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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-12-17, 02:25 PM   #1
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Every day commuting -- motivation

Forgive the long story here. I'm apparently feeling verbose today. If you get bored, just skip to the end.

I consider bike commuting to be my "normal" form of transportation to and from work, but I have other options and I'll drive or take transit if there's a reason to prefer that. In the past couple of years, I've been aware that I'd fallen off the wagon a bit. I guess I've lowered the bar for what will have me choose another mode of transportation.

More recently, I've made a decision to transition from whining a lot about how much my fitness has fallen off to actually riding more and trying to get back the fitness I once had, such as it was. I'd made the decision and I was doing better, but I was still kind of a slacker.

Then last week I went on a ride with some guys from the C&V forum and one of them posted this picture.



That's me looking like I'm hiding a Thanksgiving turkey under my jersey. (In fact, I don't eat turkey so it's really pizza and cheeseburgers under there.) Now I'm not into body shaming and I long ago accepted that I'll always be more bulldog than greyhound, but that picture finally got me thinking I need to do something about the direction my health is headed.

So, this week, assuming I don't fold in the face of rain this evening, I've biked the full 20 mile round trip every day. I knew it had been a while since I'd done that, and I track my riding so I decided to look and see when the last time I biked to work every day for an entire week was. It had been just over three years! Worse yet, I kept browsing through my history and discovered that I really haven't been even marginally consistent about biking to work five days a week since 2009. In an unfortunate coincidence (?) that was the year I turned 40.

Well now I really want to persuade myself to be a dedicated bike commuter again. I just need to find a way to sustain the motivation.

So, if you've made it this far (or if you just skipped to the end), that's where you come in. If you ride to work every day, what keeps you going? I know some of you are car-free and might say you have no other choice, but to my way of thinking being car-free is a result not a cause. At some point you made the choice to be car-free.

What are your secrets?
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Old 05-12-17, 02:34 PM   #2
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When I was commuting to work, I never gave my self a choice. It was just understood that I would ride my bike. It just becomes habit at that point. One less thing to decide in the morning because the decision has already been made.
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Old 05-12-17, 02:41 PM   #3
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I keep riding/commuting because when I don't, my body feels like sh*t. I love feeling refreshed, being able to walk up stairs without getting tired or sore, making it through a work day and not being physically exhausted. I love not having to go to a gym when I can get a work out just going to and from work. I love flying by cars stuck in traffic
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Old 05-12-17, 03:12 PM   #4
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Health and fitness are the main motivators for me, because if I weren't riding to work (40 km round trip), I'd have to replace that with something else on a daily basis, like running. I like running, but doing it every day is tough, whereas riding everyday, even for close to two hours, is not that difficult.

I get what you say about motivation. It's not easy to choose the harder way. The more you do it the easier, or rather the less difficult, it becomes. It's never easy.

Good luck to you.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:17 PM   #5
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You've kind of perfectly summarized my motivation. I know I'm exactly like you in that, if I let myself slip, I will just keep slipping. I'll gain back the 50-60lbs I lost, be uncomfortable, and unhappy. So, that motivates me to not let myself slip.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:26 PM   #6
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I don't ride every day, but I used to try and ride 2 - 4 days a week in decent weather until my commute got shortened to 2 miles last year. Now I try and walk or ride those 2 - 4 days and debate walking or riding instead of walking or driving when I have the choice. Health motivates me, and I see what not taking care of yourself has done to some of my patients and want to avoid that myself. Another motivation is the woman that lives in the condo above mine. She's morbidly obese and is one of those people that looks really sick/like a walking heart attack most of the time. I can hear the floor creak when she moves around, and the motivation to avoid ending up like her on those days when the temptation to drive is enough to get me pedaling again.

I think we started bike commuting about the same time and I'm glad to see you're still active here. If you could do it before I bet you can do it now, keep at it!
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Old 05-12-17, 03:46 PM   #7
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I love cycling. So cycling to work is the most enjoyable way of travelling.

Motivation for work itself is that I also love it - plus it helps buy food and clothes, feeds the kids and allows occasional travel.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:48 PM   #8
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Partly my motivation is I feel better on days I ride instead of driving to work. Mostly it is health, fitness & weight. Commuting is my best way to exercise without spending a lot of time. Driving would be about a half hour per day while riding is taking me about an hour.

