I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but this year was an exception. I asked for some better cycling gear (used road bike, padded bike shorts) and slowly building myself up to becoming a bike commuter. For someone who often doesn’t have time to work out, there is no better solution that to work out while getting to the places you need to be and biking has been good for my body too (I’ve lost 10 pounds).
I braved several cold rides in January and February (including a few below 20 degrees) that convinced me that I could handle the 9-mile distance from my house to my downtown office. My back up plan has always been to take the bus on rainy days or days where I couldn’t bike, but I’ve even decided to ride in the rain if needed.
By the end of February with the warm embrace of spring nearing, I finally cancelled my parking deck and have gone nearly car free on work commutes since. It has been very liberating and I owe much of that to my family endulging my methods for trying to stay fit while doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint.
Counting all my bike commutes since the first of the year, as of April 24, I finally passed the 1,000-mile mark. It isn’t that significant of a figure, but that round number gave me pause to reflect on this new routine I’ve created for myself.
At least 95 percent of my 1,000 miles have replaced automobile trips — from work commutes to errands. I’ve even made a couple of long-distance rides to explore places I was writin about for my column with the Richmond Times-Dispatch (like 32 miles to Four Mile Creek for a story on the Virginia Capital Trail and 38 miles to Falling Creek Wayside for a story on a new park). I’ve saved approximately $90 in fuel costs, not counting the savings on wear-and-tear on my automobile.
I’ve been averaging more than 100 miles a week for the past five weeks and driving much less. Seeing those miles pile up on my bike has really illustrated to me how quickly the miles can add up when driving. So many of them are easily replaced by walking or biking, it just takes a little effort to make the change. I’m very glad I did. I’ve even started to make new friends!