This past spring I started biking into work — 5 days a week. I biked in 20℉ weather this spring, in the rain and in 95℉ weather this summer. My route varies day to day, but on average I am sustaining 60 miles a week. It’s been going so well, I’m considering biking into this Minnesota winter. Not sure how far I’ll get, but I received some good advice about picking up a spiked front tire to keep from slipping on the ice. Maybe.
The daily bike ride started with a considerable amount of time getting mentally ready. Last summer I kinda sorta biked once a week. Only when the weather was nice, and only when I felt like it. But the whole time I was psyching myself up. Next year, I told myself, I’m going to bike every day. Say that yourself every day for a year, and you’ll be chomp’ing at the bit to make it come true. I think the internal momentum helped me stick with it when the days started out less than ideal. I did need to buy a few things to make it practical — minor tune-ups to my 25-year-old bike, a biking jacket, a mask to keep my neck warm. But it’s been a great experience.
The unexpected side effect.
What has surprised me about the biking is how my perspective has shifted on driving into work. Every once in a while I have cause to drive in to work instead of bike. It always feels like the right choice — I’m running late, or I have a client meeting, or some other excuse to take the quick-and-easy car. GPS directions say I should be able to drive into work in 15 minutes where biking takes 25 minutes or more. But in practice the car drive surprises me every time. The traffic, the stop & go on the highway, the parking — they all transform the quick-and-easy car ride into slow-and-frustrating. Turns out on most days I can bike into work faster than I can drive. Driving – it turns out – is not the right choice. I still have a hard time grokking this. But I’ve clocked it many many times.
Not only is biking faster, but I get to bike on traffic-free bike paths. My day gets to start with a peaceful ride along the beautiful Minneapolis lakes. And on top of all of that – I get my daily exercise without spending time at a gym away from my family. I feel healthier, more connected to my life and more aware of the environment around me. Just by biking.