Bike to Work Week: Why I Ride My Bike 25 Miles a Day

3SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/17/2011 10:18 AM   :  48 comments   :  25,946 Views

See More: guest blogger, biking,
Editor's Note: Since moving to Cincinnati in 2009, Sam Klontz has commuted from his downtown apartment to his office in northern Kentucky--about 25 miles round trip--via bicycle almost every day year-round. Co-founder of the Cincinnati-area amateur road cycling team BSM Cycling, Klontz sold his car last year and relies on his bike almost exclusively for transportation. Whether it's 90 degrees and sunny or 20 degrees and windy, he rides to work. Despite the extra hour he must allot for bike commuting each day, the extra clothing and food he must carry, and the inevitable sweatiness upon arrival at the office, he remains committed to bike commuting, and he considers himself to be a bike activist. In honor of Bike Month (and Bike to Work Week), I asked him to share his story, along with some photos from his daily commute. Above, you'll see the bike he rides daily, amid a parking lot packed with cars.

Story and photos by Samuel C. Klontz,
Bike Commuter and Co-Founder,
BSM Cycling

My passion for cycling dictates most decisions I make. Transportation, vacations, clothing, 90% of my conversations with friends, and my spending habits can all be traced to a more than mild obsession with the bicycle. When I was asked to put into words some of the reasons why I bike commute it seemed like a simple and joyous task.

Then I sat down and began to think hard on why I started, where my motivation came from during the 5 degree winter days when I could barely feel my face, and how much longer I can live car free.

Creative juices did not immediately begin flowing as I had hoped. Then the proverbial lightbulb went off. I pumped up my tires, put on some BSM team spandex, and pedaled toward the deserted roads to get lost!

Over the last few days of riding to work, riding with friends, and riding to explore I have compiled a list of reasons that help me to explain my love to riding to inquisitive people. So here it goes ...



I ride to work because it helps to enjoy my commute to work as opposed to the disdain of being stuck in traffic.

I ride because for every honk, shout, near miss, or other safety concern, I hold the hope that one person comes to understand the importance of “sharing the road.”

I ride because burning calories instead of gas costs less for everyone.

I ride because even after almost 2 years of bike commuting, I still hold out hope that my company someday will provide in a locker room, shower, and place to hang my gear that is not all over my cubicle!

I ride to develop an intimate understanding of my city, its contours, its shortcuts, and hidden routes.

I ride because I am one against many, and like so many revolutions, it has to start with one!



Perhaps some of these will strike a chord with you. Regardless of what your reason(s) may be to get on a bike, consider the option of biking to work or one of your various destinations during the day and night. I am of the opinion that even the most novice of bikers belongs on the roads with cars. The best way to conquer fears is to face them and beginning a bike commuting routine by operating in a small radius will start you on the path. Consider setting a goal for yourself of not driving 3 days a week after work. If you have to run errands, can you bike to the destinations? Can things to be picked up fit in a backpack? Perhaps most importantly, are you comfortable being sweaty upon arrival?! If you live in an area that is simply deemed not safe to ride on certain roads, look for multi-use paths that get you close. The more time you spend on two wheels, the more you will develop your path of “least resistance,” that is the best roads that are mostly free of cars, that pass by the best coffee shops, parks or other points of interest.



To begin your adventure, you need to outfit your bike for the urban environment. Good tires are a must. Proper tread and tire inflation will not only help you stay upright, but absorb poor road surfaces to a degree. You also will want something resistant to punctures, because in our fast-paced environment, it can be aggravating and time consuming to stop and repair a flat.

Flat repair brings me to my next suggestion. Carry a patch kit. Odds are we all know someone who will come get us in a pinch, but why not be prepared to change a flat tire when it happens? This is a simple mechanical skill, but one that improves with practice. So expect frustrations and even making a few of those “HELP, I flatted” phone calls. Most local bike shops will happily show you how to repair a flat, even offering a basic class on how to maintain your bike.

