Resolving to Ride to Work
It turns out I didn’t have to make a New Years resolution.
My boss already made one for me.
I’ll be commuting to work for a whole damn month.
At first I couldn't tell if I was excited or nervous, but really I’m nervous. I don’t really ride bikes. I am a skateboarder wishing I could do something more in my element like going to the skateparks around the Bay Area. But that wouldn’t be much of a challenge given that I've been to most of them already, so now I find myself thrown into the world of bicycle commuting. I mean what's the worst that could happen? I get stuck in the rain, a flat tire, or my biggest concern getting hit by a car?
My commute is from my home in San Jose to Kali Protectives office in Morgan Hill, but my first problem is not having a bike.
I wasn’t sure what to do about a bike, so I went to the only commuting expert I know, Eric Brecheen, Kali Sales Manager. Eric has ridden in the Indian Himalayas, Pamir mountains in Central Asia, and he commutes to work three to five times a week.
Eric was kind enough to loan me a worthy bike for my commuting experiment and I took his advice and got myself some lights. The only problem with the black Ritchey Carbon Outback is that it came with clip less pedals and I wasn't ready for that, so I searched my garage for that old BMX bike I quit riding. I had tons of fun on the bike, but as I learned more skate tricks I road the bike less and less. I stole my dusty flats off the bike that hasn’t been touched in half a decade and I was ready to commute.
I had lots of thoughts the night before.
Twenty seven miles round trip was something I saw as a challenge for me but I knew I’d be able to get through it. I've driven the route enough times to know what I was getting myself into. I knew this wouldn't be as quick as driving but according to the Sierra Club back in 2012 if Americans made one 4-mile round-trip by bike instead of car each week, we'd burn nearly 2 billion fewer gallons of gas annually. At $3.64 a gallon back then, that's a saving of $6.6 billion. Gas has been like liquid gold to me lately so this was music to my ears.
I woke up an hour before my alarm and my mind started racing once again keeping me awake. I was still sleepy but it was time for me to head to work so I got dressed, ate an orange, put on my helmet and was off.
What started off as a cruise through the neighborhood quickly became a hill climb. After getting up and over the hill I started to get stuffy and uncomfortable, so I cranked out another mile then stopped to blow my nose and take off my jacket, only to stop again and put it back on.
I almost lost my mind the first two days not knowing how to layer up, feeling hot and then cold, continuously. Now that I was past all that I thought it would be a breeze, but I was wrong because the only breezy thing was the wind slowing me down which was a daily occurrence. And due to geographical phenomenon, some days I had a headwind coming and going.
I forgot a pump three days in a row, with the bike lane being a broken glass magnet, I made a game out of dodging the shards. Even stop lights became a game and I wasn't shocked to read about other commuters playing also. After getting past the rows of green farmland and past up by two middle age cyclists, I stopped one last time to collect myself before getting downtown. I was exhausted but coconut water brought me back to life.
I was told by my boss multiple times to be ready for any weather but in the beginning I really wasn’t because I hate the feeling of biking with a heavy backpack on slowing me down. As I learned more about my route and equipment needs, the cold commute I would dread every morning became quite enjoyable.
I have stopped having anxious thoughts keeping me awake at night and the view is great seventy percent of the route and music makes up for the other thirty percent.
Depending on your weight you can burn between 215-500 calories during a 30 minute ride based on the average commuter pace of ten miles per hour. It feels amazing getting all this cardio in before work and I recommend trying commuting to anyone, I even convinced my coworker Chase to ride with me next week. I can already feel myself getting a little bit fitter and I'm excited to see what the future holds.