Becoming a Bike To Work Professional

In a previous post, I wrote about how attempting to improve your life by riding a bike to work generates a strong opposing force. This force can be overcome by what Steven Pressfield calls, “Turning Pro.”

Picture suggestion bike to work pro
You already have the skills to turn pro. Photo by olekvi.

Let me start by saying that you don’t have to turn pro. As an “amateur” bike commuter, I enjoyed the benefits of weight loss, better health, and saving money, among others. Turning pro is hard, and if you don’t want to do it…if don’t think it’s what you need, I totally respect that. For those who are interested in turning pro, read on.

You Already Know How To Be A Pro

If you have a job (and you do or you wouldn’t be biking to work), you already have the professional skills identified by Pressfield his book, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work. These skills are transferable to other areas of your life and some of the ones that particularly apply to bicycle commuting are:

  • A professional shows up every day. You don’t have to make the decision each morning about whether you are going to work today—you just go. A biking pro doesn’t go to the garage in the morning, sigh, and decide whether to ride or not. And what if you have decided to be a pro who only rides on Tuesdays-Thursdays? Did you ever have a part-time job?
  • A professional shows up no matter what. You go into work with the sniffles or a headache, don’t you? A biking pro doesn’t tolerate excuses. (Note: rules are different; professionals abide by rules. For health reasons, I have consciously set rules about riding on red air days or when the temperature is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  • A professional is committed over the long haul. The professional knows that he will work (at some job or other) until retirement. The biking pro is making a lifestyle commitment.
  • The stakes are high and they are real. Your job performance means your family eats or it doesn’t. For the biking professional, riding is about keeping promises to yourself and improving your health and your life; high stakes indeed.
  • Professionals master the techniques of their job. You are continually improving your ability to do your job through training, research, and practice. A biking pro knows that she can and must continually improve in her knowledge and application of bicycling skills. She constantly gets better.
  • Professionals don’t overidentify with their job. You may be dedicated to and take pride in your work, but you know that you are not your job description. I decline opportunities to describe myself as a “cyclist.” I’m a guy who rides a bike to work.
  • Professionals get paid. Even if you love your job, you accept money for it…and this helps you maintain the traits identified above. Even though you are unlikely to find someone to pay you for your commute, recognizing that riding a bike to work has an impact on your bottom line is a huge help in your professional outlook.

Habits Are Key

In Turning Pro, Pressfield writes: “The difference between and amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits.”

Amateur habits lead to frustration and defeat: forgetting to check your tires when you get home at night and having a flat in the morning, not replacing the batteries in your lights, leaving a vital piece of paper on your desk. At least once a month, I would forget dress socks and look ridiculous all day. (I now keep a pair of socks in a desk drawer and, interestingly, I’ve never needed them.)

Professional habits lead to success and fulfillment. A few months ago, I noticed that I have a morning habit: I gather my clothes and my lunch, lay out my bag in a certain way and load it up in a certain order, put on my shoes, iPod, and helmet the exact same way. At first this bothered me…was I in a rut? Then I realized that it was a ritual, just like my co-workers’ morning coffee. The ritual prepared me for my day…and ensured that I had socks. Habits are good and good habits are the mark of a professional.

Question: Is being a professional important to you? Put your thoughts in the comments field below.