Two Wheels Good; Four Wheels Bad

(With apologies to George Orwell)

I got a new job in 2014, and a new lifestyle to go along with it. My new office is located on the north side of Old Town Fort Collins, a little more than five miles from our house. Almost immediately I started scheming about how I could ride my bike to work.

My first ride was on March 17. I used my “city bike”. This was a bike that Dorinna had bought me for Father’s Day a few years ago to haul Nate and the Burley trailer around town. Riding started slow as I just wasn’t equipped, physically or mentally, for riding in cold weather. It took a month before I rode three times in a single week, and then slowly increased from there. I hit my stride on May 8. At that point I stopped using the car entirely to get to my office.

In the middle of the summer, I decided that I was riding enough to justify a new bike. I bought a Trek 7.4 FX, which weighed nine pounds less and had 3x gears as my old bike. I thought this would make my rides easier, but I ended up riding faster to compensate, so it evened out.

One nice thing that helped my commuting was the opening of the MAX Rapid Transit System. This is a bus system that runs north-south through Fort Collins. On days with an afternoon rainstorm, it could cut my commute from 5 miles to 1.5. It was free for an introductory period, and now costs $1.25, which is well worth it to avoid a downpour. The MAX became my storm insurance policy.

Once I was riding to work every day, I started riding elsewhere as well. The gym, the pool, shopping errands. Day or night, I started riding my bike everywhere.

An interesting thing happens when you ride your bike on a daily basis. Although the mileage for every day isn’t high, it adds up. Starting every day with a short ride means starting every day with a tiny shot of endorphins. The impact on my mood was measurable and welcome.

As the weather grew colder and darker, I bought a better bike light and warmer bike gloves. In the second week of November, Fort Collins was gripped with cold below zero and a covering of snow. My riding to work streak, which had started over six months earlier, had finally come to an end.

I wasn’t happy about that end though, so a week later I took my old commuter bike and installed snow tires on it- snow tires with metal studs for better grip. The bike was renamed the “Winter Soldier”. My experiences in late December and early January have proven its utility- it does great on packed snow and even ice. I haven’t ridden as consistently in the winter as I did in the summer- the bike is heavy, and if its super icy I’m afraid of cars sliding into me. But it’s usually great to make the short trip to the MAX station.

My riding habits have become a lifestyle, and will carry me through 2015 and hopefully beyond.

Some Bicycle Statistics for 2014

  • Total Mileage: 1307 (Lifetime high)
  • Number of Days Riding: 132
  • Number of Commutes: 104
  • Lowest Mileage Month (after starting in earnest): November, 60
  • Highest Mileage Month: June, 211

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