We know Rachel isn’t the only one to commute to work by bike on the team, but she’s going to be the second one to write about it! From time to time, she’ll share her commuting stories. You’d be surprised of what can happen in a 6 mile round trip commute.
When I moved to Colorado 2.5 years ago, I had to sell my beloved Litespeed, Bella, who I commuted 32 miles round trip to work in Tennessee. I also traded my city fixie, a sweet 80’s Schwinn, for a couch so I’d have something to sit on once I got to Colorado (I no longer own the couch BTW). Though I missed my commuters, I still had a road, mtn, cx and TT bike to keep me busy. But life just wasn’t the same. It felt like Sophie’s Choice (great movie for all those young ones on the team!)
But….flash forward two years later….
After moving my life and career to Boulder, I decided to buy myself a celebratory present–my very own, tricked out Raleigh commuter bike! Complete with an internal 8-speed hub, that I pretend is a power tap, my new gal is the latest addition to the fleet of 20 bicycles at our household. She’s also worth as much as my car (my car isn’t very expensive and is for some reason always missing doorhandles). Though I loved her stock, I’ve since added an SKS rear fender, reflective dots and tape, Krieg cycling bag, massive U-lock, an “I <3 my bike” bell, Niterider light, and three blinky red taillights. She’s quite sexy all dressed up.
So now that I’ve been commuting the last three months, I’ve only filled up my gas tank twice (instead of every week when commuting to my old gig), saving nearly $500 (which is greater than the cost of the bike). Also, since taking this leap of two wheels faith, my car insurance company has a device that plugs into my car to track my usage. Got a 6% reduction in my rates-taking that to the bank! Beyond the cash benefits, mentally it helps me wind down and reflect for the evening or prepare for my day on the way in.
Only one episode of epicness ensued since my commuting adventures have taken place. Jeff and I decided to ride our commuters up to NCAR and then hike Bear Peak, he on a single speed and me with my 8 gears, struggling to get to the top of the hill and start of our hike. While we both know better, neither of us wanted to carry a bag of extra clothes. Strike number one.
After hiking nearly 4 miles, snowflakes started to fall and the wind picked up. While this happens often in CO, we both had summit fever, decided to shrug it off, and we powered to the top. Strike two.
My arms were so numb from the cold that I could hardly pull myself up the rocks to the peak. So without any additional layers and getting colder by the second, we turned right back around and booked it to the trailhead. Luckily, I brought a banana. But was too cold to eat it. Strike three.
Finally, we made it back to the bikes, close to 4 hours after our journey started, with only one bottle of water between us and one banana. We started back towards home but had to descend down NCAR. Snow was blowing so hard and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. Somehow we both managed to get back safely, albeit 80% frozen and 100% exhausted. We both fell asleep before 7 pm.
While epic adventures gone awry make for great stories, most of my commuting experiences go without a hitch. Occasionally, I’ll forget my work shoes, or it will be sunny in the morning and snow a foot by the afternoon, but those things make me laugh more so than seem an inconvenience. I wouldn’t trade my 3 mile stroll for a petrol-guzzling car ride any day of the week. And god-forbid waste any amount of water washing my car (clearly a pet peeve). Plus it takes me longer to drive, park my car and then walk to work than riding my bike to the front door of the office.
In fact, many of my coworkers feel the same way. We participated in Boulder’s Winter Bike to Work Day together a few weeks ago and had a great time. More communities should offer and encourage these things. Check out the video below.
Look for another blog post in the spring regarding my daily commutes. I’m already excited to ride my bike without a puffy coat, gloves, hat and night lights. However, I’m sure come spring, I’ll be trading the 20 degree temps for 50 mph winds so we’ll see how that goes! Either way, it’s always guaranteed to be an adventure.