Biking to Work: How Four People Made the Change

Ready to reduce your carbon footprint and shed a few pounds at the same time? Spring is the perfect time to dust off that bicycle and start pedaling to work; it doesn't take much to change your daily routine.

We asked readers to share their riding experiences with us, and discovered some seriously dedicated bike-to-work advocates in the process.

Using a different kind of pump

I started biking to work mostly as a joke to my friends two years ago when gas prices went through the roof. I had told all of my friends that if the gas prices hit $3 a gallon, I would start riding my bike to work. Of course, my friends knew me to be quite lazy. Driving to work was about a four-mile drive and took about 16 minutes. I used to say that I didn't even like driving four miles to work, so why in the world would I want to run or ride four miles? And when my colleagues would ask to me if I went to a gym, I used to respond, "No, but I know a guy named Jim, does that count?"

Then gas prices hit a historical high. I started riding to work! Sure, it was very hard at first and it took me an hour and a half to finish it, but then I started enjoying it. And not only feeling better about myself and losing weight, but also about saving money by not having to fill up my pickup truck every week. I found several organizations and groups who encouraged biking such as the San Francisco Bike to Work Day, and I also found that in some cities -- like Columbus, Ohio -- business CEOs were actually sponsoring bike riding challenges to get more of their employees riding to work.

Since taking up riding, I have met other riders and have made some great friends and riding partners. In today's economy, it's not a bad idea to consider riding a bike to work. The average amount I spend on a tank of gas is around $60; the price of a flat tire for my bike is about $6. You do the math. To me, it's worth the little bit of energy to ride into work. People now see me as a fitness freak, which is pretty amusing to me since I simply ride a bike to work and used to always hide from exercise.

Ride to work and save on two pumps: the gas pump, and your most important pump, your heart.

– Amin El-Gazzer

Reducing my carbon stamp one bike ride at a time

I have always wanted to ride my bike to work, but as a parent, the timing of child care and my work schedule was a limiting factor. A recent change in my schedule presented me with the opportunity to ride to work on Mondays.

I was excited to start living a healthier and "greener" lifestyle, while at the same time giving my children a role model for those important elements of life. I work in the environmental field, and this was also a way that I could reduce my own carbon stamp, like many of my co-workers have.

I realized that to get started I needed to do some planning to be fully prepared for the change. After consideration I came up with three goals:

I needed to bring the necessary items to clean up after the ride and dress for the day; I needed to track the weather for the ride to and from work; and I needed to plan a safe, well-lit route. After a successful trial run one Monday morning, I am hooked! Every time I take my 13-mile ride each week, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

– Robert Renk

Just what the nurse ordered: Endorphins

I work at a major trauma hospital in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., a few miles from my home. I've built a firm belief that no hard day is not made better by a hard bike ride to or home from work.

My bike was a $10 Salvation Army investment, but she serves me well. We've been doing this ride for three years.

Under my scrubs I wear a tight, sweat-wicking long-sleeved shirt, and I strap a stickered helmet to my head, for I've lost too many patients from bike accidents and I don't want to become one of them.

I tell all of my co-workers to pick up their bikes and join me; but so far, no luck.

I arrive to work with a powerful endorphin rush and a film of sweat on my skin. There is nothing better than speeding down a bike lane at 6 o'clock in the morning, going as fast as you'd like because, of course, there isn't any traffic.

The only trouble I face is one hopefully not faced by many people who bike to work: the stress of biking a downtown city in the wee hours wearing scrubs. I am regularly hailed (often by the transient population) with, " Nurse! Nurse! Help me!"

I always regret biking past -- but I balance that with the knowledge that I cannot trust that everyone has innocent reasons for calling for me; plus, our city has emergency phones throughout downtown, so they can really call for help if needed.

Altogether? There is no reason not to bike to work. If you think you're too out of shape or overweight, you're not. Just get started and you can take it at your own pace. If you worry about arriving sweaty, bring a change of clothes. The good mood a hard ride leaves you in is worth the saddle pain and sweat. And hey, one more thing: You'll be proud of yourself!

– Sarah Smith

Frozen biking!

I am a ski instructor in the Rocky Mountains, and I bike to work. Some say I'm crazy because most of the year the sidewalks are icy, I have an eternal ice-cream headache, I usually can't see through the snow and I fall at least once a week.

But I love it. It's a rush and it helps me warm up before hitting the slopes. I have been commuting to work and school via bike since I was 14, so when I moved to the Rockies, this was the natural progression.

Powder days are daunting because you don't know what is under the snow. It could be ice or it could be dog poop. A good solution was studding my bike tires. It helped my tires from slipping on ice -- and other things.

I love commuting via bike because it keeps me healthy, it is exciting and it is quite a challenge where I live.

– Travis Crooke

Next:Take the Bike Lane to Find Your Next Job

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