Five Years Bike Commuting

Today marks my 5th anniversary of full-time bike commuting. I had just gotten back into cycling a couple of months before that. In fact, since I’ve kept an accurate log of all my rides and mileage (nerd alert!), I can tell you that I had logged 421 miles by the time I rode to work for the first time.

Even though it has only been five years, I cannot recreate the thought process through which I decided to start riding to work. I do remember thinking that it is only four miles each way so, at the time, I was wondering why I had not done so in the previous ten years I’d worked at my current company. I guess that’s it, it just seemed silly not to.

But even though I can’t remember why I first thought to start, I’ve thought many times over the year why I continue to do so. I just don’t want to make this post my “Why I ride” post. I’ll save that for some time in the future. Instead, I’d like to take this fifth anniversary to mention a few things that has changed over the years.

I started out bouncing back and forth between my old 1984 Peugeot UO-14 and a 1991 Giant Yukon MTB. After six to nine months of commuting, I bought a used Giant Seek 0 off of ebay and pressed that into service as my commuter bike and I’m still riding that. In the spring of 2012, I built up a Surly Cross Check to be my long-ride/touring bike and I still ride that a lot when I want to go out for a long ride after work.

I’ve also changed from panniers to messenger bag over the years. I bought a pair of Ortlieb Back Roller Classics early on and used them whenever I rode my commuter bike. When I began riding a road bike to work on some days, I purchased a Chrome Citizen messenger bag. About two years ago, I switched to use the messenger bag exclusively. I began to have some problems with the laptop due to the jolts transmitted through the bike and panniers from the road. Plus, I preferred to have that extra weight on my back so that the bike feels more agile.

I’ve also gotten much, much better at reading and dealing with the weather. Part of that is to collect the right clothing to deal with all the different conditions, but part of that is also learning to read the forecast with a more experienced eye. For example, a forecast of 75% chance of rain means to me 95% chance of finding a window where I won’t get rained upon.

And the last thing that has changed is that I switched from a mix of street clothing to wearing cycling clothing full time. I wore cycling clothing during the winter from the beginning, but would just wear shorts and t-shirts during the summer. Summers in Alabama are hot and humid so, at some point, I got sick of wearing cotton and switched to cycling shorts and jerseys because I’m perfectly comfortable in them.

The one thing that has not changed in five years is my desire to be a bike commuter. (I’ve added one day of run commuting, but that’s beside the point. That’s like bike commuting plus.)

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