Category Archives: Cycling

Still Fond of Fondos-Getting Dropped By a Tandem Edition 

My friends and I just completed our second Rollfast  Gran Fondo Sunday in Carmel, Indiana. Once again, the race organizers put on a well run, well supported event with even more fried chicken this year.  A new feature this year was the opportunity to participate in a charity event the night before which featured the event special guest, professional cyclist and TV commentator, Bob Roll. The best part of the whole event, however, for me was the performance. If you would’ve told me a week ago that I would’ve averaged north of 19 mph for a century ride I would’ve asked you what you were smoking. However that’s exactly what happened. But as always, there’s a story behind it.

The event Saturday night was held at a local bike shop called Bike Line  which is a very well appointed and well stocked Trek house in the City Center of Carmel, Indiana. A relatively small group of patrons were allowed the chance to enjoy cocktails with Bob Roll. It was a fairly casual and low-key event. The event hosts did a great job of making sure that Bob got face time with each and every attendee.

Steve and Bobke signing autographs

 

After making his rounds and visiting with individual guests, there was a very entertaining Q and A session. During this time Bob fielded questions from the group ranging from such pressing matters as who does the laundry for the team to doping. This was by far the best part of the evening. Bob is a seriously funny guy and definitely has a gift for gab. He spoke of what a great rapport that he and his co-anchors on NBC have and how much fun it is to work there. However, he’s not above razzing as partners a bit. He does great imitations of Phil Liggett and Jensie.  Bob bragged that NBC provides the best coverage of the Tour de France in the entire WORLD. I don’t think this is just the company line, I think he truly believes this. And after his imitation of the German feed of the Tour de France, I hope I never have to watch the tour in Germany ever, ever, ever!  At the end of the evening, event  owner Matt Tanner presented Bob key with a custom made Silca floor pump. The proceeds from this event are to be donated to a local police charity.

Matt Tanner presents Bobke with a custom Silca floor pump 

Race day started with fairly chilly temperatures at the start. I was in three different layers on top which I never really shed throughout the entire ride. Full fingered gloves and a skullcap completed the outfit. Still, I was pretty cold in those first few miles. We met up with some friends from last year.  Our friend Brooke, undoubtedly the Queen Bee of the North Indy cycling scene, greeted us with enthusiasm.  We also met up with our pal Oscar who rode with us last year. Between us and their collection entourage, we had a good group in the making.  Brooke was going in a tandem this year with her boyfriend, Ed.  We have never drafted off a tandem before.  Cliff warned me this could get ugly.  And it did.

In contradistinction to last year, the new venue and mass star went quite a bit more smoothly. The pace getting out of town was steady and the pool time seem to be able to negotiate the roundabouts with more is this year compared to last. We found ourselves in a fairly large group to start. We were towards the back which made for fairly effortless peddling. Just a few miles in we lost Oscar due to a mechanical. That was the only dark cloud of the day.   By the time we reached the first rest stop at about mile 25, my average heart rate was barely in the 100s. After the first rest stop the large group began to splinter her a bit, and we found ourselves in a slightly smaller though still brisk group. We continued to average 19 to 20 mph.

At some point between the first and second rest stop, our friend Cliff fell off the back not to be seen again until the finish line. When we pulled in to the second rest stop I was still feeling pretty good but ready for some fried chicken. The event planners did not disappoint. There was more than enough fried chicken to go around and I certainly had my fill. Properly refueled on fried chicken, carrot cake and some fresh fruit we were ready to head out again for the second half.

The pace remain fairly brisk between the second and third rest stop. At one point at about mile 70, we missed a turn in a small town and the group splintered. I found myself having to sprint to catch up to the main group. When I finally caught up to the rear rider he apparently was suffering and before I knew it he dropped back several lengths from the main group. Now I had to play catch up again. This wasn’t going to happen. My friend Steve and I rode by ourselves for the next few miles until the 77 mile rest stop.

Heading out from the third and final rest stop, we vowed to keep the group together. Though with good intentions this wasn’t to be. I had spent a fair amount of time upfront pulling and my legs were starting to get tired. Some stronger roadies and triathletes in the group started pushing the pace to the 22–23 mile an hour range and I just didn’t have it in me. A small group of faster riders including our friend Brooke and her boyfriend on a TANDEM and my friend Steve pulled out in front not to be seen again until the finish line. There was a slower group behind me and I found myself more or less alone until a triathlete named Kathy appeared on my rear wheel.

