Sunday, November 21, 2010

Miles in Orange County

Since I moved down to Orange County, I've put over 4000 miles on my car in less than three months. Prior to this move, I almost exclusively rode my bicycle for transportation in San Francisco.

That got me thinking, how long did it take me to accumulate 4000 miles on bicycle?

Fortunately, I'm disciplined (read: anal retentive) at keeping mileage logs for both modes of transportation.

Here's a graph of my weekly mileage:


Perhaps a more useful graph to answer my question would be a plotting of the accumulated mileage. Graphically speaking, I'm taking the area under the curves of the weekly graph. If we represent the weekly curves as

then mathematically, we are taking the integral, so

would give me the accumulated total. This is just a conceptual explanation, since my mileage isn't represented by a function. Plus, I have the real data to construct the area under the curve.


It took me 2 years on bicycle to reach 4000 miles and only 2 months 18 days in a car. Of course, this comparison doesn't really say much, considering my current commute is a lot longer now than before, and I didn't really have anywhere to commute to for my last year in SF (being "self-employed" and all). But there are a couple things that I'm looking to change:

1. Try not to just accept the general OC lifestyle, but to get on the bike and ride once in a while.
2. Commute by bike. If I can bike commute the 25 miles (one-way) just one day a week, I can simultaneously raise my bicycle miles and lower my car miles significantly.

And now for some other random, slightly relevant analysis.

  • I ride my bicycle at an average of 12 mph in the city
  • I burn 515 Calories/hr when bicycling
  • An average serving of fish and chips (one of my favorite foods when bike touring) is 600 Calories
  • A gallon of gasoline contains 31,000 Calories
For 4000 miles on the bicycle:
  • It's taken me 333 hours of bicycling to ride 4000 miles
  • I've needed 171,495 Calories to ride all those hours
  • Which is the equivalent of 286 servings of fish and chips (one of my favorite foods when passing through airports), or about 14 miles for every serving.
For 4000 miles in the car:
  • I've used ~150 gallons of gas to drive the 4000 miles
  • Which comes out to 4,650,000 Calories used
  • Which is the equivalent of 7750 servings of fish and chips (one of my favorite foods when grabbing a beer), or about half a mile for every serving.
Which brings me to my final points:
I'm getting hungry, and I'd be a more eco-conscious seafood consumer if I drove less and rode more.


ecola fish & chips

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oregon Bike Tour Day 2: Ainsworth State Park, Dodson, OR to Hood River, OR

Monday 7/14/2008

After a great night of sleep, thanks to a crapload of biking as well as a dearth of alcoholic beverages, Seth and I made a pact that we wouldn't travel without beer again. My legs were a little sore, but not too bad. There was another part of me that was also sore... a part that made direct contact with the saddle. This was not good; we were only one day into the tour.

I tried not to think of the chafing pain that was situated between... everything. Packed up camp and headed out. Almost immediately we went out onto I-84. Yes, contrary to wisdom and common sense, bicycling on the interstate highways in Oregon is legal (except for certain restricted parts in urban areas). Sure, the 10 foot wide paved shoulders on I-84 were great... but WOW, it's a bit hairy to have cars passing at 80+ mph. And 18-wheelers as well:

As seen in the above video, the shoulder also gets quite narrow in some places (bridges, for example). One thing that I did notice is that the Oregon truck drivers were very courteous - most of them changed to the left lane when possible to pass us. Thank you!

After a very long 2 miles on the interstate, we headed off onto a bike only path. What a nice change! We got the unique opportunity to walk our bikes down a very steep set of stairs. They definitely thought about us bikers as they had a bikewheel groove along the stairs - although, it wasn't easy to get these heavy bikes down. Mental note: do not attempt this route the other direction. Most definitely would not have made it UP these stairs. Here's Seth doing an expert job with the wheel groove:

steep stairsdescending the stairs
It wasn't too long after this feat of strength, patience and balance that we hit the small town of Cascade Locks. While looking for a decent place for lunch, we found a supermarket. Supermarkets sell beer. So we bought beer at the supermarket. That's not the only thing we got, though - we got a great tip from a couple of bicyclists who were headed the opposite direction.

You see, we were planning on crossing over to the Washington side here at Cascade Locks and cross back over to Oregon at Hood River (goal being to avoid 10+ miles of riding on I-84). Like so:

View Larger Map

These bicyclists advised us that the bridge at Hood River didn't allow cyclists. So if we did indeed cross to Washington now, we wouldn't be able to cross back to Oregon until The Dalles. Like so:

View Larger Map

Well, we definitely couldn't miss Hood River! After all, it's the outdoor mecca where adults play nice. Thankfully, that NYTimes article was written a good 9 months after our trip; I didn't want to be any more outdoorsy than I already was. The only thing I knew about Hood River was that it's the home of the Full Sail Brewery. Case closed. We definitely could not miss Hood River.

