Ok folks, I'm ready to make it public: Mark and I are becoming bike commuters this year.
We have ridden to school almost every day for the first two weeks and we are loving it so far.
We feel stronger and healthier. We feel good about spending fewer dollars on gas* and putting fewer pollutants into the air. And it's FUN.
The trip is 3 miles one way. There are some gentle hills, but nothing terribly steep. It's kind of a no-brainer.
The best thing (so far) is that we feel ourselves getting stronger every day. Literally. Every day we are a little less out of breath. At first my knee was bothering me, but not now. We get to school in the morning, and I am just glowing and full of energy. I love it so much!
A few things we've learned already:
1. We must allow more time. Duh. The trip takes 10 minutes by car and 20-25 minutes by bike. Yesterday morning we left the house in the nick of time, only to discover that one of my tires was flat. Mark fixed it and then he forgot his helmet and had to go back. By that point we were only 20 minutes away from being late and I was about to climb in the car, but Mark said he thought we could make it. And we did! We pulled into the school 22 minutes after leaving the house - only two minutes late. But really, we have to allow ourselves a little extra time.
2. Construction sucks. The most obvious route to school, down the main thoroughfare of Molalla Avenue, is under construction for the next couple of months. Torn-up asphalt and patches of gravel are no fun. It's worth it to us to take the "back route" through the middle school and the parking lot of the Presbyterian church, even though it's about 1/2 mile longer that way.
3. The best ride is in the morning. Overall it's more down hill (see the maps above). We have more energy, the roads are quieter, and the sunrises are gorgeous. See below. 'Nuff said.
4. You have to think about your clothing. I made it to school in a long skirt one day this week. Pulled my rain pants up over them for the morning ride. On the way home it was too warm for the rain pants so I "kilted" my skirt by bringing the back hem up between my knees and clipping it to the front of my shirt. Voila! Long baggy shorts.
Then I found this video called "Penny in Your Pants." I think I'll be able to wear lots of skirts!
It's starting to get chillier in the mornings. Today we commented to each other that it won't be long before we need to wear gloves. And maybe something to keep the neck warm.
We haven't had to ride through rain yet. But we know it's coming. We'll see how we do on that day, but for now we are feeling positive and happy about our new commuting style.
5. We're both happy with our bikes. I'm riding the 5-speed green Schwinn bike that my parents gave to me on my 17th birthday. Mark is riding the commuter bike he bought a few years ago, with a comfier seat and new (old school) handlebars.
*So far the money we have saved on gas is more than offset by the money we are spending. New seat and handlebars for Mark. New tubes in both bikes. New headlights and some flashy little gizmos for our spokes. It will take us a little while to recoup our bike investments. But if you add in saved gym memberships, saved time for workouts, and saved time by not being sick, it is WAY more than worth it.