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Why I’m a Bicycle Commuter (Part 2)

by j j
It’s the dead of winter in the dirty south, mid-December 2004, and I had a brand new bicycle. After losing 50 pounds, this was my reward and Christmas present rolled into one. I took my bike home, unloaded it from my truck, pointed it down my driveway and straight across the street to a church parking lot. I rode in a circle one way, then the other, then figure eights, for a solid hour. My butt hurt. I took a break and then rode another 30 minutes. I had read so many articles on bicycles up to now, that I thought I would “feel the acceleration with every push on the pedal”; I didn’t. I was expecting the bicycle to be “an extension of my will, responding to the slightest input on the bars”; it wasn’t.  I had cycled fairly avidly in 1988-90, and that experience was the imprint I was measuring against. I guess I expected to take up where I left off; I couldn’t. I had not forgotten how to ride a bike, but I did lose the ability to ride well. I was actually afraid for a while. I had to re-think this. I’d made a huge commitment, to myself and others. Would I be able to see it through? My butt still hurt, my legs were sore, and even though I rode around a parking lot for an hour and a half, I barely went 6 miles on my odometer. After resting overnight, I felt good enough to ride again the next day. This time I ventured beyond the parking lot. I was taking stock while I rode.
  1. I really wanted to be a cyclist. I could envision my lifestyle transforming into that role. 
  2. Although I had second thoughts, I knew I could do this. 
  3. Knowing what I wanted, and knowing I could do it, it really just boiled down to whether I would.
Would I commit? Really? Moment of truth… There on the second ride of my second birth into cycling, I committed to myself that I would incorporate cycling into my life. Cycling is more than transportation, its transformation. I truly wanted to be transformed. From a spectator to a participant, from a viewer to a doer. I was tired of watching other guys have all the fun. I longed to be active and healthier, to get involved in activities that didn’t involve a TV. At the same time, I knew I would need to eat healthier, plan my day a little better to enable a daily commute, and on top of that, do a few exercises to add a little core muscle. Wow – that’s just some of the personal good that being a cyclist would bring me.
Once I began commuting, I realized I how enjoyable it is to cruise through suburbia at 7:00 AM and smell the bacon and eggs, the coffee, the fireplaces in the winter and fresh grass in the summer. I can smell dinners cooking in the late afternoon rides home, sometimes there will be a grill going and the aroma of barbecue fills the air. I found that by riding my bike to work I get a better buzz than any caffeine can give. I am clearer thinking, fresher feeling and in a better mood than when I drive a car. By riding my bike home, I can process my day, plan for tomorrow, and get an afternoon pick-me-up with that won’t keep me up all night. I have even found urban riding to be challenging and fun, and strangely enough, enjoyable. Just riding anytime is fun, but riding with a purpose, going to work or on an errand, is a very satisfying feeling. I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and I have. 
Some guys may commute by bike for the benefit of the environment and all mankind, but I guess I’m more selfish than that. I need a convenient way to workout and skip the gym. I want to feel good in my body and my soul. I want to be healthy and stick around to see my grandchildren grow up. I want to grow really, really old with my wife, and never need a wheelchair and oxygen. I want to see the look on my future great-grandchildren’s faces when I buy them all new bicycles in the year 2036.
(Coming next – Part 3 – How I Commute)
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4 Responses to “Why I’m a Bicycle Commuter (Part 2)”

  1. jenna says:

    Hello-what type of bike did you use? I would like to get one for my husband for the same reasons as you have one. His frame is larger as well.

  2. Always nice to read inspirational stories such as this. Hopefully the word continues to get out that bicycling is the way to save the world.


  3. » Needed Inspiration says:

    […] o ride to work. Fortunately John LaPierre had written an article in Commute by bike that inspired me to ride my b […]

  4. Moe says:

    So I woke up late this morning, my legs and my derriere were sore from yesterday’s ride, not in the mood to ride to work. First thing I do in the morning is check the site, I read your article and it really got me inspired to ride my bike to work. Thanks John.


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