A full year of bike commuting

A year ago today, I started riding my old and over-sized Giant OCR to work. That thing was a men’s 52cm aluminum frame bike. The handlebar is so wide and the bike so heavy that it rides like a couch–slow and comfortable.

My commute to work is a very short 4.5 to 5 km depending on the route. The reason I always drove is that it’s easy, and I was given a parking spot at work. Riding a bike just seemed like such a chore.

The new building our office moved into has a really great bike locker and shower facility. The bike locker is free. I pay $180/year to have access to the shower with towel service. It even has two clothes dryers for those rainy Vancouver days so you can dry your wet clothes. $180 is peanuts when you consider what you get for it. (Thank you, Oxford Properties!)

It took maybe a week or so to get into the rhythm of bike commuting. It takes a bit of extra time to pack my work clothes and lay out my cycling clothes the night before, and a bit of extra time to change back into cycling clothes after work. If I have to bring my laptop home, it’s extra weight to haul. Some days I use just a backpack with a chest strap, and some days I use my Ortlieb classic pannier bag on the bike rack–it just depends on which bike I’m riding and how much I’m hauling.

In terms of commute time, I would say it averages out to be shorter on the bike. Driving is about 12 minutes in the morning if I leave early enough, but often 30 minutes in the evening (or 40 minutes when Burrard bridge was being renovated). Cycling time both ways is always consistently between 14 and 16 minutes, regardless of traffic conditions. The fastest cycling time is 12 minutes (early morning, green light all the way, on the road bike), and the slowest is 18 minutes (I think I was just dilly dallying that day, plus hitting all red lights, on the cross bike).

The best thing about bike commuting is that it eliminates the high blood pressure induced by my road rage while driving gives me time to decompress while I’m commuting. I get some fresh air, get some blood pumping through my system, and burn a few calories.

I’d love to say that I’m doing it for environmental reasons, but I would be lying. I don’t deserve a “one less car” sticker, because I’m doing this for myself rather than for the greater good of the globe. You can always count on me to be totally honest.

The worst thing about bike commuting is…well, I don’t know. Yes, some days I get wet from the rain, and some days I am cold. But I find if I dress right, given my very short commute distance, none of it is really that bad. I don’t recall ever hating a bike commute, whereas I recall hating almost every driving commute.

If you are considering bike commuting to work, I would say just give it a try for a week and see how it feels. You might like it so much that you decide to sell your car. Or do the Whistler fondo. Or just enjoy some fresh air.

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This “haul everything” set up.

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A little snow this winter.

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Finding great backgrounds for bike photos during my commute.

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Sometimes I take a detour on my way home.

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So many great bike lanes in Vancouver, and well salted during the winter.

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