We asked Nick James of New York City to share his commuting story with us and below you’ll come to see that this guy is hooked!
Since you asked…
It’s hard to live in New York City and not be at least marginally aware of the bike culture flourishing here. In September of 2005, after months of debating, I bought my first new bike: a Dahon Jack full-size folder. I wanted a full-size bike, but I needed it to store easily in the small Astoria apartment I share with my wife. I bought it with the intention of taking it into work maybe once or twice a week, almost as a novelty, but I bought it probably with more intention to have it than to use it. I took it into work and back a few times (a 15-mile round-trip commute from Astoria to Chelsea), but around November, I put it away for the winter.
In late December, the local news began covering the contract dispute between the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Transit Workers Union, and the possibility of a strike by subway and bus operators. A lot of friends and co-workers were confident that the strike wouldn’t happen, but I wanted to be prepared. On Monday, December 19th, I put on several layers of clothing and some cold weather gear, hopped on my bike, and rode to work. Having proved to myself that I was capable, I concluded that I was prepared for a strike. The next day, the strike was on.
Biking in sub-freezing weather proved easier than I had expected. I anticipated burning wind, icy roads, numb extremities, and other unpleasantries, but learned over a few days of trial and error some of the basic do’s and donts of winter biking, the most important of which was not to overdress, which I did at the start. I also found, somewhat to my surprise, that I enjoyed it. Since you guys at CbB have done a fine job cataloging all the joys of commuting by bike, I won’t waste my time listing them. I expect we’re all very familiar with them. Suffice it to say that they were new to me.
The transit strike lasted only four days, but it gave me a new resolve. When one transportation option was taken away, I was forced to find another, and the alternative turned out to be the preferable option. So, when the trains started running again, I didn’t get on, and I don’t regret it. Commuting by bike has made me stronger, faster, leaner and smarter. It’s burned my lungs, strained my knees, torn my rotator cuff, and toughened me up in a hundred little ways. My wife sure likes what it’s done to my butt. My co-workers, who at first were impressed and confused, have come to accept it as normal, even to the point of buying bikes and riding to work themselves. Now, having started in the dead of winter, I’m looking forward to the warm weather and sunshine that most cyclists consider “biking season.”
I don’t think there’s anything difficult or special about what I did. Lots of people bike more than 75 miles in a week, and I’m no athlete. Make anything a part of your daily routine and you stop seeing it as a challenge.
I encourage anyone still debating their options to try it out. If it’s not possible, you’ll know, but you might surprise yourself.
Thanks for sharing Nick! Keep Riding. If you’re interested in sharing your story, feel free to contact us and do what Nick did, write a little story and send us some pics.