Frugality

1000 Miles Bike Commuting Celebration

This morning on my way to work I pedaled my 1000th mile bike commuting.  According to my official numbers (which are probably a few miles below actual) I have ridden 1005.2 miles since I started my journey toward extreme fuel efficiency.  Not all those miles have been easy for me, and riding these miles has taught me a thing or two about cycling and life.

The first: if you stick with it, things will get better if you work on them.  I remember distinctly traveling one 3.8 mile stretch early on in my bike commuting days and my legs where sore, they were burning, I was hot, and my backpack felt extremely heavy.  I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t wait until this is easy!” While things haven’t gotten as easy as I would like, riding has become much more natural and my body has really become much, much better at handling the 100+ mile weekly commute.  My legs still have some achy-ness come Friday, but they are generally strong throughout the week and take hills much quicker than when I started.  By sticking with it and working through the discomfort and fatigue I have been slowly conditioning my body to accept my new mode of transportation.  My body is becoming my slave.

Walmart and Kmart are not a bike shops.  This is a no brainer now, but when I first started out I just wanted to buy what I needed quickly and at a cheap price.  This was definitely a mistake.  I bought two pumps (one for home and one for traveling), several tubes, and two tires from these establishments.  I use none of them now.  Both pumps are now broken and the tubes kept getting holes in them which I blamed on my Walmart tires.  In total I probably spent between $50 and $100 on these items – a heck of a lot considering that it was essentially wasted money.  I plan on not making this mistake again any time soon.

I am still really competitive.  I knew that I was competative, but it has been a long time since I have done very much physically.  Sure, I play the occassional game of dodge ball with kids that I know, but I really haven’t had a consistent vehicle to test my mettle against past performance and against other performers.  Cycling has given me this again.  I am already having thoughts of participating in grueling endurance events, taking on some sort of fitness goal, or playing in some sort of adult league.  Bike commuting may be enough, but we will see where this takes me now that my appetite has been wetted.

Early mornings are a great time to be up and outside.  I have always liked early morning physical activity, but I have really grown to love it since bike commuting.  The color of the sky, the feeling of the air, the crisp surprise of dipping into a canyon, the way that the sun settles on the brush – all these make me feel alive and fill me with a wonder at the beauty of creation.  Isn’t it great to be alive?

Car insurance costs drop dramatically when you don’t drive to work.  We have finally contacted our insurance provider to do some switching around of our insurance plan.  Now that we only have one car and that car is not used for commuting purposes our premiums have seen a very dramatic drop.  If everything stays the same, in 2009 my wife and I will pay less than $600 for car insurance.  That is less than $50 a month.  Currently we save $140 a month for insurance expenses.  Bike commuting has reduced our car insurance costs by over 60% – not too shabby if you ask me.

As of today, my bike commuting has cost me $321.85 or $0.32 per mile.  One of these days I am going to have to do a more indepth cost analysis between car commuting, bus commuting, and bike commuting to see exactly how much these different modes of transportation affect my bottom line.  I am pretty confident that cycling is all around cheaper, but looking at the hard numbers objectively will help me decide if I am really being frugal in cycling to work or not.

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