Looking to ramp up your cycling? If you’re already into cycling, but you’re looking for a new challenge this Biketober, we’ve got you covered! We spoke with biking super commuter Chris about how he upped the ante on his biking routine by integrating his exercise with his transportation.
Chris started biking regularly while he was a college student in Pennsylvania. He continued biking some over the years and always stayed generally active, but drifted away from it some in his young, professional life. What drove him back to cycling was when he became a father – he wanted to stay in shape for his daughter. For Chris, biking became an excellent way to stay in shape without experiencing the impact on his knees, as often happens with running.
Eventually, biking became his primary form of exercise, riding an hour and a half or more on most nights when he returned home from work. But, commuting the 21 miles to his finance job downtown from his home in Cobb County was taking 45 minutes each way, and Chris realized that he could use that time more efficiently.
So, Chris decided to start biking to his office. He was already biking most nights when he got home, so why not integrate biking into his commute? Compared to his 21-mile car commute, his bike commute gives him two options – a shorter 15-mile round-trip trek, where he bikes to a MARTA station and rides into the office from there, or a slightly longer 30-mile trip, where he opts to take trails and roads that consider hills and traffic patterns.
TIP: Considering opting for a slightly longer trip if it means you can avoid hills and busy streets. It can make for an easier, more relaxing ride!
Chris says that being able to integrate his exercise time with his commute time has been a great change. He also loves biking so much that, even with his cycling to the office before the pandemic, Chris still rode an additional 40 miles or more each week in his free time to get some exercise.
Chris says, “To people who say, ‘I would ride to work if I was in shape,’ biking is what gets you in shape!”
In fact, Chris says that he barely uses his car these days – he really only drives occasionally to keep it maintained. He bikes most places, from his commute to the office to the grocery store or local pizza shop.
TIP: If you’re not sure where to ride, whether your goal is to get to work or your regular errands, try driving the route first to see how it feels – is the traffic moving too quickly? Do the bike lanes have enough buffer for you to feel comfortable?You can also see where other cyclists are riding by checking out Strava’s Global Heatmap of common bike routes.
While he does enjoy the exercise and outdoor time that biking to work gives him on his commute, Chris has to climb an elevation greater than that of Stone Mountain just to do the round trip to the MARTA station. So, he decided to build his own electric bike to make his commutes a little easier. Yep, you read that correctly. He built his own e-bike! t made it easier for him to haul some of the things he needed for work, like a change of clothes and his laptop, all while still getting the benefits of cycling instead of driving. Pre- pandemic, Chris was commuting on his e-bike about two days each week, teleworking one day and taking his acoustic (non-electric) bike or running to the MARTA station and taking the train for the remaining days.
“The electric bike really takes the place of a car, not of an acoustic bike,” says Chris.
Chris emphasizes that biking doesn’t just need to be about exercise – it can also be about transportation and your lifestyle, as a whole. Chris likes biking because:
- It saves time because he incorporates his exercise with his transportation.
- It’s good for the environment!
- It saves money because he doesn’t have to pay to park downtown and it reduces the cost of car maintenance.
- It allows him to do some good in his community – it’s easy for Chris to stop and assist motorists, such as by helping to change flat tires!
Like many of us, since COVID-19, Chris’s biking habits have changed. He has since paused his bike commute and is working from home. However, as before the pandemic, he still uses his bike to exercise and run errands. If, like Chris, you’ve been working from home since the outbreak of COVID-19, you could use the time you’re saving from not commuting to get out and bike! It can be a great way to build towards a possible bike commute down the road, and it can give you a break during the day to separate your work time from your you time. And with lots of interest region-wide in getting outside, now is a great time to test out biking to your local shops! Not only is it a great way to get some exercise, but you can also accomplish some of the items on your to do list.
Plus, with Biketober just around the corner, you can also turn your bike trips into prizes! But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a long-distance cyclist to earn points during Biketober. In fact, you only need to ride for a minimum of 10 minutes for your ride to earn points.
To participate, all you have to do is:
If you register by October 1, 2020, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $1,000 REI gift card. Plus, we have tons more prizes, including drawings for restaurant vouchers, bike gear and more.
For more information, check out ATLBikeChallenge.com
Also, be sure to check out tips and resources for active commuting during COVID-19.