Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bicycling to Work in 2008

Thanks to shortened daylight, I stopped riding my bicycle to work during the last week of October. I'm concerned for my safety riding in darkness through a couple of congested areas. It's also been getting pretty cold here in New Hampshire, and icy roads will start to make an appearance in the very near future. Since I stopped riding, I've been driving the car to work, and picking my wife up from her job on the way home from work (she gets a ride from a co-worker each morning).

I really miss pedaling home each afternoon. Instead of dealing with the afternoon traffic jam, I rode down gravel trails, through wooded areas, and on residential back roads. Instead of arriving home frustrated by the antics of other drivers, I'd feel refreshed from the exercise. The opportunity to be alone with my thoughts for about 30 minutes was a great opportunity to shift my focus away from the work day and toward my free time at home. And beer from the fridge tasted much, much better after I'd burned off some calories (and worked up a thirst for it).

I bought the bicycle in the spring of 2007 with the intention of riding to work about half of the time. This was before my wife and I had decided to wish Death to the Mortgage, so we had two cars back then. My cycling goals were to get in better shape, to spend less money (on gas and maintenance for operating the car), and to create less pollution and carbon emissions. I rode to work about two or three times a week, in good weather, and got a taste of the demands of commuting by bicycle. Unfortunately my cycling experience was cut short last year when I was injured midway through the summer. So the bicycle sat in the garage and collected dust for about seven months.

By the time 2008 rolled around, my wife and I were toying with the idea of selling one of our cars and becoming a single-car family (which we did), so I decided to commit myself to relying on the bicycle as my primary form of transportation to and from work during the warmer, brighter months of the year. I started out in late March, pedaling along in a hat, thick gloves, and boots. The hat and gloves kept my body warm; the boots protected my feet for the last 1.5 miles of the commute, where I had to walk/ride my bicycle through the melting snows of early spring (still lingering on the wooded trail). Riding a bicycle through snow is difficult. Riding one through icy slush in the shadowy woods is near impossible. But it still beats morning traffic!

I rode through the cold, the heat, and the pouring rain. I rode up steep hills and relished the cool rush from coasting down the other side. I got into the best shape I've been in since I was on the swim team in high school (and I was in great shape back then). And I enjoyed it so much that for the first time in a very long time I didn't mind getting out the door in the morning, since the fun bicycle ride was ahead of me. (If only I could have been going somewhere more interesting every day.)

Depending on the route, my work is between 7 and 10 miles from our house by car. My average bicycle ride was about 8 miles each way. My commuting time increased from about 10-20 minutes each way in the car (depending on traffic) to about 30-40 minutes each way by bicycle (depending on my energy level), although the walk through the snow added about 20 minutes to the route during late March and early April. Between March 24 and October 24, I relied on the car to get to work only about ten times (for a variety of reasons, including a snowstorm, being run down by a bad cold, and the occasional flat bicycle tire). In total, I would estimate I avoided putting about 1,800 miles on the car this year, calculated thusly:

  • Average 16 miles per day not driven to and from work
  • Average 16 days per month I would have used the car (some days would not have required the car, as I either worked remotely from home, took a bus to Boston, or was on vacation/holiday)
  • Seven month duration (March 24 through October 24)
  • 16 * 16* 7 = 1,792 miles not driven
My wife also used her bicycle to go to and from work on occasion, but certain factors (especially the absence of a shower at her work) limit her ability to ride in all weather. Still, there were a number of days during the pleasant late-spring weather where both of us pedaled to work and left the car(s) sitting idle at home.

I can see from my expense spreadsheet that we spent less on gasoline during the summer of 2008 than we did during the summer of 2007, even though the price of gasoline was considerably higher, and we drove over 3,200 miles to and from Minnesota this July.

Looking back at the goals I had in mind when I purchased the bicycle, I can gladly say that I met all three during 2008. I got in great shape, spent less on the car's operating expense (fuel), and avoided 1,800 miles of exhaust from combustion.

I'm looking forward to the return of Daylight Saving Time (March 8, 2009) so I can start preparing to ride again. I'm also looking forward to the eventual Death of the Mortgage so I can regularly ride my bicycle to places more satisfying than the office!


Middle Way said...


I just discovered your blog and want to wish you smooth sailing towards your mortgage free status.

I paid off my first mortgage of $145000 (condo) in 6 yrs when I was still single. So, I can for sure relate to your calculations and the drive to get it done.

Because of that I was able to buy a cottage using the equity I had built up from the condo.

Being mortgage free allows options I didn't know I had (or dared to dream about) when I was knee deep in the mortgage repayment.

I have since continue to add to my real estate and lifestyle portfolio.

Like you said, its all about choices. Keep up the great work!

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Dedication does pay off! Congrats on the various successes of the goals you set.

MoneyBlogga said...

Hi there - I just popped in from Dreamer's blog. Death to the mortgage - I hear ya! I have had to rethink my entire position on mortgages and the usefulness of them. I have come to the conclusion that I will not enjoy true wealth until I have divested myself entirely of debt. I'm working on it. Biking to work sounds awesome although I would be afraid to do that around here. LA traffic is the pits in that regard, you would seriously be taking your life in your hands in my neck of the woods.

The Executioner said...

Middle Way: Sounds like you are in a good place right now. I hope we can get there soon.

Cubicle Wall: Thanks!

MoneyBlogga: I completely agree...I don't want any debt in our lives anymore. An interesting post about bicycling in LA is here:

bugbear said...

I am very impressed with your routine changes in bicycling to work over 2008. Congratulations!

This is coming from a long time bike commuter in Western MA. I bike 12 months of the year (but only 6 miles RT, not your 16, and on pavement and also do 97% of my shopping on the bike as well)

RE: visibility for your bike, I would suggest mounting two car trailer reflectors (amber ones) on the back of your bike as well as a red led light set to steady as opposed to blinking. My experience has been that such a combination gives very high rear visibility. (Amber is legal for supplementary rear lighting/usage and is better than red because it reflects something like 75% incoming light, versus maybe 40% for red reflectors.

I hope you have a good headlamp, too. That is very important for all vehicle safety, bicycles especially.

Andy @ Retire at 40 said...

Wow, you talk about your getting on your bike as a whole new and fantastic adventure in your life. I know this because I did exactly the same. A little while ago I started putting together a plan to go car-free and of course a central part of that was buying a bike.

Since I've had the bike, it's been wonderful. I'm fitter than ever, saving money (and the environment) and luckily for me don't have to contend with the snows you seem to get :-)

The Executioner said...

If I could think of a way to ride my bike to work during the winter months without putting my life in the hands of others who are sharing the roads with me, I would. However, I don't feel confident that (1) drivers will expect to see a bicycle on the road in January, and therefore won't have ample time to maneuver around me when I do appear; (2) they will see me during the dark winter months; and (3) that if they do see me, they will have full control of their vehicle (due to an icy or snowy patch) and will be able to avoid colliding with me.

Unfortunately the public transportation we have here in NH runs mainly within a single town, or from one town into Boston, but not between towns in NH. So taking a bus to work is not an option, and the trains don't exist here.

The goal is to cut out the requirement of a daily commute so that I can ride my bicycle (or walk) during the middle of the day, even in winter, when it's much safer to do so (non-commuting hours).

I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can resume the bicycle commute around the end of March, when I started last year.