Show me the money

I recently got my 2018 credit card summary and really wish I still had access to a 2010-2014 summary to compare these categories before/after selling my car. My ‘automotive’ column (between car payments, property taxes, insurance and repairs) used to be my main financial complaint, and I did sell my car before getting my first ‘real adult’ salaried job, so my overall budget is a lot different as well.


screen shot 2019-01-27 at 2.11.47 pm


I apparently bought gas for someone sometime in 2018, or spent money in a gas station. I can tell you, it’s absolutely wonderful to basically be able to cross off ‘automotive’ and ‘gasoline’ from a list of budget categories. I should probably make a separate category for bike spending, as that typically falls into the ‘merchandise’ category. Which is my main focus for 2019: I’ve never been a (successful) minimalist, but this year I’ll be experimenting with a few ideas I’ve been kicking around.

Some of my 2019 goals:

  1. Limit non-essential purchases to 19 items (non-essential defined as things I could easily avoid buying without significant impact to day to day life.. usually impulse buys like clothing and home decor). I’m keeping a list, so far I’m at 2 items..
  2. Paring down my commuting gear. “Gear” referenced here includes the random crap that accumulates at the bottom of my pannier that I forgot to take out and end up schlepping around until I can’t find one of my gloves and dump the whole thing out while mumbling profanities.
  3. Trying a minimalist setup for a bike tour. I have several trips in mind that could qualify, and I’ll probably start with a shorter trip. On my last few tours I’ve hauled along way more food and gear than I needed to, and now that I’m feeling more comfortable with bike touring I can probably tone down the urge to pack a lifetime supply of oatmeal packets for a week long trip.
  4. More zero waste snack options – speaking of food, I want to try some foods and recipes that don’t involve plastic packaging, such as granola bites in a reusable food pouch or a potato hash in an aluminum foil pocket. I enjoy bonk breakers, clif bars, and energy gels, but the plastic packaging irks me to the point that I want to try other options.


I don’t have a mileage goal for 2019 (last year I was aiming for 7k but only made it to about 5500); rather, I have a bike-it list for the year:

  1. NYC Five Boroughs Ride (if you’re reading this and want to sign up for a team, join ‘Velo Valets’ to help us get an earlier start time! TIA)
  2. This Appalachian Gravel Growler around Memorial Day
  3. Erie Canal in June
  4. Jasper to Banff with Vermont Bicycle Tours in July
  5. Calgary to Missoula to Yellowstone, solo and/or with friends


Here’s to budgeting for more fun and adventure in 2019! What are your goals, biking or otherwise?

Show me the money

I feel good

This article was sent to me by a friend and really does help explain my insistence on riding 99.9% of the time for transportation, even when I have the option of hitching a ride, taking the bus or skipping out altogether. Towards the end of my car ownership, I would always regret it when I drove, but I would feel pressured into driving at times by “bad” weather, running late, or feeling like I had a lot to carry.


Now that the option to drive is removed (barring the offers I get from friends, family and coworkers – and even sometimes offers from strangers!), it’s simply a matter of planning. Which sometimes I fail at. Especially that ‘on time’ part, but I was still late to things when I had a car. Anyway, leading up to and since selling my car, the perception of what I can do on a bike has shifted and I hardly think twice about it now. It’s raining? Pack a poncho and a change of clothes in case I need them. Going shopping? Make sure my panniers are empty, or hook on a cargo trailer if we’re getting serious. Now when giving directions I automatically calculate the time and route for biking, and have to adjust when I have to give driving directions (don’t ask me for the nearest parking garage or which highway exit to take!).


At any rate, there is a lot that we sacrifice, perhaps without realizing it, when we choose the apparent convenience* of driving a car. And there’s a heck of a lot of joy to be found when you slow your roll. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!


* wouldn’t it be more convenient to skip the gym, save $9k a year, and avoid oil changes and other expensive maintenance? #justsaying

I feel good

Cycling in (part of) Puerto Rico

Well I’m really glad I downloaded the Relive add on for Strava, because this video summary of my one short ride I did on my trip to Puerto Rico last month means I can easily post about the experience (I really will do a post on my Midwest trip, the amount of photos and details to sift through is just still really daunting and extreme-procrastination-inducing).



This was much more of a chill beach vacation versus a bike trip, but thankfully I was able to borrow a bike from the Marriott where we stayed the last 2 nights and get a quick ride in around Old San Juan (and of course I visited the cat sanctuary. More pictures in the aforementioned ride video and on my instagram).


While there was evidence of last year’s catastrophic hit from Hurricane Maria, tourism is quickly returning to the island. It was my first visit but I already want to return, but next time I’ll be signing up for or doing something like this trip with Adventure Cycling. While shuttling out to day excursions on the east coast for snorkeling and hiking in the rain forest, we saw many road and mountain bikes on the roads, and while the roads were narrow and certainly more for riders who are comfortable around cars, drivers appeared to be fairly used to and tolerant of sharing the road with cyclists.


We ended up following a lot of the pointers in this post from some of my favorite bloggers, although since we were in the busier season we opted for an Airbnb in Condado for most of the trip and didn’t go for Mosquito Bay since it was a full moon and the best time to see the bioluminescence is during a new moon. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Old San Juan on foot, our day trips out to El Yunque and snorkeling in Culebra, and trying out all the wonderful food (#allthemofongo). If you go, let me know your favorite parts, because I definitely want to return!


Cycling in (part of) Puerto Rico

Favorite Commuting Bikes

There are so many great options for bikes that it’s hard to just pick a few. Several of my Greenville friends have asked for recommendations for around-town pavement riding, so I thought I’d compile a ‘starter’ list for reference. Most of these fall within the ‘city commuter’ category, but you can customize most mountain, cruiser, or road bike to suit your commute. For example, you might outfit a beater mountain bike in a city with high bike theft problems, or a cruiser if you live in a flat coastal area with low mileage rides, and I currently commute on a steel frame road bike model that I fell in love with that didn’t have a step through frame. Anyway, here are some general, around-town bikes to consider if you want something fun, reliable and practical (in no particular order); I’ve pictured the step through models but you can try out a men’s frame too if you need a taller size or if you don’t care about the step-through. Most bike shops carry one or several major bike brands, but you won’t find all of these at the same store. If you’re shopping for any new bike, treat it like buying a car: take the time to go to several places, talk to the staff, and take a few bikes out on a test ride at each place to get a feel for the differences between models.




The Fuji Absolute series ($400 and up) is a sporty model that’s great for city riding as well. It also offers upgrades to disc brakes, which perform well in rain/muddy conditions.





The Liv Alight series ($380 and up) is popular for paved trail and city riding. Liv tends to carry more petite sizes and is a womens-centered offshoot of Giant Bicycles.




The Specialized Alibi series (starting at $450) comes in a more skirt-friendly step through design, with fenders and a rear rack on the EQ model (pictured). I must admit I haven’t tried the Nimbus solid core tires for more than a test ride, but if you’re worried about flats they could be an added bonus.




The Jamis Coda series ($369 and up) is a great steel frame option with plenty of gears for hills – this bike is one of Jamis’s best sellers for city riding (just add a rack and panniers), and it can easily double as a fitness bike for paved trail riding as well.




Bianchi’s ‘Turismo’ collection of city bikes ($400 and up) includes this completely gorgeous Venezia Dama, and while I should have highlighted the Torino, Milano or really any model that’s not a single speed, this one is the prettiest and I’m more than a little smitten with it. If you like the vintage European look, you may also want to check out Linus and Biria bikes.




PS: this is not a paid/promoted post in any form, I just like recommending good stuff. 



Favorite Commuting Bikes