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.
I feel like half my misadventures begin with “so I found a Groupon……” and this one is no different. As you know, I’ve been working out like crazy these past 9 months. My last major athletic accomplishment was the Chicago 1/2 marathon, then I took three personal training sessions…..and then pretty much quit working out for almost a month now. And I’ve felt it. I’ve missed the energy I have after a workout, the satisfaction of pushing myself to the limit, and the “good sore” muscles after a workout. So when Keith said that he’d bought a Groupon to a Boot Camp class at Cross Fit Music City, I decided I would buy a few classes myself and go with him.
So originally I’d had high hopes of getting to Maine or Arizona or Montana or St. Louis or San Francisco or Boston. But scheduling in a trip to one of those places just wasn’t in the cards. Theoretically I’ve been to Chicago before on a high-school jazz band trip. I remember the house in the suburbs where we stayed and the school where the competition was. Mom says we also took a trip into the city, and while I believe her, I don’t remember any of that part of the trip….and the few days this past week that I spent in Chicago didn’t ring any bells in my memory. So I decided that I’m going to count Chicago as my new major city and cross off a list item:
5. Visit a new state OR major city
This trip turned out to be pretty epic. First of all, I got to spend some time with Harriet, a Compassion LDP student from Kenya. And you already know how I feel about those Compassion LDP students. They amaze me. Then of course there was the free yoga-in-the-park class on Saturday morning. And then there were the violins. Read More…
This whole trip to Chicago is turning out to be not only amazing (Keith and I have decided we’re kind of obsessed with this city), but very list-item-friendly as well. Remember I said I didn’t think I would check anything off on this vacation except for the book I read on the airplane here? Well……turns out I was wrong. I checked off another list item this morning…making my list halfway complete!
Here’s a fun fact about me….I’m a law school dropout. Yup. I attended the Mississippi College School of Law for the Fall 2004 Semester. And didn’t love it. It was a stressful, unhappy season of life although I learned alot about myself. About week 2 of school I realized I really needed something to get me through and so I started taking a pilates class at my church. The teacher was a wonderful Christian woman and those 3 hours a week that I spent stretching and relaxing were vital to my mental health that semester. However, I’ve never taken a Yoga class, so when I was putting together my 30×30 list, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to take one. Thus:
18. Take a yoga class
was born. I bought a Groupon for 5 discounted Yoga classes at a yoga studio not too far from where I live in Nashville, but never had time to take a class before the Groupon expired. Then two weeks ago I emailed a yoga studio that is literally 3 houses down and across the street from my house and the owner was kind enough to invite me to take a free class. But again….with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately, I just haven’t had time to take her up on her sweet offer. And then I came to Chicago. Read More…
First of all, let me say that triathletes are beasts. I can’t fathom being as ridiculously in shape as one needs to be to actually BE a triathlete.
After I finished my 1/2 marathon in May, my friend Emily suggested I try a sprint-length triathlon. I’d almost done a little mini-tri at a camp I worked at in 2004, but I forgot to set an alarm and slept through it. Ever since then I’ve thought it would be really cool to do one, but never thought I actually would. Of course I never thought I could run 13.1 miles either. I didn’t even know what a sprint tri involved so Emily educated me that there are several distances in the triathlon world, Sprint (the shortest), Olympic (mid-length), Half-Iron Man (this is what the “70.3” bumper stickers mean) and Ironman or Ultra Distance (insanely long….this length involves a 2.4 mile swim, a full marathon run (26 miles) and a 110 mile bike.) She was training for one the end of July, so I added it as a list item…
30! Complete a “sprint-length” triathlon
…and figured I had 2 months to figure out how to conquer this thing. But then my calendar changed when I decided to run the Chicago Rock-N-Roll Half marathon in July, and I had to pick another tri to train for. The only other one in Nashville before my birthday happened to be this morning….which at the time I signed up, gave me a mere 4 weeks to train. So I re-figured my training schedule, and decided to go for it anyway. Basically, my “training” ended up being that I ran alot. And then fit in half-hearted swims when I could and a few bike rides. I was certainly not prepared for the bike or the swim portion of this morning’s competition the way I should have been. And I’ll admit that as I stood in line waiting to go into the water this morning, I almost ran away, packed up, and went home. But then I realized I’d have to write a blog about how I wussed out and that didn’t seem like a very fun thing to do. Read More…
I passed these sweet ladies at about the 5 mile marker during my recent 10K. They were holding hands and plodding right along.