Invest in some bike specific gear depending on the distance you plan to commute. Those “funny” shorts with the “butt-pad” are engineered as such for a reason. Spend some time riding without them, (maybe 10+ miles) and you will understand. As in most outdoor athletics, layers are crucial. The weather in Ohio and Kentucky changes by as much as 20 degrees from my morning to evening commutes. Some mornings I have barely any skin exposed to the wind, and I may be in short sleeves and shorts on the way home.

The MOST important is without a doubt visibility. If you will be riding at low light conditions equip lights to your bike. And always stock a spare set in case the batteries are low or they stop working for any reason. The brighter the better, those drivers need to see you! I do not go as far as the reflective yellow vests, or anything quite so bright. But when I see someone who is sporting their RYV, I have likely seen them before they have seen me. And thus their clothing did its job. Your senses will be heightened when you step into the drivers’ arena, and in most situations you will find yourself acting first to preserve your own safety. But as cyclists sharing the roads with drivers, we must make their jobs easier in seeing us, and being predictable in our movements.



Finally, go forth and ride. If you take nothing else away from my musings, it is that riding a bike is incredible fun and great exercise for the body and mind. The best cyclists I know, whether they are competitive, commuters, young, or seasoned, have that commonality: they ride their bikes, as much as they can, and enjoy as many revolutions of the pedals as possible. Most of us who ride do double duty as drivers. We may see that “crazy” person biking to work throughout the year and wonder how they do it . . . I am here to tell you that one day they decided they would just give it a try and see how it felt. Best of luck to you in your cycling endeavors. (Check out SparkPeople's article, "A Beginner's Guide to Biking to Work."

Would you give bike commuting a try?


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Comments

  • 48
    I used to bike to work. Had to stop about 4 weeks ago when I got in an minor accident on my bike. Once I'm completely healed, going to go back to biking. - 11/11/2011   11:24:50 AM
  • 47
    I'm feeling motivated to try biking to work. I work at the school my son attends and it is only a mile away, but up a big hill and on a busy road. He is 10, and part of the road has a bike lane, so I think we can do it. Thanks for the inspiration! - 8/8/2011   12:21:37 PM
  • DARRICKSWIFE
    46
    I love cycling, but I'm not able to ride as much as I'd like to. I own an awesome pink cruiser. I don't drive so most of my chores like shopping are done by bike. Your article has inspired me to go out for a ride right now! - 5/21/2011   4:04:17 PM
  • 45
    Cycling is my preferred commute method for the same reasons as you.

