By Pat Jak
Having trouble getting in all of that cardio training you need? Think again, your answer may be found in something you do every day.
May is a great month. The middle of Spring, hint of Summertime just around the corner. Baseball is picking up and the NBA finals are approaching. We celebrate our Mother’s, our military, and … the bicycle? May is National Bike Month and on the 15th cycling enthusiasts specifically celebrate Bike to Work Day.
But why commute by bike once a year? Why not try it more? I recently started commuting to work again and it sounds crazy but it has added so much to my life. If you’re like me, you work hard. Hours of sessions, meetings, paperwork, and projects take up the majority of your day. And when you finally get home, your family beckons. How can you possibly get in those weekly hours of cardio you know you need? Well, just a half hour to work and a half hour home gives me a total hour of cardio exercise each day, gives me a boost of energy that carries me through the day, and saves the cost of fuel not to mention the time it takes standing around the pump.
Commuting four days a week gives me four hours of cardio. The funny thing is that half hour is the same time it takes me to drive to work. Suddenly I find four hours I can dedicate to something else. What would you do if you were given an extra four hours each week? Beyond my own exercise, finances, and fitness, I also know I’m doing a little bit extra to reduce my carbon footprint.
- I save 1 gallon of gasoline each day I commute. In a year that’s over 200 gallons.
- I save about 10-15 pounds of CO2 from our atmosphere each day I commute. Over a ton in a year!
- I save space. Eighteen bicycles can fit in a car’s parking space.
If more of us did this, just think where we would be in the fight to save our planet?
But the bike commute is also my time. The few minutes each day that I have with no cell phone buzzing, no texting, no radio, no computer, no television. Just me, gliding down the road with fresh air on my face. I value this time.
So for about an hour each day I know I am accomplishing the best kind of multi-tasking. I get in my cardio training. I get my quiet time away from electronics. I get some fresh air. I’m helping my pocketbook and doing my part for the environment. To borrow a slogan from the automaker I replaced…”Who could ask for anything more?” Get interested in commuting to work by bike. Here are some helpful tips to get you rolling:
- Check with your employer as to availability of showers, lockers, and a secure area for stowing your gear.
- Get your bike in good working condition.
- KEEP your bike in good working condition. Check the tires regularly for any cuts or nicks. Replace parts that wear such as tires, tubes, chains, and gears. The cost of this replacement is nothing compared to the cost of regular maintenance to an automobile.
- Question your mechanical fortitude? Schedule a simple bike mechanics course. Many local communities and even bike shops offer this service.
- Test ride several routes so you can determine the fastest and easiest.
- If you think you’re too far away, think again, more cities have public transportation with bike racks. This can drastically shorten your commute all while still saving your pocketbook and our environment.
- Give yourself enough time to not only ride to your destination but to change clothes and freshen up a bit.
- If you leave or return in the dark, invest in a good light (NiteRider and Cat Eye make some of the brightest and most reliable lights I’ve seen).
- Plan ahead by packing your gear the night before.
- Pick at least one day each week to drive and use that opportunity to shuttle your clothes and even food (makes your daily ride load much lighter).
- If shoulders and back are a concern, invest in a set of saddle bags or paniers which can easily click to your frame.
- Check the weather (sites like Weather.com and Intellicast.com are great to not only give you the temperature but animated radar loops of any precipitation).
Give it a try. You may find it suits you, gives you an energy boost, and saves you time and money.
See you on the road!