Today is National Ride your bike to work day, so we are profiling a bike commuter that is relatively new to riding a bike to work. His name is Eric Smith, he is an IT manager from Norwalk CT and commutes to Greenwich CT.
Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
I bought my bike last summer for exercise. I soon found I was doing 24-30 mile rides. So this year, after putting on considerable holiday weight, I eagerly started riding in the first week of March, not waiting for the snow to melt. Then I put two and two together and realized I could ride to work and get my exercise in without taking those extra hours away from time with my family. My commute is 15 miles door to door going the most direct route. I take an alternate route home which takes me off the main road (Route 1, Boston Post Road) part of the way, so in all it is about 32 mile round trip.
How do you like it so far?
The thing I like best is that I arrive at work on a high note, and I look forward to the commute home. I love it! I am slowly getting into shape and losing the extra pounds.
What is the biggest adjustment that you had to do from driving to riding a bike?
The biggest adjustment from driving to riding a bike is the preparation and necessary sleep. I usually get into work around 7 or 7:30. That means to keep that schedule with a ride that takes around an hour and 10 minutes, I need to prepare the night before. Preparation can take up to a half hour, just making sure I have my PC and electronic gear, the right clothes, keys, wallet etc… In order to get enough sleep I have to get to by 10. Normally, I would prefer to stay up past midnite, but at 42, that’s not exactly healthy anyway…
What kind of bikes do you have?
I only have one bike, a 2006 Gary Fisher Tiburon. Prior to buying this, I had owned a Huffy 10-speed as a kid, and some 10-speed that I used in NYC that someone gave me. When I went to purchase a bike last summer I was amazed by how much had changed. Bike sizes changed. There were road bikes, MTB’s, Hybrids, you name it. I picked this so I could get some exercise and ride with my wife and kids on outings… I’ve since had to change the tires to something more roadable, and put on a rack and panniers.
Any experience that you can share with us about ‘learning the hard way’?
The first couple of rides tired me out. There are many long and steep hills going into Greenwich from Stamford , and it took me a couple of weeks before I learned how to attack the hills standing up on the pedals. Since then, my strength has increased, and now they are challenging, but not as exhausting as they once were. I found that standing still tires me out, but allows for a much faster recovery.
What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
Most people are amazed at the distance. I would have thought the same just last year. But after riding for a while, you realize how do-able these longer distances are. Naturally, I am zealous and excited about all the benefits of bike commuting, so people are generally happy for me, but, so far, no one has asked if they can join me…
Anything that you want to share with us
I really like the fact that I am reducing traffic, gas consumption and resulting pollution, and possible adding years to my life. I only wish there was more awareness for this in the area of CT where I live. I know that Hartford is getting organized, but my area is made up of one city and town after another who all have their own agendas, and as far as I know, none of them include making cycling, or bike commuting part of their traffic and environmental plans. Oh, and my personal blog is http://smithism.com/blog
Thank you Eric for sharing your story, good luck and keep riding, it only gets better!!!