    - 5/19/2011   8:40:58 PM
  • 44
    I got a bike a few weeks ago for my birthday with the express plan of biking to work sometimes this summer. I love that sparkpeople has resources and information about biking and commuting by bike. Coolest thing I've learned so far has been about google directions which include the best bike path from place to place (I think it's still in beta or relatively new because they ask for feedback). I'm busy practicing riding in the safety of my neighborhood for now but come late June - watch out for me on the road to work! - 5/19/2011   11:06:53 AM
  • SLHAYES01
    43
    There's nothing better for connecting to your body and to the world around you than starting the day off on a bike. I commute 22 miles round trip each day and love what it does for me - energy, stress management, fitness. And it helps the environment, reduces traffic congestion and provides other benefits to the community. A wonderful way to move through the world. - 5/19/2011   10:47:17 AM
  • 42
    Good blog. It has me seriously thinking about biking to work. Gas prices here this morning were $4.20 a gallon. During the better weather, I don't have any excuses not to. I work 8 miles away and there is a paved bike path all the way to work. - 5/19/2011   9:40:24 AM
  • 41
    I do ride to work but my commute is only about 1 mile never really thought about riding for errands. I think I will start,I do love riding. I want to ride in the ms150 as part of my bucket list. - 5/19/2011   7:55:42 AM
  • SKEPTIGIRL
    40
    Finland is a bikers paradise. You see people biking in the -20C weather and quadtriple the number is sunny warm days. People can bike on the roads but sidewalks are double wide to acomodate bikers and they often have a side separate from the walkers. Most places can be gotten to way quicker on bike than by bus or even car due to the paths going straight through forested areas inside the city. Also people here tend to live way closer to their places of work than in America. Many work places also have shover facilities and lockers. No one is considered crazy for biking. - 5/19/2011   6:17:38 AM
  • 39
    I love to ride my bike, but I don't see myself, making such a long commute to work. I'd go about 20 miles round trip. I loved the photos, of your beautiful ride. - 5/18/2011   11:13:12 PM
  • VANANDEL
    38
    I used to commute by bike - it was 50 miles round trip. Since I live in Colorado, I only did it from May 1 through the end of August when the days were long enough. It would take me about 3 hours round trip, and I really loved it. Near my town, Boulder, there were many bike paths, but outside of Boulder there was one stretch that I knew was dangerous. I kept trying to find ways around the area and had taken a detour when I was run off the road by a truck. Thankfully this was one of the few days that year when I had knobby tires on my bike - so I survived without incident. However, it left me scared, especially since this was supposed to be a safer route. I decided it was not worth my life. I still ride frequently, especially now that I'm retired. There's nothing like cycling to make me enjoy a day! - 5/18/2011   9:41:30 PM
  • 37
    I would love to bike to work, but I work from home and only have to walk downstairs. :-) I love commuting by bike for other errands, though. It's like a puzzle to figure out what route to take to avoid the busiest roads, plus, with gas prices as high as they are right now, it's a fun, healthy, AND economical choice! - 5/18/2011   5:51:53 PM
  • 36
    I wish I could bike to work, but my commute by car is already 1 hour long at about 45 miles from home. :( - 5/18/2011   5:05:26 PM
  • 35
    I love biking to work and try to do it, but only if there are showers ( I can't function, nor could my neighours without one). It's a fantastic way to start off the work day.
    One friend biked 22,000km (that's over 13, 500 miles) last year. She's an inspiration, and so are you. Thanks

    And happy trails........ - 5/18/2011   1:17:42 PM
  • 34
    Inspiration! Thank you! - 5/18/2011   12:30:17 PM
  • 33
    I had only a bike to get myself from Point A to Point B in college, and it was often a bummer--carrying 20 lbs of groceries on my back or over my handlebars. It was also scary with all the reckless drivers (i.e., new drivers with only a couple of years' experience under their belts--freshmen!!), and I still have scars from a couple of my worst wipeouts where some impatient driver almost took me out or clipped me. Frustrating since, changes are, that person had triple my distance to travel but would get there in a fraction of the time it would take me. Now that I actually WANT to bike more, I'm still afraid of drivers. My state is number 1 or at the top in traffic accidents--red light runners, pedestrian crashes, etc. - 5/18/2011   11:21:35 AM
  • 32
    I biked to school and college - but where I live now (in the USVI), we not only don't have bike lanes, we don't have shoulders on the road! And people drive like maniacs here. So no, I'm not planning to bike to work. - 5/18/2011   10:43:47 AM
  • 31
    I'm about 12 miles from work, and I'd love to bike to and from work. I could probably do it 3 seasons of the year (this is New England, after all). I wonder if it would be safe??? Maybe I should try riding it on a weekend day, to find out how long it would take, and what the route is like. Even though the traffic pattern wouldn't be the same as a work day, it would give me a good idea how I could handle it. Hmmmm...great idea! - 5/18/2011   10:42:33 AM
  • 30
    I have often thought of riding my bike to work. Although it is only 8 miles one way I have some trepidation as my co-worker and friend was killed riding his bike to work in October 2008. - 5/18/2011   10:28:15 AM
  • MYDOGJAX
    29
    I used to bike to work most days at my old job, only 7 miles each way. We had showers and a locker room at the facility so being clean was no problem.

    As long as my bike commute time is under an hour and I had a place to clean up, I would bike to work. - 5/18/2011   10:24:28 AM
  • 28
    BTW, I've located the poster, and it's Linda, AKA PEDAL-PUSHER.

