You most likely figured out from recent posts that I finally quit the job that was eating away at me, took an enormous pay cut and started a new job in my hometown. So far (I’m on my fourth week) I am loving the new job. It seems as if it was meant to be, but more on the career in a later post. This is about something different, but just as exciting.
Sometimes a person knows that their life needs to be infused with adventure and they simply make it happen. Alastair Humphreys is one of those people. I have been following his blog for some time now. He is an inspiration. Some of us can’t, or I should say, choose not to do things like cycle around the world or walk across India, but rather need to find a way to put some adventure in our lives and still be able to stay home with the kids and hold a full time job. Alastair is committed to “trying to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone, go somewhere they’ve never been, go on a microadventure.” Check out his blog and be inspired.
Anyway, I have been wanting to do something for quite some time now. I have read about people doing it in big cities and other countries and I live in the perfect place to do it also. It will add adventure to my everyday life and it has a purpose. It reduces global emissions. It maintains my health. It saves me quite a bit of money. It keeps me feeling good and adds adventure into my life? What could possibly do all this? Well bike commuting that’s what!
I live in a city that is about seven miles wide at its longest point. Yet I drive everywhere. Part of the problem was I worked 45 miles away and commuting by bike was not an option. So even when I was just going a couple of miles in town to run errands, I still used the car. It was just habit. It was how things have always been. It was time to break this wasteful habit and in my own way flip off Big Oil or at least take them off my budget list.
For the last three weeks or so I have been doing everything by bike and this will continue for at least one year – 365 days. I am making it a challenge. If I can do it, surely you can add a few days of cycling to your life too right? Especially on nice days. I am going to take you on the journey with me and show you how I’ve managed. I am going from riding for recreation and exercise to riding purposefully in the matter of one day. As of April 19 my car will sit in the garage and not move. I will ride everywhere. I will do everything by bike. I am all in.
I need to be perfectly honest. I may be honest to a fault, but that is one thing you will know about me – I don’t lie and I believe from my eyebrows to my marrow that honesty is the best policy. It feels great never having to hide anything. So let’s get one thing straight. Kansas took my license away from me for one year. Yes, it’s my own fault, and I would say a symptom of the things I have been going through. I drove when I shouldn’t have, something many of use have done. I was devastated that at my age I did something that stupid, but what’s done is done.
Honestly, it has been a blessing in disguise. Because of it, I met people I wouldn’t have, faced fears I wouldn’t have and looked within myself more that I ever have too. And it motivated me as much as a voice from heaven (there was no voice though, fyi) that it was time to get a job in town. It was time to go full monkey. It was time to become <superhero music here> a bike commuter. I honestly don’t think I would have made myself ride in the cold rain or ride to get groceries if I didn’t have to. But now I am doing just that and I am loving it.
I am calling it the 1Year-2Wheels Challenge. I will be updating my milage on Endomondo and Strava to keep track of my milage and training too. Soon I will have a logo for this and I hope to help the bike commuting movement that is taking place in the US. This is my announcement. My name is Eric Benjamin and I am a bike commuter. I must thank High Gear Cyclery and District Bicycles for getting me the equipment I needed to get started.
Here are a few shots from the short three weeks I have been riding. It’s going to be one adventurous year!
Why so excited? When it’s 30ºF, with 20mph winds and raining there’s no other way to be on the commute to work! That is my rain cape by Cleverhood that keeps me dry in the rain, well except for when we have sideways rain that is. But with fenders and the rain cape, I show up to work pretty dry.
And speaking of cold rides to work, I have never been this energized showing up to work. The brisk two mile ride gets the blood pumping and instead of showing up to work groggy, I show up ready to kick some marketing butt. In all honesty it’s weird, even to me, how much I am enjoying commuting everywhere by bike. It can be a challenge and I love it.
When I drive, even the two measly miles to work, I get behind people that piss me off and I generally don’t have a good time driving through town. Riding cures all that. I am exercising and enjoying myself all by going to work.
On my third week of commuting the City of Emporia was installing share the road signs as I pedaled into work. Cool. But that was the least of it. When I got off work and pedaled home, the entire length of 12th Avenue had become a bike friendly street.
They created a “bike lane” all the way down 12th. Pretty cool. I hope they follow through with some education for the townsfolk as this is not a true bike lane. There are Share the Road signs all along the street and the bike lane paintings on the ground but it is not a true dedicated bikes only lane. I hope cyclists and car people pay attention to each other and no one gets hurt. But it is pretty cool. Good job Emporia!
Here’s the new cube with the bike parked inside! I am working for a company called BLI Rentals and they are cool about letting me store my bike inside. I pimped my ride with a Topeak rack and trunk bag/pannier setup that works great for me. I added fenders and left the bikepacking frame bag on the Fargo too. I put some cheap platform pedals on her too so I can wear whatever shoes I need to. I may step up to some nicer pedals that have the little pegs that will stick to my shoes a little better in the future.
Grocery shopping is no problem either. Bobby Wintle from District Bicycles made sure I was setup with a BOB trailer, but as of yet, I haven’t used it. I am getting ready to buy some pots and potting soil so it will be getting used soon but I have been pleasantly surprised by the Bontrager Grocery Bags. I carried home over 50 pounds of groceries the other day using these bags and a messenger bag. I even fit a bag of dog food in one, not the small bag either. These things are roomy and hold a lot. I pack my bag at the store like in the days of old when the sackers were trained how to pack a grocery bag and I pack them full.
With the three bags I was able to get all my groceries from two stores with no problem.
These three bags held quite a bit of groceries with a little bit of skilled packing.
Wow, that is a lot of groceries! The bike does feel a bit different with the back full of groceries, but not in a bad way. I was able to ride the groceries home no problem. I buy all the essentials for the week and them supplement through the week by hitting the grocery store on the way home from work if I need to.
So far so good! This is going to be a great year! I am having a ball. Riding in the hot Summer will have its challenges, but I will get through it. My car has become a place to set my bike against in the garage. It needs new tires, an oil change and some gas. Wow with maintenance and gas I am saving a bundle. What about the kids you ask?
Mikey’s school is a half a block away so we ride to school together before I go to work. Melissa’s school is about two miles away and she is not too excited about riding to school – she is 13 and doesn’t want to get to school all sweaty, so she rides the bus or hitches a ride with her mom. No problem.
I will keep you posted on how this year progresses, but even when it’s over, I don’t see me using the car except to go out of town. But for the next year it’s nothing but two wheels for this guy. I’m happier when I’m cycling so this is just what the doctor ordered!
Feed Your Monkey!