The Work “Cycle”
As she mentioned in her post on energy efficiency, Mary-Hall and I are always up for ways to “live on less”….saving money (and the environment,) especially when it comes with a chance to reflect on life as a simultaneous bonus. We’re also all about bringing you some adventure…and some healthy living. So with all that in mind, today we’re pedaling into uncharted territory and discussing the topic of bicycle commuting. In a guest post. Written by a GUY. I know. It’s like you don’t even know what we’re going to do next. We’re glad you’re along for the ride!
“When I made the decision to commute by bike, I got the typical questions from friends and coworkers: “Did you get a DUI or DWI?”, “Is the economy that bad?”, “Aren’t you afraid of getting killed on the road?”, “How do you get cleaned up at work?”, and “Why would you WANT to bike to work?” These are just a few concerns and questions I received. So, I’ll start with the most obvious one.
Why would you WANT to commute by bike?
For me, the answer to this question came by accident more than revelation. (No, I do not have any DUI’s or DWI’s on my driving record.) I had commuted by bike several years ago, but I gave it up after about a year. This was at a time when gas was first starting to consistently cross the $3/gallon mark. Keep in mind, I only live about 7 miles from my office and drive a fuel efficient vehicle. The math just doesn’t work out to be that great of a fuel savings. So, I knew it wasn’t for the fuel savings.
I am reasonably fit, and I use my local gym on a regular basis. I didn’t really need to commute by bike to stay in shape. Certainly, you don’t have to worry about being run over by a semi hauling chickens to the slaughter house when exercising at the gym. (These are my regular road companions, by the way.) So, fitness wasn’t my primary reason for commuting by bike.
Peer pressure was non-existent. South Carolina is not on the top of the list for bike commuting. More accurately, I haven’t found it on any list as a place you would want to commute by bike. I rarely, if ever, pass a fellow bike commuter on my way to work. I don’t personally know anyone that commutes by bike. South Carolina’s idea of a bike lane is that overgrown area to the right of the white line that is crumbling, filled with debris, and suddenly disappears at inopportune times. It is at best 24″ wide from the white line to the end of the asphalt. At worst, it just isn’t there anymore. So, why do it?
I read recently in “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains” by Nicholas Carr that “When we’re behind the wheel of our car, we can go a far greater distance than we could cover on foot, but we lose the walker’s intimate connection with the land.” He is writing on the subject of the alienation we feel by technology’s power. I had lost my connectedness to my surroundings. I was being alienated from the air that is not conditioned. I was anxious and aggravated by the stop and go traffic of other metal boxes filled with people that had no real connection to me other than sharing a lane on a congested street.
I am a small business owner in a technologically driven service industry. I spend most of my day communicating with coworkers and clients via text and email. I spend about 50% of my time behind a desk, but the other 50% of the time I’m driving and meeting with clients or prospective clients. I average about 30,000 miles per year of driving for work. The idea of getting behind the wheel of my car at the end of the day to drive home or driving to work in the morning just added to the disconnectedness I began to feel from “the land” as Carr put it. Something had to change.
I am a dad to two beautiful girls and the husband of 16 years to one of the most gracious women on the planet. It is difficult to find time to disconnect. I am daddy as soon as I walk in the door. I am honey once the kids go to bed. I am the boss when I get to work. Somewhere in there, I had lost the time to be me. I love being a dad, husband, and boss, but it’s hard to find time to connect with your surroundings without the distraction or demands others need from me.
Commuting by bike represented a time for me to connect not only with the land, but to reconnect with myself. I can drive to work in my car in about 10 minutes. It takes me about 30 minutes to bike to work. This difference in time doesn’t seem significant, but it makes a difference when the endorphins are flowing while pedaling in the fresh air and working up a mild sweat. (I’ll cover the clean up process in a later post.) I arrive at work now excited and with a renewed sense of focus. I arrive home able to be solely focused on my family after clearing my head on my commute. It is a real thing, and I noticed almost immediately a change in mindset from a simple alteration in a lifestyle habit.
I am now connected.”
(Originally posted as “Why would you commute by bike?” to bikeyourway.blogspot.com by Mark Bordeaux on Friday, July 5, 2013 at 7:26 AM. Re-posted with permission.)
-Mark Bordeaux is a husband, small business owner, father of two, and younger brother of Bethany’s husband Keith. He enjoys spending time with his family, photography, and anything to do with the outdoors, be it camping, hiking or kayaking. He also authors the blog Bike Commuting For Everyone where he shares “practical advice to make your bike commute hassle-free.” Follow him for great advice on gear, tips on safety, motivation, and other tales of pedaling to work. While this is his first guest-blogging feature, he has three times had photos featured on the Instagram feed of the popular outdoor retailer REI.