Author Topic: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?  (Read 5875 times)

johnny847

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Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« on: October 25, 2014, 09:33:24 PM »
So I've been tracking the cost per mile of my bicycle, and it's been rising faster than it's been falling simply because I got my bike recently, and I keep buying gear like panniers, headlight, taillight, etc.

The other day I bought some energy bars (I should make my own, but I needed it quickly) and Gatorade (I should look around to see if there are recipes for making them yourself...). I was debating if I should include it in my cost per mile of my bike.

On one hand, I wouldn't have bought those things if I didn't ride my bike.

On the other hand, it seems like a feeble attempt to track the extra food I eat because I ride, but truly tracking that is virtually impossible, aside from tracking food bought solely for biking, such as energy bars and Gatorade.


Thoughts? I could of course keep track of both, but I was just wondering what other people use as their cost per mile.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2014, 09:40:18 PM »
If you're making extra purchases solely for cycling, I'd throw it in the biking cost per mile.

In my case, I know I eat more than normal, but I eat all standard foods I eat even when not cycling, so it'd be hard to account for that in my budget - so I don't.

But whether you do or not, tracking costs is only good insofar as it's helpful to YOU.
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sheepstache

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2014, 10:52:40 PM »
Ha,I had a similar problem when I started. Subway fare was $2 and I'd almost always need another two bucks worth of food after a 10-mile ride. As you build muscle and your body becomes more efficient at this activity it stops being as much of a concern.

I'm same as goblin chief, though, I don't eat cycling specific food and I don't know why anyone needs to. You might adjust your diet a bit for certain activities but advertising has taught us that exertion is unusual for our bodies and we need specialty products to protect them from it.

johnny847

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2014, 11:07:59 PM »
Hmm. Well I did read goblin chief's blog on how he eventually forced his body to become more efficient at burning fat stores than carbs during his rides. And while I do have some skepticism about the "need" for things like energy bars and sports drinks during rides, I am really skinny (5'11", 130 lbs) and have very few fat stores to burn.

I do want to make my own energy bars eventually, which hopefully should come out to be a lot cheaper than buying them.

sheepstache

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2014, 11:20:14 PM »
Ah, I haven't read that part of his journal. I'm a skinny myself.  My experience has been that I can use more carbs in my diet when burning a lot of energy. But my point is it's just more of the regular carbs I would have eaten anyway, not specially engineered energy bar carbs.

johnintaiwan

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2014, 11:22:04 PM »
If you are going on really long rides, like for hours at a time, you need extra food if not specialty products. From what i understand, if you are really pushing it you can burn the calories faster that you can digest them with normal foods. I havent used the specialty products myself, but I can see how they may be useful/necessary in some situations Thought not likely for the average rider.

I dont keep track of cost per mile for biking, just track my spending of things I buy for riding as i would anything else.

johnny847

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2014, 12:03:39 AM »
Yea I just ran some numbers through a cycling calories calculator. I want to eventually ride a century - and at 10-12 mph, for my body weight that'd be 3538 calories burned!

johnintaiwan

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2014, 04:17:10 AM »
on weekends I go for rides of about 70-100km and just eat bananas and some nuts or something. Stick with just water and maybe water down a sports drink if it is really hot out. Add an energy drink if i really need it on the home stretch. Normal food should be fine. If I were in a race I might try to use specialty products to gain a little efficiency, but for me its just not worth it at this stage.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2014, 07:04:44 AM »
My favorite refueling food is my homemade granola, sometimes with nuts added in.

For centuries and semi competitive stuff, the gel nutrition thingies are supposed to be worth the $. Organized events often supply that stuff as part of the fee, from what I'm told.

Pre-mixed Gatorade needs to be cut in half for it to actually be a net positive. At least that's what virtually every coach I've ever had has told me.

A home brew solution that would work could be smoothies spiked with flax meal or protein powders. Just store them in an insulated bottle like a Hydro Flask to keep them at an appetizing temperature :)

I haven't tried this but I think it could get you past the wall without upsetting the stomach.

