Six months ago I started commuting to work by bicycle. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and finally after moving out of our house and to an apartment closer to work I was within biking range. It was scary at first, which seems silly, but when you’ve been driving to work for the past 20 years doing something completely different is scary. Plus there were unknowns, like can I bike that far, will I be stinky when I arrive, what will my coworkers think. Happily everything worked out great and I’m really enjoying the new commute.
Over the past six months I’ve observed some things that I didn’t notice when driving to work, so today I’d like to share six random observations from six months of bicycle commuting.
- Animals are everywhere. I never noticed all the wildlife around the city and in the suburbs when I was driving. The slower pace of biking has allowed me to see deer, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, lizards, frogs, and various types of birds.
- I think lizards may be adrenaline junkies or may have some weird death wish thing going on. Lizards sit on the sidewalk to warm themselves in the sun, and when I roll up on my bike they dart out from the complete opposite side of the sidewalk and try to run under my tires. I try to dodge them as best I can, and so far I’ve only rolled over one of them, but I’d prefer not to squish the wildlife during my bike commute. Squirrels are a close second. I had one dart out and hit my spokes which sent him flying up in the air. When he landed he took off at full speed for the nearest tree.
- Biking in the rain isn’t so bad. All my coworkers always talk about the rain like it’s the end of the world if I have to ride home in the rain. It’s not like acid falls from the sky… it’s just water. I ride every day unless it’s raining in the morning for the ride to work or if there is a really high percentage of bad storms for the ride home after work.
- Weather forecasters can’t forecast the weather. I’m sure we all know this, but I’ve noticed it even more when I check the weather in the morning to see what the afternoon ride home will be like. So when I said high percentage of bad storms in observation number two, I’m talking about 80% or better chance of rain combined with my own observations of what the week has been like. Anything less than that and it might not rain at all.
- Drivers go absolutely nuts before a rain storm. It’s like they have completely forgotten their car will shield them from the wetness of the rain. They drive fast and reckless as if they have to rush home before it starts to rain or those drops from the sky will melt their cars. There must be some sort of animal instinct that tells us to rush for cover, but it’s one we should pay more attention to as it puts us in danger and causes accidents.
- Biking to work saves money on gas, but costs more on food. According to my pedometer software, which has a place to enter other activities, I burn about 450 calories each way, so about 900 calories for the round trip commute. I’m hoping some of that will lead to a little more fat loss, but some of those calories have to be replaced. When I bike to work I tend to eat a slightly larger breakfast and/or have a power bar or some fruit as a snack between breakfast and lunch. I’m also really hungry when I get home, so we’ve been eating dinner earlier in the evening and I usually a little more on the days I ride.
I have really been enjoying my bike commute, and I look forward to my ride home every day. When I was driving to work I dreaded the traffic on the drive home, and now my bike commute is the highlight of my workday. I’d like to hear from you, what do you notice when you ride a bike, or when you take life at a slower pace?
- Bicycle Commute in the Rain (rethinkingthedream.com)
- BIKE COMMUTING SKYROCKETING, esp. in “Bike Friendly Communities” (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- The Guardian guide to bicycle commuting: tips from readers (guardian.co.uk)
- Ursula Rozum: Bicycles promote freedom, happiness and well-being (syracuse.com)
- Build an Apartment-Sized Bike Rack out of PVC (lifehacker.com)