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Seven years continuous bike commuting

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Seven years continuous bike commuting

Old 07-17-13, 06:09 PM
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Seven years continuous bike commuting

Today I completed seven continuous years of bike commuting every single workday.

Put another way, July 17, 2006 was the last workday I did NOT bike commute. That's not too bad considering I bought my first bike as an adult on March 29, 2006.

That's 1,513 consecutive workdays of bike commuting--an average of 216 workdays a year. It would be higher, but bear in mind, I work part-time and currently have a four-day workweek.

Year number eight begins tomorrow.

I didn't set out to do something like this. In fact, I planned all along that when it rained, or got too cold and snowy that I'd take the bus instead. After a while, I learned that rain wasn't an issue. Then (here at Bike Forums) I learned about studded snow tires. Even then I figured there would be some bus action in January and February. I gave myself permission (in fact, I still do) to use the bus if it was too dangerous. Evidently, it hasn't happened yet.

After a while, bike commuting became normal. I didn't even think about it when leaving the house. I'd just grab my bike and go. Still do. Although I sometimes dither over which of the four to ride.

I started out with a bike path hybrid, cargo shorts, cotton t-shirt, ratty old sneakers, and a backpack.

Along the way I dropped the backpack and went with a trunk bag on a rear rack. These days I use panniers twice a week, and don't tote anything but a sandwich and my glasses on the other two days. They fit in a jersey pocket just fine.

After a year of cycling, I bought a cheap, second-hand road bike. By August that second year, I knew what I wanted in an everyday commuter, then found it in a shiny new, old, stock Trek Portland. While the Portland remains my four-seasons, all-conditions commuter, and the bike I'd keep if I could own only one, it's been eclipsed in the favorite ride department by my '96 Litespeed Classic Ti, which I rode to work today, as I do on most non-hauling days.

I was dragged kicking and screaming into wicking wear and finally full-out cycling kit. I just couldn't fathom why someone wouldn't ride in "normal" clothes. It all seemed like costume to me. I learned, slowly, that when you sweat as profusely as I do, kit makes sense. And it comes in hi-viz. After freezing my ass that first winter trying to wear my traditional winter wear, I switched to winter cycling gear the second year. I've never regretted either decision.

Platform pedals fell by the wayside in that first year too. I got tired of bruising my shins and calves when my feet flew off the pedals. Since that first day in clipless, I haven't ridden anything but. And nobody asks, "What happened to you?" when they see my lower legs.

My routing choices changed over time too. I started navigating by bus routes. It was what I was accustomed to from seven years of being a car-free bus rider, and I didn't want to be too far from rescue if something went wrong with the bike. I put that first bike on the bus only once, and the next day I learned how to fix a flat.

Slowly I weaned myself off bus routes and started navigating the same way I would drive. Of course, both bus routes and car routes don't take advantage of the of the best things a bike offers. These days, instead of the shortest, most direct route, I use side streets, parks and the MUP. I ride through the cemetery and the university. I plan which route I want to take, and unless the weather is crappy, it's always a longer, more quiet route.

Hell, tonight I rode home eight miles out of my way in 90F heat with a 75F dewpoint. It was a more funner way to come home, and gave me more time on the bike.

I know, understand, and accept that my experience is not universal, and that my preferences aren't for everyone. But it's worked out just fine for me for seven years now, so I don't feel the need to change.

I'm happy, and looking forward to tomorrow's commute.
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Old 07-17-13, 07:05 PM
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It's been 6 years for me. I started commuting and recreational riding in august of 2007. I didn't even know anything about bikeforums back then. We may have a different taste as to what type of bikes we ride, but other then that,I think a lot of my experiences are very similar to yours... I am still using my toe clips and straps but I am thinking of trying out clipless pedals at least on one of my bikes. As for spandex bike shorts , I do use them but I hide them under my cargo shorts. I went car-free about two years ago, I estimate I ride about 340 days out of the year.
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Old 07-17-13, 08:11 PM
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Very inspirational to hear. Good for you!

