Pedal Power - 03.13.00

A couple weeks back, I was discussing some different things with a friend when the topic of biking came up. We were talking about modes of transportation and fuel prices, and I had just acknowledged that I'd been driving my car to work only one sentence after I'd admitted that the temperature had been unusually mild for the time of year.

After I had stated that I only lived about 3.5 miles from work, they gave me a rather good-natured hard time about not doing anything about my predicament. Over the course of a very short time, I'd said something about the high gas prices, as well as admitting that I didn't live very far from work and it had been nice out. Despite the very obvious solution, I actually took a few remarks from the outside to push me over from my apathetic stance and into motion. A simple nudge from an outside source to break my lazy routine.

Since the aformentioned conversation took place on a Friday, I told myself then and there that I was going to bike to work the very next Monday if the weather were anything other than heavy rain. I watched the forecasts throughout the weekend and they were looking good for me. Although a smidge on the cold side in the morning, it was supposed to be clear all day and even warm up a great deal by mid-day. Another unseasonable day.

On Monday morning, I set my alarm a little earlier than normal so I could make it into work at about the same time as usual, and got up as normal. If anything, I had a little more energy than normal knowing that I'd need it on the jaunt to work rather than simply sitting in my car and pushing a couple pedals and shifting the stick. Just before the time came to leave, I walked outside into the morning air and gauged the weather to see how much clothing I'd need for the ride in.

When I walked out, I could see my breath, but the sun was shining and the crisp air felt good in my lungs. I put on an extra sweatshirt over my outfit and headed out the door. Like I'd planned, the first few blocks were a bit on the cold side, but once I'd gone a few more, my body temperature evened out and I was quite comfortable. This comfort continued for the next couple miles until I was only a couple blocks from work. It was then that I actually started to feel a bit warm on my back where my backpack rested.

Arriving at work, I peeled off my backpack and locked up my bike. Jogging up the stairs to third floor was much more of a breeze than on usual mornings and when I finally sat down in front of my computer, I felt less groggy than on a regular Monday morning. The morning ride in the cool air had definitely gotten the physical side of me warmed up for the day, and the needed alertness of riding along and trying not to get hit by a car had fired up my brain as well.

Over the course of the following 9 days of work, I managed to ride my bike 7 more times (on two seperate days, it was raining like crazy and I deferred to the dry comfort of my car again). Not only had I managed to save driving nearly 60 miles in my car, but I found that the ride in the morning was a good way to get my body up and moving for the day and the ride home was a nice way to sort of wind down after a day at work.

One of the more interesting parts of it was that after timing it for nearly every day, I found that riding my bike only actually takes about 3 minutes longer each way than driving my car due to sitting and waiting in traffic at different lights where things tend to get particularly congested. Instead, I could cruise right along on the sidewalk and smile as I rode by cars who had passed me a couple blocks earlier. Not only that, but every time I saw an SUV, I chuckled at how much money I was saving by simply hopping on my bike and pedaling away.