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Why I Bike Commute

This is my third season commuting via bicycle. Except for the last month with heat-indexes rocketing over 100, I enjoy it very much. I have many reasons why I love riding to work, and believe it or not, the item not on my list is being green.

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This is my third season riding to work, and I do hope to eventually flip that over from "season" to "year", but I just can't make it through February. That month just gets brutal. Here is what's so much fun about riding to work:

  1. Exercise. I ride 11 miles one-way, or 22 miles round-trip, which makes for over 100 miles a week (no need to get out the calculators). Not bad.
  2. Goodbye Caffeine. You want a good pick-me-up in the morning? Try a 50 minute work-out! I have been able to effectively kick my caffeine habit. I now can officially drink a cup of coffee when I want to enjoy a cup of coffee. No more "gotta-haves."
  3. Hobby. Everyone needs a hobby. You can at least pretend to be a cyclist now. It's what I do. Yeah, I only own a crappy commuter bike with a basket on the back, but so what?
  4. People think you are crazy. When you say you ride nearly year-round and you live in Minnesota, people naturally think you shouldn't be messed with. This has it's advantages.
  5. $$$. My monthly bike budget is $50. Enough to purchase new tubes, gear, and pay for repairs as needed. Gas + bus + parking costs much more than that each month.

So, if you want to be a bike commuter, how do you do it?

  1. Get a bike. Get a cheap one at first. If you go buy a new bike when you're not used to riding, you will buy the wrong bike, and hate your bike 2 months into it. Get used to riding before investing in a good bike. Trust me. Otherwise you end up with a crappy commuter that I don't like much but gets the job done.
  2. Get a bag. There are many options to carry your stuff in. I have used a Chrome messenger bag which was large enough to carry myself in (seriously, I brought a full suit, shirt, tie, shoes, lunch and computer with room left over), panneer bags and backpacks, but I am currently using a rear-rack basket and bag combo from Rivendell. I won't return to riding with something on my back.
  3. Get lights. It will get dark. Make sure you have proper illumination.
  4. Get gear. Don't worry too much about waterproofing except for waterproof footwear either in the form of waterproof shoes or clipless shoe-covers. Other waterproof gear isn't as essential. Get things that you can layer when it gets cold. Just like you'd "dress for the second mile," you need to dress for the second half of your commute. You will get warm, even when it's really cold.
  5. Scope out your route. After I moved last November, I took a Saturday and rode around to find the best route to bike on. This paid-off more than google maps ever would have.
  6. Determine how to get changed. Once you get to work, if you have a shower facility, all the better. No worries. If not, just make sure you can change ALL your clothes somewhere after you arrive, shower before you ride (not the night before, as clean sweat doesn't smell nearly as bad), and ride slowly.
  7. Don't race. I've been in many close calls with cars on the road. I've nearly been doored twice, right/left-hooked more times than I can count, and pushed off the road a few times as well. Cars won't see you. Practice SAFE and DEFENSIVE riding. Assume the car doesn't see you, and NEVER demand the right of way. Always give yourself an out, and take your time.
  8. Learn the rules of the road. As a cyclist, you must obey ALL traffic laws just like a car. Obey stop signs and traffic lights. If you're in that much of a hurry, don't ride your bike. 

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Posted in Senior Health Post Date 10/06/2018






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