Biking and Energy Conservation / Renewable Resources21 Oct 2007 04:36 pm

Today is the two month anniversary of when I started commuting to work primarily via bicycle.

I. Love. It.

Let me count the ways:

1. In the morning I arrive at work after a good workout, and spend several hours enjoying a mild endorphin high ;-)
2. In the evening I arrive home after a good workout, and spend several hours enjoying a mild endorphin high (and a beer or two).
3. As a result of item 2, all day at work I look forward to riding home.
4. As a result of item 1, in the evening I look forward to riding to work the next day. Life is good, no?
5. I’m finally losing the “tenacious ten” (extra poundage around my tummy). Despite the fact that…
6. I don’t have to worry so much about caloric intake. Yes, thanks, I will have some of those pretzels… That said, I often find myself less hungry at mealtimes than before. Go figure.
7. Miss a workout on the weekend? No prob, I’ve been getting a solid hour of exercise every other day this week!
8. I’m saving something like $1000 / year in gas and other vehicle costs (this is on a car which is completely paid for; otherwise it would be way more).
9. No more knee pain (which I started to get after about a year of running a few times a week).
10. I’m undergoing a very healthy mental paradigm shift about commuting, which spills over into the way I think about other things. I find myself questioning things I wouldn’t have thought to question before. Do we really have to do it this way??
11. On the road I feel like I’m reminding motorists that there is another way :-D
12. On the road I look really cool with my trusty steed (an old-school ’90s-era mountain bike), my goofy panniers, a supporting chunk of 2×4… Umm, never mind…
13. I love the thrill of (occasionally) dusting one of the slower roadies on the W&OD trail. Given that I’m on a mountain bike carrying 20 lbs of crap in my panniers, fer crying out loud!!  [6/09 update: a while back I added front panniers as well. I love the ability to swing by the store on the way home, but in a headwind I sometimes think I'm going backwards...]

There are down sides to bicycle commuting, however:

1. Flats suk.
2. Occasionally you have to educate a motorist about a biker’s right to the road.
3. You need to learn how to ride properly and safely. Here is a must-read for anyone who rides regularly: http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm
4. I spend about $200 / year or so on biking gear, etc. Deduct from item 8 above.
5. Rain kinda sux. But not so much. It’s sucky in the same sort of way that camping is. Sometimes it is not super comfortable, and you are out in the elements. You’re wet, and you’re a bit cold, but you expand your awareness of the world around you. Yeah, you definitely feel at one with nature. Umm, wait, I reconsider… Rain is kinda nice ;-)
6. While short-ish commutes are cool (mine is about 7 miles each way), I imagine longer commutes (maybe after 10 or 15 miles each way) would get a bit tough.
7. I now have trouble imagining working at a place I couldn’t bike to.
8. Occasionally coworkers will campaign to get me off of my current ride (goofy panniers and all) and onto something more upscale…
9. Occasionally I get pissed off when some roadie passes me and I cannot keep up. The more I commute, the less this happens ;-)
10. Flats (still) suk.

Lessons learned and other resources?
Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far: when planning a route to / from work, do not think like a motorist. Very often, there’s a route that will get you there without fighting traffic the whole way, and without venturing onto high-speed roads. Check out this great article for more helpful info. Right now I’m kicking myself for missing years of bike commuting before figuring this out… Doh! :-/

In general, Paul Dorn is a great resource: http://www.runmuki.com/commute/

4 Responses to “Biking to Work — Goofy Panniers and All”

  1. on 04 Feb 2008 at 11:46 pm The Unwoven Rainbow » My Last

    [...] now I’m left with the Accord (which has about 170k mi). But lately I’ve mostly been biking to work. This means that my car — which used to log roughly 5k mi / year — will now see about [...]

  2. on 21 Aug 2008 at 6:58 am The Unwoven Rainbow » A Good Year

    [...] Today marks the one year anniversary of when I began biking to work. [...]

  3. on 24 Jun 2009 at 12:04 pm Chris Sanner

    re: short-ish commutes vs. long-ish
    mine’s about 12 miles each way (a little longer home, but whatever)
    and frankly, it’s not that bad. All the above benefits are still valid, and the time spent isn’t really much higher than if I were driving.

  4. on 21 Aug 2009 at 9:40 am The Unwoven Rainbow

    [...] marks the second anniversary of my biking-to-work adventure. Still enjoying it! I’m especially appreciating the summer riding; the winter, with all those [...]

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