5 things lessons pushing commuting to 200 miles a week

Now up to 150-200 weekly miles, I love commuting! Aside from the exercise benefits, no carbon foot print, a pace that allows you to literally stop and smell the roses; spending time with yourself, to learn, explore and really see what you’re made of is pretty awesome. The downside, other than the occasional skin tissue left on a road and drivers who pay little attention to the here and now, I’ve had some of some my most inspired moments on the road. Below are 5 things I’ve learned since I started bike commuting full time.

Bike Helmet
The impact should have snapped my neck and at the very lease paralyzed me for life. According to doctors I was lucky to walk away when the front tire of my bike came off and I was throw face first onto the pavement. I was not wearing a helmet.  9 out of ten people killed on bikes were not wearing any kind of helmet. The design of a bike helmet, even the most inexpensive ones, are engineered to protect your neck and head, so no matter how short the ride is, there is no excuse, I wear one wear one.  I post this little PSA about helmets on the anniversary of my near demise. If you ride, please be smart.  Share it with anyone who rides.

Expensive is cool but not necessary
My mountain bike is a Balance AL-150 – it’s about 10 years old, I found it on Craigslist for 90 bucks ($500 org). Like the weight set I’ve bought many times at the first of the year, the owner made little use of it. It was in great shape and just needed a little TLC.  Found great riding clothes at second hand stores, and am constantly asking questions at The Competitive Edge Bike Shop and REI – they are great.

Geeky tools for the ride
It usually takes me a couple of minutes to get on the road, gloves, mirror on my sunglasses, flip on very bright headlamp and tail light – even during the daytime and the pre-bike check.

Hope for the best – Plan for the assholes!
I carry my office with me and having taken a few falls – protecting my laptop is important, but not as important as my Dropbox.  The “Level 8” backpack I got from the Apple Store is padded, heavy duty and has been put it through hell, but when my trusty Sony Viao finally threw up its hands, the new laptop was loaded with current files within a couple of hours after buying – all info for my phone is backed up there too. There are lots of cloud backup solutions from free to enterprise – I do 200GIGs.

I am not a car?
When we drive a car, we are usually someplace else, not even remembering parts of the entire trip to our destination. No problem, strapped into a 5000 pound metal cocoon can be forgiving at times. But when you’re riding, especially with traffic, you cannot afford for your mind to be someplace else. Drives aren’t stupid, rude, inconsiderate or assholes – we’ll, sometimes; most of the time they are just not paying attention, so to be safe you need to play five moves ahead – assume nothing, expect everything, this has saved my ass more than a few times.

Why ride with traffic
The inner voice and personal promises
My first long ride was from Rancho Cucamonga to Corona, California, about 30 miles. It was just over 90 degrees but I was determined to make it to a family gathering. I noticed the further away from home I got, the more unsettled I became. Like a voice trying to talk me into turning around. ”You don’t need to do this today”, it’s too hot”, “it’s too far” and my favorite, “you’re not a kid”. Luckily I didn’t listen and pushed through, even when the inclined seemed to go on forever. It was one of those promises you keep to yourself when no one’s around that made it all worthwhile. A couple of days ago I did 44 miles – it was tough and again over 90, I know that “century” is just around the corner – I can see it.

Ride on.