100 Miles of Pizza

I got a new bike a couple weeks ago (this one is named Steve, or Steven when he’s in trouble), and since I will never turn down an opportunity to track things longhand, I started logging every mile I rode on the little beast into a Google Sheet. Last Friday, exactly two weeks after his first ride, Steve passed his very first 100 mile mark.

100 miles on a bike means different things to different people. For some it seems impossibly far, while others rack up those kinds of numbers pretty regularly before lunch. Luckily, we can translate those miles into a unit that everyone can understand, the radian of the caloric-expenditure-and-redemption world: slices of pizza.


Using this handy (and completely unverified) calculator, I can see that someone my size (~140 pounds) cycling at my commuting pace (~10-11 miles per hour) for one hour will burn 381 calories. One hour is exactly how long it takes me to complete my daily total commute of 10.4 miles (15 minutes for each 2.6-mile leg, back and forth and back and forth). That brings me to 36.6 calories per mile, and we’re going to call it 37, because at Reno Bikes, we round up.

When you google “how many calories are in a slice of pizza”, Google says 285. I’m willing to accept this. I eat a fairly monstrous amount of pizza, from homemade slices that are probably slightly smaller than Google’s estimate to Wild Garlic’s insane braided-crust basket o’ pizza style slices that are more like dinners for three. We’ll just go with 285.  

Also from that Google results page, courtesy of Wikipedia: “Pizza is a flatbread generally topped with tomato sauce and cheese and baked in an oven.” Ah, to be the early hive minder that dropped that tidbit of knowledge into Wikipedia!

Anyway, 37 calories per mile for 100 miles divided by 285 calories per slice equals 13 slices of pizza! Embarrassingly, I eat significantly more pizza than that in an average fortnight, but still. Digging myself 13 slices out of the caloric pizza pit in which I constantly dwell is not insignificant.

Considered from another angle, it costs money to drive a car. My employer compensates us $0.575 per mile driven, and some estimates put that number even higher. For simplicity’s sake, and because biking isn’t quite free, let’s assume that driving a mile in a car costs $0.50 more than biking a mile. The 100 miles Steve and I have traveled together already saved me about $50! Assuming that an average slice of pizza costs $4, I could take my savings from not driving those 100 miles and use them to buy 12.5 of the 13 slices I earned calorically by biking.

There you have it, folks. Bike to work for a couple weeks and you get to basically binge on pizza, for free, with no consequences for your waistline. That’s all the encouragement I need. See you in the bike lane!


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