a couple of miles down the trace and then came back home. Round trip, this was about a 42 mile ride. We simply ran out of time, having other things that needed our attention at home, or else we could have enjoyed more time on the trace. This ride proved to us that we could do some light touring. We're cooking up plans now to ride more of the trace, possibly staying overnight in a hotel or camp site somewhere along the way.

Utility Cycling

Roxanne and I both have rear racks. We also have a couple of the Trek Interchange Grocery Bags that can hold an amazing amount of groceries. If we completely load up with panniers and use bungee cords for stuff on the rack, we can each carry about 50 pounds of goods. In the warmer weather, we made several trips to our local Hy-Vee about two miles away. It's mostly downhill there, and uphill back. For the purposes of carting groceries, it would be nice if it were the other way around, but such is life.

Many trips and errands were made by bike. These include:
  • eating out
  • hardware store
  • eating out
  • bike shop
  • eating out
  • drug store
  • eating out
  • book store
  • eating out
  • visiting family
  • eating out
  • attended baseball game
  • eating out
  • optometrist
  • and some eating out
Had Some Adventures

I've changed a flat, added studded tires for snow and ice, learned more about multi-modal bike-bus commuting, learned basic bike maintenance, become interested in bicycle/pedestrian advocacy, made some maps of the upcoming bike route system, discovered several routes and interesting neighborhoods between home and work, learned how to dress at -8°, learned a bit about my own body, and generally, learned that I can do anything that I set my mind to, all the while having a great time.

I even had a chance to glimpse how utility cycling is done in other places.

Getting out of my car and on to my bike in 2008 has literally been a life changing event.

Made Some Connections

Through cycling, I've been introduced to some incredible people, some I've met in person, and many only though the blogosphere. These folks have been encouraging, and even mentor-like in their passing down of hints, tricks, techniques and cycling specific knowledge.

Here's credit where credit is due:

  • Jeff - I've known Jeff for perhaps 10 years. We both work downtown and meet often for lunch, trading bike stories, and encouragement. Jeff is a life long mountain biker, and commuted during the summer three days a week, at over 37 miles a day! We would sometimes form a "bike pool" and ride out of downtown together.

  • Brady - I found Brady's blog when looking for information about cycling and bus transit. I'd never met Brady before, but knew who he was, as we both work for the same employer. He's often a first commenter on my blog, and we chat a little in the gym at work. Through his own blog and comments on mine, I've gotten invaluable information on gear and techniques for commuting.

  • Munson - His blog is also a valuable source of information. In competition with Brady, Munson often comments on my blog posts. Munson seemingly has mastered the art of thrifty and resourceful riding. I think of him as the MacGyver of cycling. He knows all about gear and how to extend the usefulness and life of gear.

  • Biker Bob - I met Bob briefly at a lecture on bicycling at UNO presented by Andy Clarke of the League of American Cyclists and John Burke, CEO of Trek Bicycles. Bob blogs a lot about cycling and also leaves useful comments.

The Omaha bike commuting has several bloggers, and many of them are exceptional in helping out folks with constructive and encouraging comments, as well as advice about routes, technique, and gear. I'm certain I am leaving some off, but here's a list:

I look forward to meeting new cycling folks over the next year.

Looking Ahead To 2009

I can't really predict what 2009 will be like. I plan to get some dual purpose platform/clipless pedals and some proper cycling shoes. I expect to continue to ride to work everyday. I also expect to get out more on the weekends for some exercise and pleasure rides. If the last half of 2008 saw me at about 1,600 miles, then I think 3,000 to 5,000 miles wouldn't be out of the question for next year.

I'd like to bike more with my family, especially if we can get our teenage son to come with us.

In general, I just expect to continue biking it whenever I can for work and errands, and to perhaps do a little better on the exercise and diet front. I'm already vegan, but you'd be surprised how many junk foods are vegan.


munsoned said...

Scott, if it's ok, I'd like to suggest your blog to anyone who is interested in getting into commuting. Your detailed explanations of what issues you have overcome could be a crucial resource to anyone running into the same problems. I hope more people find your little golden nugget in the blogosphere.

Scott Redd said...

Hey Munson:

You bet. It is my hope that my meager writing soliciting inspired comments from real experts will be of use to future ranks of bike commuters.

My role is to show that ordinary people can do it, and that it's more fun than it is work.

Have a great 2009!

brady said...

It's been fun watching you learn.

I've also gained knowledge on commuting gear, effective bicycle hardware upgrades and gaining visibility during the commute by reading your blog.

2008's been a good year of discovery. Here's to '09.

Biker Bob said...

Great, now I have to leave "useful comments".

Nice article. I'd also like to point some people to your blog from if that is ok with you. You cover a lot good information and you posts are well written.

Scott Redd said...

Thanks, Bob.

Regarding "useful comments," just keep on blogging and commenting as you have been. No need to change a thing. :)

By all means, link away. The info that gets talked about here in posts and comments might convince other people to give bike commuting a try.

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