I drove to work today for the first time this year. My commute is 9.6 miles one way with little to no shade. Monday my odometer was sowing 107 degrees the whole way to work and I was VERY HOT and worn out when I got there. Today I left on the bike, went about 2 miles and turned around because it was 112. I didn't want to do it again.
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Old 07-17-13, 08:13 PM
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Awesome post, tsl, and congratulations on the milestone! I hope to reach similar goals in the coming years. I will be one year on Oct 1. I converted to spandex and winter athletic gear quicker than you did, but still pedal on platforms freeform. Almost every day is more fun and better in about a hundred ways than driving. With the health benefits, my family and doctor wouldn't let me go back to driving anyways. Congratulations, and keep up the good work!
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Old 07-17-13, 08:33 PM
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Congratulations man! I just started commuting two months ago. I hope I make it as long as you.
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Old 07-17-13, 08:53 PM
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WOW, That's great man...
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Old 07-17-13, 09:12 PM
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Especially impressive doing it year round in Rochester. I have 6 1/2 more years of daily commuting to catch up to you.
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Old 07-17-13, 10:09 PM
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Old 07-17-13, 11:26 PM
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Pretty cool; it's encouraging to hear your narrative.

Although I think you had it easier, since you were a car free bus rider for so long before switching. You had already cured yourself of any automobile addiction. Once you learn how to survive without a car, shifting to another car-free mode has to be the easier shift.

Besides, bikes are so much more fun than buses! Buses are just depressing. I've never had a good experience on a bus.
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Old 07-18-13, 04:51 AM
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Great post tsl, thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-18-13, 05:58 AM
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Very inspirational!
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Old 07-18-13, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
It was a more funner way to come home ...
I read your post with amazement and inspiration until I read this, more funner, that's it, this article is a piece of cr@p!!

Great job, an inspiration to all of us!
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Old 07-18-13, 06:05 AM
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Well done. Keep on pedalin'
"He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 07-18-13, 06:21 AM
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Old 07-18-13, 06:21 AM
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This is really nice to read, on the last 4 days before I start commuting full time by bike. I hope that I can make it as well as you have, it seems like it's really improved your quality of life (which at the end of the day, isn't that what matters?) Keep on riding, and hopefully you'll have some companions on the road with you soon!
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Old 07-18-13, 06:23 AM
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Nice story Rochester man. I have had very similar experiences although I couldn't commute every day due to work assignments. I am not car free but sure have loved my commute for 5 1/2 years now. Having a job that allow that is key and sadly that will come to an end for me very soon and I'm hopeful to find something else that will make commuting feasible for me. At any rate Congratulations it is inspiring for us to hear.
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Old 07-18-13, 06:35 AM
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Congrats, tsl.
You have my respect and admiration. I don't get to commute on my bike every day, but, I make sure that I ride at least three days out of the five.
SWMBO has been trying to get me to take her van lately, because of a couple of local incidents. A Trek Across Maine rider was killed, and last week someone got hit in Augusta, (according to her sister, I haven't heard anything about it in the news) so her worry level has peaked.
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Old 07-18-13, 06:39 AM
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That is extraordinary tsl, a perfect record for seven years!
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Old 07-18-13, 06:40 AM
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This is awesome. And even more awesome with the Rochester weather! Congrats!
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Old 07-18-13, 06:59 AM
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Congratulations! That is very inspirational and impressive...I will think of you next time I decide it's too _______ to ride. Maybe it'll get me to ride...then again maybe not. :-) Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-18-13, 07:01 AM
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Great job! I'm on a year and a half of no driving to work. I could claim 2 years I suppose but I did drive once when I got called in the middle of the night to plow a foot of snow at work. I don't foresee ever going back to driving .
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Old 07-18-13, 07:31 AM
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That's amazing. And a special thanks to you for providing helpful gear and equipment tips to this forum over those seven years.
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Old 07-18-13, 07:36 AM
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Impressive. Congrats. Been commuting for 5 yrs but haven't commuted every workday even for 1 yr.
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Old 07-18-13, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
Especially impressive doing it year round in Rochester.
Yeah, I'd have to say, very impressive.

OP, I'm curious, how long is your commute, typically? What are the extremes of weather you've faced while doing this? What are the three greatest collateral benefits you've received while doing this?

I live about 20 miles from work, and start work pretty early in the morning. Just yesterday I was thinking about how feasible it would be to ride to work, and no matter how I slice it or dice it, it would be a real hassle.

Kudos to the OP for living out the BF mantra: HTFU. I'd say he's doing pretty well.
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Old 07-18-13, 07:54 AM
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Very impressive, tsl. I admire your stamina and perseverance. Like you, I started bike commuting with the intention of riding occasionally and it quickly became my regular mode of transportation. However, I haven't entirely abandoned my car for commuting as there are days when I don't feel safe riding due to weather conditions, I need a rest, or need my car for doctor's appointments, meetings, etc.
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