I can ride it if I like. And I do, as often as I can. Since my last post I’ve ridden about 60 miles to and from work. I live 5 miles away from my workplace where we are provided with showers, making a bicycle commute pleasant and convenient. With a change of clothes in my backpack I whistle past the grocery store, a high school, some farms, two ponds, the public library, athletic fields, and residential developments. I listen to the birds and frogs and watch the ducks. My city is very bicycle-friendly; there are bike lanes everywhere and the traffic is easy to navigate. When I arrive my towel, shampoo, and deodorant are waiting for me in a cubby, and I keep a box of cereal or some fruit in my office for breakfast.
What an invigorating way to start the day! When it is time to leave I change back into my riding clothes. Sometimes I stop at the public library on my way home to drop off or pick up a book. Sometimes I stop at the (air conditioned) grocery store. It is all very convenient; I highly recommend considering the relative locations of these institutions when picking out a house or apartment.
I also walk to these places, as well as to the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings (henceforth referred to as “Bdubs”), and a dive bar with a sand volleyball court where I participate in an amateur league. I grew up near the ocean and now that I live inland I cherish every moment I get to feel sand between my toes.
I’ve found that since the weather has turned I’ve only used my car for weekend outings, with few exceptions. I filled up my gas tank (17 gallons) at the end of April, and at the rate I am going I don’t think I will need to fill up again during the entire month of May. Pushing myself to get places using my own energy is making me richer and healthier. I’m even beginning to get a nice tan! This is generally unusual for somebody like me who spends so much time with computers. I can’t think of a single disadvantage to my bicycle commute. If any of you readers think of one that isn’t a complaint prompted by laziness, please share it with me!
How much money do you spend each month on gas? How much do you weigh? If you think either of those numbers is too high perhaps the lifestyle change a bicycle commute provides is right for you. But you live too far away from work? Now would be a great opportunity for you to move someplace closer (and cheaper)! Can’t afford a nice bicycle? Sell the car! You’ll save money in the long run. Thinking about making all of these changes together might seem intimidating if you are firmly entrenched on the consumer treadmill (gotta love mixed metaphors) but you’ll find that one change naturally leads to another and before you know it, you’ll be able to retire early too.
Convenience has its cost. I would rather give up unnecessary conveniences now while I am young than give up the freedom later to spend years of my life with friends and family doing exactly what I want. That freedom is worth more to me than getting to work 15 minutes quicker without moving my legs.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein, in a letter to his son Edward, 1930