Here is what I learned this year from all of my time in the saddle back and forth to work:
- Rain sucks. It sucks worse than the cold or heat. You can prepare with rain gear and fenders, but you are going to end up with road grit on everything and in places you cannot imagine. Also, people suddenly forget how to drive when it rains. What is up with that?
- The miles will accumulate faster than you think. I traded in a six mile automobile commute for a seven mile bicycle commute. The extra distance is a personal choice to avoid some nasty intersections and to take advantage of off-grade trails. Every time I ride my bike to work I am putting in just under an hour of saddle time. How many people do you know are able to squeeze in an hour ride every day?
- You do not commute as many miles by bike as you did in your car. You avoid making unnecessary side trips or quick errands over lunch, choosing to consolidate those trips on the weekend or those days when you actually drive into work. Like the Monday after putting on over 200 miles of mixed road/gravel riding in redonkulous heat and humidity. Your rear end sent you a check for the day’s cost in driving as a thank you note.
- You spend less money. Yes, you spend less money on transportation but I am actually talking about stuff like lunch. As you do not find yourself running out for lunch or errands, you reconsider a lot of impulse purchases. Plus, you have to carry those purchases home on a bike so you weigh the benefit fairly heavily.
- You escape the racing paradigm. Bicyclists are defined by their slavish devotion to the trends of racing, particularly when it comes to road cyclists and the trends of European based tours. Marketers understand this and it’s why people pay to slather logos on near anorexic athletes punishing themselves for two weeks in rural European locales. All for a chance to sell a middle aged American professional an uncomfortable bike and matching kit. A bicycle commuter does not care because racing is not their paradigm. It’s about comfort, reliability, and safety. A little extra speed is not worth compromising the other three.
- The parking is the best.
- The smiles are free.
- Winter is coming
The commuting season in 2016 may be winding down, but I am already looking toward 2017. Big goals for commuting by bike in 2017. For now, I am looking forward to powder days.