Thursday, June 19, 2008

Commuting is easy

Date: June 18
Mileage: 39.7
June mileage: 501.9
Temperature: 51

Dull twilight clings to the horizon at 11:30 p.m., casting a purple glow on wisps of fog draped over the mountainside. My headlamp captures streaks of rain like static in on a TV screen. As the static flickers, it stings, and I glance downward to watch my knees churn. In the yellow light they don't even seem like a part of me, the one who already is zoned in on late-night relaxing and the promise of the weekend. But all the while, my legs carry on, a simple crankshaft spinning mindlessly over the wet pavement.

I started bike commuting more than a month ago, and it no longer feels like extra work. In fact, it doesn't even feel like any work. I used to climb into my car and now I climb on my bike. Little else feels different.

I thought turning myself into a bicycle commuter was going to be my great challenge for the summer, but I was wrong. It isn't hard at all. It took me all of two weeks to get my logistics dialed in, and now I just go. I have to schedule my morning rides a little better to make time, and sometimes I have to put on a rain coat before leaving. But usually I just stuff my work clothes in a plastic bag, walk out the door wearing whatever was sitting on top of my "junk clothes" drawer, and let myself get a little wet. It's only 25 minutes for crying out loud. I keep extra sets of junk clothes at work to have something dry to wear on the ride home. I even had my hair chopped off to shoulder length so I can blow-dry it a lot faster.

To other cyclists out there who don't bike commute: I encourage you to give it a go. One habit translates well to the other. And, honestly, I'm not one of those commuters who feels all smug when I ride by a sign advertising $4.35/gallon gas or walks through the office in bike shorts so all can admire my rippling quads (Ha!) I'm not part of the car-free chorus, I'm just one of the recent converts, let in on the hushed secret that commuting isn't such a big sacrifice after all. So join us in bike commuting, bask in its easiness, and watch it make a big difference in many other aspects of your life.


  1. yup! I've tried riding to work a few times. luckily we have facilities at work so thought I'd give it a try. the distance is still a bit of a problem for me. how do you make a 100km one way trip and then still have half an hour in the car fit into one day?

  2. You preach it sister!! Commuting by bike is just the best way to get to work and back.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement. You did it quite well, without sounding too preachy.

  4. after reading about your award I was surprised to learn that you are not a writer by trade, sure fooled me. congrats on the award and here here for the commuting message.

  5. I second that notion! It feels pretty normal pretty fast when your already a cyclist. It's SO much more FUN than driving!

  6. I feel an old-timey tent revival coming on...

  7. Bikers are the only people I know who look forward to their daily trips back an forth to work. Bike commuting is grrrreat!

    Also, the recent blog photos have been excellent. Thanks.

  8. Jill,
    I second your comments on bike commuting. I started full-time bike commuting (7 miles each way) at the end of March. Yesterday I had to drive my car to work because I had a lunch appointment. It was the first time driving to work since March, and I was surprised at how annoyingly stop-and-go it was. When you're on the bike, you just go, no stop-and-go wait for traffic crap, just go.
    Biking is a great way to start and end the day.


  9. My wife and I are trading off (we work in the same building). It's 27 miles so to date we've been driving in and then one of us gets to bike home.

    I am strong enough now to ride both ways, the only obstacle to riding TO work is the time: At my slug slow speed (14 mph last ride) it's a two hour commute. The days are long enough now so I'm out of excuses. It's just hard to get out of bed two hours early. Reminder to self: We do the hard things.

    Yr Pal, Dr Codfish

  10. Commuting to work by bicycle is brilliant. In addition to the pure fun of getting to ride a bike while saving gas/money/environment, it also wakes you up by the time you roll in to work in the a.m. You get the self-sufficient confidence it provides knowing you got to your desk under your own power, and depending on your job, it's also a way to sneak a little adventure into what could otherwise be a very boring day. I used to think it would wear me out just enough to interfere with my post-work training rides, but it’s just part of my day/routine, and really it’s just giving me an extra 15 miles of riding each day. So, stronger legs for the races!

  11. I have been commuting by bike for years and love it. My other half doesn't understand. Glad to hear someone who feels the same about pedaling to work. Keep it up.

  12. I just started recently myself. I'd ridden to work before, but now I'm trying to ride at least 3 days a week. I agree with JT, I drove my truck the other day and it really felt kind of weird.

  13. No question, bike commuting to work beats driving. Especially this time of year. This is my second straight year of doing it and it's going great. Last year my commuting petered out in the winter months when the 6 mile/500 ft descent to work got a little more interesting, but I'm going to try to keep it up a little longer this year and see what happens.

  14. Jill, I have enjoyed commuting now for two months and find it has made my day so much more enjoyable. I am with you in that the clothing logistics (cold in the morning, not so much going home) took a bit of figuring out but most of that was solved with getting a bigger pack. I have a beautiful view of Longs Peak and Meeker on my ride home and it helps me shake off work and be ready for the fun at home with kids.

  15. Hi, my name is Kim. I am new to the blogging world. I love Alaska but how can I say that when I've never been... I found your blog by searching Alaska. Maybe I can get a piece of Alaska through your blogs.

  16. I tried commuting to work but things just didn't work out. My cigarettes kept blowing out of the ashtray, and when it rained they got wet. Plus talking on the phone is harder to do on the bike than in the car, not to mention text messaging. It's harder to eat an egg McMuffin on the bike too, as the wrapper keeps blowing away and the grease runs down your arm. There's no room on the bike for a subwoofer box or an amp for the stereo which sucks.

  17. Hey Jill,
    Just this afternoon, leaving the shop for my <5 mile ride home, I realized that it was no big deal. Twenty-three minutes later, a little bit of traffic, a stop at the post office to check the box, and home.
    Now maybe I can stop thinking about the ride and just enjoy it.


  18. I thought you said the award wasn't for writing???
    Probably wasn't for photography either, right?
    Heaven help the competition when you start entering those categories.

    Bike commuting is the bomb! Once you get the logistics sorted. And does the blood PUMP when you get to the desk!!
    Now if I could just get all those pesky cars to move over, or stay home....

    PS Re: your folks.
    Remember to breed, OK?
    You want to keep that bloodline rolling.

  19. Due to your inspiration, I'm working on a plan to turn my old road bike into a commuter, complete with fenders and panniers (and platform pedals). I should be a commuter by the end of summer. I've been feeling pretty stupid about my 3 mile drive to work when I usually ride 40-50 road miles after work (this time of year, anyway), and even dumber about my eight block drive from work to the local university where I take an occasional class. So, it's time to ride. Thanks.

  20. I wish I could bike to work. I'm a 100-mile a day commuter and it stinks!


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