Ten years ago today, I made the following Facebook post:
Rode my bike to work today for the first time in about 10 years. It’s a pretty easy commute to downtown, so I hope to do this more often.
Fast forward a decade, and “I hope to do this more often” looks like quite the understatement. By 2014, I’d committed to bike commuting. Rain or shine, heat or freezing weather — if I was in the office, I was there by bike.1
What are some things I’ve learned in ten years of bike commuting?
I am my own worst enemy. While I’ve been hit by cars twice (one super-minor in 2014, one slightly more serious in 2018), my worst crashes have come from my own mistakes. (Those mistakes are almost always biking too fast downhill for the road conditions.)
Bike commuters are the only people who think, “Wow, the weather is great. I’m going to make my commute longer.”
Related to the above, one of the little joys of bike commuting is it’s easy to stop and take photos when the scenery justifies it.
The hardest part is starting. This is still true for me ten years later, and it’s still true no matter how many times I’ve experienced this: When the weather is bad, or I’m tired, or for whatever reason just don’t feel like biking: If I can just get myself on the bike and pedaling, I feel great five minutes later. (I’ve often used this mental trick when I’m feeling too worn out to bike to work. I’ll tell myself, “It’s OK, I’ll just bike to work slowly.” And after five minutes, I’m biking at my normal pace.) The inverse is also often true. There have been times I’ve just not been able to muster the mental energy to bike to work and work from home instead. Often, an hour or two later, I feel bad because I didn’t ride.
I’m a gear junkie and I’ve used bike commuting as an excuse to buy way too many jackets and bags.
Fundamentally, I’m a lazy person. Since 2014, if I’ve gone to the office, I’ve almost certainly gotten there by bike. I’ve lost weight and controlled my cholesterol through the regular exercise. However, for two years of the pandemic, I didn’t have an office to commute to. Nothing stopped me from riding my bike just for exercise during those two years! I tried. But for me, my generic willpower isn’t as strong as this simple thought process: “Well, I need to get to the office today. And the way I get to the office is on my bike. So, I guess I’m biking today.”
I’m so happy to have an office to commute to again.
A scene from my commute in the fall of 2016
- One thing I don’t do is bike in the snow — I don’t think the risk of slipping is worth it. This is relevant today because I’d been looking forward to celebrating 10 years of bike commuting with the 2023 Cascade Bicycle Club Chilly Hilly, but we’ve had a rare late-February snowfall.↩