A Year’s worth of bike commuting

Not me, but this guy.  Noah chronicles his year of bike commuting on his KC Bike Commuting blog. He offers some good points about bike commuting, including the health benefits, environmental friendliness, and the cost savings. 

I’ve been trying to bike to work once a week.  My commute by car is about 3 miles one way, but my commute by bike is about 10 miles round trip.  The difference in distance is due to the fact that I take more bike-friendly roads to and from work.  It’s not the most direct route, but it’s a great ride.  My bike commute takes me through back roads that travel through scenic farmland. On my ride I encounter deer that stare me down in the middle of the road, and cows that look at me like I’m nuts.

I’d love to be able to bike to work more often, but right now it’s just not feasible.  My wife and I both work for the university, and we take our kids to daycare each morning.  Part of my route is along the berm of a major highway, so towing the kids in the trailer is not an option.  There is a guy at the daycare who drops his son off with a bike trailer, and at times I’m envious. 

I can see the importance of saving gas and money by commuting by bike.  However, since our whole family generally rides in one car to and from work/daycare, there really is not much cost savings if I ride my bike.  I’d love to say that I’m doing something nice for the planet by riding to work, but the fact of the matter is I simply ride for the pleasure of riding.  It takes me about half and hour to ride the six miles to work, and another half hour to ride the 4.5 miles home. The ride to work leaves me totally invigorated when I arrive, and I often have a little more spring in my step and a bigger smile on my face for much of the day.  The ride home leaves me feeling a lot more relaxed, as the stress of the day melts away on the bicycle.  Riding a bike does wonderful things for my mental being.  Whether I’m riding the road or a single-track mountain bike trail, my thoughts can range from thinking about everything all at once or thinking about nothing at all.  As a matter of fact, the hills in Southeast Ohio can make a cyclist forget everything at once.  When your legs are on fire and your lungs are burning, the only thing to think about is conquering what is in front of you.  Your head is cleared of all worry, because it takes every ounce of your being to will yourself over some hills.  It’s an awesome experience.

When I plan to bike to work, I take my clothes in the day before.  When I get to work, I lock my bike outside, and go inside the library to get my clothes.  I take my clothes down to my gym, which is a five-minute walk away.  I’m able to shower and dress at the gym and be back to the office in time for work.  At the end of the day, I change back into my cycling clothes in the men’s room at the library.  I leave my work clothes at work and generally take them home on the next day that I drive to work. 

Overall it’s a pretty simple process.  Riding to work does take a little planning, but it’s honestly not that inconvenient.  It’s nice to start the day with an elevated heart-rate, and ending the day with a stress reliever.  If you haven’t tried riding to work, I encourage you to give it a try.  All it takes is a bike and a little bit of planning.  For tips and suggestions on bike commuting, visit Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips, which is one of the most comprehensive sites on the subject.