As it turns out, Kathy was training for Ironman Louisville- a kindred spirit. We spent the last several miles riding together and talking about the race. This is to be her first Ironman so I was able to give her some of my perspective on the course in the race in general. She was telling me that in addition to adding another 10 miles to her ride upon completion of this century she was planning to do a brick run. I mediately had flashbacks to my Ironman training days and I began to feel nauseated. I wished her luck as we crossed the finish line together and she went on her way and I turned back to City Center.

 

My “After”

 Back at City Center, I rested my legs, ate some pizza, drank some great beer from Sun King Brewery and listened to live music. I was fortunate enough to win one of the great door prizes offered by the race. Steve and I hung out and waited for Cliff to cross the finish line.

All in all it was a great day.  The weather, though a bit brisk at first, was really quite nice by mid morning.  I was very pleased with my performance…other than getting dropped by a couple on a tandem.  But I digress.  We will be back next year.  This is a great event and I would encourage all cyclists within a few hours drive of Indy to give this a try next year.  I hear the special guest might be someone equally as special as Bobke!

From Left to Right:  Cliff, Me and Steve 

 

 

 

A Real Pain in the Ass for Cyclists

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My  legs have been pretty heavy this past week. My runs have been tough and my last road ride on Friday morning left me with some soreness that I’ve not experienced before. I knew I was going to be in the car all day Saturday so I was looking forward to a day of rest.

Apparently 14 hours in the car wasn’t exactly the kind of day off that my legs needed. I woke up Sunday morning with a terrible pain in my left hip, buttock  and shooting down my left leg. By now, most of you are probably thinking that I have a lumbar disc/ sciatica problem. While that is a good thought, I’m here to tell you about what I think the real problem is: Piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis Syndrome, or PS as I will heretofore refer to it as, is the condition usually afflicting athletes such as runners or people who sit a lot. I know…damned if you do….damned if you don’t!  It’s caused by inflammation of the piriformis muscle which is a hip stabilizer deep in the buttock region. When this muscle becomes inflamed it can actually impinge upon the sciatic nerve causing symptoms that are very similar to lumbar disc degeneration.

When I palpated my ass through my lycra spandex cycling kit this morning I could feel a knotted muscle and there was a definite trigger point that caused shooting pain down my leg.  Otherwise, most of the time the pain is nagging and seems to be aggravated by lateral hip and thigh movement.  Sunday afternoon I was out in some moderate surf playing with the kids at the beach and I could tell every time the waves shifted me to the left and required resistance.  It hurt.  Not terribly but noticeable.

So why am I pouring all this out in my blog.  Trust me, I’m NOT  looking for sympathy.  It’s more of a PSA.  Judging by the number of lumbar spine and hip films I read each week, these are common presenting complaints by patients to their doctors.  A suspicion of lumbar disc disease usually exists and an imaging workup will ensue.  This could involve xrays, CT scans and even MRIs.  This is expensive and involves radiation exposure.

I know, I know…I shouldn’t be discouraging medical imaging.  After all that is how I make my living.  But I actually care just a  little about you guys.  So here’s the deal.  If you are an active dude or dudette and have these symptoms keep this diagnosis in the back of your mind and mention it to your doctor.  If he/she is not a sports medicine physician, then they might not be keyed into it and will go down that path of lumbar radiculopathy.  That can lead to expensive diagnostics and treatment.

It seems the treatment for PS is actually pretty conservative.  It is recommended that the offending activity be curtailed first and foremost.  REST.  Ah…well….if you are reading this you might be an endurance athlete and we don’t do rest well, do we?  Anti-inflammatory medications might also help in acute flare ups.  Direct massage of the affected area can be helpful.  Sometimes the piriformis muscle can be palpated as an over-contracted ball of muscle in the buttock region.  Direct massage or using our great friend the foam roller could help.  There is also some stretching that can be done to alleviate the symptoms.  If you are not comfortable massaging your own ass you can always call this guy.

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Otherwise some alternative forms of treatment such as osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation might be of use.  I can tell you that 5 minutes of self massage really provided me some relief before my ride this morning.  The point of the all this is that if PS is really what you are dealing with and not lumbar disc disease then you shouldn’t need a bunch of expensive tests and treatment.

Anyway, I hope my sore ass and thigh have helped you understand a little about the little known entity that is Piriformis Syndrome. Keep it mind (or your doctor’s mind) if you are having butt pain and shooting pain down your thigh and leg. Stay well my friends!

