commutes

#10000milesin2018: Month Five Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 4166 miles. . . My mileage: 4204  (WOOHOO!!)

Goal by end of June/halfway through 2018 = 5,000!

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 295

This month we would like to feature Tom A. from Longmont, CO, one of the #10kin2018 members. I ran into Tom, a former client, and his wife while out on a ride over the weekend.

Current Mileage: 4,202

How long have you been a cyclist?

I have enjoyed cycling in one form or another most of my life.  My wife, Nanette, and I started using cycling for fitness about 10 years ago.  At the urging of friends, I purchased a modern road bike in 2012. 

The road bikes have opened up so many new opportunities to ride and meet new people.

How did you find out about the challenge?

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I believe I first heard about Megan's 10,000 mile challenge from her Twitter feed.  It sounded crazy. I hesitated, but then decided I would go for it in order to get in shape for summer.

Good weather and good health this spring allowed me to get a good jumpstart on the goal.

Why did you decide to join the challenge?

The Strava 10K mile in 2018 challenge came at a good time for me.  It provided additional incentive to get our there and get in shape for the Ride the Rockies this June. 

How have you incorporated commuting by bike/getting in the miles for the challenge into your daily life?

Nanette and I have worked the bike rides into our daily lives.  We ride for short errands, shopping and to meet ups with our daughters & grandsons. 

I end up with a lot of short mileage rides.  I commute to work when the roads are dry. I take a lunch ride with friends whenever I can.

What are the benefits to riding your bike/joining the challenge?

I find starting the day with a bike ride to work kick starts my brain activity! I really miss it when I am unable to get my morning ride.

#10000milesin2018: Month Three Update

Total Miles to Date: 2353 (Yes, doggone it, I'm still behind -but close to catching up!)

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 277 members – It’s not too late to join the group. We have had more people join in on the fun since our last update.

At the beginning of March, some of our members shared their mileage to date. Several had already reached 1,666 miles or were close to being on target:

*John O’Neill from Allenstown, Pennsylvania – 2,219 miles

*Bart De Lepeleer from Guía de Isora, Canarias, Spain – 1,932

Challenges: I tackled too many work/personal life projects all at once in March and found myself putting rides on the back burner (sounds like February?) as these projects would ramp up ...  There were a few days my back was really bothering me and I had to skip rides then as well.  

Highlights: I rode my bike to amazing performances, including: Yamato Drummers, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, and a spring training game (Giants vs Cubs).  In addition I perfected my bike commute to get more dog food, to load up on groceries at Sprouts, and even to pick up a freshly-steamed suit jacket!  

March also featured several really big mileage group rides, where we enjoyed amazing views, roads, and experiences-  zero flats, zero issues with motorists, only 100% fun and great conversation too! 

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  How do you motivate yourself each month to meet your end goal of 10,000 miles?

When I set a goal I set it with the intention of seeing it through.  As frustrated as I have been at times to fall behind- so rapidly after just a few days off the bike - It fires me up even more to go out and tackle some big rides to catch back up!  This is not the kind of goal where you can leave it to the end of the year to try and play catch up -the months of November and December won't be the time to make up miles! So I am fired up now, this spring, to get on top of the miles and stay on track as summer approaches! 

Need an extra push for the month of April?  It's #30daysofbiking month -where the movement encourages participants to ride their bike every day -regardless of distance!  Give it a shot!  

How to Plan Your Commute Route: A Guest Post

A guest post by our Bike Ambassadors member, Marieke! 

Route planning tips for bike commuting

Planning your bike commuting route can be challenging. When commuting, you want to get to work or home as fast as possible and you don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time on a longer detour. Of course, you would like to be safe too. Fortunately, there are different tools and websites available to help you out.