Carb loading ahead of time and within an hour afterwards (while your adrenaline is still spiked) is your best friend.
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dios.del.sol

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2014, 08:29:40 AM »
+1 to avoiding cycling-specific foods unless you're doing cycling-specific training. For all but the top tier of competitive athletes, it's all just marketing spin. If you're just commuting around town, your normal meals will suffice. Just pack a normal lunch or snack. As others say, you'll adjust.

This comment comes from years of bike racing and seeing people dump way too much money into gear and food. All you need to do to ride your bike is a bike, you, normal food, and a can-do attitude. If after a year or so of doing it, you've identified a need for more gear or special food, it may be justified. Anything else risks sending you down the road to bedpan and catheter.

fa

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2014, 08:30:21 AM »
Commuting on a bike should not have much impact on food cost.  I don't add it to the cost of cycling because I figue I will save this is medical expenses I won't need.

If you do serious recreational or competitive cycling, you need all kinds of special food (gels. bars, etc).  In that case you would need to add these into the cost, but that is a hobby expense.

johnny847

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2014, 08:38:22 AM »
Looks like I'll go the homemade route.

While my commute is barely anything on a bike, a 26 mile roundtrip to the Korean grocery store was pretty intense for me---I almost wanted to give up on the last couple of hills.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2014, 08:56:47 AM »
I am really skinny (5'11", 130 lbs) and have very few fat stores to burn.

That's a common myth.  Pro athletes usually measure out at something like 2 to 4% body fat and still have plenty of fat stores to do endurance events.

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2012/06/nutrition/inside-triathlon-magazine-fat-burning-machine_31034

Quote
When we are very fit, our glycogen stores can fuel a six-hour hard ride in the mountains, similar to the one my friend took. But after the ride, the glycogen tank is almost empty. In comparison, even a rail thin triathlete stores enough fat to fuel five Ironmans in a row.

citycat

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2014, 09:26:58 AM »
I do not count food as part of my transportation costs.  There are too many variables, including health cost savings, as someone else mentioned.  I'm ravenous after my 9 mile commute, but I immediately eat the nuts and granola I bring daily and I'm fine (nuts are the best!).  Honestly, I probably eat the same amount on days I take the train, out of boredom or habit, but I enjoy the experience more after biking because I can feel that I'm fulfilling a need. 

This may be less of a concern for you after a while.  Once you've had your bike and accessories for years, the initial outlay of money is basically a non-issue.

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2014, 04:11:19 PM »
I look at it from the opposite direction: Tons of folks in my office go to "Spin" class 3x a week at $25/per.  I get that every morning as part of my commute :-)

Honestly though, it's not going to make enough difference to be worth tracking in your food budget if you are just commuting.

If it becomes a hobby and you are taking regular 50 mile training rides... then that's something else entirely :-)
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GuitarStv

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2014, 07:03:18 AM »
As far as food costs go . . . you'll eat more food if you're burning more calories.  Nothing says you need to eat expensive food though.  Grab a cup or two of oatmeal with some raisins each day and you've only added pennies worth of cost to your diet.  Cook and eat a cup of lentils each day you ride hard.  Make yourself a loaf of bread for under a buck and eat that for a couple days.  Throw a bit more rice in the rice cooker.  Add a little more pasta to the pot.  It's all the same deal.  Calories can be had for incredibly cheap.

I am really skinny (5'11", 130 lbs) and have very few fat stores to burn.

That's a common myth.  Pro athletes usually measure out at something like 2 to 4% body fat and still have plenty of fat stores to do endurance events.

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2012/06/nutrition/inside-triathlon-magazine-fat-burning-machine_31034

Quote
When we are very fit, our glycogen stores can fuel a six-hour hard ride in the mountains, similar to the one my friend took. But after the ride, the glycogen tank is almost empty. In comparison, even a rail thin triathlete stores enough fat to fuel five Ironmans in a row.

For a man, essential body fat is 2-5% (it's significantly higher for women).  This is the level below which you are putting yourself in serious health risk.   Generally you don't want to dip below 4-6% as a man to maintain effective athletic ability, significantly more for a woman.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8002550.)

Most male pro athletes are 6-13% body fat . . . well above the essential level.  (http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/112/what-are-the-guidelines-for-percentage-of/)  They do not measure 2-4%.