Sharing the Road

I’m noticing more hostility towards cyclists these days.  I’ve logged thousand of miles on city streets and country roads and have rarely been harassed by motorists. Lately that seems to have changed. Just last week our group has had angry words, close passes and some dude traveling the opposite direction down the road lay on his horn angrily because we had the audacity to be riding the other direction, on the shoulder, not obstructing traffic. Sorry for existing, asshole!

There seems to be a war of words of sorts brewing in our community.  A collection of editorial letters to the News-Gazette have argued both sides of the issue of cyclists on the roadways and support for cycling infrastructure.

At the heart of it all is the local community effort to re-purpose abandoned railroad tracks into a multi-use path. The so called Kickapoo Rail Trail has been many years in the planning stage but is finally starting to come together. The funding is from a combination of private donations and state/local grants.

Any time public funds are used for something that doesn’t involve automobile related infrastructure, storm water drainage or public safety you know there will be some dissent. The first blood was drawn with this letter to editor back in June. This was rebutted by this well written though apparently not entirely accurate missive by my old riding buddy, Rich McClary.

Let me just go on the record as saying that I can see both sides.  As a cyclist I am a strong supporter of the Kickapoo Rail Trail project. The trail head will be less than two miles from my home and I look forward to sharing many miles on the new path with my family and friends away from the threat of speeding cars and poorly maintained road surfaces.

However, as a taxpayer, I can see the other side too. Every year I write checks to the county to support public schools that my children do not attend, a library we rarely patronize, buses I never ride and police/fire protection that thankfully we have never needed.  But I am not complaining.  This is part of being in a community and supporting infrastructure and services that add value to the community.

The Kickapoo Rail Trail can certainly be considered an added value to Champaign and Vermillion Counties. It is not a “bike path.” It is a multi-use path. If one looks at the health and wellness benefits alone it is worth it. Our current poor state of public health can be almost entirely attributed to poor diets and lifestyles devoid of adequate physical activity. On either end of the Kickapoo Rail Trail there are ample recreational resources, the nearly 25 mile stretch of the multi-use path will give citizens in unincorporated areas of our two counties access to a safe venue for physical activity whether it be walking, running or cycling. There is no good argument against investing in our community health.

I am more than happy, as Mr. Hildreth suggests in his letter,  to pay an annual license fee or even a nominal surtax on bicycles and related gear if that money were used for the sole purpose of supporting cycling infrastructure and educational/safety programing. I would also expect such arguments against these projects to be silenced since we cyclists would be paying our fair share…perhaps more as we would be subsidizing the runners and dog walkers who will utilize the trail.  But, hey, fair is fair, right?

Despite the controversy, I think it is safe to say that cycling will continue to grow both for recreation and a means of transportation. The miles of bike lanes in cities large and small continue to grow. Certain large cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. have invested heavily in cycling infrastructure and these resources are heavily utilized. If you’ve ever driven in Chicago or D.C. you would know why.

In closing I would like to offer of glimmer of hope. While it seems there is so much hostility towards cyclists on the road these days sometimes you find friends in the most unlikely of places.  This past Sunday a couple friends and I were on long ride heading south and east from Urbana. About 35 miles or so into the ride we were in need of fuel. After some jogging around to avoid fresh gravel and parked freight trains blocking the road (yes we were that far out of civilization that trains just block the road) we ended up in the burg of Newman, Illinois.

Nestled on US-36 in Douglas County with less than 1000 residents, Newman was the kind of place that if ever I thought people would be inhospitable to cyclists, this was it.  Boy, was I wrong. We arrived at the local filling station just after it opened at 8am.  Some locals were already starting to fill in.  As I was parking my bike and getting to go inside to drain my bladder and fill my belly a burly dude walked up and greeting me offered  the parting words of “safe travels.”  After I got my Gatorade and Starbucks Double Shot Mocha extravaganza I was outside getting loaded up. At this point a group of three older gentlemen probably in their 70s or 80s walked up and talked to us. They were quite impressed that we had ridden our bikes all the way down from Urbana and that we were riding back!  They chatted with us for a minute before wishing us well and heading inside for their coffee.

When we make our mid-ride pit stops it is rare that we are engaged by locals.  Usually we just get strange and unfriendly glances from people because we are, after all, a bunch of grown men in tights.  But here we were in the seemingly most inhospitable locale for for a road cyclist and the locals were actually friendly.  What  a pleasant surprise.

