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How Bike Commuting Changed the Way I Think

A few weeks ago I posted about becoming an amateur bike commuter. In the first month and a half as an urban cyclist, I've ridden a few hundred miles. It's certainly nothing record-breaking, but it feels like an accomplishment, nevertheless.

Here are a few observations I've made along the way:

Every Mile Counts. I know exactly how far I ride to get to school, work, Whole Foods, the public library, my favorite coffee shop, and various other destinations around town. Knowing how far away things are helps me determine how long it will take to ride there and how much energy will be required. When I drove places or used public transportation, I rarely knew how far I was traveling. I might have been able to tell you how many minutes it required to get there, but that's about it.

How's the Weather? When you're out in the elements, the quality of the weather can have a major impact on your mood. I tend to find myself in a much better mood when the weather is sunny and warm than when it's cold and wet (obviously). I have realized though, that cold weather can be ideal for riding, since as long as I dress properly, I can ride for several miles without even breaking a sweat. Plus, I now fully appreciate how lame of an excuse it is for people to use weather as a reason never to ride.

Always Multitasking. One of the things I hated most about commuting by car to school was that it felt like I was wasting a ton of valuable time- hours every week that I could spend doing something more enjoyable. That's really not an issue now because every time I ride somewhere, I'm getting in some solid exercise at the same time. I've been riding about 30 miles per week, excluding big rides, and it's already a lot more than I used to be exercising.

Better Than Physics Class. One of the problems I made when I started was to try to ride as fast as possible by peddling as hard as possible all the time. It didn't take long to realize that the relationship between energy input and speed is not linear. I could expend a lot less energy but travel only a little bit slower.

I'm a Mechanic. I'll be the first to admit that I am one of the least mechanically inclined individuals out there. The only things I've really been successful at building or repairing have been computer hardware. I grew up believing that when the car broke down, you had to take it to the mechanic to get fixed. But bikes are much simpler machines. Simple enough, even, for me to make most repairs at home. It's nice to have the peace of mind knowing that if anything goes wrong, I can probably learn how to fix it from a Youtube tutorial video.


Dave Reid said…
I've been riding a lot this year, and using it as transportation, not just fun as well, and to me it is fantastic. Your point about cooler weather is right on. We did a 30 mile ride last weekend in 40-50 degree weather no problem at all..
dW said…
My commute is often the best part of my day...fresh air, no phone, no computer, just some healthy exercise, view of the lake, birds, time to think or just spin the pedals. I really miss it when I have to drive.

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