Glycogen can be used as a fuel source, but it doesn't last particularly long.  The best professional cyclists in the world are at the limits of glycogen depletion after a 4-5 hr race . . . and they typically snack on easy to digest carbs during the race to help replenish glycogen supplies.  You are absolutely burning both fat and muscle during a 6 hr session without food.


poorboyrichman

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2014, 07:08:23 AM »
My fuel budget went down from £100/month to £10 when I started cycling. I would guess I spend about £20 a month on extras (e.g. nuts and fruit to snack on in work, and occasionally I will bake flapjacks etc). My £250 food budget (for two) easily accommodated the extra fruit as I just buy a few more pieces. That or I must have been eating too much to begin with :)

It really depends on your mileage, but stick to health foods and home made cakes etc and the cost is negligible. Sports drinks/gels are for middle aged men with no sense and nothing better to spend their money on, part of the cycle culture, on long rides I just stuff a few cookies and a banana in my jersey.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 07:12:06 AM by poorboyrichman »

TrMama

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2014, 12:53:10 PM »
If you live in a hot climate and really want Gatorade, just buy a big can of the powdered stuff at the grocery store. It's also handy for when you get the stomach flu ;-) Otherwise, water will be just fine. You really only need Gatorade if you sweat so much that your electrolytes start to get out of whack. This takes a serious amount of effort and specific weather conditions though.

I've been counting calories lately in a bid to lose weight and have learned that my morning commute burns up nearly 600 calories. You could do the math on your calorie cost/mi, but as others have pointed out, buying those calories has a negligible cost. Just plan ahead and stick an apple or a piece of bread in your pocket and you'll be fine. A beer also fits nicely into the bottle holder ;-)

johnintaiwan

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2014, 08:00:13 PM »
A beer also fits nicely into the bottle holder ;-)

You can get a DUI on a bike as well as an open container charge in most areas

Dyk

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2014, 09:27:12 AM »
Good decision on going the homemade route.  You do not need any specialty foods.  (Maybe if you are actually competing, which I cannot speak to.  Who here is competing for $ in exercise?)

While I am not a fitness expert, I have ridden a bike many miles in one day consuming normal foods (I used dried apricots in place of gels) and had no problems.

Google it, I am sure there are plenty of places to get ideas on what to eat to replace the gels, drinks, etc.

Bottom line, don't buy in until you try it without.
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BlueMR2

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2014, 10:11:38 AM »
So I've been tracking the cost per mile of my bicycle, and it's been rising faster than it's been falling simply because I got my bike recently, and I keep buying gear like panniers, headlight, taillight, etc.

The other day I bought some energy bars (I should make my own, but I needed it quickly) and Gatorade (I should look around to see if there are recipes for making them yourself...). I was debating if I should include it in my cost per mile of my bike.

I would include it.  It's definitely not necessary.  I don't eat/drink any cycling specific items.  My amount consumed doesn't even change.  I'm just thinner when I ride more and fat when I don't...

Katy Stache

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2014, 03:48:01 AM »
Unless you are cycling at a very competitive level for a two hour bike commute, you don't need to replace any lost "energy." Any exercise by the average person that takes less than 1.5 hours does not need any special energy supplements. It's all marketing. Quit buying into it and just eat real food when you are hungry. Water is all you need to drink. Extra salt on your food takes care of the electrolyte issue.

Guses

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2014, 09:31:00 AM »
This may be a bit contrarian, but I definitely believe that you should count the cost of calories if you are commuting by bike to save $.

Doing otherwise is like commuting by car but ignoring the cost of gas in your cost calculation.

This website shows what 200 calories cost depending on what you eat:

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/what-does-200-calories-cost-the-economics-of-obesity.html

According to the internet, an average biker will burn approximately 0.14 calories per minute per KG of weight going at a rate of 14 MPH. For a biker like me, this equates to about 600 calories for my commute.

Those 600 calories can cost as little as 0.21$ if I drink canola oil or as much as 2.43$ if I eat mixed nuts. Homemade granola is probably on the lower end.

For me, that comes in at about 5 cents per mile. By comparison, my car costs about 15 cents per mile in gas doing city.

Biking wins hands down, but it is not what I would call a negligible cost compared to the cost of gas for a car.

