Bike Commuting

by Dianne Koch

 

Spring is finally here after a brutal six weeks of winter from mid-January to the end of February.  March was colder than normal but spring finally started showing itself by the middle of the month.  I was back commuting to Senior High School where I work by March 18th.

This is the tenth year I’ve been commuting to school. My self-imposed rules are simple: 1) no wet, icy, or snowy streets; and 2) it has to be above 20 degrees including the windchill.  I live 1.9 miles from school, so I scouted out the flattest route because my bookbag can easily add another 5-10 pounds of weight. I live south of Washington Middle School, so Grandview is easy. But since Grandview narrows after Allison-Henderson Park, I take Custer Street for a block, and then Auburn, Delaware, and Avoca. I come back to Grandview at the Avoca-Rosedale corner, go up to Clarke Drive, and ride over to the Nora Parking Lot bike racks.

I use my only bike, a Trek 2.1 Women’s Specific Design 2009 model. I wear my regular clothes but I do use ankle biter Velcro straps to keep my pants legs from getting greasy or eaten by the gears.

I lock my bike to the rack via a large U-clamp lock that I keep on the school rack. I carry in my helmet, bike straps, headband, front light, and bike computer to store in my classroom during the day.

In cold weather, defined as windchill below 35 degrees, I wear my winter coat and a headband under my helmet. To be honest, I am warmer biking than riding in my car where the heater takes forever to warm up. Between 35-50 degrees, I usually go with a spring jacket but keep the headband.

In addition, I invested in strong head and rear (USB rechargeable) lights to cut through the dark mornings and be visible to other motorists.

My pedals have a dual combination function where they clip on one side and are flat on the other side.  Initially designed as trainer pedal for those transitioning to clip pedals, these work perfectly for commuting.  I can wear regular shoes to work using the flat side and flip it around when I am using my clips for longer recreational rides.

Regarding weather, I check weather reports for 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. If either time has a 70% prediction of rain or higher, I drive. But with anything less than that, I’ve beaten the odds for the most part.  Okay, I’ve gotten a bit wet a couple of times on my way home but not soaked.  Not bad for ten years of bike commuting from March to December. The wind is really the most aggravating factor, but most days are joyful riding days.

As Bike-to-Work Week is coming May 13-19th, it is a good time to consider riding one, two, or maybe all five days. Making it a priority was easy for me, and it’s turned into a great healthy habit; it impresses the high school kids (so I literally have “street credibility”), it efficiently uses 17-18 minutes of time exercising every day that I would normally be sitting in the car, and it racks up the miles. I gain nearly 20 miles per week riding from mid-March to early December.

Consider biking or walking to work to create a new habit that can truly be rewarding. Feel free to contact me at diannekoch@msn.com if you have any questions regarding bike commuting.

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