Bike to Work!

- April 26, 2017

I’ll let you in on a secret.  A secret about how you can change the dread of commuting to work to pure joy and happiness!  I like to commute to work.  I ride my bike.  Bike riding to work has lots of benefits, cardio and aerobic fitness, builds muscle, lowers blood pressure, improves coordination and boosts your energy level.  Imagine getting to work feeling energized! Bike to Work Week is coming up May 13-21, time to get on it!.  

I bet you can come up with close to a million reasons why you can’t ride your bike to work.  Instead of wasting your time having you list all those perfectly good reasons like I only have 3 bikes and can’t afford to get another one to commute, or I don’t want to get all sweaty or riding a bike is dangerous (I know, cars are way more safe, nobody ever has died in a car crash) or I have to wear a tie, dress, suit, wingtips, slacks and my hair takes a lot of work to make it this perfect. Rather than going through the big long list let’s find ways to do a day or two of bike commuting.

For a couple decades I felt like I had to drive to work, after all I was on call day and night and for one job driving places was a very important part of the job I was doing.  But almost 5 years ago I took employment where I didn’t HAVE to drive any more.  That is when I made a decision to ride my bike to work.  I like to ride.  I want to do more things in my life that I like and I want to do them more often, so I ride to work 4-5 days a week every week of the year.  Here’s what I do to make it an enjoyable activity and still be presentable at work.

First you can ride any bike to work. Your $5000 racing bike or a $50 yard sale special will work but make sure it is in good functional condition.  You could ask your friend who is a “bike person” to give it a quick once over and lube up the chain or you can support your local bike shop and have a pro get your stead ready for the important trek to work. The bicycle is a tremendously efficient means of transportation. In fact cycling is more efficient than any other method of travel--including walking!

OK now you have a bike, the cranks turn and the wheels spin.  But you worry about the danger of riding on the same streets as all those cars racing to work in the morning.  Maybe you can plan to start a little earlier or work out with your boss a schedule where you can come in a later. Scout out your route over the weekend before your planned bike commute.  Find the bike trails and bike lanes that give you a better measure of safety as you pedal to and from work.  My commute could be as short as 1.5 miles if I rode on busy streets and crossed hectic intersections but I found a way to ride the Rail Trail for all but a couple blocks and doubled my pleasure by riding 3 miles each way.  The Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization has a good bikeways map on this website (http://santafempo.org/documents/bikeways-map/) and available in the city offices in the building above REI in the Railyard.  You can also bring your bike on the bus and get up the big hill or half way to work and ride the rest of the way.  Check out the city’s transit website https://www.santafenm.gov/transit .

OK fine, I have a bike, I know a good route, what do I do about the sweaty clothes?  Easy, when you do drive to work bring some extra clothes to leave in your office to change into and don’t forget a few toiletries to spruce up when you get to the office a bit early.  I use a product called Action Wipes sometimes, available online. I don’t need to change clothes when I get to work though, I adjust my ride to work wardrobe so that I don’t actually get sweaty riding.  On cooler days I start out a bit colder but as I pedal I warm up.  I dress for the middle of the ride not the beginning.  This helps me get to work without being pitted out and sweaty.  

Bike to Work Week is a perfect time to add a bit of excitement to your daily commute.  There are many events and activities planned to support you in your choice to giggle wildly as you pedal to work.  Check out the Bike to Work Santa Fe Facebook page, www.facebook.com/biketoworksantafe  or the MPO page http://santafempo.org/bicycle-master-plan/bike-to-work-week/ or https://www.biketoworksantafe.com/ for lots of information, like when and where to get a breakfast burrito for free by riding your bike, or who is sponsoring a coffee and doughnut bike event or maybe a women’s ride or bike maintenance clinics or a bike riding scavenger hunt.

Try some of these bike events, ride to work one day and think about adding a bike commute one day a week.  You may even start to look forward to the days you can bike to work.  Then you can thank Baron Karl von Drais, the inventor of the modern bicycle, with each pedal stroke.