Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I don’t think about it anymore, I just do it. I moved closer to work a few months back, from 18 miles each way to 6 and committed to full time bicycle commuting. I took the bus once, my first day in the new house, but have otherwise not missed a day. I rode two or three times a week from the old place but it took more time than I had to ride everyday so I drove part way and took the train the rest of the way. At first it seemed like a big deal to ride everyday. I had been in the habit of bringing my work clothes on the drive/train days but when you ride everyday that option goes away so I had to figure out how to manage with no petroleum power. Turns out not to be nearly as difficult as I had feared. Business clothes folded around a 10” by 12” stiff plastic board (a flexible plastic cutting board trimmed to roughly the size of the cardboard that comes inside new dress shirts –don’t forget to round the corners and sand off any sharp edges…) arrive at work much the same as they left home. Oh it’s not without changes. I upgraded my pack to be able to carry enough clothes for the better part of a week. This was the best investment in my cycling gear yet. I can even carry my laptop in it when need be and unlike the cycling specific models, it centers the weight on my hips and leaves my back completely ventilated. Anyway, since I don’t think about it, it didn’t occur to me that riding home might be a problem on the day I donated blood. Not, that is, until I was wired for harvest and was handed a small innocent sheet of paper titled AFTER YOU DONATE which informed me that I must “avoid over-exertion or strenuous exercise for 12-24 hours”. Did I mention that since my ride is only six miles, barely enough to get warmed up, that my routine is to ride hard and sprint at the end? Well OK, I don’t have to ride hard but it is slightly uphill and there was a pretty stiff headwind so there was a certain amount of effort required just to get home. So it all worked out OK though I was about a 50 mile ride tired when I got home. The point of this story is that while I was lying there in the capable hands of the phlebologist, it occurred to me that I no longer think about bicycling to work as my only transportation. I just do it. It’s no longer different or unique. It’s not a big deal; it’s just how I get to and from work. So I think to myself, how many others could ditch their car and ride their bike to work everyday? What would happen if suddenly lots of folks no longer thought about riding their bicycles to work but just did it? With the recreational rides I do above my commute, I ride nearly 800 miles a month but only drive my car around 200 which takes roughly 12 gallons a month. So just for fun I did the math and it turns out that I am getting around 83 miles per gallon. If I take out the special trip miles that aren't happening anymore (which is about 100 miles), it would be only 6 gallons a month or 150 mpg! And I don’t even think about it, I just do it.