This episode last Sunday gives me hope.  I now realize that despite the negative interactions I have had recently with motorists, the vast majority respect my right to occupy the road and treat me as such.  I’ve also learned a little about judging without knowing. Perhaps the next time there is a southerly wind we will find ourselves back in Newman and perhaps grab a bite at the Country Junction or Pizza Man.  They’re good people those Newmanites.

When the Weather Turns Rough It’s Time to Go Commando

When the temperatures drop and the wind starts to howl it becomes a bit harder to motivate my roadie self to hit the grid for a long Sunday ride. Add to that the declining daylight hours and the need to push our start time back and we have some angry wives too.

But ever since getting my fatbike last winter, I’ve mixed things up a bit. I rode the Pugs quite a bit when the snow hit and when the roads were just too dicey to take a road bike out for a spin. It was a nice alternative to the trainer. I have explored neighborhood streets, parks, paths, gravel and areas of the UI campus on fatbike and it has been fun. I’ve gotten some good workouts too.

When I bought my fattie, my salesman told me about a group of guys who routinely rode fatbikes all fall and winter on Wednesday evenings. I’ve seen these rides pop up on Strava as “UCR” but never really understood what the hell it was. That was until this summer when I finally joined them for one.

The UCR or Urban Commando Rides are generally attended by members of the Champaign-Urbana Wild Card Cycling Team and are mostly organized by team member and fatbike enthusiast, Karl Crapse. There was great variety among the riders and the bikes. There were two of us on fatbikes, four or five on cross bikes and guy on a single speed MTB. There were guys/gals in their 20s and dudes who I presume are well into their 50s.

During the course of these rides we encounter a wide variety of road surfaces and terrain. While the majority will be on paved roads and paths, we do seek out gravel, grassy fields (with hills) and even a little urban single track. We may take advantage of natural or man made obstacles on the route to hone handling skills or in the case of the cross racers, mounting/dismounting skills. My favorite thing to do is ride along the railroad tracks, especially when there is a train coming (just kidding).  But the tracks are fun. You get to see the city from an entirely different perspective.

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As bikes and beers are natural bedfellows, the Wednesday evening rides begin and end at a local downtown watering hole that specializes in craft beer. There’s nothing quite like barreling through town with your fatbike posse on a little craft beer buz. It’s a welcome diversion from my usual roadie/triathlon sufferfests.

I’ve done a fair amount of solo UCRs. As a bike commuter I will sometimes expand my trip home from work to include some additional miles where I explore the city a bit. As with most cycling activities, it’s definitely more fun in a group.

The great thing about these rides is that everyone knows little nooks and crannies in the city a little better than the others so we can always try new routes. This keeps things fresh. If I had to describe a UCR in one word, other than “fun,” it would have to be ‘diverse.’ There is great diversity of surface, terrain, riders and bikes. I’ve been able to further expand my cadre of cycling buddies and gotten in some damn good workouts in the process. First and foremost, though, these rides are about the most fun I’ve had on two wheels since taking up cycling. The UCR will be a permanent addition to my cycling repertoire.

Check out this video of a night time UCR!

There Are No Strangers On Bikes (Fond of Fondos)

I completed my very first Gran Fondo yesterday. It was the Rollfast Gran Fondo in Carmel, Indiana. This was an enjoyable and well organized and supported race/ride. What made it even more enjoyable was being able to ride with old friends and make new ones along the way.

 

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Me, Steve and Cliff at the finish

 

There was no denying that this was going to be a leisurely ride. My friend, Cliff, made it quite clear he was “just looking to finish” and my other friend, Steve, was doing his first century ride. After a summer full of hammer-fests on Sunday mornings, including a century ride I completed the prior weekend, I was looking forward to a nice leisurely meander through the Indiana countryside at a comfortable and social pace.

It was a damn near perfect day for the ride. It was a tad bit chilly at the start requiring multiple layers, full fingered gloves and toe warmers but as the miles piled on, the layers were shed as the temperature climbed and the only chance of rain was the sun’s radiant energy raining down on our skin.

We lined up near the back of the pack, behind all the ‘serious’ riders but in front of families on mountain bikes. There was a mass start at 8am sharp and like any mass start of this magnitude it was a bit of a cluster. Getting out of town proved to be a slow and arduous process with average speeds in the single digits for the first several miles. It was well worth that to look ahead and a river of cyclists flowing smoothly through city streets and arcing around roundabouts. I imagined this would have looked very cool from a helicopter.  Strangely there were no cameramen in copters chasing us. Note to race organizers: consider a chase drone for next year!

