Be Happy! Bike to work.

Recently I started to bike to work. I decided to do so because of the lack of exercise I get throughout the day. Hard to jog when your hackin all day long. ;) What I found was that biking completely changed my daily routine and altered my mood more than I expected. It became more than just the exercise. It became meditation that relieved a lot of stress about work and helped me to really dig in and focus when I did get to work.

Madison’s bike paths are nicely laid out.

My schedule has changed

Biking to work means that my commute is now 45 minutes instead of 15 in the car. I have to get up a bit earlier to pack up my gear and hit the road so that I can get to work on time. This means I need to go to sleep earlier. Because of this I’m not sitting on the computer later at night, mindlessly browsing reddit. Waking up earlier has made me feel far more accomplished by 11 in the morning than I was all day before! The best part is that infuriating 15-20 minute commute is no longer part of my day.

I have an hour and a half to meditate during the day

Biking doesn’t require that much thinking but the physical effort involved causes me to forget about what ever was bothering me. Believe me, you aren’t thinking about that nasty bug when you’re trying to climb Old Sauk Rd. I also throw some head phones in and jam out to my favorite tunes. Make sure to keep the volume low enough to hear cars around you but it lightens my mood even more. Also, being out in nature really has a great affect on the psyche. I saw 3 turkeys in the middle of Madison this morning!

Update:  There has been quite a bit of criticism about the fact that I wear head phones. I understand it is dangerous and don’t want anyone to get hurt. If you are in a busy city with cars that can kill you or other bikers that you can injure, don’t wear headphones.

I burn 1000 more calories a day

According to my bike tracking app, MapMyRide, I burn anywhere from 400-500 calories one way. This means I can eat just that much more bacon! This higher level of exercise has also made me feel much better, physically. Biking feels a lot less like exercise than going to the gym; unless you are going up said hill.

I feel more determine after work

When you drive to work (sitting down), hack codes all day (sitting down), drive back home (sitting down) sometimes it’s hard to get much motivation to do much of anything after work. You’re used to freakin sitting down! Well working in exercise right after work changed my attitude and I have found that I’m much more apt to actually do something productive that is not on the computer. Although this has led to less blog posts it has led to my basement getting closer to completion. ;)

Tools of the trade

A Bike – I ride a Trek something or other. It was nothing fancy. I spent 300 dollars like 5 years ago. It’s a hybrid. It’s kind of nice because I can off-road it if I need to but I think I would opt for a road bike if I had to do it again.

A helmet – No brainer! Especially if you aren’t wearing one. You can pick one up for 30 bucks and they look rad. You’ll look almost as cool as you would with a motorcycle helmet.

Google Maps can now map out bike routes in your city. Just press directions and then select the bike Madison is very biker friendly and I’ve found a route that has a bike path or lane the entire way.

Some bike trails in near west Madison.

MapMyRide – This is an awesome app. I just hit the record button and my GPS turns on and tracks exactly where I’m going. It keeps track of pace, elevation, and route. It then overlays it on some nifty maps and graphs when you’re done. You can set goals and save tracks to test yourself.

 Spotify Mobile – I didn’t realize that Spotify Radio on mobile is free. You won’t be able to play your playlists or starred tracks but you’ll be able to jam tunes the entire ride.

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22 Responses to “Be Happy! Bike to work.”

  1. David K says:

    Great post. I love that your graph on MapMyRide shows you going faster on that huge elevation increase. You must really start sprinting when you see that hill.

  2. Peter says:

    Check out the Strava app for your smartphone! I found other cyclists doing the same commute as me with it, and I also just like it remembering my route and keeping track of everything, instead of me.

  3. matt says:

    Next stop – not going by the shortest route.

    Good luck, v. happy you found cycling. It has changed my life too.

  4. Hi, I had similar experience but with walking. I recently moved away from my own flat and I started walking to work instead of driving. My friends can’t believe it but I am sure I am feeling far better now. It’s strange how such a simple thing as walking can make your life much more enjoyable.

    Best, Nikola

  5. Great action & your post is inspiring (we’ve linked to it here: http://didthis.com/bikecommute.
    We want to spread those on DidThis.
    (this is the embed code for people who want to show they did it too & that you get the stats back of who did what you recommended doing:
    )
    Cheers!

  6. Dan Voell says:

    Heck Yea! I just started biking to work about a month ago as well. The difference is amazing. Now I bike other places which I wouldn’t have considered biking to in the past. My change in attitude and health is much greater than any sort of cost savings associated with biking, and I am saving quite a bit.