    Oh, and I'll be 70 on my next birthday. - 5/18/2011   10:04:23 AM
  • 27
    I don't use the term "retired," but I'm not currently working. I'm back in university to pick up another degree and I commute the 10 miles round trip most of the time on my beloved bicycle. Yesterday I clocked almost 18 miles running chores. I love what another comment said, which SO mirrors my own thought:

    "For me, biking is also cheap therapy. No artifical sounds going into my ears, give me the songs of the birds, the whisper of the wind and my own thoughts."
    - 5/18/2011   10:01:59 AM
  • 26
    Year before last -- my partner and I bike commuted 4 miles each way from spring until fall. I then got sick. Last year due to medications couldn't ride. This year I've made every excuse.

    I need to invest in rain-proof weather gear. We also need an area for our "stuff" when we get to work. They do provide bike racks but nothing else to accommodate bikers.

    I like your article very much -- you've inspired me to take the steps to get back on my bike. I really did enjoy the less stress -- was home within about 5 minutes of going by car. Beautiful ride about 3 miles of it along the river.

    R - 5/18/2011   9:53:50 AM
  • BETHHRSN
    25
    I TRIED to bike to work but the pack of dogs kept getting bigger and when they started working in tandem to bring me down (and did!) I said forget it! - 5/18/2011   9:37:46 AM
  • RAINBUCKET
    24
    I used to ride my bike to my high school job. I did have a bike lane most of the way but more than once someone decided that my bike lane would make a great right turn lane. Idiot drivers terrified me and I was happy to get a new job close enough to walk to. - 5/18/2011   4:20:02 AM
  • 23
    I would love to bike at least when the weather is nice, but it's really not an option for me. My commute is 90 miles one way (my husband's is 30+ miles... in the opposite direction). Thankfully I don't have to go every day!

    At least we live in a bike friendly area. Before, we lived in a place where in order to get anywhere you had to travel by high traffic, high speed (55 mph) roads with no side walks and very narrow shoulders. I did not feel safe so I didn't bike. Here, the speeds are slower, the shoulders wider, and there are bike lanes on many major roads. I haven't done much biking here yet (most of my biking last summer was on bike trails out of town, with friends) but once the weather clears up I'm hoping to try some new routes out.

