I’ve been cycling to work since late last year. It’s good, for me and the world. But there are more convenient alternatives, and they tempt. So here’s a little incentive: #Bike2WorkPix. Consider joining in!
The Hashtag · It’s like this: You can autopilot a bike commute; but it’s harder than in a car. You can ignore the world too; but that’s way harder. What’s easier than in a car is to stop and take a picture, and everyone’s got a phone in their pocket, most with good cameras. So I’m gonna try and do that every day I ride, and post it somewhere tagged #Bike2WorkPix. I suggest that my fellow-bikers out there give it a try. Geo-tag the pic if you like. It’ll add less than a minute to your commute.
Ever been on a “photowalk”? It means you head out with the idea of taking pictures. The effect is amazing: you start to see pictures wherever you look. Since I got this idea, I’ve seen lots of opportunities each leg of the commute; but I’m only stopping once per leg. Call it a “photopedal”.
Why bike? · Well, it’s really cheap. You can get a perfectly decent brand-new commuter bike for $500-ish, and spend a whole lot less if you’re willing to take your chances with Craigslist or consignment stores. Or if you want a high-tech ultra-light, you can drop thousands. Bike repairs and maintenance are absurdly cheap. I’ve never driven to this gig, so the competition is $4.20/day on public transit, or $15-ish when I succumb to the temptation of the car-share service.
It turns out my office building has a nice bright heated locked bike room in the basement, which makes the whole proposition more attractive. Yours might too. If it doesn’t, just a little bit of activism might fix that, what with green urbanism being the new hotness.
It’s OK exercise. This US NIH data suggests my 50-minute round-trip is burning less than 400 calories; I’d do better playing softball and a lot better running. On the other hand, I am now meeting NIH’s recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. Also, it’s low-impact. Also, the downhill parts are hella fun. Also, I get to cross a bridge over the ocean. Also, there are lots of attractive women walking, jogging, and biking.
Confession · I don’t bike every day. Factors apply, including temperatures below 5°C, extreme precipitation, icy ground, and a car-share parked right outside. But more days than not I do; and purism about this kind of thing isn’t helpful. I’ll take any help I can get; for example, turning the commute into a photopedal.
Speaking of not being a purist, these photos are dressed up in Lightroom a bit, while sitting on a nice cozy sofa at home.
Associated equipment · My wheels are laughable, a 15-year-old Specialized mountain bike, good in its day. Theft is a threat here in Vancouver but I protect my bike by never having washed it. I could probably get there faster by buying something lighter and newer.
All these pictures are the Nexus 5X, which is just dandy for this purpose, as long as you remember that for low light, you need a Real Camera, or to brace against a solid object. My fave accessory is a pair of Lizard Skin “Monitor” gloves that let me use the phone’s touch-screen to take pix.
Looking forward · So far, this being midwinter, the pix are mostly urban-experience things. But the days grow longer and the sprouts are sprouting; I foresee more nature in this space.
As I write this, the five pix herein are the only ones in the world in #Bike2WorkPix. All aboard!
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Ryan Cousineau (Jan 29 2016, at 10:44)
Good on you for writing up your bike commuting experiences! I like the photo idea.
In terms of the exercise part of cycling, it's a bit like the continuum of moving on foot: you can ride at the equivalent of a walking pace (cycling 15-20 km/h on flat pavement) or at the equivalent of a max-effort run (30-40 km/h for a trained cyclist on a fancy bike, at which point you may be burning nearly 1000 calories/hour). OTOH, after the latter effort, you'll need a shower and a change of clothes, just as if you ran for an hour.
On a 25-minute commute, you probably can't change your time enough to matter by going to a "faster" bike, plus there's the adage that all urban bicycles weigh 40 pounds: a 20-pound bike requires a 20-pound lock to keep it safe, you see.
If cycling is your only activity, the low-impact part is the blessing and the curse. Overuse injuries are rare in cycling (indeed, it's often a rehab sport for injured runners), but it is an imbalanced workout. It's just cardio-and-leg fitness, plus calorie burning. Some kind of impact workout (weights) using the rest of your body would be a good idea.
As it happens, I wrote up a <a href="http://www.douglife.ca/wp/wp-content/themes/Starkers/images/10-266%20bike%20guide.pdf>guide to riding to work</a> [pdf] for Douglas College some years ago, and most of it is not at all specific to the college. There's some things I would change if I wrote it today, but it may still be of interest.
From: dr2chase (Feb 01 2016, at 16:38)
I've decided to go ahead and be a purist; driving to work is far too annoying, and that way I never need to figure out a plan B.
Suggestions for ways to make it easier:
- replace knobby mountain bike tires with modern fat-ish slick-ish tires. Best brand seems to be Schwalbe, get a Big Apple, Big Ben, or Fat Frank in the appropriate size. It should make your commute slightly but measurably faster (it saved enough time on a 10 mile commute to notice, wonder what had happened, and run a rolling resistance experiment. Fat tires have lower rolling resistance at equal pressure-diameter product. Before anyone argues: *I measured*. Did you?)
- In the winter I almost always wear a wind shell over something light and woolen. I can easily overheat in 20F weather.
- good gloves are good. A stocking cap under the helmet is good (wool works, so does stretch polarfleece, Foxwear.net is a great guy in Idaho who sews stretch polarfleece to your measurements for a reasonable price, in a chosen (from menu) color and thickness. Very thin is usually adequate.)
From: dr2chase (Feb 02 2016, at 05:39)
PS: slo-mo video of Driving Philosophers:
One peculiar thing about riding vs video of riding is how inadequate video is. I recognized that for what it was as I was riding past, with no hints, in real time. Running the video at real time you don't really see it, even when told what is coming.
From: Justin (Mar 07 2016, at 02:27)
If you've got a spare 10-15 min, skipping the Cambie bridge and riding around the Seawall is a beautiful detour.