Essay: The bicycle commute

National Bike to Work Day was last month. Reading other people’s stories and social posts about biking to work got me thinking about my own bicycle commute, one that is now defunct as my home and my office are one and the same.

While working from home has its distinct advantages (lots of time spent in sweat pants, no office gossip distractions, being able to work when it best suits me, lack of a commute means time saved to do other things), I do miss riding my bike to work. Yes, I can go ride my bike before work, and I do, but having a distinct destination is different.

For the past few years, I had a 12-mile ride if I went the short way, and 14-20 miles if I got ambitious. I live in a very rural setting and worked in the nearest town, so many of these miles were back roads and even some gravel if I so chose. It was great. Though it was hard to get out the door some mornings, especially the chilly ones or rainy ones, starting the day feeling refreshed and satisfied was always worth it.

When I first started riding to town, it seemed like a big deal. I thought it warranted a lot of extra effort – waking up earlier, packing a change of clothes, making sure to allow enough lee time in case of a mechanical or dead legs. Then when I got there, I’d have to shower, change and make myself look presentable to the world. It was so much easier to jump in the car, drive 15 minutes and be there. No change of clothes required. I liked the idea of riding, but in reality, the convenience of a motorized vehicle won out over pedaling far too often.


Photo: Erica Quinn

Then my husband and I went through a series of car misfortunes that left us sharing one vehicle for months. We worked on the same block so we often carpooled, but I worked odd hours at a restaurant and he worked long hours at an outfitter. When the busy season hit, our hours lined up less and less often, so carpooling was no longer convenient. Riding to work became much more necessary.

The more I rode, the easier it became. I got my routine down pat. I always had my gear ready to go. I learned exactly how long it would usually take me to ride and how much time I needed to leave to change and freshen up. I was riding more, so I was getting faster and the commute seemed less and less difficult. Before too long, those 12 miles became a quick sprint rather than a daunting ride.

I realized that I actually looked better on the days that I biked to work because my skin radiated a healthy glow. I realized that showers are overrated and I actually didn’t smell as bad as I thought I did. I became known as “that girl who rides her bike everywhere” (an exaggeration, but where I live, it’s rare to see people biking for transportation at all).

I’d started passing many of the same cars, on their commutes too. The same school busses would rumble by each morning. The guys in the kitchen at work made it a point to ask me every day if I’d ridden my bike in.

We finally bought a second vehicle, but I still rode my bike to work on a fairly regular basis. By now, it was easy, a welcome beginning and end to my day, a much easier endeavor than I initially thought.

Though I don’t have a daily commute anymore, I enjoy riding to town whenever I can, or to the local tavern, or to social gatherings, or to bike rides (ride to the ride, as they say). There’s something highly satisfying about biking for transportation, using the power of your own legs to get you where you need to go. You might arrive sweaty, but it’ll be worth it, I can promise you that.



Join Ayesha McGowan to “Do Better Together” in 2017

Ayesha McGowan is on a mission to become the first female African-American professional road cyclist. Now, she invites you to join her virtual ride series, Do Better Together, to set goals and train alongside her in 2017.

The ride series kicks off in February, and participants have a 10-day window each month to complete their goal. Rides are tracked via Strava, where participants can use the “Do Better Together” group to encourage and support each other.

Anyone who participates in at least 4 of the 6 rides is also eligible to win a Cannondale bike.

Find out more on her website,



Bicycle Times Adventure Fest Presented by Trek: 60-Mile Road Ride

BTAF 60-Mile Road Loop Teaser

With Bicycle Times Adventure Fest presented by Trek right around the corner, let’s take a look at another of the event’s stellar road rides. This 60-mile loop offers a respectable 5,193 feet of total elevation gain by climbing up and over the beautiful Tussey Ridge twice in two different locations. Check out all the Adventure Fest details here, or sign up via BikeReg.

BTAF Photo Selects—WEB (26 of 49)

The above photo is from Williamsburg Mountain road, somewhere around mile 20 on the map below.

Climb Details

Rating Start/End Points Length Start/End Elevation Avg Grade
Cat 2 15.94 mi/21.54 mi 5.60 mi 714 ft/2,042 ft 4.5%
Cat 5 24.72 mi/27.33 mi 2.62 mi 834 ft/1,054 ft 1.6%
Cat 3 39.35 mi/41.34 mi 1.99 mi 1,284 ft/1,974 ft 6.6%
Cat 3 48.07 mi/53.73 mi 5.67 mi 838 ft/1,468 ft 2.1%

Bicycle Times Magazine celebrates your everyday cycling adventure. That’s why we’re bringing cyclists together to share an adventurous weekend of riding under a canopy of spectacular fall foliage for Bicycle Times Adventure Fest Presented by Trek Bikes at Lake Raystown Resort in Entriken, Pennsylvania, the weekend of October 9-11, 2015.

At Adventure Fest, you choose your own adventure and ride your own pace. All routes will be signed and mapped. Just grab your crew, a map and cue sheet and hit the road. All rides will have aid stations and sag support should you need it. Otherwise, start when you want, ride your pace and finish when you want. Join us!

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