Just like a car route, Google Maps is a great way to start: identify your home and your destination and GO! Make sure to look at the bicycle overlay, which will show green (or brown) lines as bike friendly streets and trails, and use the bike search option, versus the standard car search. Google bike routes are considered in beta version, but the data behind the maps are usually directly fed by municipalities and do give a great first approach of the route to tackle… After a first result, I often check the satellite images for bike lane signs or use streetview to get a lay of the land. It is always good to know if you are on the street, if there is a bike lane, or if you are directed to a poorly-maintained sidewalk that only in name has just been upgraded to bike route. Would you be better off in the street in that case, or should you reroute? Another great way to get an idea where others ride is via Strava heatmaps, which is free and can be accessed without an account. It is fun to see what other riders prefer, and maybe you can optimize your route.

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Be aware and prepared, a bike lane or trail can unexpectedly end.

There is a personal touch to each bike route. Not everyone likes or is comfortable riding in the same streets. Some people wish to avoid bike lanes at all cost and are willing to take longer routes to be completely off street on a bike path. Some quirks, like unfriendly intersections, you will only find out by trying your route, which is done best when you are not in a hurry for a 9 am meeting. I usually keep optimizing my routes to be faster and safer for a long time after my first attempt. Bike infrastructure in Colorado keeps improving rapidly, and new bike lanes or trails show up all the time. I also like to ride with colleagues and friends, just to learn new ways. I even have different routes depending on the time of year. In winter, I will partly use a bike trail that is nicely plowed after each storm, has no cars, and is safer and off-street in the dark. In summer, I won't dwindle and go the shortest route, which is unfortunately along a busy highway. A bonus gravel trail along the way makes up for it and is a shortcut and quiet.

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If you have the luxury, trails are a wonderful and safe way to commute off street.

Denver, as most other Front Range municipalities, has a network of designated bike trails across town. In Denver these are labelled as D-routes and they are a great way to start plotting your commute. It will be worth to check out what your own city or county has listed as bike trails and routes. Bicycle Colorado has a nice list to get you started for most communities (link below).

A GPS, your smartphone or just a plain old map can be handy to take a peak when you are lost, have an unexpected flat and need the nearest bus stop, etc. And.. rule number one when riding your route for the first few times is to give yourself enough room before your first morning meeting.

Happy pedaling!

Useful websites:

My summer morning commute is unfortunately on the shoulder of a busy highway. It is very scenic and by far the quickest way to work, but I try not to ride here in the dark.

My summer morning commute is unfortunately on the shoulder of a busy highway. It is very scenic and by far the quickest way to work, but I try not to ride here in the dark.

Guest Blog: The Sacred Charge of the Commute

We've been following along with our friend Kris and he's been posting more and more amazing stories and photos of his commuting adventures - he recently shared that he commuted 2 straight weeks and doesn't show signs of stopping... So I asked him to share some of his insight and inspiration with us: 

Guest Blog: The Sacred Charge of the Commute by Kris Simons

The alarm goes off at 4:00 AM and I hit the snooze button for 5 minutes. I groggily drag myself out of bed and trip over my dog in the process. He rustles but goes back to sleep. He is off the clock and could care less as long as the bowl of food is full when it’s time for him to wake up. It’s dark in Denver except for the streetlights and glow of the fire exit sign at the elementary school adjacent to my house. I don’t hassle with making coffee but a few frozen Ego waffles and pumpkin bread in the belly and I am on my way to getting dressed to ride my bicycle to work. This has been my routine for close to seventy days this year. (With the exception of the pumpkin bread)  The route is roughly a 26 mile roundtrip commute mostly on a mix of roads and bike path. Some months, I commute every day, other times once every other week. I have pedaled every month of the year though, at times in snow, through bugs, fog, rain, broken glass, and over fallen trees.

