Friday, December 18, 2015

Personal Record Commuting Numbers

I just wrapped up a semester at the school where I teach, and not only is it time to wrap up grading and evaluating the performance of my students for the semester, but it's also time to review how I've done with my bicycle commuting at the mid-way point of the school year.

One thing people should understand is that, as a teacher, I tend to think of a year as going from August through May, broken up into two semesters. That makes it a little awkward to try to compare numbers with most "normal" people, who probably measure a year from January through December. Just sayin'. It also means I don't get to count the Summer months in my bike commuting numbers (I ride of course -- just not to work), which keeps the year-long numbers a little lower than they might otherwise be.

In late August, on a brilliantly clear afternoon ride home,
I caught this shot of two Goodyear blimps flying overhead. 
Here in NE Ohio we've had great Fall weather in 2015, which has been very conducive to cycling. A few cold mornings have seen temperatures in the upper 20s, but even through November and this first half of December most mornings have been 30s or above. Afternoons have rarely brought temperatures colder than 40s. Not only have temperatures been very moderate, but rain has been considerate enough to confine itself mostly to evenings and night-time, leaving most days dry. As a result, I've managed to smash all my previous personal records. Here are some numbers.

For the entire Fall semester - from August through December, I've kept a total bike-to-work average of 75%. That's 3 out of every 4 days commuting by bike instead of car. The total miles of commuting by bike in that same period was 1795 miles. With gasoline selling at about $2.00/gal. on average during the last few months, I figure I probably saved $120 or more in fuel costs.

In November, right after the daylight savings time change,
I caught this stunning sunrise behind a Medina county
barn during the brief respite from all-dark morning commutes.
My best single-month average was 85% in October. I only drove to work 3 days that whole month.

The worst single-month average was 66% in September, in which I drove to work 7 days.

Also, since August I've managed to lose 10 pounds, plus my wedding ring (yeah - it fell off somewhere last month and I haven't seen it since).

Here's how this year compares to previous years:

In 2012, I finished the Fall semester with a bike-to-work average of 57%. I went on to finish that entire school year with exactly 50%. That was the only time so far that I met my year-long goal.

In 2013, we had a good Fall, but things turned cold and ugly by mid-November, and worse in December. Nevertheless, I finished that first half with 59%. Single digits and sub-zero temperatures through January and February meant that I ended the whole year with 43%.

A foggy Fall morning made these trees look ghostly.
2014 was the worst year I've had for bike commuting. I reached the mid-point with only 41%. Fall was cool and wet, then Winter-like weather hit in early November. Throughout that Winter, single digits and sub zero temperatures, plus lots of snow and ice kept me from riding at all through January and February. March pretty much sucked that year too. I ended that school year with only 35%.

My number of days ridden at this mid-point has already surpassed the total number of days I rode in the entire 2014-2015 year.

You'll notice that the total average always falls in the second half of the year. It's pretty clear to see why when you consider that the second semester, the "Spring semester," includes January, February, and March -- all of which typically make up the worst months for riding in this part of the country. If those months are lousy (and they usually are) then it's just impossible to ride enough in April and May to make up the difference. For that reason, I try to ride as much as I can in the Fall to build up sort of a "buffer" for the Winter, and in that regard this season has been about as good as it gets.

First light on a mid-November morning. My morning rides were rapidly returning to total darkness from start to finish.

At this point, it's impossible to say what the months of January and February will be like - and any predictions the weather prognosticators might be making are likely to be as reliable as a Chinese counterfeit carbon fiber frame. But if we have as mild of winter as we've been having so far, I figure I stand a good chance of having my best bike commuting year ever.

And I probably just jinxed the whole thing.


  1. Wow, fuel in the UK is around £2 per litre! Good work on putting in so many miles. It's a great way to get to work, I find it wakes me up and relaxes me if I've had a bad day.

    1. Gas prices have dropped a lot in the last year in the U.S., but they've probably always been cheaper here than in the UK.

  2. I loved being able to commute by bike. Even in the ugliest of weather it was a joy to be out and alive. Current job doesn't allow for it. :-(


  3. Whoa, that's a great start to your year's numbers!

    Just think, that savings on gas and wear-and-tear on your car could go to a new saddle, tires, saddlebag...