I would consider myself an average person. I’m not built for a triathlon and am pretty terrible at any long distance sport. I do, however, enjoy the occasional casual bike ride around Santa Cruz. For me, it’s the chance to chat with some neighbors, take in the salty ocean air and work up a little sweat. I typically bike to work once a week, but I wanted to see what would happen if I challenged myself to bike to work five days in a row. I decided to record my experience each day so I could share how it went. There were some highs and lows, a morning full of misadventure, and afternoons brimming with awesome surprises.
Here’s what happened.
Day 1: An emotional first day
Challenge: Staying motivated to ride
Key takeaway: Biking helped me cope with some unfortunate news.
Summary: I woke up late and the last thing I wanted to do was ride my bike. Why did I commit to this challenge? I drug myself out of bed and logged into Facebook as I ate my breakfast. I then received some really sad news and realized I wanted nothing more than to get on my bike and feel alive.
Day 2: Navigating the road
Challenge: Staying safe in the face of multiple roadblocks
Key takeaway: Being a cyclist has taught me to become a better driver. #safetyfirst
Summary: Today was all about safety and preparation. I go over what you need to ride safely and comfortably and run up against some unexpected obstacles on my way to work.
Day 3: An unexpected event
Challenge: Bike repairs on the road
Key takeaway: Have a charged phone and our community is super supportive and willing to lend a hand.
Summary: I did my usual Wednesday morning workout today plus a bike ride to work. Whew! This meant extra planning to ensure I was presentable to my colleague’s post workout but the effort was worth it. I also got my first flat tire, tried to use a JUMP bike (a very convenient alternative transportation option when you don’t have your own two wheels), picked up a new tube at our local downtown bike shop, Spokesman Bicycles, and learned how to replace my tube to avoid getting stranded in the future. A big thank you to my incredibly supportive community that helped me get to and from work today!
Day 4: Pedal power for the planet
Challenge: Produce pick-up
Key takeaway: Any form of active transportation helps reduce congestion and carbon emissions.
Summary: Today I picked up my weekly CSA box from Live Earth Farm by bike and filled my rear basket to the gills with fresh, plastic-free produce. This is what it’s all about! By shopping locally and using my bike as a form of active transportation, I am significantly reducing my overall carbon footprint. Today was all about respect, connect, and protect the planet.
Day 5: Freeing my inner child.
Challenge: Letting go and enjoying the ride
Key takeaway: Being on a bike brings back all the memories of my childhood. It keeps me feeling like a kid again.
As a kid in Ohio, I spent every day in the summer biking with my sister. Then I grew up, got my license, and stopped biking. It took me two whole decades to get back on a bike. My first time back in the saddle was a little nerve-wracking but I also felt like a kid again. I think as an adult with all of life’s pressures and responsibilities having that feeling of freedom is so important—and fun!
Challenge Complete But More Biking In My Future
Riding my bike for five days in a row didn’t come without its challenges, but overall it was an amazing experience that I hope to repeat. My main advice would be to plan ahead (lay out everything you need the night before and know how you’re going to carry it to and from work), leave yourself plenty of time in the morning so you can ride at a comfortable pace, stay safe (wear your helmet, use lights, be aware of drivers and obstacles in the road), and just enjoy the ride.
I loved that biking gave me the opportunity to stop and chat with my neighbors, see whales, and take in more of the world around me than I ever do from my car. Plus, I greatly reduced my carbon footprint. In total, I traveled over 70 miles and saved 43 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. That’s the same amount of CO2 emitted by driving 48 miles in an average passenger vehicle.
If your commute has a safe bike route, I would highly encourage you to give the challenge a try or just start with one day of biking and see how it goes. Whether you’re planning to challenge yourself to bike to work or school for the first time or you’ve been biking around town for years, please share your experience in the comments below!