I used to ride to work all the time. Almost everyday when the weather was nice and I didn’t have shit to do before or after. But that was three years and a different job ago. My last day there I rode in with a bottle full of mimosa and left 3 hours early. It was a good day. I miss it. But I left that job for a much better one. One that is sadly 8 miles further away. I’ve frequently looked for a decent route to ride, but never acted on it. There’s no facilities at the office. No real place to leave the bike inside. No shower. I’d have to change clothes in my office. Just a lonely bike rack outside the south door.
But the other day I said fuck it. On Monday traffic backed up an extra 20 minutes due to an accident and the whole time I was thinking, “I could be riding.” Sure it would take me longer but at least I’d be moving. Plus I’ve had a generally shitty start to the year. So I said fuck it. Riding to work used to make me happy. And yesterday it did once again.
I left about the time I normally would be returning from a morning run. So I got to enjoy the sunrise I always miss because I’m in the shower.
I nodded good morning to five people before even leaving my extended neighborhood. I don’t do that in my car.
There’s a good five mile stretch of canal path that is part of the route. Provides a nice break from the danger of the four wheeled beasts.
Further along I snake through the rich kid part of town. Gated yards, not just neighborhoods. Fortunately it’s traffic free with decent roads. Which is all I would want from this area. Quick and safe passage. Not sure how anyone could foster a sense of community there. On the highway I don’t get to see these homes and golf courses. Most of us are simply focused on trying to get to work and out of traffic. But riding through these streets causes me to think about money, lifestyle, and what I would do if I had that much. It’s much more engaging.
The last seven or so miles are kinda shitty. Four lane road with a big bike lane. Nothing fancy but it does the job. 22 miles door-to-door and took me 90 minutes. Trying to build a new routine can be awkward, so having my team see me all sweaty with my clippity clop shoes was strange. Fortunately the bike I took is my only one not covered with profane and potentially damning stickers. So I avoided too many probing questions.
Then work stuff happened. When it was time to stop doing work stuff and go home, I was excited for once. I got to ride! Even if it took me 50% longer than driving at least I’d be moving. And that’s on a good traffic day. Never seen a crash blocking the bike lane. Plus this route takes me past some of the better dive bars in town. Perhaps it was planned that way? One keeps their Christmas lights up until the Super Bowl. The other is next to a carniceria and you can have tacos and beer for dinner. And on Fridays I can swing by the neighborhood bike shop for their Free Beer Friday.
At the end of the route home is this neat pedestrian bridge that dumps me back into my neighborhood. It’s a nice little welcome home symbol. And on the other side lie a few more watering holes. So if I haven’t decompressed enough during the ride home there’s a stool that will help finish the job.
I hadn’t really forgot how much I loved riding to work, but I was surprised at how quickly it rejuvenated my week. I can’t manage it everyday, maybe twice a week. Something to look forward to if nothing else. This Friday is up next. I’ll catch the sunrise. Sunset on the way home for sure. Then probably a dive bar and some tacos. There aren’t any dive bars or taco shops on the freeway.
So I want to encourage you to give it a whirl yourself. If you have even the slightest opportunity to ride to work go see how it feels. Maybe it’s once a week, or only once a month. But at least you can say you did. See if it turns out to be easier than you thought. Maybe you’ll find tacos. If you need help finding a route, email me. I’m a cartographer by trade. Seriously.
Lastly I want to see and hear about your experience. If you do try riding to work for the first time send me some pictures. If you already ride to work send me pictures and stories too. I feel it’s a lot easier than most of us would think. A little planning and effort can turn your commute around. I’ll share them here every so often. Your experience might encourage someone else to ride their commute too.
email ~ email@example.com
I ride to work 7.5 miles when the weather is 30 degree or more and dry. I live in Pennsylvania. I’m a totally more awesome person for it too! I love it, downright freakin awesome to make such a change to me lifestyle! I recommend it to whoever can do it…..
Currently a stay at home dad. No commute……..and I kinda miss it. It would take a 15min drive into a 30 min ride. That’s my kind of math. Just the fix a grumpy fucker like me needs. I used to have a hour ten minute commute twice a week. All kinds of weather, cows to talk to. Took the long way home some times, on trail sometimes. IT IS THE BEST!
Nice piece SJ!
24 miles each way through the rolling hills between Thunderbird and Draper lakes in central Ok. It’s out in the country with little traffic for all but 3 miles of it. No bike racks or showers convenient to my office, but who cares… If you smell me you are too close, I need my bubble! The bike goes up the stairs and rolls right into my office. Crawling out of bed at 0430 sucks, but riding beats driving any day. Happy if I get in 2 rides a week, but I’m a wuss when it comes to cold weather.
1/11, 1/16, 1/19, 1/25, 1/25–all new posts on D.C. Hell yeah. Are you all back for real? I hope so. Loved this post too–I’m going to ride my 40 mile round tripper this week in honor of it and more to come. Thanks.
I ride 4km downhill in the morning and 4km back up in the evening during 3 seasons, each year I say I’ll ride through winter as well but never manage to hold the promise. I love it and wish work was further away !
