Saturday, April 19, 2008

Commuter God

"You're a commuter god," was what the email said.

A fellow north-Texan saw a photo of my favorite bike recently submitted to the Fixed Gear Gallery. He emailed me that he believed that we'd met briefly before. Turns out, yep, it was me he flagged down in Denton several weeks ago. After mentioning that I'd ridden the bike in the photo to work in Denton on that day, he must have considered the distance, the fixed gear drive train, and weather conditions that day (a 20+ mph headwind with gusts to 35 mph) before he offered the kind, but greatly exaggerated, compliment.

I enjoy compliments as much as anyone, but I am not a commuter god. I am not a finely-tuned athlete and do not have a love for discomfort. Thanks in large part to stories and encouragement from many of the authors of this blog, I have begun to identify selected days to commute by bike. As so many of these authors have said, one can greatly expand his understanding of what is possible.

I've now commuted to work several times at distances I once thought were impractical. My job involves professional attire and numerous out-of-office appointments from 30 to 50 miles away, so days with no appointments work best. I've learned-by-doing how to strike a balance between carrying stuff and staying prepared by keeping stuff in my office when a commuting opportunity arrives. By simply trying, one might learn what was once thought to be impractical, can actually be preferable. My commute by bike takes me three times as long as driving. But being good for the environment, good for the community, good for the body, and good for the spirit, it is a preferable way to use time.

I'd like to encourage those who might be considering riding the bike for utility purposes. It is a simple way to transform the mundane into the delightful. Whether it be commuting to work, running errands, or social activities, give it a try. Does it take anything like "a commuter god" or special powers? Hardly...just someone who likes to ride a bike.


Jim Laudolff said...

People get confused when you tell them it takes x hours to get to work on a bike. Why would anyone do that? But most days, the getting to work becomes merely a byproduct of pedaling your bike for x hours. The joy is in the ride!!

Christopher Johnson said...

Exactly, Jim. My coworkers say things like, "You rode all that way to get here, but now you have to ride all the way back home". To which I reply, "I don't HAVE to ride all the way back home, I GET THE OPPORTUNITY to ride home. With some, it is a total disconnect.

chiggins said...

One of the things that I've noticed about commuting to work on my bike that has nothing to do with time or health or carbon footprints: I get to say hi to folks along the way.

I end up closer to folks around my neighborhood, in the neighborhoods I ride through, and around where I work and I end up saying "Hello" and "Good Morning". In a pretty short period of time, lots of those folks have gotten used to seeing me come through and return a wave and a smile pretty easily.

Drew said...

...But being good for the environment, good for the community, good for the body, and good for the spirit, it is a preferable way to use time.

I wholeheartedly agree! You should also mention the good it does your wallet. I suppose these savings are a bonus for most of us rather than a motivator. It is also worth noting that a bicycle commute is actually quicker for some than other modes of transport.

Christopher Johnson said...

Well said, Chiggins and Drew. It seems we pay an extremely high price for comfort...or convenience...or... Just what ARE we paying for?

David said...

Well, the shot on FGG is really nice picture, so that could have been part of it.

I with all the other comments here, bikes kill lot of birds with just a few stones.