FWIW, I have a spreasheet that calculates the cost of biking per mile counting only maintenance items (chains, lube, cassette, brakes, tires, tubes, chainrings) and food. My cost per mile is about 13 cents!

Cheaper than a car, but still not magically free.


brooklynguy

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2014, 11:07:54 AM »
Those of you trying to track cost per mile down to the fraction of a penny may be overlooking some additional factors.  Here's one that springs to mind for me:  because I commute by bike and change into my work clothes when I arrive, I wash my clothes significantly more often, which costs money in the form of water and gas/electricity usage to run the laundry machines.

johnny847

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2014, 11:13:14 AM »
Those of you trying to track cost per mile down to the fraction of a penny may be overlooking some additional factors.  Here's one that springs to mind for me:  because I commute by bike and change into my work clothes when I arrive, I wash my clothes significantly more often, which costs money in the form of water and gas/electricity usage to run the laundry machines.

It's things like this - things that are difficult to track the cost of - that make me reluctant to include food costs in my cost per mile. It doesn't seem fair to include food costs when I'm not including other costs such as additional laundry, health cost savings, etc. But I guess it all boils down to the reason behind tracking these metrics, as people have said.

Guses

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2014, 11:39:34 AM »
Adding the cost of doing laundry per mile is not exactly rocket science. How many extra load per year? How many KW/H per load? Just divide the result per number of miles per year.

Personally, we don't make any extra loads for washing cycle clothes, they go in with all my other clothes. The added wear and tear of the extra clothes in the load on the machine is probably insignificant enough to warrant ignoring.

I would not include indirect cost or savings (such as health cost savings) as they are very difficult to quantify and very variable. Sure you might not become obese (saving!), but then you could also be hit by a car (oops! Extra costs).

johnny847

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2014, 12:02:11 PM »
Adding the cost of doing laundry per mile is not exactly rocket science. How many extra load per year? How many KW/H per load? Just divide the result per number of miles per year.

Personally, we don't make any extra loads for washing cycle clothes, they go in with all my other clothes. The added wear and tear of the extra clothes in the load on the machine is probably insignificant enough to warrant ignoring.

I would not include indirect cost or savings (such as health cost savings) as they are very difficult to quantify and very variable. Sure you might not become obese (saving!), but then you could also be hit by a car (oops! Extra costs).

Laundry was a bad example - I meant just in general indirect things that I just can't measure - like health cost savings.

Guses

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2014, 12:16:16 PM »
That is the nature of indirect cost - they do not directly relate to the activity and cannot be quantified accurately. They are therefore better left out of the analysis altogether.

The purpose of my spreadsheet is to more closely approximate the cost of riding my bike per mile so that I can compare that to the cost of driving my car, which I also track.

For the same reason as above, I do not include the "saving" of being able to load all my groceries in a car in a single load instead of multiple bike rides. That is a benefit and belongs on a pros and cons list, not a cost analysis per mile driven.

enigmaT120

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2014, 01:20:20 PM »
I don't eat anything extra due to my bike riding.  If I wasn't riding my bike I would be running, lifting weights, or getting fat. 

Daisy

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Re: Would you include cycling specific food costs in cost per mile?
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2014, 07:26:57 PM »
Cyclists eat the weirdest things. When I first got into cycling, I noticed people were eating these gels in little pouches. I tried it on a ride and found my stomach felt really funny afterwards. I'm not sure if it was the gel, but I stopped eating them just in case.

I'm also not a big fan of Gatorade. I tried to find a natural alternative online and found that sugar cane water is a natural electrolyte. I live in a tropical area where it is very common to find freshly made sugar cane water. So I buy it in jugs, freeze in ice cubes, and add to my water bottle. Voila! Natural electrolytes without any funny sounding chemicals.

I'm a whole food eater in general so I try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible. We need these electrolytes while exercising in hot and humid southern Florida. However, I find that a regular 25, 30, or even 50 mile bike ride doesn't really need anything more than regular food.

There's a retired guy in our group that rides around all day and he's got a big pannier in the back from which he constantly pulls out whole and healthy food to eat on his rides...avocados, dried mangos (dried himself), nuts, etc. No funny food for him. I love that man.