Ecojustice08’s Weblog

Twenty thousand miles on the meter and counting by mandarine
June 13, 2008, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Mandarine

This is a report on my insane riding habits. For those who did not read my foundation article, let me recall the previous episodes: I have been riding a bike to and back from work for ten years now (and before that to and back from school). Up until 2006, I lived in the same city I was working, therefore I had a 15-mile daily ride. But then I moved to the countryside, with an 80 mile train ride in between. I kept riding my bicycle from the destination station to the office (7 miles and back), and in January 2007, I also decided to ride the stretch between my home and the train station, which is as steep as it can get (down and up a canyon). I started doing this in the middle of winter, riding in the dark and the cold at 6:30 in the morning, and coming back home the evening of the next day at 19:45 (again in the dark).

And I made it. It’s now been two winters now, and nobody will make me drive the van again (unless it is pouring down, or I oversleep, which has happened one in ten times on average). Let me list a few of the advantages of riding, even in the extreme conditions of winter:

  • The duration of the ride is extremely predictable. With the van, I can get slowed or stuck by a fallen tree, a tractor, road works, fog.
  • If I skid on snow or ice, I fall and that’s it. With the van, I could end up tumbling down to the river.
  • The scenery is fabulous. Some mornings, when shreds of fog are lingering in the hollows while the sun is rising and the wind is whispering in my half frozen ears, are just plain ecstatic. Too bad I am not the sort of guy who can woohoo my enthusiasm.
  • I have lost ten pounds and have managed to stay there. A bulging T-shirt after the age of thirty is not a fatality. Note that I still do not picture myself as athletic. I am just a fit commuter.
  • People around me consider me as a sort of superman. It feels good, especially on the days I believe this myself. Unfortunately, a couple of neighbours have started to ride their bikes too. Now there are two more superpeople and I feel I have been demoted.
  • Outside of downtown traffic, riding takes a lot less concentration than driving. No more unexplained gaps in the plot of the audio-books I am listening to.
  • I can mend my vehicle myself. It does a hundred times the mpg of my van, with the added benefit of running on whatever I like to eat
  • But the word that sums it up best is FREEDOM

And if you think you cannot commute by bike because it’s too slow and you do not have the time, think twice. I think the bicycle is the coolest invention of the twentieth century. That and semi-conductors.

3 Comments so far
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I’ve always been amazed by your biking commute, and now I’m even more amazed. Good for you! My commute is non-existent, now, of course, and when I lived in CT and did commute, it was 25 miles one-way with very scary drivers (I pretty much gave up riding my bike when Bob and I moved to the house we lived in for 12 years, because the roads were bad, and the drivers terrified me), but if I had to commute where I now live, I’d do it by bike (lots and lots of near-trafficless country roads).

Comment by Emily Barton

You are an inspiration! I’ve been bike commuting to work for the past three years and I love it. Mine is only a 6-mile round trip and flat compared to yours, but oh does it make me feel good! I haven’t biked in winter before, I usually stop when morning temps are 35F. But this year I have determined that I will ride into the winter as long as I can–until there is too much snow or the temps really are too cold.

Even though there may now be other superpeople, you have been a super person for much, much longer 🙂

Comment by Stefanie

Emily: car are not only a nuisance to drivers, but they also make roads longer and more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Cars are a little like GMOs: once they get somewhere, they pervade and contaminate everything and people are forced to get one if they want a normal life. Lucky you to live in one of the very few parts of the world where there are real automobile objectors left.

Stefanie: the coldest weather I rode in was -5 °C (that would be 23F). It takes special clothing not to turn this into very bad memories of frozen ears and fingers

Comment by mandarine

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