We’ve all sheepishly walked into a local bike shop to witness gear heads and bicycle mechanics high fiving over an upcoming ride or huddled over a cell phone watching footage from the weekend race. Many of us wish we were in the know, part of the clique, a cool kid if you will. Nobody starts off as a daily rider, but with the right knowledge and tools, anyone can become a part of this not-so-exclusive scene. Once you’re popping in for regular group rides, and getting handed a free water bottle with the store’s logo, you’ll be part of a fitness family that rides, eats, drinks, and knows how to have a great time.
There’s a moment in every cyclist’s life when they see their muffin top leering back at them in the mirror. When life gets busy and you find you don’t have time to hit the gym as much as you’d like, a daily bike commute to work can be an easy way to fit some fitness into your daily routine. Soon, the day will come when you are flexing your calves in storefront windows and feeling like a superhero sans cape and life becomes as simple as wearing a pair of shorts. The fitness advantages of daily riding begin around the stomach and legs, but soon arms, glutes, and shoulders start looking like they’ve been seeing a personal trainer for months while all you really changed was the fun-level of your daily commute.
8. REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Bikes are clean human-powered fun. By now, we all know that cars emit noxious gases that don’t do anybody any favors. When you bike, you spend less time stuck in traffic and reduce your carbon footprint. Saving the planet from the extra exhaust is all the reason most daily riders need when they choose to grab their two wheel ride instead of their car keys.
7. ACTIVE DIETING
When swimsuit season is six weeks away and you start to realize that you’re a little soft in the middle, that’s when life becomes filled with salad lunches, half dry chicken breast dinners, and disappointed mornings when the bathroom scale shows no progress. If this sounds familiar, enter the Active Diet! When you ride to work you actually require more calories per day than those who don’t! Pizza and beer? Heck yeah!! Burgers? Extra cheese on mine! Nothing feels better than hearing the question, “I always see you eating, where do you put it?” Answer: “I’m a bike commuter. How about some nachos after work?”
6. SAVE MONEY
Gas costs money. Parking costs money. Trains cost money. Parking tickets cost money. And they all smell bad. Biking to work only costs the money for a bike, a helmet, and whatever super cool gear you want to buy to trick out your ride! And the ride smells great! Plus you get to have a bike, a helmet, and gear to keep! Panniers? Yes, I’ll take two! A cool little flashlight that mounts to your handlebars and another for the back of your seat? (Call it a saddle, not a seat, you’ll sound more legit.) Yes, please!
At first, you’ll have your head on a swivel and stress about your hand signals looking weird. But after the first week of riding to work every day, your ride-time gets to be your mind-time. You know when to shift when that dog is going to bark at you, where the potholes are, and when scary merges are coming up. While you peddle on autopilot you get to allow your mind to wander or go blank. Entering work with a feeling of post-workout zen will increase your productivity enormously. Research from the Alberta Centre for Active Living shows that biking improves employee productivity by 4 to 15%, and reduces task errors by 27%.
4. BIKE RIDE “LUNCH BREAKS”
Bike ride lunch breaks are one of the secrets of the two wheeled world. In every city park, downtown green space, and college quad, folks are on a break, seated beside their bikes, and they are watching the other cyclists. In our modern world where we spend most of the time with our eyes glued to our smartphones, there is a sweet reprieve from swipes and clicks when you are organically approached by another cyclist. The earbuds come out, the helmet comes off, maybe a tilt of the head as they look your bike up and down, then they spot your similar gear and know you are part of the same tribe.
3. INCREASED CONFIDENCE
Riding your bike to work occasionally is fun. Riding daily requires dedication. When you ride instead of drive, you’re going against the grain. When you ride in the rain and endure the pain, you become a commuting champion. All of these changes will result in increased self-confidence and awareness of your surroundings. You estimate the time it would take you to ride between airport terminals. You ask yourself if you could win a race with the bike messenger who delivers your contracts. You see challenges as things you meet every day and then every chore becomes an adventure. You will inevitably strut the office hallways asking the other office champions, “How was your ride today?”
2. AVOID TRAFFIC
There’s a feeling that’s unique to cycling that you can’t get in climbing, martial arts, or CrossFit. You pump up the hill, wearing intensity on your face, you’re focused and it hurts. Maybe six cars whizz by, averaging ten miles over the speed limit. A jeep goes by, doors off, old-school punk rock blaring out of the subwoofers. A convertible cruises by, top down, the driver is on the phone, the side view almost clips your handlebars. Then the traffic hits. You pass the convertible, you pass the punk rock, you pass the other commuters stuck in congestion, the wind is in your face, and you’re smiling.
There are plenty of ways to get to where you’re going. But cruising around on a bike is by far the most fun! It’s like stepping back to your childhood self and regaining that sense of freedom when you took your first pedal strokes on your new “big kid bike”! With the right commuting gear and a little bike to work know-how, there is nothing that can stop you from becoming a true office champion!