Of course I immediately had a flash forward to me and Bethany working on our “Ninety by Ninety” lists. I hope when I’m their age I’m also walking 10K races just for the fun of it, while holding hands and wearing a rubber duckie necklace. I may add that to my life list.
And B, I do hope we get to do a race together BEFORE we get to this stage. But the chicago half-marathon is absolutely not going to happen. I think I need to see a dr about this knee of mine.
Schools are out or almost out. The month of May is about to bid us farewell. The weather in Nashville has become unbearably hot. All these things point to the rapid approach of our birthdays and there’s lots left to be done. So I decided this past Sunday night to prepare to cross off several list items by crossing off a list item:
26. Create a daily schedule
I don’t work an 8-5. I’m either out on the road, or I’m home; and when I’m home, I sometimes have trouble managing my time. Read More…
#22 is officially down in the record books. This morning I completed “America’s All-time Best 10K”, the BolderBoulder. Me and 55,000+ others.
It is a very large scale event and I have to say, I was impressed by the overall smoothness. They must have some incredible logistics people working on their team. And as far as me running 6 miles in a row? You know, it really wasn’t that bad. I have to hand it to the old training schedule, which I barely even stuck with. By the end I was taking serious liberties.
Today the weather was perfection. Not to cold or hot, not to wind, lots of sun. The route wasn’t nearly has hilly as I had feared. Jogging with so many other people included the additional challenge of dodging walkers and kids and college boys in ape suits, but it was a welcome distraction. My carefully orchestrated playlist worked really well:
- First, bluegrassy stuff I always jog to… i.e. take it easy, this is no different from any other run.
- Then some tracks off a new alternative CD I just downloaded… i.e. combat boredom with new tunes
- Then 90s hip hop… i.e you really ARE #1. fast tempo! don’t slow down!
- Last of course Hanson… i.e. you got this!
My only complaint was that I needed a couple more hip hop songs to keep up the pace right at the end. Mmmbop came on a little too soon.
My running buddy was Dr J. We’d never actually run together before today but still finished within a minute of each other. Here we are at the starting line:
We conveniently neglected to take any post-race photos. Of course no need because we looked exactly same. Here are my official stats. My finish time was a comfortable 1hr and 13 minutes.
And as for the overall training process? I really enjoyed it. MUCH more than I expected. I noticed a ton of personal improvement along the way. Sure, there were ups and downs (see chart below). My energy level is much higher, and that is worth a lot in my book. A pesky knee injury/problem/weirdness that still won’t completely go away, for example. But I do kind of get what people mean when they say things like “I’m looking forward to a nice long jog this afternoon.” Previously, I just thought they were nuts.
I actually want to stick with it, but I’m not sure I will without a concrete goal. Guess I need to formulate a goal.
So I decided somewhat spur-of-the-moment to run a 5K yesterday morning. Hubs was out-of-town, I needed to get a run in that day anyway, and I figured a race would be the most fun way to do it. I found one about 15 minutes from my house and laced up my running shoes.
It was a pretty small race….probably about 200 people, and the course was a down-and-back sort of thing with some rolling hills, but nothing crazy like running in downtown Nashville. I normally try to pace myself well, but when I realized I’d run the first mile in about 9 minutes (fast for me) and that there were only 10 women in front of me, I decided to turn it up a notch and try to set a personal record. All was going well and I was totally on track to beat my own time when of course I took a wrong turn near the very end and had to backtrack, costing me about 3 minutes. My official clock time was 35:14. I was super disappointed at not setting a personal record, but I knew I’d finished 12th overall out of women (I’d counted carefully….so competitive) and so I decided to stick around for the awards just to see. Read More…