    My dad however bikes to work regularly in the summer (though not the winter--too cold, too icy, even for him). I don't know how far it is, round trip--maybe 12 miles? So not as far as yours. He does have one bonus, though--his work has a fitness center, complete with showers and locker rooms, so he can get into work, weight train, and shower and change. - 5/18/2011   1:03:01 AM
  • 22
    No, I'd be much to worried about getting hit by a car or truck. There have been people hit and killed even while riding on Sunday. With people doing texting while driving, I wouldn't trust them. - 5/18/2011   12:56:07 AM
  • 21
    If I knew how to ride a bike I would do it. - 5/18/2011   12:22:39 AM
  • 20
    Sound fantastic - wish I could do it. - 5/17/2011   10:59:47 PM
  • 19
    I have been commuting by bike for 21 years, all year round. It's an easy 4-mile round trip, and by now I have accumulated all the foul-weather gear that makes it comfortable and possible-- I have a complete rainsuit, I use a shower-cap under my helmet on rainy days to keep my hair dry, and I have several options for waterproof footwear. When the streets are too narrow because of snow, I don my running backpack and run to work. Sometimes it's the only exercise I get, and it keeps me at a baseline level of fitness. It kills two birds with one stone, and I feel like I'm accomplishing something while working out. I love doing errands by biking or running. In the Boston area, you always beat the cars because you don't have to sit in a traffic jam, or circle around looking for parking. It also saves tons of gas and parking money, and it's invigorating, unlike driving, which makes me lethargic and aggravated. - 5/17/2011   8:35:34 PM
  • 18
    I commute 40 miles each way so no, I won't be biking to work any time soon. But I am envious of those who can. As much as I love my car, I'd love to be able to get around without it. - 5/17/2011   8:01:55 PM
  • 17
    I bike to work three seasons a year (once the snow and ice hit I get scared.) My main reason is no matter the weather I arrive at work and at home in a great mood. It is worth carrying the extra clothes, and cycle gear. Plus it is wonderful for the environment. How much better can you get! - 5/17/2011   6:08:25 PM
  • 16
    Biking to work scares me. Plain and simple. If I even could figure out the logistics of getting my daughter to and from school and after-school day care, I worry about her being on a bike on busy roads, and I also worry for my own safety and the enormous hills I would probably have to walk up when I get tired! - 5/17/2011   4:14:22 PM
  • 15
    I rode my bike to work all year round in Sweden, 12.5 miles one way, when the weather was too bad I walked in stead. My mother did so all her working life and her father before her. If the family is used to do it noone questions it and it becomes a natural part of life.
    It was totally unheard of that a grown up would take the car to get a child a ride to a friend - if you wanted to meet you had to get there yourself. A culture I am very grateful for having being raised in! - 5/17/2011   3:37:37 PM
  • 14
    i've been trying to talk my hubby into letting me bike to work. He thinks it's too dangerous, as 5 miles of my 8 mile trip is on a 70 MPH highway with a couple long bridges. I don't think it's any more dangerous than driving, really. I'll keep on, and maybe someday he'll give in. - 5/17/2011   2:53:02 PM
  • 13
    I am currently unemployed and don't have a bike, although I do want to get one when my finances permit. At my last job I considered riding my bike to work part of the time since it was only 3 miles one way. But I couldn't get around about a 2 mile stretch that was on a two-lane, winding highway with NO shoulder. Since where I worked was on that highway, I had to be on it. If I could have found away, even if it meant crossing the highway and coming in the back way, I would probably have ridden my bike to work at least part of the time.

    As I kid I loved riding my bike and my parents and I often rode the bike paths in Wichita. Now that I am living back in Wichita, I wish I had a bike to use for some of my errands, especially with the gas prices as high as they are. - 5/17/2011   2:35:29 PM
  • 12
    I WANT to bike to work. I live in the city that has places that are cyclist friendly. And I've worked out a route from home to work (and vice versa) except for about 2 miles where I would be on very busy roads. I'm not the most comfortable on my bike yet (just bought one after being off of one for over 20 years) but I plan to ride to bike to work (10-13 miles depending on how I go, one way) at least once before fall hits. In fact, that is my goal. - 5/17/2011   2:09:05 PM
  • STEPHYG05
    11
    I just bought a bike and I'm going to start biking to campus and to work! Thanks for the inspiration! - 5/17/2011   1:49:09 PM
  • CTREEN1
    10
    I have thought about biking to work-- only 13 miles round trip. However, I have yet to figure out how to get the kids to school on my way. - 5/17/2011   1:24:01 PM
  • 9
    Hooray for you! I admire your commitment. Biking in traffic is not on my list of favorite things to do, but I venture out occasionally. I am retired, so I'm off the hook on biking to work. May is bike to work month in our town. My hubby has committed to biking to work at least three days this month.

