Thursday, January 15, 2009

Madd Money: The Cost of a Great Day of Riding

Every year I look at my favorite sport and I realize that it becomes more and more expensive to indulge in it as time goes on. While I can appreciate the fact that inflation has its sinister little hand in all of this, it's also impacted by having three growing kids and their desire to participate as well.

Yesterday, Nick and I went up for a day of riding at Nick's favorite snowboarding destination; Homewood, which is right on the shore of Lake Tahoe. I have a deal with each of my kids that, so long as they are doing well in school, one day a year I am willing to let them have a day off from school to go riding with me. This has two benefits. The first is that it encourages great participation in school. The second is that, midweek, most ski areas offer discount lift tickets :).

Just for grins, Nick and I decided to see what a day of snowboarding would actually cost us. We're both well used to the "day tripper" lifestyle when it comes to snowboarding, both from an economic as well as a time standpoint. Here's the breakdown.

Bridge toll to cross the Carquinez Bridge: $4.00
Breakfast (in the car; bagels and cream cheese, water, grapes): $3.00
Gasoline purchased in Auburn: $20.00
Lift Tickets: $49.00 (midweek discount $39 adult and $10 youth prices)
Lunch (brown bagged; PB&J sandwiches, juice boxes, snack bar, apple): $3.00
Gasoline Purchased in Vallejo: $27.00
Dinner in Vallejo (McDonalds; Kids meal and small combo meal, strawberry shake ): $8.25
Bridge toll to cross the Bay Bridge: $4.00

Total money spent: $118.25

Now, to be fair, that value might look a little inflated since I gassed up in Auburn after not starting the trip with a full tank (with these comparisons, it's always best to start from a full tank, then add on what gas was purchased along the way, with a top off when you get home). Still, the Escape averages about 18-20 miles per gallon, and the round trip is about 440 miles from San Bruno to Homewood, so $47 for gas seems about right (and was a nice surprise after a few years of $3.00 a gallon gas prices :) ).

This cost is of course going to vary depending on where we go, what the gas prices are at the time, and other factors. We can't get around the bridge tolls, though Fastrack is looking like a better deal every day :). Packing our own food makes a big difference in total cost outlay (resort food is * ridiculously* expensive) and packing dinner would certainly help as well (when I go by myself, I usually do just that), but I usually include a stopover for food when I bring the kids.

However, the true value of the day isn't as tangible as a dollar amount would indicate. To borrow a line from those Visa commercials... "watching my son grin from ear to ear after spending a great day on the hill... PRICELESS" :)!

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