Bike to Work Week just ended nationally, but not for me.
I’ve been bicycling to work most days for 20 years.
Round-trip my commute takes about 70 minutes on the bike. It’s 40 minutes by car so a workout of an hour and 10 minutes only costs me a half-hour.
The trip keeps my legs and lungs in shape, but also my head.
On the way to work, I think about what stories I’ll write, how to rephrase sentences or I notice news. Today, I saw two men removing an old banner from a two-story a billboard.
After a rough day if anything is bothering me, I usually forget about it by the time I pedal home.
On the bike I hear birds, smell flowers – lilacs are my favorite and they’re fragrant this time of year – and say hello to people, none of which I do in a car.
A bicycle, of course, doesn’t emit carbon, but the steady stream of cars passing me daily shows we’re not going to stop global warming by pedal power alone. We are, though, frittering away the years we have left to avoid immense pain from climate change, as I posted May 17 after reading “Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells.
If you want to commute by bike, you have to learn to ride in traffic. PennDOT’s online manual for bicyclists is a good primer:
But bicyclists face risks.
I’ve been hit by a car once since I started commuting. I jumped off and was fine. My wheel cost $50 to replace.
Cycling saves money on gas, but still gets pricey. My last tire cost $35.
If you haven’t been on a bike recently, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the technology. Both V-brakes and disc brakes have great stopping power. Light frames and 30 gear combinations help you get up hills.
But if you’re cycling for the first time in years, don’t try to ride 20 miles or climb a mountain right away.
Build your endurance, regain your balance and hone your instincts for traveling safely through traffic, potholes and gravel.
If you ride regularly, expect to spend time cleaning and maintaining your bike.
Rain or cold doesn’t have to stop you from cycling. I’ve learned what clothing works for me in different weather. When the forecast looks foreboding I usually take the car.
Still, I’ve been caught in rainstorms, snow and, once, hail. Hail really stings.
Then they’re are summer evenings when the sun starts to set over the Conyngham Valley as I’m gliding down the mountain toward home and I couldn’t be happier.
I would be happy to read your cycling tips and will do my best to answer questions you have about bicycling to work.