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing your story! - 5/17/2011   1:12:46 PM
  • 8
    Wow hats off to you. I would love to be able to do that but my route would consist of way too many cars and major intersections. I dream of one day that there would be more bike routes that would make it safer to bike ride that distance to work. Maybe one day. But I will attempt in the future to use my bike instead of my car when going to the corner store for an item or two. Thanks for sharing and happy biking.
    Becky - 5/17/2011   12:42:22 PM
  • 7
    In June, it will be 3 years that I have been biking to work. My commute is 7 miles each way - a really nice distance. It takes me about as long as it used to take in the car, since I don't have to deal with traffic and parking. I bike year round, the only thing that stops me is snow, ice, and tree-felling winds. I LOVE IT! My daily cardio is built in, there are no excuses - it's just the way I get to work. I feel good about my contribution to bettering the environment. I get to be outside every day, truly enjoying every season to the fullest - I feel much closer to nature. It saves my family money. It has made so many positive differences in my health and well-being. I can't imagine ever going back to driving. - 5/17/2011   12:41:47 PM
  • 6
    I've biked to work (weather permitting, it IS Indiana!) for years now, and I don't foresee stopping! In fact, I chose my apartment in large part because it would make biking to work easier...it's only about 1.5 miles away from my apartment, almost entirely downhill going TO work (so I'm not all sweaty when I get there) and a great workout getting up that hill at the end of the day with my laptop on my back! - 5/17/2011   12:22:48 PM
  • 5
    I don't have a bike and the route I would have to ride is... unsafe. Not from traffic but from the surrounding area itself. So I choose not to ride. One note, bikers please make it easier for us drivers to share the road. When riding in groups please do not take up the entirety of the lane if there is only one lane going your direction. It really annoys the drivers to have to go behind the slow moving bikes and be late for work because of it. - 5/17/2011   12:15:16 PM
  • 4
    As a life-long Cincinnatian and having biked to my orthodontist appointments along busy Montgomery Road as a kid, you have my admiration (and awe - you must be a brave and crazy guy)! I live in Price Hill and work in Florence, so the commute is a little...well...I'd need to work up to it, for sure. I've been pondering getting a bike since last spring, and finding a place to ride where I don't feel I'm taking my life into my hands has had me putting it off. I think maybe I need to face the fear instead of avoid it. Thanks for the food for thought! - 5/17/2011   12:07:32 PM
  • 3
    I recently started biking the very short (4 mile) commute to work and love it, for the most part. Being such a short commute, I can easily bike it faster than I could drive (through 2 school zones), and save gas and wear on my car for errands and trips. Unfortunately, my city is not very bike friendly, with many streets having no bike lane or sidewalk. I came within inches of being clipped by a SUV being piloted by a cell-phone talking, McMuffin-chowing driver who clearly didn't see me despite my RYV and blinking lights the other morning. If not for my rear-view mirror, I would not have seen the death-mobile coming and diverted towards my only refuge, a rain gutter, to get me an extra inch or two away from the oncoming rear-view mirrors. To be fair, the driver apologized when I rode up on the next intersection...but I'm shaken and afraid of becoming another "ghost bike" memorial chained to a light post. I suspect that I will eventually shake this feeling and just be more vigilant about avoiding certain routes and staying hyper aware of cars....but at the moment, I'm back in my car until I regain confidence. - 5/17/2011   11:53:53 AM
  • OUATEONE
    2
    Although an avid road and mountain biker who easily logs 100-200 miles a week, I have only passively considered riding to work - only 13 miles round trip, along A1A (think ocean and intracoastal waterway) - but have not done so. I think your blog just motivated me to try it. I can't do it everyday due to business lunches some days but I can more days than not. Also some advice as to ones "cleanliness" after a ride (NE FL in summer is hot and humid) I once did a 100 mile ride in Jacksonville, FL and had a tight deadline to catch a plane to Mexico City for a business trip later that day. There were no showers so I showered with "wet ones", made my flight and slept the whole way there. There are now a variety of wipes which when bought in bulk and private label brands are very affordable and do a great job of cleaning you up. I may start tomorrow! Thanks for the inspiration! - 5/17/2011   11:02:53 AM
  • 1
    I am now retired, but have commuted to work on my bike in the past, and now run many errands on my two-wheeled vehicle. My reasons for riding are much like your own. You see much more of this beautiful world on a bike rather than speeding by at 55 MPH, riding is also good for the environment. Being single, my best first daytes with someone new have been bike rides. For me, biking is also cheap therapy. No artifical sounds going into my ears, give me the songs of the birds, the whisper of the wind and my own thoughts.

    Some day motorists will understand that we also have the right to be on the road, especially the shoulder, and you are right, a revolution does have to start with one, but you are not alone.

    Your photos are beautiful, thank you for sharing your ride. - 5/17/2011   10:38:02 AM

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