Once the crowd thinned to the point of allowing us to fall into a rhythm. Cliff started to push the pace a bit north of 20mph which worried me but we soon settled into a nice pace. Steve seemed to really enjoy climbing pushing up most hills before falling back to our normal pace. We spend most of the first 50 miles riding just the three of us, occasionally picking up riders here and there for a few miles but nothing really organized.

I started feeling kinda bad around mile 45. We had stopped at around mile 25 for sandwiches and bathroom break but here I was only 20 miles later starting to feel a bit bonky. The wind had picked up a bit and we were heading into it. Worst, though, was my ass.  My ass was hurting and I was thinking to myself that this was gonna be a long ass day with a sore ass. Yes…I was trying to use ‘ass’ as(s) many times as(s) I could in that sentence. Anyway, I digress.

Cliff had promised me fried chicken at mile 55. Mile 55 came and went and there was no fucking chicken. I was starting to get pissed. Finally at about mile 57 we came into a cemetery, one of about 50 we passed on the route, where and aid station was set up. This was the turning point of the ride…for me at least.

At this stop I was able to dine on fried chicken and chili cheese Fritos. This made me feel better almost immediately. Better yet, there was a large group of riders there that seemed like cool people and we decided we would head out with them because we needed some draft time.

Starting off with the group was divine. We settled into the back of the pack while two very strong riders pulled for what seemed like forever at a nice pace north of 19mph. I looked at my buddies who had expressed no interest in riding that fast but they were comfortable. So, I’m thinking, “Fuck yea! This is going to be the shit!” Eventually the riders at front pulled off and we settled into a loosely organized paceline. We had enough riders so that the stronger ones could take turns at the front but those that wished to hang at back could do so without hurting the group.

The group was quite diverse.  I’m not sure how many we numbered but it had to be at least a dozen. There were men and women.  Young and not so young. There were roadies, triathletes and even a dude on a Surly gravel grinder in baggy shorts. About half of them knew each other and had started the ride together. The others, like me, Cliff and Steve, just tagged along. One of the more outgoing riders, a young lady named Brook, chatted me up when we were alongside each other in the paceline. She was explaining to me who knew who and who the strangers were. To that I replied, “there are no strangers on bikes.” She acknowledged that was true, a testament to the friendships forging on rubber and road with each passing mile.

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Mile 75: The group fuels one last time

 

It was really good going until the next rest stop at 75 miles. At this point some people were feeling the pain. Somehow I had gotten some kind of second wind. My ass no longer hurt and my legs felt great. We turned into a headwind and Tisch, a “not so young” triathlete like myself and I plowed into the headwind. She was strong and pushed the pace. I kept up. Soon we were getting calls from the back that the group was suffering. We backed off and tried to keep it together. This would not last.

By mile 85 the group was fragmenting. We hit a hilly segment and the climbers were separated from those that struggled up hills. At one point Brook came to the front with me and started to push the pace. Shortly we lost the group and she dropped back. By mile 90 Tisch, Oscar (a middle aged roadie with the coolest looking Giant Defy) and myself were alone at the front with about a quarter mile from the rest of the group. We started riding hard. We were headed back to town doing north of 20 mph. It felt good!

At one point the road back into town was blocked a semi-truck deploying construction equipment. Not wanted to break pace, Ticsh, Oscar and I dismounted, got on the sidewalk and road until we cleared the obstruction. We then dismounted and carried our bikes over some sandy, gravely shit cross style and remounted on the road. We hammered back to town hitting the finish line a few minutes before the rest of the group.

All in all it was a great day. I really enjoyed the course and the scenery. In contradistinction to the Capital City Century Ride I completed last week, the roads were mostly in very good condition consisting of smooth blacktop except for a few short stretches of tar/chip and frank gravel. It was a well-supported ride with aid available at appropriate intervals. Thankfully Mother Nature provided us with a near picture perfect day.

The best part of the day, other than the post ride IPA, was that it reminded me why I love cycling so much.  This ride took me back to my cycling roots. Before there were races and Ironman and Sunday morning Strava segment sufferfests, there was cycling for fitness and FUN. One of the best things was showing up to a group ride and being welcomed as a regular even if it was your first time. I have expanded my social circle through cycling more than any other activity I have ever participated in. The ride yesterday proved how ‘strangers’ working together can make easy work of many miles and pestering headwinds. It also proved how important fried chicken is to good cycling performance.  Although post-ride ‘sliders’ were a necessity to replenish my caloric deficiencies.  But most importantly it proved that a good group ride is a thing of beauty and this Gran Fondo was a beautiful thing.