Like you if there is a reason to drive in I do it. Mostly that's Dr appointments or working at a remote location. What I do is prepare my pack and clothes the night before. In the morning nowadays I don't even think about not riding. Until I open the door and see it pouring. If I lived in Oregon I'd have to change that tho. Here in Phoenix, rainy days can be counted on my fingers over the year, usually.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:55 PM   #9
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I don't know if I've ever looked forward to a drive to work the next day, probably not. But I have on many occasions looked forward to a ride to work, whether it's because it looks like the wind would be helping me both ways, or just good weather, or even sometimes poor weather. Riding to work is just more interesting.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:58 PM   #10
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Silicon Valley traffic. They're opening Apple spaceships and Googleplexes and LinkedIn and Facebook offices everywhere, not to mention the apartment blocks - without doing one damn thing about the roads. I can either sit in traffic for 30 minutes or ride for 30 minutes, flying past the Teslas and Porsches at the long lines at the red lights, enjoying fresh air and sunshine.

The answer is simple.
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Old 05-12-17, 04:21 PM   #11
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I never regret riding, never.

I took most of 2016 off due to a health problem. As soon as it was over with, my wife's pregnancy got too large to get around, and then we had twin babies. It's only the last month I've gotten back to it. But my 2016 problem has forced me to eat better. My heart bug keeps me from riding fast enough to get a workout in the sense most of you would mean, but just being out and getting my heart rate above resting does me a world of good.

Lately I've focused on why I can't ride on some days, and fixing that. Kiddo didn't get ridden to daycare this week because I took the kid seat off the 3-speed to sell it, and couldn't put it on the commuter bike yet. But my mini-V brakes have arrived so that problem will be sorted next, and that's one or two more days a week I can ride.
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Old 05-12-17, 04:28 PM   #12
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I enjoy riding my bike. I do not enjoy waiting for buses or sitting in traffic.
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Old 05-12-17, 05:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
I love cycling. So cycling to work is the most enjoyable way of travelling.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
I don't know if I've ever looked forward to a drive to work the next day, probably not. But I have on many occasions looked forward to a ride to work.... Riding to work is just more interesting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I never regret riding, never.
Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I enjoy riding my bike. I do not enjoy waiting for buses or sitting in traffic.
This is the crazy thing. I completely agree with all of the above. If you asked me why I ride to work, I'd tell you that it's more fun than driving. I really don't like driving, and especially in bad weather. And yet....

Part of my problem has been with my sleep schedule. I have a very flexible schedule, so I tend to sleep in. But at a certain point I feel like I should be at work and so I tell myself I don't have time to bike in. Biking in takes maybe 15 minutes longer, plus the time to change clothes when I get to the office, but I have this mental block about it. The worst part about this is that I sleep better when I've been riding regularly so it kind of feeds itself.

Even over the past couple of years when I've felt like I lapsed I usually manage to ride to work two or three days a week. When I get to as much as a week without having biked in it makes me very grumpy. The trouble is apparently 2-3 days a week isn't enough to rebuild lost fitness and it definitely isn't enough to counteract my eating habits. Have I mentioned that my daughter has taken up baking as a hobby? Now that's a double edged sword if ever there was one.
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Old 05-12-17, 06:07 PM   #14
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You must also realize that your diet has a much bigger impact on your health than the exercise. If you can manage the weight through diet the fitness part may come easier. Riding 100 miles a week isn't going do anything if you eat back all the calories.
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Old 05-12-17, 06:46 PM   #15
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Yeah, I have made some adjustments to my diet to shed some weight. As for how that relates to fitness (as opposed to just body weight and body fat), I'm skeptical.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:22 PM   #16
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Let me join the chorus: It's fun. It puts a tiny amount of adventure into my day, lets me notice the change of season in a meaningful way, and it forces me out of my comfort zone occasionally. For me, it's more about mental wellbeing (but, in my experience, there is a direct correlation between my mental and my physical shape.)
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Old 05-13-17, 06:02 AM   #17
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...Part of my problem has been with my sleep schedule. I have a very flexible schedule, so I tend to sleep in. But at a certain point I feel like I should be at work and so I tell myself I don't have time to bike in. ...
That's a very "telling" remark, as it reveals that you are setting yourself up not to ride before you even get out of bed.

I only ride to work during the fair weather months here in New York. During this time, it gets light very early, and the mild, dry mornings make me glad to be alive. I purposely set my alarm to rise very early so I can hear the birds, feel the breeze, and want to get outside before all this awesomeness gives way to crazy high school drivers swerving all over the roads as they try to get the perfect selfie. I end up arriving for work at least an hour early, but that time on the bike is definitely worth it. Plus, I never have that rushed feeling that can ruin my day right out of the box.

My simple advice is to give up the "sleeping in" part. You'll be able to sleep for a long time when you're dead. Get up early and get out at a leisurely pace. You will someday be glad you didn't miss all those priceless early mornings.
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Old 05-13-17, 06:46 AM   #18
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Some people love their sleep. My wife is one of those. She loves sleeping in on the weekend, and in fact, any chance she gets. I, OTOH, get my 7.2-7.5 hours and am good to go.