Under the cover of darkness, I begin my 13 mile trek to work as my lamp illuminates the road ahead. Sometimes the app which tracks my journey says its 11 miles, sometimes 14. Either way, the morning ride has become something sacred amidst the restlessness and curiosity of what the day will bring. I started commuting by bike three years ago as a personal challenge, just to see if I could do it. Biking was no longer the necessity of the broke college student I once was years ago. Now, my bike actually shifted well and I had some nicer equipment to make the journey more enjoyable. The route mostly sticks to the bike path with minimal exposure to groggy people driving cars amidst checking text messages and Facebook updates this time of the morning. Sitting up higher on my bike and looking down, I often see the glow of the blue screen and try to be extra cautious. It’s amazing how addicted we have become to technology. I struggle with it myself. The bike doesn’t let me surf Facebook for the one thousandth kitten meme or rant from a person mad about god knows what. My hands stay planted on the bars, affording time to pedal and watch the world go by. When I used to ride the streets of Pittsburgh ten years ago on a 7 speed Huffy, I felt this gave me a chance to listen to the heartbeat of the city and surroundings. The responsibilities and bike may have changed, but the sacred commute makes me keep this thought present and listen to the beat, not rants or kittens.

In the dark, I pedal through the drying leaves of fall which litter the path as an occasional reflection of light is bounced off the eyes of a house cat in the grass. For an hour, I pedal and weave with the turns and twists of the path. I ride technical singletrack and race bikes as a hobby, yet this commute never bores me as it is just a time to pedal, wake up, and think. It’s my metaphorical chance to plug the battery in and recharge as the rest of the day will draw down those power reserves. Deadlines to meet, boxes to check, and things to do are all on the horizon with the rising sun. But right now, I can’t do any of those things, except think about them against the methodical pedal strokes in the darkness.

I arrive at work, park my bike, change, and make coffee ahead of everyone. I arrive refreshed and ready for the day. The early arrival always feels like a head start in a race. As other people arrive in the process of waking up from the drive in, I am already sharp, alert, and charging forward. It’s a good feeling.

As the work day wanes, so does my inner battery. Hours spent on a computer, in meetings, and troubleshooting have left me drained. Though the work has been stimulating, I feel like a hollow, tired shell. More things lie ahead on the home front. I change, jet out of the office, and am soon beginning my trek home. It’s slightly downhill most of the way so I ramp up the speed with my tired legs and coast, occasionally pedaling. There is some singletrack scattered along the way that I make sure to hit. Each twist and turn is recharging me. Charging time doubles on the singletrack sections. I leave the path and hit the road, riding the last two miles to home. People are beginning to get off work and head home. I pass by the traffic jams and smile as my commute time by bike is almost as long as it would take me to drive home anymore. The infrastructure in Denver isn’t keeping up with the population growth. Yet, people forget that with a little work, the bike paths and routes through Denver are years ahead of most cities and almost as fast for my daily needs. The commute is a chance to utilize a resource that so many people write off. Meanwhile my truck sits parked at home, not a part of the idling traffic that seems to have become so pervasive here with the identity of Colorado. Need to go to work? Sit in traffic. Need to go run errands? Traffic. Want to go skiing on a weekend? Good luck even getting there in the Colorado traffic.

I arrive home refreshed, slightly tired, yet ready for more of what the world can dish out, thanks to the commute. Maybe in the end, that’s why I do it. It’s a time to collect my thoughts, think, and be ready to be present when needed. Life may tax the inner reserves of my introverted self, but the bike path counteracts those motions. Out on my commute, the battery is at 75% and rising, and the road is wide open. Perhaps that’s the sacred charge of the commute.

"Shine Bright Like a Diamond," Cyclists... (days are getting shorter)

September and October are the very best months to be outside here in Colorado.  While it remains warm, it is not intensely hot.   The leaves change colors, there is that crisp cool snap in the air when you wake in the morning, it rarely rains or storms, and it is predictably sunny and gorgeous almost daily.    

It is, therefore, the ideal time of year to bike commute!  (ahem, #ridemoredriveless).

However, commuting this time of year means something else: the loss of daylight on both ends, with later sunrise and an earlier sunset, and sometimes it can change quite a bit from one day to the next.  (On average in September, the sun rises 1 minute later each morning and sets 2 minutes earlier each evening).  September 1 sunrise was 6:28am, whereas by September 30, it does not rise until 6:55am.  September 1 sunset was 7:31pm, but by September 30 it will set at 6:44pm.  

