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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bicycle Thoughts

During the non-icy months of the past two years (2007 and 2008), I rode my bicycle into work, as I did this year. I'd go for a few weeks, sometimes a month tops, before getting a flat tire. I ride on a few busy roads on my way into the office, and it seems like I would always pick up some odd debris that had fallen into the road and been swept into the shoulder (bicycle lane) by the motion of traffic. It would be a metal building staple, or a bit of wood, or a nail. I accepted the flat tires as part of the cost of commuting by bicycle, and got good at changing flats myself. However, early this year (spring 2009) it seemed like the flats were coming fast and furious. On a few occasions I'd only make it a few days in between flats. This felt excessive to me. So I asked around, and learned from other cyclists that I was getting flats much more often than I should be.

The solution I decided upon (based on composite recommendations) was to buy thicker, more durable tires, and beefy "thorn resistant" tubes. Since I made the upgrade, I haven't gotten a single flat. I've had four months of very regular riding, both on the road and off, and so far the remedy seems like a cure. Although my bicycle is heavier than it used to be, and my tires don't get quite as much traction when off-road (especially in sand), I'm glad that I'm not spending money on new tubes every other week. The tubes I used to buy cost around $4 to replace. The thorn-resistant tubes were about $10 each, but I've more than made up the difference in price by never needing to replace them. And as a bonus, I'm not constantly adding more trash to the world in the form of flat tubes.

Now I'm inspired to try riding later in the season than I have before. Last year I stopped riding in late October. In order to ride longer, I have to overcome both the darkness and the cold. Unfortunately I can't envision a solution for either issue without spending more money on lights, clothing, and (probably) studded snow tires. I'm having a tough time deciding whether the extra expense is worth it. My initial motivation for riding the bicycle was to save money, not spend more of it.

I really enjoy the ride to and from work, for a number of reasons. The exercise is great. The reduced vehicle emissions are a bonus. But my favorite part is that I don't get stuck in rush hour traffic. Even though traffic here in NH is not terrible, I have no patience for it. On the bicycle, I can ride the back roads, take shortcuts on trails, and sneak by stopped vehicles in the bicycle lane. I'm wondering if I would get the same satisfaction during the winter. Trails will be impassable due to snow, and I'm sure the cold weather will make the ride a bit more painful on the lungs. I also think I'd feel compelled to ride much more slowly around traffic than I do in the nice weather. Still, I know of two others who ride to work during the winter, so I know it's possible. I just have to decide if I have that much motivation.


Middle Way said...

Are your new tubes the ones that have the goo in it that will fill a hole, should you get one?

Or do they not puncture at all?

The Executioner said...

I don't think they have any goo in them. They are just thick and beefy. I joked when I bought them that I could put them on the wheels alone, without tires, and be fine. That was a bit of an exaggeration, but they are definitely substantial.