The SJ-Dude abides!
Spent over an hour today trying to drive 27kms & over Auckland’s harbor bridge to get to a meeting. Then spent 20 minutes looking for parking…
Finally, said, Fuck it, I’m going for a beer..
I have a 7 mile commute from the south end of Seattle to the middle. I hate my job right now but that all fades away once my ass is in the saddle. Driving a car is one of few activities that automatically and without fail makes me an angry, screamy, less fun to be around person. I’ve just started to get serious again about commuting only by bike after taking some time off because of some hammy issues over the summer and then just generally being a lazy fatass. Even though I have some serious extra poundage to work off thanks to too many late night snacks and beers, struggling up those hills is still better sitting in my car and cursing out all the other dumbfuck drivers. And now I have a goal of adjusting my route now and again to find my own dive bar and taco experience. I just need it to warm up a bit so I can bust out my newly acquired but never worn Drunk Cyclist tech tee and represent!
Four for five on the bike to work this week. Only 3 or 4 miles but hey, I’m a year from 60. Try this, cruise through the drive through to pick up dropped change. Always a treat to pick up a few bucks on the way. I in the suburbs so all of our dining can be in the auto so lots of coin drops. Been at it for 15 years. Probably a few grand collected.
Awesome. I ride from west of Norterra to the Scottsdale air park. 25ish miles one way and I try to do it twice a week. I have facilities (shower, etc) so that is awesome and I have a deal with the facilities manager who lets me stash the bike in one of her rooms so it doesn’t have to stay outside. It’s so much better than being stuck on the 101. Except for the summer when commuting in the afternoon is below average.
Awesome article! Just curious – where do you live? Looks unlike anywhere I’ve been.
I’ve been using a bicycle as my main form of fun, transportation, exercise, sedative/hallucinogen/upper since 2002. I was living in Washington, DC and had my first post-undergrad job. Big city, decent job, I felt cool. I didn’t feel very cool waiting for the bus to work while folks zipped by on bicycles. “I have a bike, I like to ride it, why not?” That was in 2002. DC was pretty easy to ride in weather-wise and it was well before the cycling infrastructure was decent, but I did it. Either rode in button up and pants and went slowly, as to not sweat, or just changed at work. Went to grad school in upstate NY and cycled year round there, though the snow and infrastructure were pretty horrible for cycling.
Now I live in North Carolina and I’m back to riding to work daily. I’m so damn lucky. I leave my house, ride on neighborhood streets (not many motorists, mostly they’re driving slowly) for five minutes, then I’m on a dedicated MUP for 25 minutes. I have my own office and have things set up so that I can ride in full kit on a road bike and change at work OR ride a commuter bike with panniers and carry things. I ride five days a week, most days with a co-worker, who happens to be a good friend as well. I work with just dudes, so if I want, I could work in sweaty shorts and a t-shirt all day.
Since August I’ve had to drop my newborn son at our friend’s, she watches him during the day. I HATE dealing with other motorists, but it’s a 10 minute drive, no traffic, and I can park near the MUP and ride my bike in (I have a board with a fork mount in the bed, and have a cap, so just leave my bike in the back of my truck). I’d rather never drive, but we’ll likely have an in-house sitter or daycare that I can bike him to within a few months.
Every once and awhile I decide to just drive to work. Oh man, it takes around 40 seconds to regret it. Since I haven’t driven much in 15 years…I’m completely and utterly dismayed at a) how fast people drive b) how many people drive cars that might blow up at any second c) all the other stuff people are doing BESIDES just driving d) how many fucking idiots don’t know the LAWS (headlights in the rain, using fucking turn signals, speed limits are SUGGESTED). I drive in silence, never touch my cell phone, always use indicators, always have my lights on, usually drive BELOW the speed limit. Seriously, what other fucking piece of deadly machinery do you take a 15 minute test for at age 16…and you get to use it until you die? C’mon now. Even a goddamn x-ray tech needs to get recertified more often than that! It’s insane. I dream of the day we’ll see an Presidential election where a candidate seriously talks about undoing American car culture, the lax laws, the low taxes on gas/driving, all of it.
I’m so much happier not using a car. I KNOW I’m very lucky and not everyone can swing this. But, as you encouraged, Jesus…if you think you can do it even a few days a week, go for it. From Monday-Friday my entire life is lived in an 8 mile bubble. Work, home, grocery store, soccer field, dog walking woods…everything is so damn close. I rarely venture outside this bubble, it’s pretty crazy. I guess the main reason I do is when I go on long road rides and travel 50 miles or so from home. Otherwise, I have my bubble and I’m happy here!
Oh, I keep my bike next to my desk…and I keep my favorite, one-of-a kind road bike in my office too, just to look at and keep safe.
Oh…and that is the beauty of cycling…constantly bringing you closer to your destination. After 15 years of car-free living, my brain absolutely cannot fathom or handle sitting in traffic. I HATE not moving. I hate thinking, “C’mon, SOME of these other asshole drivers don’t need to be driving right now. Couldn’t they walk? Or take the bus? Or carpool?” Looking around at all the cars with a single damn person in them is disgusting.