In other words, if you are leaving your office around 5:30-6pm to start your ride home, these daily changes require different lighting considerations each trip.    

So- as the calendar ticks towards the shortest days of the year, bike commuters need to increase their level of preparedness when it comes to lighting and visibility.  One day a ride home at 5pm may be in total daylight… yet just a week later, it creeps into dusk … even a slight delay at the office can mean the difference between riding home in the dusk versus the dark. 

For these reasons, let’s talk about what the law requires of cyclists when it comes to being seen.

In a nutshell: cyclists must have a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back, at least 30 minutes before sunset, through 30 minutes after sunrise.  Cyclists must also be visible/reflective from the sides.  The same is true when visibility is low, for example on cloudy or hazy days or during times of fog.  

For your reference, here are the Colorado statutes on point: (most states are similar or identical on this issue):

§ 42-4-221. Bicycle and personal mobility device equipment

… (2)

Every bicycle, … in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 (see below) shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.

(3)

Every bicycle, … shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the department, which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

(4)

Every bicycle, … when in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.

§ 42-4-204. When lighted lamps are required

(1) Every vehicle upon a highway within this state, between sunset and sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet ahead, shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices as required by this article for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles… 

It is not likely that a cyclist would be pulled over by law enforcement and cited for lack of appropriate lighting as a stand-alone issue. (But then again -See below)... However, a lack of lighting and reflective gear can be a contributing factor in a crash; for example if a motorist cannot see a cyclist and makes a left turn directly into the path of the oncoming cyclist –then the cyclist be found at fault, either in whole or in part.

The reality is, it pays for cyclists to be seen.  Many riders have adopted the practice of riding with blinking lights during daytime and nighttime hours, in the hopes of being seen and therefore avoiding crashes with motorists.  Whatever your philosophy about lights during daylight hours – be sure you have lights/reflectors/reflective gear during those dusk/dark hours!  Failure to pack lights means you will not be able to see your path clearly, but even worse, other road users will not be able to see you!

Lack of proper lighting can provide the basis for a valid traffic stop –so law enforcement could plausibly pull a cyclist over for riding at night without lights, ask for their ID, and check for –say – outstanding warrants (just like a defective headlamp in your car could provide a basis for a traffic stop). For example:

Holiday greeting & Challenge for the new year

Happy Holidays fellow bike lovers!  I write this post with love, gratitude, and bikes in my heart and on my mind.  I hope this message finds you well -happy, healthy, and with your family and friends as Christmas approaches.  

I write this post shortly after tallying my overall bike miles for the year as compared to my overall car miles.  They are very close to being the same.  

Car mileage this year is 6,578. 
Bike mileage is approx 6,455

One of my goals for 2014 was to ride more than I drove.  I feel pretty good about where the mileage ended up and I'm confidant that before the year is over, my bike miles will surpass those car miles.  In 2015, I hope to make it an even bigger difference.  My goal would be 2 bike miles for every 1 car mile.  It is possible, it just takes planning and diligence.

I wish to challenge you as you approach your 2015 resolutions.  I wish to challenge you to add bike commuting to your list.  Here are just a few of the many wonderful things that happen when you leave your car at home and use your two-wheeled friend instead, to get from point A to point B: 

We start with the obvious ones:

You'll be happier

You'll be healthier

You'll be more awake and energized

You'll NOT suffer from road rage like you do when driving a car

You'll smell the fresh air

You'll see things you'd never notice in your car

You'll wave, smile and connect with other people instead of just passing them by

You'll destress

You'll reduce air congestion/pollution/road wear and tear and you'll help decrease traffic

How about a few more complex bonuses to bike commuting?  Consider these:

1-you can't cram your schedule as full, because it takes more time to get from place to place.  Therefore, bike commuting can actually help you slow down, declutter your calendar and slow your frenetic pace.  You'll need an hour between appointments instead of 20 minutes?  That's a GOOD thing.

