Why do I bike to work?
First and foremost, I started because I am SUPER cheap …and I know my priorities— I would rather spend the $7/day bus fare on cake and lattes. Plus do you know how much I save by not having to pay ridiculous vehicle expenses?! It does become a hassle at times but I just remind myself that life ain’t supposed to be easy and I am burning calories instead of fuel which makes me feel better instantly.
“I’m developing mental toughness,” I zestfully remind myself while I’m drenched in the pouring rain, struggling to see through the fog, and trying not to let my skinny tires slip on black ice, “life is great!”
Plus I am laughing all the way to the bank Holt Renfrew with all the extra cash! Not complaining, just saying. Also knowing that I don’t save a significant amount of time by driving or taking public transit versus riding my little bicycle makes me feel less envious of the drivers in their heated cars on a freezing winter morning… and on top of that, I save the hour or so a day most people waste on a cardio machine at the gym (which they probably drove to)!
Being a cycle-commuter is such an amazing lifestyle! I wonder why more people don’t ride…
Oh wait, there are tons of reasons such as cities with unfriendly cycling infrastructures, personal fears and anxieties, getting over the taboo that only poor people ride bikes or cyclists are annoying and elitists. I admit I really get a kick out of riding by cars stuck in rush hour traffic (while laughing evilly in my head) but that is only the truth, and one of the many benefits of biking to work. Sorry, not sorry. I get to enjoy the privilege of riding a bicycle because I make the time, and suck up the hassle that comes with it.
My personal blog, which focuses on whatever I am passionate about at the moment, may seem elitist to cycling but who is going to stop you from looking for another blog to read that promotes driving to work, being angry in a little metal box, burning fossil fuel, and contributing to environmental demise and traffic jams? No one! Go for it. You should even start one yourself if that floats your boat.
You can complain about everything that annoys you or you can reframe it, and try to see the positive in every situation even if it doesn’t directly benefit you.
Not saying there is anything wrong with driving but I think there is definitely something wrong with people who are 100% against cycling and bike lanes (and sadly, they exist). Everyone needs to be open-minded and think of our future, and our children’s future, and our children’s children future and…
In the long term, providing safe alternatives to driving is only going to create a healthier and productive society. Just because it won’t happen instantly, doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually. If we train our minds to stop thinking in terms of instant gratification, our world would be a much better place!
A few mornings ago, I was dead tired and decided to not bike to work so I opened my closet only to realize that choosing an outfit for the day was So. Much. Harder. Overwhelmed, I threw on my padded bike shorts, a jersey, grabbed my bike… and was out the door in less than 5 minutes. Cycling is really the answer to almost everything (if not a lot of things).
Some tips on biking to work:
- Your mindset it the #1 thing you should focus on changing. Live too far from work? Too many hills? Think of it as an extra workout (and the extra meal you can have that day!)— plus it’s not the end of the world if you decide to take the bus home. If you stop thinking about the negatives and focus on the positives, your life will become much easier in general. Do you want to be one of those losers who are always talking (or thinking) about doing something but it never happens?! Well…
- …Don’t think, just ride!! Over-thinking makes you stressed out and lazy. Has it ever occurred to you that if you stop wasting your time questioning things, you would just do it?
- Never check the weather the night before. Look out the window in the morning and get dressed accordingly or you’ll only get stressed out. This is the one tip that turned my mindset around and now I look forward to riding every day, rain or shine.
- Wake up earlier and establish a nice routine. Caffeine, breakfast (if going on an extended commute a.k.a. long ride), foam-roll and just laze around my apartment before slowly getting dressed. I use to rush but a relaxing morning routine has made all the difference. Who would have ever thought that waking up at 5am could be easy for my ex-cranky-morning-self?! Just kidding, I am still cranky in the morning if you wake me up for something that isn’t fitness-related.
- Get to work earlier. If you have access to a gym like I do, I like to lift weights (lessen the cardio-queen guilt) and stretch/roll and sit in the steam room before getting to my desk.
- I hate riding with bags so I carry EVERYTHING to work on Monday morning in a backpack (clean clothes, lunch and snacks for the week) and bring everything home on Friday evening. You can use panniers but I don’t like to be confined to one bike so my backpack works for me. During the week, everything I need fits into my jersey pockets.
- Leave a few changes of clothes at work for the week: an assortment of tops + black leggings/jeans are my staples because they will go with anything. Dresses are great for the summer. Accessories can also really change-up an outfit. I’m fortunate to work in the tech industry with a bunch of guys who wouldn’t even notice what I wear so I can probably get away with wearing the same thing every day (as long as I don’t smell like a wet towel).
- Speaking of wet towels… perfume and deodorant are a must-have! My cardinal rule: if you don’t think you smell, you probably do. Please be considerate, and think of the unfortunate souls around you.
- Shoes are very important (and heavy). You don’t want to be lugging them to work every day with you on your bike. Keep a pair of shoes at your desk for any occasion/outfit (flats, heels, boots) unless you want to waddle around in your bike shoes all day. It’s really not a good look so don’t think for a second you look cool doing that because no one but another cyclist (and unfortunately, few exist) would realize that those are bike shoes. Your colleagues would just wonder what you were up to the night before.
- Plus they wouldn’t understand the padded bike shorts things either so CHANGE INTO CLEAN CLOTHES. As much as I think some of my bike shorts makes my butt look really cute (at some angles), it could just look like cellulite. Not a fan of that look either.
- Take a cold shower. I take one every morning which freshens me up and cools me down for those days I’m frantically rushing and don’t want to attend meetings still red-hot and sweaty (don’t you just hate that?). The trick to a cold shower is to turn it to the coldest and jump under without thinking— seriously, DO NOT THINK. DO NOT HESITATE. The spike in your heart rate when you get under that cold water feels like pure adrenaline and actually quite addicting. Try it! You will only hate me for about 2 seconds.
- Leave an extra jersey and jacket at work just in case the weather drastically changes on your commute home. Tip for Vancouverites: rain jacket!! You will still get soaked but having the peace of mind is priceless.
- Keep your lights charged. I have a USB rechargeable light so I keep an extra cable at work which comes in handy in the winter when it gets dark early.
- Have you ever ridden at night in the pouring rain and fog with glasses because you forgot your contacts? Holy shit, it is an accident waiting to happen. My fellow four-eyed people: always have extra contacts! Or please find another way home because as much as we love to ride, sometimes life is just too precious to throw into risky situations all the time.
Previous entries related to Bike Commuting:
Yes, I realize people actually have legit reasons for not be able to bike to work (eg. kids) but once you figure out all your logistics, establish a good routine and most importantly, change your mindset, then biking to work will become much easier and enjoyable. You will wonder why you didn’t start earlier! It’s all about realizing your priorities and making it happen because you will always find a way if you actually tried. You don’t have to bike to work every single day either; once or twice a week will already begin your journey to a healthier and greener lifestyle.