Real people tell their stories
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Cody - Seattle, WA
What made you start commuting by bike? A couple reasons: 1) To use free-time (commute time) efficiently so that I get a workout without taking time away from family time and 2) To save some cash (gas), which in turn could have a small environmental impact.
Describe your commute. Bike lanes for a couple miles then Burke Gilman trail. A couple miles on the road again then a push to the top of Capital Hill. 9 miles total. Average time each way is 35-40 minutes. I'd say a moderate ride, overall.
What benefits have you seen? Feel energized all day, stronger legs, less time at the gas pump and no extra time taken from hanging out with my daughter. BTW, it takes on average 30 minutes to drive to and from work.
Any tips for other bike commuters, on gear, habits, anything? The hard part is flipping on the brain to bike to work mode. Many people think of all the hurdles (no shower, my clothes will be wrinkled, my pack is heavy, it's raining, it's cold, it's hot, etc.) and decide it's just easier to drive. There are some pretty simple solutions to help get over these hurdles. For starters, know it get's easier the more you do it. So make yourself do it for one month (at least 3 days a week), no less - or you won't continue. In addition to your standard gear (bike, helmet, shoes, gloves) buy some extra gear: waterproof shoulder or saddle bag, a lightweight rain jacket, waterproof booties for over the shoes, leg warmers and arm warmers... That's it. All year long you can ride to work even in Seattle. Plan ahead a little. Bring work clothes on the day you drive, then you don't have to pack those on your bike. Get your stuff ready at night, and realize how easy it is to towell off and fix the hair after a short ride.
Anything else to add? Check your tire pressure at least every week if not more (buy a floor pump). Change your attitude about why it would suck to be riding in the rain. With a little gear, it's easy, fun and creates a stress free time to think about life.
Dave - Seattle, WA
What made you start commuting by bike? My friend told me he knew a guy that had never owned a car. He did everything by bike or bus. I had never even thought that would be possible, but suddenly it sounded pretty cool/smart/efficient. Then I thought of all the other things I could be doing with my money instead of car payments, gas and oil changes. I sold my car too, two years ago.
Describe your commute. I ride about 7.5 miles through the city each way. Most of it is easy and flat, and most of it is on the bike trail. About 2 miles are on the road with the cars, and about 4 blocks of killer hill.
What benefits have you seen? I love the way I feel. I've never been this fit. I have lost about 10 pounds and saved huge stacks of money. When traffic is bad I love slipping past all the cars!
Any tips for other bike commuters, on gear, habits, anything? Get flat-proof tires and a good waterproof bag. Wash off in the sink at work, even if you don't have a shower at work, a washcloth can do wonders. I bring a clean one every day, and put it in a plastic bag in my pack when I'm done. I'm fresh and clean all day! No smell! I use a small electric fan to dry off. I keep it under the sink at work, no one even knows it's there - don't have to deal with towels. After I change (5 minutes) no one would ever know I was just biking. I'm clean and dry, wearing nice work clothes. Ready for action.
Anything else to add? Don't worry about the rain. It's actually kind of fun. You're going to get a little wet, so what? You shower and swim anyway, don't you? You'll stay nice and warm, even on cold days - wear gloves and a jacket in the winter. I have a little wicking hat under my helmet. No problem, nice and cozy even in January. The summer is a breeze.
Bryan - Redmond, WA
What made you start commuting by bike? Faster than the bus or driving, cheaper than driving, healthier for me and better for the environment.
Describe your commute. I ride to the grocery store and for errands (3-4 miles round trip) and sometimes from Redmond to Seattle for social activities (24 miles each way.)
What benefits have you seen? Better health and saving money that would have been spent on gas and car.
Any tips for other bike commuters, on gear, habits, anything? If you plan on carrying a rack, make sure to go with a mountain bike or a touring bike as opposed to a road bike because the axle is usually stronger. I like panniers better than a backpack or satchel because it's a lot less strain on your body. In my panniers: some zip lock bags for clothes or whatever, rubberbands, latex gloves for pulling on that stuck chain or for repairs, a pen, paper, zip ties, a small bungee cord, and of course tools, a pump, and tubes.
Anything else to add? It's cheaper than driving, healthier for you and better for the environment.