Although our plan was laid out, we still had to eat. In what was perhaps our worst dining choice the whole trip, we ate at this cafeteria style tourist trap called Char Burger:

char burger

where the only redeeming quality was the great view of the Bridge of the Gods:

Bridge of the Gods

We finally got the hell out of Cascade Locks, and out into some really beautiful roads. We followed Wyeth Bench Road, which has this one tremendous climb. This brings me to Touring Tech Tip #2: Toe overlap can and DOES matter on a geared bike. My pursuit geometry track bike has tremendous toe overlap and I'm accustomed to dealing with it (e.g., timing my turns or skipping to get the pedals in position). When riding freewheel bikes, I've pretty much ignored it - there are many easy ways out of it like coasting or backpedaling.

But I almost killed myself while climbing this hill. I was in my lowest gear climbing at around 3 mph. It was getting pretty tiring, so I decided to do a little weaving on the empty road. At this low speed, it's very easy to turn the wheel enough to engage the toe to overlap into my front fender. That's exactly what happened, but the regular remedies weren't feasible - if I stopped pedaling with this weight on this grade for even just a second, I would stop moving. Luckily, I got out of the bad situation and started using my expert pedal timing to make these weaving turns.

In reality, I suppose I couldn't have gotten too hurt. Probably a zero mph fallover at worst. But after the incident, I couldn't stop thinking what it'd be like to really pedal through the overlap on the loaded bike. On a light track bike, you'd likely do an endo and go over the bars. On the heavy loaded touring bike, would you simply shatter your foot? The bike probably wouldn't budge.

Hit my max speed of 38 mph blasting down the other side. Here's Seth on Bench Wyeth Road after it flattens out:

Wyeth Bench Road

Part 2 of day 2 to come in a following post.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oregon Bike Tour Day 1: Portland, OR to Ainsworth State Park, Dodson, OR

Sunday 7/13/2008

On Saturday, we had a long drive up to Portland, followed by a bunch of beers and a late night. This was perfect preparation for an early morning departure.

Unfortunately, we probably should have prepared instead of drinking, and slept early instead of waking up late. Here we are ready for our "early" departure at 12:30pm:

ready to embark

The Portland weather was pretty hot - approaching the high 80's when we left. The Hillsdale neighborhood is very hilly, and our first 2 miles were straight downhill on some old and worn streets:

descending from Hillsdale

Check out Mount Hood in the distance! What a way to start the tour by exhausting my weak forearms by braking for 20 minutes straight with my newly found extra 40 pounds of weight.

Speaking of the extra weight, I learned my first lesson in loaded touring at the bottom of the hill: ALWAYS gear down (more than you think) when you come to a stop so that you can get going again. The first stop light we came upon, we rolled up without thinking much. When the light turned green, it was so incredibly hard to get going, not to mention just keeping my balance. My shifters are on the handlebars and so I was able to downshift while standing and mashing through the intersection. Seth was less fortunate with downtube shifters, and he managed to barely cross the intersection in one green light cycle!

Lesson learned, and thanks for being patient, Portland drivers! Now I can relate to those crusty tourer dudes in the city who gear down to "circus bear on a unicycle" gearing when they come up to red lights on Valencia Street.

After a harrowing journey over the Willamette River on the Sellwood Bridge, we were able to connect with Portland's awesome multi-use paths. We hopped on the Springwater Corridor Trail:

springwater corridor trail sign
bike path markerspringwater corridor trail bridge

And then to the I-205 bike path, where we encountered some unexpected construction detours:

Portland bike path signs

The signage was quite horrible, especially at Stark and Washington Streets, but we eventually found our way. The bike path infrastructure (when not under construction) is really impressive. Here we are along the I-205 bike path passing over various entrance and exit ramps:

I-205 bike path overpass

It took a while, but we finally made it northward to the Columbia River.

me and Mount Hood

Yup, Mount Hood still far away. Here we turned eastbound along the river and caught a strong tailwind. We averaged about 20 mph on the flat ride to Troutdale. After lamenting the fact that we were stuck in a major rest stop area with only fast food options, we decided to stop at a automobile-choked Flying J. Yummy gatorade and filled up our waterbottles.

Little did we know that just around corner was the cute and pedestrian friendly portion of Troutdale, complete with Mom n' Pop restaurants. Dammit. We biked through without stopping.

Historic Columbia River Highway

Ok, here was where the "real" riding was to begin. Not that we hadn't been riding for real on the first 30 miles. I was just looking forward to some nice scenery and not having to pull out the map every 10 minutes to make sure we were on track.

We started the Historic Columbia River Highway by crossing on a bridge over the Sandy River. Today was Sunday, and the river was PACKED with people, kids, families enjoying the water on this 90 degree day. Looked soooooo good. Thankfully, just a couple of miles down the road we found easy river access at the Dabney State Recreation Area. We biked down to the beach and took a dip in the FREEZING cold water.

Sandy River

What a way to refresh! Now we had a 6 mile climb up to the Portland Women's Forum Scenic Viewpoint, which is at elevation 850 feet. Not really that high if you think about it; Twin Peaks is about the same elevation. However, 40 pounds of gear made for a pretty tough climb.

