This article on the relative fitness of bike commuters got me thinking.. I spend 40 minutes a day on my bike during the week. Including road riding on weekends that comes to on average 250 minutes/week of exercise in the great outdoors.
For someone who’s been a complete couch potato her whole life, I can say with confidence that never in my life have I spent 4+ hours in a gym per week before. If that sounds like a lot, I challenge you to add up the number of hours you spend per week in a car. Not too long ago, my total was at least 10/week driving to different part time jobs.
It’s taken me about 5 years since that realization, and it served as a pivotal moment and catalyst for changing the course of my life. I got a folding bike and put it in the trunk of my car for running errands in different parts of Charleston. Then I moved closer to my job where I could also ride on bike-friendly suburb streets and wide bike-friendly sidewalks. I started going several weeks at a time without getting in my car. I moved to Greenville, got a 7-speed city bike, and gradually eased into road riding on a touring bike before selling my car to commute full time on two wheels.
On a recent road ride someone told me that they would “love to commute to work, but there’s no way I would make it up those hills”. I tried to convince her that if I could go from single speed beach cruiser with zero elevation gain to doing rides with thousands of feet in elevation gain, she could take her road bike out just one day a week and do that commute. This rider was concerned about packing a change of clothes and a lunch; to me that’s an evening routine I hardly have to think about anymore. But looking back I realize it was a gradual process of learning as I went, and as transformative as this journey has been, it certainly did not happen overnight.
So don’t discount the baby steps. Any time on a bike is time well spent, and you may be surprised where those small changes will lead you.