That is the good news with growing urban density…I hope more people are able to bike around and I hope more politicians actually make the effort to put in bike-ped infrastructure. My fingers are crossed!
Hurben…I’m an American but I was lucky enough to live north of Auckland in Titirangi for about a year in my early 20s. It was incredible. NZ is my favorite place on earth. Sadly, I wasn’t much of a cyclist yet:(
Parking. I’d rather ride in pouring rain or freezing snow than waste a second of my life looking for a place to park. It’s CRAZY.
Oh, and speaking of parking. My roommates had a car and they worked at the ACB hostel in downtown Auckland. Once their WOF expired, they never renewed it and would just park wherever they wanted. The government billed them at one point for something like $15,000 in parking tickets.
We used to surf and swim out at Piha!
Northern New Jersey; Monday through Friday; all year around; all types of weather, 30+ miles round trip; 2010 SURLY Pacer; 2006 Bianchi Pista single speed; 1994 Gary Fisher Mtb; Light & Motion front/rear lights; didn’t drive once to work in 2016. It’s the best part of my day. Strip life to the core and the path forward is shown.
Shit man, don’t tell everybody…
What you should have said is that this place is a Post-Apocalyptic Hell hole!
Awesome single track? no, haven’t seen any of that. Dynamite beaches? hell no! Greatest Place on Earth? are you on drugs!
There’s this great big chunk a land to the west called Australia, maybe go there, (bear in mind practically everything can kill you)…
Nothing to see here, move along…
P.S. Titirangi is West Auckland but I can see how you could get confused
Hurben, Ha ha ha. Every time I see a tourism add for NZ in National Geographic or The New Yorker, I get so anxious that others might discover it.
I actually spent a semester of college at UQ in Brisbane…and took a trip to Perth. Didn’t do much exploring outside the city, but just being on that side of the continent felt isolated.
Okay, I’ll keep it a secret! But the time I spent in NZ was incredible. A magical place, a great place to find a new path after I finished undergrad college. Ha, I also trained as a sous chef there! After cooking at a terrible U.S. restaurant where ALL food came via Sysco (a corporation I truly hate!), it was amazing to get our lamb shanks, seafood and veggies delivered fresh every other day.
Way to go! My commute is very similar, 22 miles each way. Lot of variety re: road conditions. I start from Richmond, CA (north of Berkeley) and end up south of the Coliseum in Oakland (home of the RAIDERS! (until we get fucked again!)). Starts with quiet residential, transitions to a 45 mph boulevard, with a ‘sharrow’ in the #2 lane. Joyous! The the Bay Trail, beautiful separated path along the San Francisco Bay. In Emeryville it is on City streets the rest of the way, some with bike lanes other times not. After Jack London Square, the neighborhoods decline significantly. It becomes more of a grind. At least my workplace has a shower and I can keep my bike in my shared office. The trip home usually includes a headwind :) until I pass Berkeley.
I started trying to do this ride once a week in 2010 but in reality in good years I manage 15-20 rides. Who knows what 2017 will bring? So far, ZERO. Lots of rain and I confess, I AM A CANDY-ASS THAT HATES TO RIDE IN THE RAIN!!!
Enjoy your ride, where ever it takes you!
My friend travel with his bike to go out for his work but it is so difficult to ride a bike in a street where everything is trying to make a obstacle for your travel.
Why would you waste so much time on such an assinine route? You could be there in less time and sweat free if you would just drive your car. You bike people don’t even pay taxes on the roads you ride on, but expect everyone to cowtow to your so called scenery. You are probably riding a bicycle made overseas to begin with, and that is sad, very, very sad. I think you have treated the highways, and cars very unfairly, very unfair. My daughter drives a car, and I feel she has been treated very unfair to,(see inaugural poster) very, very unfair. Let’s make America great again and hop back in our cold war cars, extended suburban sprawl, and start suckin at the teat of the gas pumps.
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I ride almost every night to my night shift ER nurse job and love it.
I want to share my most ridiculous ride home one cool morning.
I had just started home after hard night and was looking forward to the cool morning air to clear my mind. I start down the first major Hill of the ride home and am cruising around 30 mph. The next thing I see is a white flash dash toward my front tire and I’m flying through the air.
Turns out that white flash was a small dog accidently let loose from someone’s house. The owners rushed out and scooped up the dog while I laid in the street. No, they didn’t check on my splayed figure.
When I finally drug myself and the bike from the street a school bus pulls up. The owner of the dog hauls her little girl out of the house cursing me up and down.
Humanity lost a little that morning.
I ride home every morning loving it still a year later and wonder about the effigy along the road.
Though my ride is short, 1.2 miles, I pedal to work every day and love every minute of it. My daughter’s daycare is on the way too, and she rides on a Novara Afterburner 2.0. She enjoys the daily routine just as much as I do, and I’m more than happy to pass on an active lifestyle to her that is growing more rare by the day. Honestly, she’s been the one to push me to pedal on those sub freezing days, and I think that’s just awesome. She’s surprised me with her love for cycling, but I can’t seem to get her on her own. Any suggestions?