  7. Dinesh says:

    Also it enforces healthier food habits like drinking a lot more water and fruit juices instead of coffee and what not :)

    You might find this little thing really useful :
    http://www.flipkart.com/amzer-83818-universal-bicycle-handlebar-mount/p/itmd6zd3hr8ysjjj

  8. Brian says:

    @ Dinesh “Also it enforces healthier food habits like drinking a lot more water and fruit juices instead of coffee and what not ”

    1) Fruit juice is not healthy. It is jut sugar water. Better off drinking water over fruit juice.
    2) Coffee is very healthy. Black coffee has very close to 0 calories, and has been shown in quite a few studies to have long term health benefits.

  9. Max says:

    Hello to a fellow Madisonian!

    I also started biking to work. I commend you for having the guts to bike that far, it’s a long ride from the west side!

    • Peter C says:

      Hey another Madisonian here! I happen to cross Old Sauk Rd. on my commute which is either biking or running. Good to see another biker on hackerne.ws!

  10. Note that a helmet is mostly only a necessity if you’re going really fast and have a reasonable risk of tipping right over your front wheel. Helmets are great for impacts straight on the top of your head like diving head-first into a wall or having a branch fall out of a tree. It doesn’t help when tipping over or getting hit in the side by a car.

    Only point I want to make: treating a helmet as a necessity *for everyone* makes cycling look dangerous. Who’d send his kid out biking when it is visibly so dangerous? The biggest safety measure is more bikes on the road, which you don’t get when everyone wears helmets even when unnecessary.

    “But why not take a precaution when possible?” Well, wear a helmet when driving your car. It is risk-wise more useful there!

    • Matt says:

      I do a lot of charity rides and I can guaruntee you a helmet is required. I watched a guy in high traffic (cycle traffic, huge ride) come to a stop and have trouble getting his feet out of the clips. Ended up falling over and cracking his helmet. Could have been his head.

      And your analogy is reduculous. Cars have seat belts and air bags and other safety features. Safety ratings are a huge selling point too.

  11. Paul says:

    This is a great post. I have been meaning to do the same thing. I hate feeling so tired all the time with my lack of exercise. I need to step it up. I have a mountain bike and I’m looking to ditch it for a sweet road bike.

  12. Bill says:

    Don’t worry about the headphones. You still hear much more than the average drivers in a car with the windows closed. http://rideons.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/an-ear-on-the-traffic/ (finding a 8 to 10 decibel difference favoring the bicyclist).

  13. Great tips on switching to a bike commute. I am working on that myself. The only issue is the humidity in Iowa summers. I’m a sweaty mess by the time I get into the office.

    Re: headphones. It is dangerous, especially while commuting. I’ve started using my Jambox with a bike mount to listen to tunes and podcasts on my bike. I just stream via my iPhone bluetooth and throw my phone in my pack. http://www.amazon.com/Jambox-bicycle-scooter-motorcycle-mounting/dp/B0091T64GA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345822061&sr=8-1&keywords=casesimple

  14. @Brian:
    What about all the vitamins and antioxidants in fruit juice?

    @Reinout
    I know of a lot of cyclists who were saved because they were wearing a helmet, many who were hit in the side by a car. Research into the safety of helmets is actually inconclusive one way or the other (some studies insist that they do more harm than good; others are the opposite). While I agree that making them mandatory is an idiotic approach (the number of cyclists in Melbourne dropped significantly when they made cycle helmets a legal requirement), I do think that people should opt into wearing a helmet if they are doing a significant amount of riding. While I never wore one as a kid, I wear one all the time now (except for the very shortest of rides).

    I’d actually suggest that sunglasses are a more important safety requirement than helmets, especially if you are riding a long a cycle path with trees and hedges along the edge, the number of times I’ve almost lost an eye from wayward branches…

  15. Daniel says:

    I agree biking to work is much more relaxing than driving and a lot less expensive. I also wear headphones while biking. I don’t think it is a problem with safety. I wear the kind that hook over the ear, so I can still hear ambient noises like a car behind me without any problem. Thanks for the article.

  16. kikito says:

    I’d like to know how you handle personal hygiene.

    Do you have a shower at your office? Do you change clothes when you get to the office?

    • adamdriscoll says:

      Hey Kikito,

      I usually bring a change of clothes and shower at the office. I just leave some stuff I’m my cube at work do i don’t have to carry so much.

  17. Hi.

    I live in Copenhagen, and here commuting by bike is something everybody does. Exercise really gives you extra energy, and by using it as transport you optimize your time. My bike recently broke which had me wonder whether I could just run to and from work. It’s just excelent. Every other day I run to work which is 45 minutes of exercise each way. Last week I peaked at 76km, most of which was done during time already reserved for commuting. My biggest problem is that cars and bicycles don’t expect fast paced pedestrians and I have to make sure they have noticed me.

    It’s good to hear that commuting by bike is becomming popular.

    -Rune

  18. James says:

    Love biking to work! Its green, free, its healthy and gets you in a good mood in the morning rather than being crammed like sardines in public transport

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