Commuting by bike is a really sensible thing to do. If you know how to do it. And don’t live too far away from your office. And have a safe route to get there. And don’t need to leave the office much for your job. And work for a company that supports bicycle commuting. And have a place to store your bike when you get there. Perhaps even a place to shower. Bike commuting really isn’t as simple as it is made out to be. But that doesn’t mean you should not try it.
A major mojo bike commuter
My best friend commuted by bike 30 miles one way for a couple years. His 60-mile daily commute put him in awesome shape. Combined with 80-100 mile fast-paced group rides on weekends, he got in the shape of his life. Rode with the fastest of the fastest that summer, the Tuesday-Thursday group ride averaging 25mph for 30-40 miles and a pace over 30mph with some regularity.
That summer he went to France and rode the Alpe du Huez and Mont Ventoux, to name a few. He had a very bikey summer. Now he commutes to the city by train. Easier, no doubt, but he misses that fitness.
I had just started serious riding about that time, and had little knowledge of how fit he really was. It was everything I could do to ride 30 miles at 18mph on a group ride.
At the same time, I flirted with bike commuting. Nothing dramatic. Just 7 miles one way. Uphill going to work. Downhill coming back. Vertical rise of 173 feet. Surprising how much that costs you some days, especially against the wind.
I also fell down the first day riding to work. It was a temperate spring morning, beautiful for riding, really. Had my pants leg tucked up and my backpack on. Turned onto a wooden bike ramp leading from the road to a bike path through a park and quickly learned the ramp was covered in a thin layer of greenish moss. Flomp. Down I went. My dress shirt was smeared with greenish-brown goo, shoulder to waist. My wife brought me a change of shirts that morning.
Admiring the experts
I’d commuted by bike before and since, but I remain envious of those whose routines and planning exceed my own abilities.
There are quite a few folks in our area who commute to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Physicists around here make good particles in the commuting universe. They bundle up year-round and ride to work. One even invented and built a huge wooden show shovel he uses to clear a one-lane commuting path through the snow here in Illinois. He’s a local legend. Faithfully makes a way through the snow so that he and his commuting partners can cruise through the Tri-Cities on the way to work. Now that’s a real bike commuter.
My trouble with commuting has always been the need to go places during the day. Places I cannot go by bike, like sales calls and presentations. You have to work in the right profession to be a bike commuter.
Also I get really hyper sitting at a desk all day, and need to get out and move around during the lunch hour. That’s possible by bike if it’s not raining or snowing or sleeting or hailing or hot or windy or so damned busy with traffic that you can’t get anywhere.
So I take a car.
Guilty as charged. I’m a wimpy bike commuter. I’ve seen the good ones in action, and know to what I aspire. But for now I’ll hold them in high esteem just as I hold other cycling greats.
Which makes me wonder. Have any bike commuters been accused of doping?