Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Confessions of a (re)new(ed) bike commuter

Riding along the lagoon on the Bayway route (in Brisbane)
When I returned from my 9-week leave from work in March, I felt powerfully motivated to stay active and not return to the awful, work-dominated sedentary routine that I'd fallen into during the last few years. These words from the SF2G website* suddenly resonated:

An hour in traffic and an hour at the gym. Everyday. We've got something more fun in mind.
Skip the Traffic. Skip the Gym. Add Joy.

Commuting with a crowd, in San Francisco on Bike To Work Day

I hadn't always had a car-focused commute. In fact, I commuted primarily by bike for almost ten years living in big cities back East, and I walked or rode to work or school for another 8 years or so.  It is only the last ten years or so that I've slipped into the car-dominated commute. And despite the best efforts of my cycle-commuting boyfriend, I'd stubbornly refused to ride to work.

Tunnel Road with San Bruno Mountain looming ahead. Yes, this is still in SF, but only just.
 After my 9-week leave from work, though, my excuses kind of faded away.  The first week back to work, I headed out with Dan and SF2G and rode down the peninsula to work.  And I've maintained the routine, riding 2-3 times a week.

Climbing San Bruno Mountain on the way to work. Ooof doing this with a backpack full of clothes and work stuff.
 I generally take a relatively flat, direct route in (about 12 miles), but occasionally I've been riding in over my favorite local mountain, San Bruno Mountain. This adds another 9 or so miles and 1000 feet of climbing.

Oyster Point marina
  My route is about half urban, and about half suburban roads and bike path. The last 2 miles or so by the Bay is my favorite. Mostly, I ride by myself, but I occasionally ride in with a co-worker or with SF2G. 

Grittier portion of the commute, with SF2G on BTWD
 The benefits of bike commuting have been enormous, and I'm not just talking about the exercise aspect though I've been riding 30-45 miles a week through the commute. I really love the ride, even the gritty urban portion of it. So, yay JOY.  My back and knees feel better with the regular exercise and I notice an increased ability to handle stress at work on days where I've ridden in. And, I'm out of the car several days a week.

I'm working on riding more day a week, but some work logistics have interfered with this so far (mostly, the need to have bulky work stuff at home or very early morning meetings). But, I'm still pretty pleased with how it's been going.  And a big thank you to Dan for urging me to ride to work and even carrying my lead-brick-like laptop in for me on occasion.

*per the SF2G website: Loosely organized and tightly knit, SF2G is a group of cyclists in the Bay Area that commutes from San Francisco down the Peninsula to Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and all parts in-between. Membership is granted by showing up. Satisfaction is granted by the mile. 

Dan rides with this group a few times a week (getting him a ~50 mile commuter ride in the am). I've joined them a few times on their slower no-drop monthly intro ride.


Charlie said...

You have nice pics! I started riding my bike thinking only about the traffic, but now I can't stop riding anymore! It's an amazing exercise and I keep saving so much money!! Everybody should try for a month just to see how good it is!

helena said...
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djconnel said...

Very nice blog post!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting into a bike commute routine that you love. That's the key to making it stick. Do you ride home in the evening too? If so, don't you get a nasty headwind. That's the downside of a nice bayside ride.

NadiaMac said...

In the evening, I've been taking the company bus back to the city, then riding about two miles home. The intense afternoon wind and Cesar Chavez interchange traffic situation are the deterrents for the pm ride. Still, I end the day with a little ride, including several blocks of steep climbing.