Anyway...I've decided to dust the ol cobwebs off my blog, and post about something that for once isn't about me (well, kinda), and instead about YOU!
Last July I bought a commuter bike. It was killing me that I was spending over an hour a day on a subway. I had a brief stint as a bike commuter a few years ago on Green Light's infamous Steed (R.I.P.). But when I moved apartments, the Steed did not come with me, so it was back to the subway and $72, then $89, then $104 a month for a Metrocard. I knew that commuting via bicycle would not only save me money in the long run, but even more importantly it would make me a stronger cyclist.
People who think about things believe that 10,000 hours of practice is the key to mastering anything. I figured that an extra hour of cycling at a low intensity (except for ascending the Manhattan Bridge), five days a week, would improve my overall cycling fitness (and maybe like 27 years from now, I can call myself a "master"). While I've only had one race to test this hypothesis (which happened two weeks after getting my commuter bike so this n=1 test is about as useful as n=cat), I can safely say that my pedal stroke and handling have improved a ton over the last nine months. I've envied NSQ and Green Light in the past for their bike prowess, a lot of which I believe is due to the fact that they ride a bike to work. So we'll see what happens this season.
And now some quick math for NSQ:
Cost of bike, necessary accessories, etc: approx. $750
Monthly Metrocard: $104
Average of what I pay for a per-ride Metrocard each month: $25
x = months
750 + 25x = 104x
= It will take me approximately 9.5 months to "pay off" the bike and average Metrocard use vs. buying a monthly Metrocard (which means this April 15th!). Obviously, there's the added PRICELESS fitness benefit as well.
If you're triathlete, you probably have necessary equipment to ride all year (winter cycling or running gear is great to commute in). Seriously, it's really easy to do. I was always apprehensive of showing up to work dirty and sweaty, but if you dress appropriately, you'll be relatively clean by the time you get to work. This is my quick breakdown of temps and clothing:
40 or below: Tights, Windproof jacket, thick-ass gloves
40-50: Tights and base/midlayer, gloves
50-60: Shorts and light longsleeve, gloves maybe
60-70: Shorts and t-shirt
70+: Shorts and singlet
For really hot days, I have some Nathan Power Showers with me to take care of sweat OR dirty hands from changing flats.
So that's it. Instead of over an hour on the subway each day, my average trip to work takes 26-28 minutes (7-9 minutes faster than the subway!), and I get an extra 70 easy miles under my legs each week. YOU CAN TOO! All frivolity aside, it has been a really enjoyable experience thus far. I wholeheartedly encourage it. Finally a few tips:
-Learn a few different routes to/from work. Google maps makes it really easy.
-Never ride the wrong way down a one-way street. It makes everyone else who obeys traffic laws (except for some red lights...) look bad.
-Red lights: It's illegal, but I'll admit to riding through them occasionally. Never trust riding through one however, until you're absolutely sure it's safe and you aren't cutting off any pedestrians who have the right of way.
-Don't take it personally when a car/cab/truck cuts you off. It happens. Get friendly with your brakes. Just because you're in the right, doesn't mean you'll be immune to a cargo van running you over.
-WEAR YOUR DAMN HELMET. If you're too vain to wear one, don't ride a bike. It's that simple.