A regular sleep schedule is vital to one's long-term health--both the time of sleep and the duration.

All of this--sleep, diet, and exercise, takes a bit of discipline and planning, but in the end will lead to better overall health.
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Old 05-13-17, 08:07 AM   #19
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The decision is really simple for me: we are a single-car family (by choice), so I bike and my wife drives the car.

But beyond that, I would bike even if we had two cars. However, the thought of owning more than one car sends me into fits of financial distress, at the thought of buying, owning, fueling, maintaining, and insuring a second car. It would be a huge financial burden for us to have more than one car.

But the simple truth is that I really don't like cars and driving. They aggravate me. I feel extremely limited and, paradoxically, slow, when I'm driving a car. I have greater freedom of movement on a bike. If I don't ride to/from work, I feel disjointed, stressed, and out-of-sorts.

And I really love cycling. I jumped on a bike for the first time when I was 5 years old (sans training wheels), and I haven't been without a bike since then. Except for this one time when I had my (one and only) bicycle stolen, and it took me a couple of weeks to replace it. I joke with my wife that I'll probably die on my bike. I honestly don't know if I would want to continue living if I lost the use of my legs.

As far as body/weight/fitness goes, I'm probably better off than most guys my age. I spent 12 years working in the natural foods retail business when I was 18-30 years old, and I've carried that diet/lifestyle with me throughout my life. I don't eat much carb-y food: my diet consists of primarily meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds. I follow Michael Pollan's advise: "Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much." Mostly paleo-ish, but as you have seen, I do enjoy a beer every now and again. Wheat and dairy don't agree with me, so I avoid those. We don't eat a lot of pre-packaged foods, and I am very fortunate to be married to an excellent cook. I think Mark's Daily Apple has lots of good info for dietary guidelines, and how to "look good naked."
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Old 05-13-17, 08:58 AM   #20
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Oh, wow! It is amazing to see how many people with whom I share the same motivations and feelings about bike commuting! Traffic avoidance, general fitness, monetary savings and mental health! For the last few years I have a built-in motivator...sinus congestion and sinus headaches.

If I miss a week of riding, I begin to get sinus headaches. Sometimes it's unavoidable due to weather or family and health issues, but it is a great motivator.

I missed 2010 due to a slipped disc in my neck and the experience of feeling my fitness slip away and depression and agitation build up (plus the sinus issues) has kept me motivated to ride these last six years and push my limits as to low temperature thresh-hold and rain.

And since my return to daily commuting in 2011 I have allowed myself to listen to spoken word podcasts in one ear at a reasonable volume. That also gives me something to look forward to. Sure I can listen to the podcasts in the car, but I can listen longer and with fewer traffic interruptions when I bike my quiet side-street routes to work.
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Old 05-13-17, 12:11 PM   #21
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I ride because the ride home is the funnest part of the day.
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Old 05-13-17, 12:53 PM   #22
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Once you commit to riding everyday it gets easier. They say it takes a month to develop a habit. I haven't driven to work since 2014. The thought of driving hasn't crossed my mind in the mornings for a long time. I hope to ride to work everyday until I retire.

I like riding. I especially like the thought of combining transportation and exercise. Efficient.

It just feels good. Endorphins rule!
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Old 05-13-17, 05:52 PM   #23
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My secret to bike commuting everyday sounds is a bit different than most. I don't have a car. When my lease came due, I just turned that sucker in and haven't looked back.

One thing I have learned is that my motivations change after commuting. I started out to save money, I continued because I enjoy it and now I like that I'm not polluting the Earth with my efficient bicycle.

Maybe think less and bike more and your own motivation will strike you while riding.
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Old 05-14-17, 11:06 AM   #24
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It might be motivating too knowing you are part of a wonderful community :-)
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Old 05-14-17, 11:18 AM   #25
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To me the biggest benefit of commuting is that it guaranties a set amount of base miles every week. That helps maintain my overall condition, especially over the winter, when otherwise I probably wouldn't be riding much if at all.

The other fringe benefits is eliminating some car ownership and operating costs, burning that many more calories allowing me to not fret over my diet.

hen the weather is nice, I'll make a ride of it going home, enjoying a loop of up to 40-50 miles or so. I used to try to fit in evening rides when I got home, but things got in the way, whereas building it onto the ride home is easy and I do it frequently.

Also, I try to keep the commute from being a chore by varying the route anf getting to know the people I meet daily. I think of these folks as part of my 6 mile by 100' community, and treasure it.
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