I’ve Got a Hot Date With An Old Bag on Monday.

That’s it. I’ve decided I’ve had it. Or, to put it in the more dramatic way (my family is used to this), “I’ve given all I can give.”

YES, I actually said that once, in the company of family members, out of total and complete despair. (Julie will verify.)

This time? Gas prices. I’m done.

Starting Monday, I will be riding my bike more. How much more? Alot. Which is not saying much.

You would think that, as a Tiara-wearing Spin Princess, I would be an avid bicycle rider, outside in nature and stuff. Wrong-o.

Although I enjoy the occasional leisurely bike ride with the family, in the neighborhood and for a special event in the city, bicycling is JIM’S thing, not mine. My husband thinks nothing of signing on to a Century, which is a 100-mile (in a day) ride. Bicycling is what he does for about 80% of his workout time. He logs about 5,000 miles each year. He rides his bike the 4 miles to work whenever it’s warm enough, and when he worked 20 miles away several years back, he commuted by bike then, too. Summer season is, obviously, bicycle season, and we watch alot of tours: the Tour of California, the Giro d’ Italia, la Vuelta de Espana, and of course, the Tour de France. Watching it on tv as an Armchair Cyclist, I really do enjoy. Phil Liggett‘s voice is like Butter to me; I could listen to him all day long. I can tell you that some of my favorite cyclists (past and present) are NOT Lance Armstrong or Greg LeMond (though they’re pretty cool), but rather Laurant Jalabert, Djamolidin Abdujaporov (only because I love how Phil says that), Mario Cipollini (Hey-ooooooooh!), and of course, Big George Hincapie.


Reflect for a moment on Mario Cipollini, would you?

Now, where was I? I totally lost my train of thought. Oh yes. I’m not crazy for biking. Well, with gas prices climbing faster than I-don’t-know-what, I’m just done. Why not ride the bike more often? Not only is it FREE, but it will indeed save me some money and there’s an added bonus: I don’t normally exercise on work days. My body could use this shake-up.

A couple weeks back, the whole fam did the ride to the salon, to check it out. I can take the Prairie Path almost all the way there, get on a road for about 1/2 mile, and then ride on a sidewalk right to the salon door. Perfect. It’s about 9.75 miles, which some of you may be fainting at, but it’s not a big deal (to me). That must be where my group cycling classes help me out! The best thing is, the bike ride will take about 40 minutes at a leisurely pace. My car commute? About 20-25! Not such a bad time investment!

After discussing my plans in depth, Jim and I decided that if I can ride to work, we could also ride to the grocery store on occasion if we only need a few things. Our store is only about 3 miles away. Jim started to investigate a bike trailer to carry groceries on, but I put the brakes on that one. I’m not doing a major grocery trip by bike. However, I need something. I have to carry the following with me on work days:

*work clothes
*work shoes
*some kind of something with which I can clean up a bit
*a brush

I don’t want to carry a huge backpack while riding: ICK! I looked through one of Jim’s many bike store catalogs for a rack and a bag to place on top of it, and then the best thing happened. Jim came home a couple of days ago and remembered that when he had the long commute, he had just what I am looking for now. Did he still have it? Of course he did! His old bag (about the size of a big shoebox but twice as tall) will be perfect. The rack was right next to it, and he will attach it all to my bike this weekend.

My revised and improved plan? I will ride to work twice a week (I only work two days!). Total mileage per day? 19.5 miles. Total mileage per week? 39.

I will ride to my old health club to teach my Saturday class, instead of driving there. Total mileage per day/week? 14 miles.

Twice per week, the kids and I will ride to the pool that we join each summer, in the downtown area of our town. Total mileage per day? About 14. Total mileage per week? About 28.

If I stick to this plan, the following will happen:

*I will be riding my bike about 81 miles per week, which is about 81 miles more than I ride now.

*I will be riding my bike about 324 miles per month.

*I will save almost $70 per month in gasoline.

*As an added bonus, I’m hoping to leave small pieces of my hips, butt, and stomach on the bike trail. I project that I will lose some good inches doing these endurance rides.

*Lastly, I just may like this bike-commuting thing enough to do it indefinitely!

I’m excited! Cheer me on, would ya?


  • Mom24

    Go you! That’s awesome. We live 1 1/2 miles from our pool, 1 1/2 miles from the library, and 1 1/2 miles from the grocery store, yet I can’t bring myself to bike anywhere. Maybe you’ll inspire me. Of course, it’s hard to bike when my 5 year old can’t ride well yet. We’ll have to work on that too. Keep us updated. Good for you!

  • Michelle

    Wow. You’re brave to try it. I’d love to do it, but there are too many dangerous roads and no good bike paths by me that I can access — driving to the Prairie Path and then biking is silly. I can’t believe your husband really commuted 20 miles. That’s impressive!

  • Kat

    I will cheer for ya. Riding my bike to work has always been something I wanted to do and never actually do because I am afraid to get there all sweaty etc.

