Last year, still living in Denver, I decided to start riding my bike to work. We haven’t had 2 cars in nearly three years for both convenience as well as financial reasons. Not that we’re opposed to it, but our lives are more simple with fewer things to manage, and that makes us happier people. Making that adjustment, I discovered that I loved riding my bike to work.Now in Indianapolis, I have a 11.5 mile commute by bike (23 miles round trip)––about double what my commute was in Denver. But after careful planning and trial of some bike routes, I’ve made it a part of my routine here too.I’ve ridden over 200 miles in the past month, and will probably hit that again in the next month.I’ve discovered there are a few objectives that are solved by bike commuting. Here’s my three-pronged “mission” for doing it:
- Gas Money/Single Car. Kim needs the car more than I do right now, and I estimate we’re saving $120/mo. in gasoline by eliminating my commute by car. I’ve also discovered that I don’t eat out or visit nearby stores during lunch, saving even MORE money than when I drove to work.
- My Health. I need to lose weight. Period. I’ve hovered around 220 for years and it’s driving me crazy. Using this calculator, I determined I was burning approximately 750 calories with every leg of my trip. With 1500 additional calories being burned every roundtrip, that’s 0.44 lbs a day or over 2 lbs a week. I’m already down to 211 as I write this! (I’ve also been eating vegetarian lunches, too).
- The Environment. I can’t afford to buy a bunch of enviro-friendly additions to our life right now. But I can definitely afford to eliminate expenses that aren’t helping. Riding my bike is what I can do right now to help reduce global warming. To the tune of about 30 gallons of gasoline SPARED every month!
I remind myself of these things every ride, and it motivates me to stick to it.I’ve picked up a few best practices too, if you’re curious about doing it yourself:
- I used Google Maps with Street View to find a route, and drew a path on the map. After about 3 days of trying different adjustments, I had a route dialed in.
- Hygiene: Yup…you’re all wondering how I keep my co-workers from holding their noses. I shower at night, and then the next morning when I arrive at the office, after a few minutes of cool-down, I head to the bathroom and use Equate Brand antibacterial wipes to clean up. At the office, I keep a small toiletries kit with deodorant, hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, and I’m set. I’ve learned that we typically “over prepare” in our morning bathroom routines, and this simplified one works QUITE well for me.
- Clothes: I’ve learned that most office clothes pack pretty lightly, and it’s no hassle to carry your clothes in a backpack everyday. Though, I do leave a pair of shoes and a belt at the office to minimize pack weight.
- Emergency Kit: On my bike I have tools and a spare innertube, but in my backpack, I carry yet another spare tube, a few personal care items, a small compass, and try to keep cash on hand for things that would come up on a ride.
That’s about it. It’s a lifestyle adjustment, but objectively, one that for us makes all sorts of sense financially, personally and I believe professionally.