Monday, February 01, 2010

Thoughts on Daily Bike Commuting

I starting riding to work about 18 months ago, right after moving from Redmond to Seattle. A fair weather rider at first, I quickly grew to love the feeling of riding to work. From the exhilarating wakeup of flying downhill in the morning to the mind-cleansing burn of pedaling uphill on the way home, I was hooked. I've moved steadily onward to riding nearly every work day. I rode 180 days in 2009, and would have reached 200 if a mid-April sandboarding accident hadn't sidetracked me for 6 weeks with a broken foot.

While I certainly encourage others to "bike their drive," I'll be the first to acknowledge that my situation is about as perfect as it could be for bike commuting. At only 3.5 - 4 miles each way, riding doesn't take any more time than driving, and is way faster than the bus. Parking a car in my building costs $200 a month. My ride is entirely urban, so I'm not (often) dealing with speeding vehicles. With my morning ride almost all downhill, I don't work up a sweat on the way in. My workplace is very casual, so I can ride in my street clothes. Remove any of these factors and who knows how resolved I'd be?

In any event, the last year has been about removing obstacles to riding. The first of these was heavy rain, which for the first six months of riding kept me off my bike. Quality raingear (including these butt-ugly but effective shoe covers) solved that problem, and I now look forward to riding in the rain. I've also added a Cetma rack up front so I can carry bulky items to and from work and run more errands on my bike.

I've probably reached the maximum potential for riding - business travel, speeches and meetings still conspire to keep me off my bike a few weeks each year, and I won't ride in the snow, given the steepness of my hill and how clueless Seattle drivers are at operating in the stuff. I could get another bike, so mechanical problems - which cost me a handful of rides - aren't a factor. But that's probably more just rationalization for me to get this sweet lime-green Swobo.

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