Becoming a Bike Commuter, Part I: It’s Easy, One Mile at a Time
True story: I’m a bicycle commuter because in around 2003, the City of Spokane put a bike path on Cedar, right in front of the house I lived in at the time. After complaining a bit about the lost on-street parking, I realized how convenient it looked.
(Irony alert) I used my car’s odometer to figure out how far it was to work, and started riding my big-box cheapo special, the “Iron Maiden,” a little bit, then a little bit more.
At first my bike commuting took place within strict parameters: very nice weather but not too hot, no meetings outside my office scheduled that day, no after-work events.
Before bike commuting on the selected day, I’d drive the 3.5 miles to work (downhill, then flat) with a couple of outfits and leave them there, and just take my shoes with me in the pannier bag.
Of course, I’d have a little wardrobe agony of the soul figuring out what to leave at work. After all, I wouldn’t be able to change my mind about what I felt like wearing, nor would those outfits be available to me at home on days I planned to drive.
I also underwent the back and forth of moving items such as my wallet with identification, notebook, and other things into and out of the panniers and whatever purse I wanted to carry.
I moved from this “once in a while” commuting to biking “pretty often,” including some slightly longer recreational outings on weekends, when I would amaze myself by going 8 miles or more.
Mind you, this was all on a Costco special: a heavy-duty quasi-mountain bike thing with shocks. It probably weighed 50 pounds before I put on the rack and panniers. So I actually was pushing a fair amount of metal.
And, as I like to point out, it was very definitely uphill on the way home. The first time I tried bike commuting Spokane was experiencing unusually hot weather, 105 degrees or so, in mid-July. Great time to start.
At the time I lived at 13th and Cedar. I hit the steep spot on Maple between 6th and 8th—locals will know exactly what spot I mean—and I had to get off and start pushing the bike uphill.
Some wit (at least, I think I’m half right) said, “Aren’t you supposed to be riding that thing?” I panted, “I have nothing to prove!” and kept pushing.
It became a point of pride to make it just a little farther up that hill each time I rode, until at long last came the day when I actually rode all the way home.
Woohoo! Feel the burn, and the sense of accomplishment.
- Becoming a Bike Commuter, Part II: A Few More Miles
- Personal Advantages and Bicycling: How I Really Started Riding
- Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride: A Blogspedition
- Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
- Car, Bike, Bus: 3 Transportation Perspectives
- Hassle Factor: Driving vs. Biking
- Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
- What do you remember most about your early days of riding your bike for transportation?