Loving the Commute: Back to the Basics
I love to ride my bike. I can say that most of the time my train of thought eventually leads back to some aspect of cycling. I started commuting by bike as part of a fitness goal. I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I rode my first commute to work on my first adult bike. Two bikes and thousands of miles later and I’m still pedaling, only now it’s for a little bit of a different reason. I decided that this month it would be fun to revisit just why it is that I ride to work, and why you should too.
1. Above all else, my commute gives me an excuse to ride my bike. Sadly my commute is rather short these days, but all the more reason to ride it as much as I can. As I have gotten more aggressive in my riding I have found it harder and harder to find the amount of time I would like to spend in the saddle available to me. As a father and husband my family will always come first, but no one will ever tell me not to go to work, so how I get there is up to me.
2. Don’t be fooled, I am not a morning person. In fact, my lack of ability to function at even 50% in the mornings is probably the largest deterrent to my morning commute. Fortunately I work at a wonderful place that doesn’t require me to be punctual, at least overly punctual. If I am a few minutes late I can always just work a few minutes late to make up the time. The truth is, behind my family and by cycling, work is the number three thing on my mind at all times, so a few minutes doesn’t hurt anyone (Passageways.com for all your intranet needs). Of course, there is also that magical beverage called coffee which I am a huge fan of. Once I overcome the urge to be lazy and hop on the bike, I am almost instantly happy I did. Riding to work makes my entire day better. I get to work and feel energized and ready to work. My brain is already firing on all cylinders and I’m ready for whatever the day brings.
3. I started cycling to get in shape. High impact workouts were far from appealing to me and I remembered loving riding as a kid, so it made sense. The more I have learned the ways of the bike the more I have learned of the less than obvious reasons to ride. The average person will lose 13 pounds riding to work in their first year for obvious reasons. But did you know that adding 30 minutes of daily cycling will also save us (all of us) $544 in medical costs a year? That doesn’t mean my commute saves me alone that money, it means it saves United States Tax payers that money. I’ll let you do the math and save you the politics on that one. A less thought about fact is that 50%-90% of emissions are caused by cars. That probably explains why 1 in 2 people breathe polluted air every day. Commuting by bike isn’t just healthy for the people who do it, it’s healthy for all of us!
4. I live in a medium sized college town. Each summer our city tries to accomplish all the road construction possible while the students are away from town. Each fall our population increase by about 30,000 people. That means our roads increase with quite a bit of traffic. Living here my entire life I have grown used to this in some respects, but I still loathe it. That was all before I started commuting by bike. Studies show that riding a bike is 50% faster in heavy traffic, even following all laws and regulations (which you should always do). So yes, I love flying through all those construction sites without having to stop and wait on confused drivers. It is dangerous, but I feel like the danger is more in my hands than when I am in a car.
5. Last but not least, commuting by bike saves me money. Granted you can spend plenty on a bike to ride, and I’ll be the first to say just how many fun upgrades there are to purchase. But all you really need are two wheels, a frame, some cranks, and a chain. You don’t even need more than one gear if you dare. The possibilities are endless for ways to find a bike to ride. All you have to do is save a little cash for a bike and a helmet, and start riding (might be a good idea to look back at some of the previous LTC posts for more tips). Gasoline, car insurance, car maintenance, all makes up one of the largest costs for most households. Even just dropping from 2 cars to one, or letting one spouse drive while you ride can save you hundreds each month.
In short, I love everything about riding to work. From being able to have a daily excuse to get out and ride, to the health benefits for me and those around me, to the financial benefits, and more; I love commuting by bike and think you would too. Get a bike and a helmet a get out and ride!