Tales from off the road

When I made this haphazard video four years ago this week, the price of gasoline had shot up and I had every intention of spending the summer riding to the World Headquarters from Casa NewsCut.

Sadly, the notion joined a long list of good intentions unfilled.

So there’s really no reason to pay any attention to my intentions now, other than the fact I come from yankee stock and the the numbers 4 -1- 9 can make us do miraculous things. Also, at MPR, there’s a lot of peer pressure to stay trendy and I may be one of the last employees not riding a bike to work and I’m already shut out of all conversations that includes the phrase “when I was traveling Europe by rail.” Granted, “when I was biking through Pig’s Eye” doesn’t get you much admiration, either.

Most of us have these intentions to do something about energy prices, under the proven economic theory that “the solution to high gas prices is high gas prices.” Some of us slow down, some of us buy cheaper cars, some of us move closer to work, some of us hop on the bike.

So, I stopped at the bike shop on the way home from work last night and bought $157 of additional gear — bike rack, saddlebags etc — in order to carry the laptop and clothes and lunch. And the bike experts on Twitter did a marvelous job guiding me through the installation mistakes.

The money invested would fill up the car four times. That’s about 1,300 miles. To break even, I’d have to ride the bike to work (and back) 54 times.

My 12-mile ride probably saves me less than a half gallon of gas — an amount saved that ends up in the pockets of Big Gatorade. The parking space I rent still has to be paid for in case it rains.

These are the questions and calculations one can ponder on a lengthy bike ride. Also, why don’t bicyclists riding in the other direction ever say “hello” in return? Am I violating the unspoken rule of trendy?

The ride took about an hour; not bad for an old man. I could’ve done it faster, but I stopped to watch a deer.


Sorry, big oil. This might stick.

  • KTN

    Most of us are way to cool, either in our hipster baggy clothes, or our tight lycra to bother acknowledging another rider.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Well done, Bob.

    Now, about that lawn mower….

  • Snyder

    My commute is 21 miles round-trip, so probably about 2/3 of a gallon of gas and about 45-50 minutes each way.

    I noticed this morning that other bicyclists don’t seem to be very acknowledging on the road. Big difference from when I go out for a run. Weird…

  • Sordet

    When thinking about “breaking even” try to remember that there’s more than just a monetary benefit of saving money on gas… You’re also reducing the wear-and-tear on your car and the emissions it produces. And you’ll be improving your health and supporting businesses (bike shops, grocery stores) other than big oil.

  • jon

    When on a bicycle I rarely acknowledge fellow cyclists, runners, or other pedestrians.

    The standard greeting between bicyclists going the same direction is something to the effect of “on your left!” It’s like aloha in that it means both “hello” and “goodbye”. (or when said with the right infection it means “WHY ARE YOU HERE!” and “EAT MY DUST SUCKER!”)

    When on coming bicyclists don’t acknowledge each other, I’d like to think it’s because we are zipping around so fast we’ve no time for it…

    The reality is that motorcyclists manage to flash a wave or a smile, or an upside down peace sign. So I’ve no explanation for this.

    Occasionally my reason for not acknowledging others is that I’m out of breathe… Something that motorists and pedestrians both seem to forget is that when a bicycle stops, the rider has to deliver the energy to start it up again… it can get exhausting, and leads to gasping for air… It’s even worse when riding up behind a jogger leads to being out of breath… at the point when a jogger who is expending 3 times more energy than me is causing me to be out of breath a sneer is the best I can manage when on a bicycle.

  • Andy

    Welcome to the club, Bob! I hope your intentions turn fully to practice.

    I can’t explain why every other cyclist doesn’t wave or acknowledge others, but here are a few possible reasons drawn from my own experience: 1) Minnesotans don’t typically say hello to strangers in every situation, just some (cycling as transportation is still foreign to most Minnesotans); 2) for those of us who’ve been pedaling around for decades, there was a time where we were the only bikes on the road trying to stay alive in the constant onslaught of motorized bike-killers and that base-level of aggressiveness clouds our current judgement; 3) we may be having too much fun and enjoying the moment to notice another person; 4) in the case of some, though, I would guess that arrogance may be part of the reason, as alluded to above.