I Want to Ride My Bicycle!Kathy Landis
... I get to work with a peaceful feeling and I know that I have already gotten in a good workout. It does take some thinking ahead to make sure you have everything you need for the day but who hasn’t had to wear their bike shoes around work because they forgot their work shoes? You may get some funny looks but I think it is worth it. I have also had the occasion where I forgot my lunch but you can usually find someone to tag along with to go out and pickup lunch.
Another benefit of riding is getting rid of stress. When I ride my bike to work and I am stressed out from the demands of work that day, I get to change into my ‘funny clothes’ (what some of my co-workers call them) and peddle away the stress. By the time I get home I am decompressed from work and know that I got some miles in on my bike. I originally started commuting on my (heavy, slow) full suspension mountain bike but have since moved on to a cyclocross bike which is great because my commute involves some dirt trails. I am not recommending that you go spend big bucks on a bike just to try commuting. Use what you have and if you enjoy it then look at investing in a commuter bike. You don’t want an expensive garage ornament that collects dust.
One of the best tips I can give is plan your route carefully. Talk to someone you know that commutes or someone at your work that commutes by bicycle for route ideas. I remember the first week I ever rode to work. Some of the roads I chose had no shoulder and were too busy for me to be comfortable. I even had one guy on Friday afternoon cuss me out for riding on the road. That is when I went and got some advice from other bike commuters at my work. One of them even offered to meet me out front of work that day and show me the way he rode because we lived fairly close to each other. Once I got the new route, it made all the difference. My commute now includes some bike paths and low traffic roads so, I don’t have to worry about the stressed out drivers. It is not the most direct route, but makes me feel safer.
Safety is my number one concern. I am careful and make sure early and late in the year when the daylight hours are limited that I ride with the proper lights so cars can see me and don’t hurt me. You also want to ride with some basic tools so you can fix a flat, tighten a loose water bottle cage, or make an adjustment to your seat height or brake cable.
Weather is also something to keep in mind but is not something to detour you from riding. Over the time I have been riding to work I have devised a “commute-o-meter” for what clothes I need to wear to be comfortable on my ride into work depending on what the temperature is. I don’t let the cold mornings scare me; I just put on more layers because that is one of the beautiful things about commuting in Colorado Springs. It may only be 28 degrees in the morning for my ride but by the time I ride home it may be 75 degrees!
One other annoyance of commuting in Colorado Springs is thunderstorms. I say it is an annoyance because I don’t let the summer thunderstorms keep me from commuting. If I wait 30 minutes to an hour, the storm usually passes and I get to ride home in the sun! Isn’t Colorado great? I always have family that will come and pick me up if the weather gets bad but, I find that the great people I work with are always willing to offer me a ride home. I always keep an eye on the weather and I am proud to say that I have only gotten a ride home because of the weather one time in the 7 years I have been commuting. Is now a bad time to mention that I am a meteorologist?
I would encourage anyone that is interested to go ahead and try commuting to work. There will always be excuses not to ride but I say be creative. If you live too far from work, drive part way and ride the rest of the way. My father used to drive to my sister’s house on his motorcycle and then peddle from her house to work because he lived so far from work. One of my sisters used to drive to her children’s daycare center to drop her children off and then she would bike from the daycare center to work. There is always a way to make it work for you. Just remember to be careful out there and make sure that people and cars can see you. I hope you can find a way to make it work and enjoy it as much as I do.