    On the ride home I really wouldn’t mind. Now that you have pointed it out like that it looks really tempting to say ‘What the heck’? I am just going to do it.

    Cheers Melisa :o)

  • Melissa

    Nice! I wish I could do that, too! When you live in the boonies it’s not quite so easy. Though I do love to ride my recumbant bike. Or as I call it, eiding to no where!!

    Go, Melisa, Go!

  • Melisa

    Stacey: Yeah, I know it’s tough with little ones. I totally remember those days! 🙂

    Michelle: You’re right; driving in order to bike is probably ridiculous. Luckily, my house is very close to a Prairie Path entrance.

    Kat: My plan is to leave early and take my time getting to work so I am not completely dripping (though, in mid-summer that will be near impossible), and then do a speedier ride on the way home. I’ll let you know how it goes, of course: maybe you’ll be inspired to try it! 🙂

    Melissa: You also have a little one too, though. A recumbent bike is way better than no bike! 🙂

  • StewartAllyn

    Beside the popular practice of combining errands and running less trips, I too took the old bicycle down, cleaned it up and began riding.

    We also stopped sepearate journeys for driving practice with my son…he now drives on errands and to the hockey rink.

    With summer upon us, we are also making him ride his bike to his friends houses and when he wants to run to the strip for a bite to eat with his buddies. I just keep telling him that its good training for his legs.

    You are right in that it all adds up to saving gas which equates to $$$.

  • Joeprah

    Melisa, this sounds very aggressive. Be ready for the sore backside. Get a nice gel seat and you should be fine. I am so rooting for you on this. I ride when I can instead of driving and I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I do. Rock on.

  • Natalie

    i think this is a great idea! i walk quite a bit these days since i live in a country where walking to the store is the norm. we’ll be moving back to the states in november and i worried that my lack of walking would result in weight gain. well that and the fact that i can get all the texmex and shellfish i want…yum…
    wait…where was i? yes…i think investing in a good bike when we get to the states will be just the thing for me! i can ride to the store and pick up a few things as well as get some exercise. thanks for the idea!

  • Dea

    80 WOW, girlie….that’s impressive mileage!!!! YAY you!

    I wish so much there were either sidewalks or prairie path within a half mile of my house….grrrr!!! I’d totally bike it with the kids….

    So jealous – hey, if you’d like, we do have a camp shower thingy if you want for getting to work on those hot days and sluicing off! 😀

  • Melisa

    Stewart: Great minds think alike! LOL With my son getting his license in a few weeks, we’ve been stressing the importance of only driving when needed. It’s very different from years ago…he claims to really understand; we’ll see!

    Joeprah: Thanks for your concern about my boo-tay; you’re sweet! I have to say though that my bootie is already used to a bike saddle; though I don’t ride outside much, I’ve been on a (spin) bike for anywhere from 3-5 hours per week for the last ten years straight. And I wear gel-padded bike shorts when I ride outside (never in spin class: I have no idea why. My butt is not bothered.), so I’m good to go there. I’m really not concerned that it’s going to be physically difficult because I’m quite fit. My main concern is how difficult it will be mentally to keep doing it. Keep your fingers crossed!

    Natalie: Good luck with that and with your move! I don’t know where you live but one of the things I love about Europe is all the walking that is possible. It’s just not that way here in the Chicago suburbs…I would totally love to live that close to everything!

    Dea: Thanks! I may have to detour to your house! Hee hee…It’ll only add about another mile or so…

  • nukedad

    I lived in LA for like 6 months. I call it my “Mistake Period”. Anyway, I decided I was going to be a biker, and I rode from Redondo Beach Pier to Malibu and back. My first day. Can you say “idiot?” It was like 50 miles round trip when you count the 6 mile inland detour that they call Marina del Rey. My butt cheeks didn’t meet for another 2 days.

  • Melisa

    Nukedad: You’re so funny! Thanks for the laugh this morning! I appreciate your, *errrr*, encouragement. And–50 miles on your first day with no training??? YIKES! And OUCHIE!

  • Half-Past Kissin' Time

    Of course I will cheer you on! That is awesome. I wish like heck I could ride my bike to town, but it’s 30 miles round trip, with only a 2-lane highway (or busy road) to get there. This must be very satisfying. What are you going to do with all that $ you save ? 🙂

  • Sue

    You go girl! I am very impressed and you have inspired me to look at where I could bike to. Hmmm, the ice cream store is a few miles away as well as my favorite bar…..This probably wouldn’t help the pounds come off.

    PS. I love Phil Liggett too. (the tour DAY France)

  • Melisa

    Half past: We had to take that extra gas expense out of the money we have bookmarked for savings monthly in order to use it for gas, so I guess back into savings it will go!

    Sue: Hey, even biking to the ice cream shop is good! You’ll be working it off on the way there and back AND not spending money on gas! (More money to spend on ice cream, I guess!)

    Kathy: Thanks! 🙂