The scenery:

Historic Highwayhay bales
at the scenic viewpointthe Columbia River
And finally, the descent. The HCRH is so beautiful. Although the road itself is quite narrow, traffic was pretty light. There was a good balance of shade and open sun. Twists and turns. Just incredible.

On the way, we passed a bunch of waterfalls that were literally right off the road (Latourell, Bridal Veil, Wahkeena, Multnoma and Horsetail Falls). Pretty awesome!

Our destination was Ainsworth State Park. We saw on our wonderful HCRH bikemap that the state park was very very close to a town called Dodson. Doesn't Dodson look like a real town on this map?

The grand plan was to get to the park to set up camp, and head over to Dodson to pick up food and beer. Why unnecessarily carry extra weight while riding? Maybe we could even splurge and have dinner at a restaurant! What a great reward that would be, huh?

When we finally arrived at Ainsworth, our very nice park volunteer informed us that Dodson was nothing more than a couple of residential houses, and without a doubt would NOT have anywhere to buy beer.

Obviously, the no-beer was a problem. But so was the lack of food. After 8 hours of riding, we definitely needed to eat. We almost took the park volunteer's offer of driving us to the nearest town with beer. But instead we let our neighbors shower us with charitable gifts. Boxed mac n' cheese, frozen chicken breast, butter, frozen corn, and some kind of dehydrated bag of potatoes. We ate OK. Much much better than having 2 powerbars for dinner. Showered and slept.

Day 1 stats:
52 miles
Max speed: 31.1 mph on the I-205 bike path
Time on the road: 7 hours 45 minutes

Friday, August 1, 2008

Oregon Bike Tour: Preparations

I consider myself a seasoned camper. Also, I ride my bicycle daily. So how is it that I would find myself rather ill-equipped for a "bike" tour that involves "camping?!?" It's mind boggling. In the week leading up to our trip, I found myself at either REI, Sports Basement or any handful of local bicycle shops about twice a day! What the hell did I get?
  • Lightweight camping pots - Ok, I admit that I actually meant that I'm a seasoned car camper. I did not have a need for camping pots when I'm afforded the luxury of driving my Escalade right up to where I'm going pitch my tent, along with a cooler full of beer, fresh sushi and a fold-down 42" plasma screen playing the "business card" scene from American Pyscho on repeat.
  • Lightweight camping bowls - ditto.
  • Sunscreen - I didn't realize they actually sold sunscreen in SF during the summer.
  • Water bottles - You probably have seen my daily rider from my previous post. Besides the fact that there are no water bottle mounts, I've never gotten very thirsty on my daily home -> Zeitgeist -> work -> Zeitgeist commute.
  • Extra tire and tubes
  • Bike computer
Here's an exploded view of all the gear I intended to carry:

packing for first bike tour

Note the Foreigner T-Shirt.

Ok, now that I had fulfilled my consumeristic needs, it was time to celebrate our departure over on Seth's back deck.

My bike loaded (photo by jkoshi):

Seth's bike; about to get loaded (photo by jkoshi):

We used Seth's scale and weighed-in our selves, our bikes and our gear:


Seth's bike weighed 27.6 lbs, and he was hauling 43.2 lbs of stuff.

My bike weighed 30.8 lbs, and I was carrying 38.8 lbs of crap.

We're ready.

Oregon Bike Tour: Planning and the bike

Ok, so I've been wanting to go fully loaded touring for a long time now. Thanks to Seth's motivation and supreme need for a real vacation, we planned to bicycle across Oregon to his family's ranch house in Joseph, OR.

Through an amazing amount of procrastination and logistical wizardry, we finalized a semi-thought-through plan of a lot of driving, some wasted days paying for a rental car, getting Danielle out to Joseph (without the bicycling part), getting back to SF, and of course, a lot of biking. To make a long story short, we decided to do the bike ride from Portland to Joseph, mostly along the Columbia River Gorge. A quick google maps search revealed that this trip would be a cool and fast 330 miles. Ummm, maybe a little longer since those are car directions.

I ordered a handful Oregon bicycle maps from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Pretty sweet and useful maps!

Ok, now all I needed was an appropriate bike. My daily commuter might not do the trick:

glamour shot

The 4 inch drop from saddle to bars would certainly give me a highly aerodynamic position, but might it also cause some severe back pain? The one and only gear combination (44x16) is great for my flat commute between home -> work -> Zeitgeist, but even this gear can cause me to run out of breath, slow to a crawl, and eventually start walking my bike when climbing the Valencia St. hill past 21st St! (Pedestrians, I know you're thinking, "There's a hill on Valencia?!?!").

Luckily, I have this habit of starting bike projects and taking my sweet sweet time. I've been working on this Fuji Touring Series III (s/n FL304070) since it was manufactured in 1983.

Ha ha, it didn't actually take 25 years to get this thing rideable; but it did take a full year to get it from this:

how to pack a bike

to this:

ready to go


It's almost all original. Oh, except for the wheels, racks, rear derailleur, chain, cassette, brake levers, shifters, saddle, seat post, pedals, handlebar, stem, interrupter levers... What a vintage beaut!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hello world

My first blog post ever.