Bike to Work Week: One Man’s Love Affair with Cycling

Bike to Work Week

Cycling Around the World

I have a long love story with cycling.

I started cycling at a young age back in Mexico, like many other kids in my neighborhood. But it wasn’t until I was 15 that I took it as one of my passions, and I became part of my home state cycling team.

I loved cycling because it gave me that sense of adventure, going places where I hadn’t been before in a way that not many people would go. I used to cycle what was called “Around the World”, a ride from Guadalajara to the Riviera de Chapala lake and back, it was a 130km ride with some big hills.

I cycled all the way through my early 20s…then marriage, then kids, and work, stress, etc. These new pressures didn’t help to keep me in shape, which seems to be a very common story! I was still cycling occasionally, but I wasn’t committed.

One of the things that I love about living in Vancouver is the number of cyclists and the infrastructure in place. When I moved here in April 2009 I felt like it was the perfect place to reconnect with cycling.

I remember coming to work (from Main and 41st) during the first week of work, it was fantastic, it was Springtime, the perfect time of the year to ride a bicycle.

But it was hard to be consistent. I was used to riding in fair weather back in sunny Mexico, but not in the rainy and cold Vancouver weather!

It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally made a commitment to myself that I would achieve my goal: to ride 5,000 kms before year-end. It seemed impossible at the time.

Mental Roadblocks

Cycling in Vancouver in the Spring
Cycling in Vancouver in the Spring

For all of us, there are always things that ‘come up’ to take us off course: family obligations, internal obstacles, etc. At the end of the day it’s all mental, we set ourselves up to fail or succeed.

During the wintertime, for example, when I leave home all the ride is at night and most of it with rain and cold. Today, I don’t think about the obstacles, the rain or the cold, I just go. I know that once I’m out, I enjoy it.

So by midway through 2010, motivation had kicked in, making things easier. I was starting to lose weight and get fit…and all that while I was going to work, something I had to do anyway.

I ended 2010 having exceeded my goal with 5,116kms ridden, and then again the next year, in 2011, I also rode over 5,000kms!

Now, in 2012, I’ve decided to make it a little bit more challenging, I’m not keeping track of how far I cycle, but I’m riding a single speed, fixed gear bicycle, that makes all the hills really fun.

I’m really enjoying it! And there are lots of great reasons to keep it up.

Why Cycling? And Why Bike to Work Week?

Cycling has many benefits.

Not only has cycling helped me to get back in shape doing something I love, it has had an impact on how I deal with stress and it’s good for the environment.

I think I set a good example to my 3 kids. Today when I get home, I have the energy I need to spend with my family. No additional gym time is required.

And I save money due to rising gas prices!

I am a big advocate of cycling, not only because I see the benefits for myself, but also for my family and my community…less cars, less traffic, less pollution, less stress.

Here are some average statistics from my commute; my round-trip is around 38kms a day;

  • Commuting by car: Time 1.5hrs. Cost – $200/month.
  • Commuting by bus/skytrain: Time 2hrs. Cost – $100/month
  • Commuting by bike: Time 1.5hrs – 2hrs. Cost – Free once you get the bike. 😀

Try Cycling Yourself! Here’s How.

For those thinking about cycling to work I would recommend a few things.

  1. Get your bike tuned up, there’s nothing worse than having problems with your bike while riding it.
  2. If you don’t have a bike, buy the best bike you can afford, don’t go to the big box stores. Go to your local shop, have a budget in mind, and they should be able to help you out.
  3. Get to know your route to work. Google Maps has the option to show the best route for a bike. Find the route with less traffic.
  4. Don’t stress yourself! Take it easy at the beginning…you can try it once a week and increase your rides from there once you’re comfortable.
  5. Always wear a helmet. They look good on everyone, in their own way.
  6. Take your time, enjoy the view, stop at the local shops along the way.

Case in point, last Friday during rush hour I was able to stop at an antique shop on my way to my house and picked up a really nice old fly fishing rod without having to battle to find a parking spot…

What about you? What got you into cycling? Do you cycle to work or for pleasure or both?

Or, if you’re not cycling yet but are thinking about it, what’s holding you back? Someone might be able to offer some great advice to help.

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