I’ve been commuting to work by bike for about a year now (minus 3 months when the area decided to freeze over for winter). At first, it was my only option. I was fresh out of college with my very first job in my field of study. I had no license. I still lived at home but with my single mother’s busy and hectic schedule, I didn’t want to bother adding in another two stops to her day. I also wanted to show independence. I was sick of relying on unreliable people, so I decided I would start biking to work.
At first it was a challenge. All I had was my old mountain bike that had no breaks. I had this bike for about 7 years. It had been my ‘horse,’ ‘motorcycle’ and any other imaginative thing a preteen could come up with. It was out of shape. But, there was a bike shop on the commute, so I would stop there to get it fixed up on my ride home.
Another challenge was that the commute was 5 miles. That’s one way. So, that was 10 miles a day. For being very overweight and out of shape at the time, very didn’t mix so well with the bike being in bad condition. So, I rode 5 miles to work in the early morning heat on a bike with no breaks in hilly Pittsburgh. I had to stop half way through to take a break and drink water. I had to walk my bike down hills. My knees were killing me.
On the way home I stopped at the bike shop. They did the best they could, but they told me that the gearbox is in bad shape and it would only stay in one gear. At least I had breaks.
I continued on with the week. By the end of it, my butt was extremely sore, my knees were killing me and I had two flat tires to deal with it, but I knew this thing was a thing I wanted to do. So, I started researching about biking and commuting. I knew with my first paycheck, I would treat my family to dinner, but I would also buy a new bike. This time, it wouldn’t be a mountain bike. I had learned that their tires are not good on level, smooth land. There’s too much friction and that would make you go slower. That explains why it would take me 45 minutes to do 5 miles. I also saw many others on bikes that had skinny tires and you had to lean forward. They were going pretty fast, but they looked weird (the riders looked weird, too), and I was scared that the skinny tires would always get flats.
So, I looked at hybrid bikes and got one. It cut 15 minutes off of my commute and I tweeted many times that it was the best ride I had ever felt. 10 miles a day? Bring it on.
Later that year, my fiance and I moved to an apartment closer to my work. So 10 miles a day has been cut down to 3 miles a day. Sometimes, I miss the longer commute. But either way, I love biking to work and here’s why:
- It’s freedom. I still don’t have a driver’s license and this is a way I can have a taste of mobility freedom.
- It’s different. Although, I see many people commuting by bike, I still feel like we’re going against the norm. The majority people drive, walk or take public transportation. It feels good to be different and it’s a great conversation starter.
- It saves money. Living and working in a city, you have to pay to park which is extremely expensive. Just having a car is expensive. And, also, I’m not wasting any gas.
- It’s faster than a car. Don’t believe me? Let’s have a race in a city with city traffic.
- It sneaks in exercise. It’s excellent exercise. I believe biking 10 miles a day really jump started my 40lb weight loss to date.
- It’s nice to be exposed to fresh air. Everyone these days seems to be stuck indoors. But, it’s nice to have some fresh air everyday.
Do you commute by bike? Tell me about it!