It has been over 3 months since I committed to commuting to work on my bike. I haven’t missed a day and there have been several wet and cold ones. It began when I transformed an old mountain bike into a comfortable, reliable commuter.
It is time to make a few comments about the experience. Here are 10 things I learned and did not expect.
- I have enjoyed it more than expected. It is a short, easy, downhill ride in the morning. After work I take a lap around Stanley Park on the Seawall. This is a 30 km, 1.5 hour ride with a 3 km climb at the end. I have gotten noticeably stronger after just 3 months and enjoy my weekend road rides more.
- The ride is safer than I expected. I keep to the bikeways and traffic calmed streets most of the time.
- The weather has not been a factor. I find if I stay dry and keep my head, hands and feet warm, the ride is more of an adventure than a ride to be avoided.
- I am cycling an extra 125 km each week. During these rides, I concentrate on technique – pedal stroke, cadence, climbing … I think of these rides as preparation for my weekend road rides.
- Cycling clothing makes a difference. I thought I would wear informal pants and tops for the commute. Instead, I prefer to wear cycling clothing – bibs, shoes, jersey – for the ride and bring a change of clothes. I am more comfortable on the bike and enjoy the ride home more.
- I don’t like using panniers. I prefer a small backpack. It is easier to carry when I get off the bike to shop or run an errand.
- There are more cyclists in the city than I realized. When I began frequenting the bikeways more regularly, I realized that the cycling community has grown dramatically and is embraced by all ages and both sexes.
- I am saving a lot of money on parking and gas. I hardly use the SUV these days except when I need to transport bikes somewhere for a different ride.
- I am stronger. The 3 km climb home is getting easier. I challenge myself each week to do it faster using a higher gear. I haven’t lost any weight but think I have added a few pounds of muscle.
- I have learned which stores and cafes are bike-friendly. I look for establishments where I can safely lock my bike and and am likely to meet other cyclists. I have been surprised at the number of cafes conveniently located either on or near the city’s bikeways.
Every way I look at it, commuting by bike is preferable. It is better for me. I am healthier, more relaxed and have discovered several new coffee hangouts. Cycling is my anti-depressant. And, it is better for the environment. I have reduced my carbon footprint and saved money doing it. How do I encourage others of my vintage to do the same?