Trading four wheels for two
Each summer, Tour de Fat brings its blend of beer, bikes and bemusement to cities across the country. Tour de Fat is a parade and celebration of biking and beer put on by New Belgium Brewing, a strong supporter of Bicycle Colorado. At every event, a brave soul trades her/his car for a bike—pledging to live car-free for one year. It got me thinking about my own (much slower) transition to a bike-heavy, car-light existence.
Just after college, I bought a bike—sight unseen—from a friend of a friend. I can’t remember why. I had not had a bike since I was a kid, no one I knew got around by bike and I was living in a city that wasn’t exactly bike-friendly.
When I got the thing, I realized I needed a serious refresher on riding a bike, so I took it to a nearby park. Biking is one of those things that can make you confident—maybe over-confident—fast. After I got comfortable riding a couple miles around the park, I thought: How about a 45-mile rail trail ride? Sounds fun!
As it turned out, that was a little ambitious. I have to admit that the bike was not used for a while after that, but I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to try riding to work.
Taking the plunge
When I switched to a job that was only five miles away, I mentioned to a new coworker that I wanted to ride to work. Before I knew what I signed up for, we were biking together. Pretending to know what I was doing and mimicking every action of my buddy, I made mental notes about what to do in different situations.
It was a good thing I paid attention, because a few weeks later my coworker moved to a different site. It was put up or shut up time. I went for it solo. I got two flat tires in a week (who knew you were supposed to avoid glass?), but I kept biking.
I biked a lot when it was warm and nice out. I did not bike when it was raining…or cold…or if I was too tired. It was fun. I felt healthier and good about all the pollution I wasn’t creating. And I felt richer! I was definitely getting hooked on the biking thing. I biked anywhere I could as long as it was decently nice out.
Becoming a bike nut
At the time I started biking, I had an active job, so I did not really need the extra exercise. But after switching to a desk job, biking to work became really important. The few miles to work woke me up and helped me get focused, and the ride home helped me wind down at the end of the day.
When it rained I’d think about driving, but I just did not want to. So I took the bike anyway. If it was cold out, I put more layers on. If it was snowing, sometimes I’d brave it and other times I’d take the bus. I found that I rarely wanted to drive, so my car sat neglected in the parking spot that I was paying $65 a month to keep it in.
Eventually, my car found a home with eGo CarShare’s loanation program. I can still use it when I like, but other people can too. I like to think it’s happier. I definitely am.