Why I Ride Now

It’s been about ten months since I last posted to this blog. I had run out of things to say and, frankly, I thought I was done; but this morning’s commute changed my mind. What was special about today’s commute? I’m working from home.

Picture of an amazing sunrise

It’s hard to appreciate a view like this from a car moving at 40 mph in traffic. That’s one reason I ride a bike. Photo by Natesh Ramasamy.

My bedroom is upstairs and my desk is downstairs, but I felt compelled to put a 45 minute ride in between the two. What is really remarkable about this is that when I started commuting almost ten years ago getting on my bike was a daily struggle and I often was only able to do it because I had left myself no other option for getting to work.

I honestly don’t know whether my “ride to work” was a waste of time, but I do know that my reason for riding has changed from something I have to do to something I want to do.

My commute keeps me fit.

I started riding because I saw myself in a full length mirror one day and was appalled. Back then, I didn’t have the willpower to exercise or say no to a cookie and was unwilling to spend money on a gym membership. I saw riding a bike as a possible hack because I could view it not as exercise (which was pointless and painful), but as thrifty transportation.

The hack worked, and I have lost 50 pounds using my transportation self-deception.

Lately, however, I have begun to see through lie I’ve been telling myself and recognized that my ride is exercise and I really need it. When I got up this morning and thought about the food I will eat when I take my family out to dinner tonight, I realized that without my commute, I would not burn enough calories to feel good about eating. So off to work I rode.

My commute keeps me sane.

I have a sit-at-a-desk, go-to-meetings, type-on-a-computer, job. It is often aggravating, occasionally stressful, and above all, highly sedentary. My commute is anti-sedentary. The vast difference between my job and the commute that is on either end of my work day is stunning, and really cuts the legs out from under the pressures of my job.

Back when I was using transit, I went from my sitting at my desk obsessing over work to sitting on a bus obsessing over work. There was little physical difference in my posture or environment, so my job mindset went seamlessly with me all the way home.

The physical difference between my desk and my bike, however, prevents overlap between work and anything else. My work stays at work where it belongs. (There is a downside to this, of course. Sometimes I’ll think of something on my ride that I want to take care of at work, but it leaves me as soon as I cross the threshold of my office. I now use a voice recorder app to email myself thoughts that I have while riding).

My commute is enjoyable.

I’ve written about this at length before, but I really enjoy my commute. The sights (early spring sunrises and sunsets are spectacular), the sounds (woodpeckers are back!), the smells (we rode past three houses that were grilling on the way home last night), the wind, and even the rain are a delight to the senses. (Full disclosure: Tuesday is garbage day along much of my route and smells on a Tuesday morning in summer can be less delightful.)

When I was a car commuter my drive to work seemed like a series of frustrations. People driving poorly, stupid things on the radio, road construction, and trying to find a parking space all made me furious.

When I was a transit commuter, there was the stress of bus schedules, the occasionally bizarre passengers, and the ever increasing costs of transit fares. I always seemed to have something to complain about.

In the past, I could never say that I looked forward to my commute. Now I do…to the point that I commute even when I don’t have to.

Curious and remarkable.

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