I'm 56 and have moved into Manhattan after 25 years in the suburbs. I've been an active rider since I was 15 - noncompetitive club rides, weeklong cycling vacations, that sort of thing. One thing I wanted to be able to do in the city is commute to work by bike, easy to do since it's just a bit over 4 miles to my office from home.
Last spring, the fellow who introduced me to riding and wrenching at that early age - my high school physics teacher - gave me the 1971 Peugeot PX-10 that he commuted on, logging 87,000 miles on it over 20 years. It seemed to me that I would do well to honor him and his bike by using it in the same way, so I completely overhauled it, replaced a few bits and am now commuting on it from the upper west side down to 34th Street on the east side. Just started the week before last.
I'm no stranger to riding in heavy traffic so the rush hour ride doesn't faze me (much), but it does demand my full-on attention. Obviously this is very different from having a lovely jaunt on pretty back roads, yet I'm finding it exhilarating and satisfying. I'm not such a diehard that I ride rain or shine, but I find that on the days I don't ride I miss it.
The process of tuning the bike and finding the right accessories has been really satisfying too. I work in a formal business environment and I don't sweat much, so I've been wearing my suit and tie on the bike, but I got Chrome Truk shoes and carry my dress shoes in a Racktime briefcase pannier that's perfect for both the bike and the office. I've discovered that after years of brifters and clipless shoes, I haven't lost my friction-shifting and toeclip-flipping skills. On off days I can grab the Peugeot and do a couple of laps around Central Park, its' geometry is comfortable and tracks perfectly. I have a 1966 Raleigh Sports for local shopping errands. Now I only use my car on weekends to go back to the suburbs to visit my mother and friends. It used to be a centerpiece of my life.
I'll be going to Vermont in a couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to some long, quiet rides in the countryside with my wife on our nice road bikes, but I have to say, I'm enjoying being a commuter!
Welcome to the club. I'm in a similar position, being a rider since my days at Stuyvesant in the late 60s. I started commuting by bike 4 years ago, and do it maybe twice a week now, otherwise I take the subway. My ride is 10 miles each way, and I do tend to get sweaty even in the cold. But my mantra while climbing the Manhattan Bridge is "Steady, not sweaty" so I try to minimize it. My bike is a 1990 Trek MTB that I bought on eBay when my son took my other Trek MTB to college with him. I wear roadie clothes to work, but not full kit, and my running shoes. It just is more comfortable than street clothes. It isn't like I've never tried, but once you get used to cycling gear there is no going back.
The surprising thing is that I'm on separated bike lanes about 8 miles of the 10 mile ride. And those other 2 aren't in real traffic, just on lightly traveled streets in Brooklyn.
I would ride more, but there is the time factor, and of course the weather. I'll ride in a sprinkle, but not a steady rain, and if the forecast says wet I just don't bother.