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F#$k the Chocolate Milk. THIS is my ‘after.’

 

 

Becoming a Pack Rat-My Experience as a Bike Commuter

 

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Me on my Pugs ready to commute

Photo courtesy of Nelson J Photography Inc.

 

I’ve been a serious cyclist for about five years. I started down this path as a triathlete and roadie and this kind of riding has dominated my training log for the past several years. A couple of years ago I started riding some trail, mostly in the fall and winter, as an attempt to prolong my riding season. Throughout my riding career I’ve crossed paths with bike commuters and have always been intrigued by their fitness when road riding and comfort riding in traffic. This year I decided to enter the fray and I have to say that I’m hooked.

Before becoming a seasoned bike commuter, if I can indeed be considered that, I had to overcome some barriers. One of the key perceived barriers was time. I’m sure many out there feel the same way. However, when you really analyze the time expenditure, I think you will find it is not as much of a time-sink as you might have thought.

Consider this.  My typical commute is about 4.5 miles.  By car on the main arterial roads I normally travel, this trip takes me between 12 and 15 minutes.   The same commute by bike takes me on average 22 minutes. So, round trip it might appear that I am losing 20 minutes a day due to bike commuting.

BUT WAIT! My bike commute nets me an extra 45 minutes a day of low to moderate intensity cardio exercise.  Therefore, I come out 25 minutes ahead. For the time starved individual, one might cut a morning or evening workout short to accommodate the bike commute. For me, these are bonus hours and miles logged by the end of the week. The math will be different for everyone but the important point is to consider the exercise benefit when evaluating the time it takes to commute.

The other major barrier for me was the traffic. I live in a fairly bike-friendly community with an abundance of cyclist-commuters, bike lanes and “sharrows.”  But still, I was afraid of riding in traffic, real traffic. Luckily I am able to get from home to work and back using a network of mostly lightly traveled side streets and multi-use paths. I have to cross a few busier streets en-route but my experience with this so far has been positive and safe.  As a automobile operator we tend to focus on the main roads often ignoring the vast network of side streets and little-traveled country roads. If you check the map and get out and explore, you will likely find a safe and scenic route between work and home.

It is worth mentioning that my job allows me to dress casually and my work clothes easily fit into my backpack. Yes, I am a bit sweaty upon arrival to work but a quick towel-off with baby wipes and a few minutes in the air conditioning make me presentable. I realize that not all people have this luxury. I’m not sure I could don a suit after a bike commute but I know some that do.  I also have an abundance of bike parking available to me at my place of employment which, again, can be a challenge for some.

Probably the greatest benefit I’ve noticed from commuting by bike is stress relief. I don’t like driving much. I hate traffic and even the little bit of congestion experienced in our small city is enough to spike my blood pressure. However, I love to ride my bike. The 25 minutes spent on my commute home from work after a hard day allows me time to decompress. I can take in the sites and sounds of the world around me that I am usually insulated from in my car.

I’ve also noticed an increase in my performance on the road bike. As one of my cycling buddies astutely pointed out, commuting is a bit like doing intervals. When cruising through town with stop signs there is quite a bit of taking off fast to get into the flow of traffic then stopping for the next intersection.  You are actually stopping at stop signs, aren’t you???  I don’t much care for interval workouts on my road or tri bike but as a bike commuter I cannot avoid them. I tend to commute on my fat bike which requires a bit more power to get up to speed in traffic but allows me to cruise over any road obstacle with ease and even take a shortcut through my favorite park on the way.

After a few weeks of riding to and from work I noticed that the presence of automobiles didn’t phase me quite as much as it used to. There is something about being a bike commuter that makes me feel that I am part of traffic, much more so than when out on my training rides. As a commuter I’m just another vehicle out on the road trying to get to work on time. It’s almost as if the cars have more respect for me too. On a fitness ride I am viewed as an obstruction but as a commuter I feel I am viewed as part of traffic.  I may be off base here but that is my perception at least.

Finally, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy the scenery of my bike commute much more so than my automobile commute. While by car I tend to traverse a more commercial and industrial sections of town, my bike commute takes me through the tranquil tree lined streets of historic west Urbana. This just adds to the experience.

I really wish I had taken up bike commuting sooner. I would urge you to put all those perceived barriers aside and give it a try for just a few days.  If it doesn’t suit you then fine. However, if you enjoy riding your bike for fitness or pleasure why not combine that activity to make something somewhat less pleasurable (your commute to work) more palatable.

Summer might be almost over but there is still good riding to be had. I’ll see you on the road.