1.5 -when you aren't as frenetic in your day-to-day schedule, you are nicer and friendler to people you encounter. You are more likely to feel compassion, empathy and sympathy for others because you'll have quiet time to think while you ride, which can recharge you and equip you to be more caring for others.  More plugged in ... more present.  Slowing down makes you nice(r). 

1.75 - you'll have a chance to be mindful.  There is no "auto-pilot" when you're bike commuting (nor should there be in your car, either!)... however you can be engaged in your bike commute while also taking the opportunity to be mindful while you ride.  This is not only good for your mental and emotional health, it's important. It may be your only chance to disengage from all the technology and buzz in your life. 

2-you can't buy as much stuff.  We are consuming consumption consumers.  Buy buy buy.  Fill our homes, drawers and cupboards with stuff.  Are you desirous of a fridge with shelf space, perhaps a less cluttered home, with less "knick knacks" sitting around collecting dust? Does your office have so many picture frames or potted plants, that you're starting to feel claustrophobic?  Bike commuting can provide a solution!  You can't physically BUY or cart around as much stuff, when you use your bike to go shopping.  (My commuter bike basket can hold a decent-sized bag of groceries- but it's far less than I would normally buy if I drove my car to the store).

Do you find that, no matter what, you spend $100 or more each time you step into Target? It's almost a given, isn't it.  Well -ride your bike there and just wait and see how truly selective and purposeful you are in your shopping.  Additionally, when you don't just pop into your car and run out to the store to grab something, you end up shopping and buying less overall.  When each trip means loading up on the bike and pedaling there, you start to really ask yourself, "do I truly need to go get that?  Can it wait until another trip -  or can I skip it altogether?"

2.5 - Bike commuting leads to conscious consumers. I have found that the more I "work" for an item I'm going to go buy by bike, the more I want to know what's in it -where was it made -was it locally-grown? Was it grown sustainably?  Going there by bike reveals curiosity in the items themselves, and you find yourself evolving into this curious consumer who wants to make the right purchasing choices -ones that align with your missions...ones that align with the goals that got you bike commuting in the first place! 

3-related to #2 above, bike commuting can help reduce debt or rid your life of debt for good!  You can't shop as much = you don't buy as much.  You don't cram as much into your daily schedule or routine = you're not spending money on fuel to rush around like a maniac trying to fit it all in.  You will improve your health, so you'll be sick less often, you'll need to see your Doctor less, and you may need less prescription or OTC medications or supplements.  Let's not forget the savings in fuel, car wear and tear, and maybe even car payments, registration, and insurance (if you opt for the bike exclusively and go car-free!).  The less you spend on car expenses, the more you can spend paying down debts and saving for fun trips or for retirement! (#2 above).

4- you'll inspire others.  I don't know about you but I try to make each day meaningful in some way -to positively touch someone else's life if I possibly can. If you are out bike commuting and others see you -whether it's your friends, neighbors, spouse, kids, or simply other commuters driving past you in your car -you may be THE REASON they start bike commuting too.  And beyond the basic awesomeness of that, imagine how many of the above positives they will begin to experience in their lives as well.  YES PLEASE! 

In sum... who doesn't want to be happier, healthier, debt free, engaged in their surroundings, connecting with others, inspiring others, and helping the environment?  

Consider how you can include a bike commute in your weekly schedule -especially for those trips that are 3 miles or less.  

Here are some great links to help you get started.  

http://www.commutebybike.com/2007/08/16/a-guide-to-a-simple-bike-commute/

http://hottmanlawoffice.com/commuting

http://bikeleague.org/content/commuting

Remember- you don't need a fancy bike, or special clothes. You just need to have equipment that is in good working condition and a little preparation in your packing and planning, and you're all set!  You may even ask Santa to bring you a nice wind/rain jacket (priceless when it's needed) and some good quality bike lights (if you'll be riding at dawn/dusk/night).  

Good luck to you and happy new year! 

Sincerely,