The downside of pedaling to work

by Rocket Finance

I am finally riding my bicycle to work regularly.

The weather and dress requirement of my last job did not allow me to pedal to work. I am free to wear athletic clothes in my new job – although I think that my coworkers appreciate that I don’t show up in spandex bike shorts. And the weather here in CO features little precipitation and low humidity so I avoid walking into my office sporting a flop sweat. I am enjoying all the usual benefits that come with riding a bike to work – good gas mileage, exercise and low car expenses.

However, here are some drawbacks that you need to know about if you are planning to fight high gas prices with a bicycle:

  1. Riding a bike messes up my hair.
  2. Bicycle seats are not made to sit on. Frankly, I am not sure what they were made for, maybe some kind of wedge?
  3. Bicycles can be expensive. I was fortunate to get one for “cost” through a Trek employee, but a decent road bike is going to set you back $500 to $1,000. Plan to spend more if you want to purchase a seat on which you can actually sit.
  4. Carrying things can be difficult. You can get a lot into a backpack or shoulder bag, but there just doesn’t seem to be a place for a coffee mug.
  5. I miss listening to talk radio.
  6. I used to catch up on all my phone calling during my commute. Now I can no longer dial digits as I drive, in fact, I can’t even take a call without stopping next to the curb. I know, I know, that probably wasn’t a good idea in the first place.
  7. I am wearing out the seat of all my clothes.
  8. I don’t mind swallowing the occasional bug, but being “bombed” by a passing bird is not a great experience.
  9. Riding on the side of the road is okay, but crossing four and six lane roads is a pain.
  10. My four-minute commute is now sixteen minutes. Fine for in the morning and evening, but I can no longer run home for lunch or conduct any errands that require a car during the day.
  11. It is hard to carry a lunch to work on my bike. Especially if lunch is a pizza.
  12. Back when I took the car to work everyday, Mrs. Rocket was stuck at home without transportation and thus, no way to spend any money. Now she can go to the mall every day if she wants.
  13. I can’t pick up girls on a 10-speed. Oops. . . I mean, it is hard to pick up flowers for my wife while traveling home on a bicycle.

If you are thinking of choosing two wheels over four, be sure to count the cost.

I’m still going to keep pedaling, but I miss my car.

Photo by Sean Dreilinger

  1. 15 Responses to “The downside of pedaling to work”

  2. By plonkee on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    You’re going to love it when you get used to it. 🙂

  3. By Lance on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    I bike to work regularly during the spring, summer, and fall. I have to agree with you that there are some drawbacks. However, I think that the benefits go a long way to toward offsetting these drawbacks. For me the biggest thing is my commute going from 12 minutes to about 30 – 35 minutes. It means I have to get up earlier, and that’s probably the hardest. For carrying things to work, I use a backpack. I carry clothes, laptop, and my lunch. For me, the “quiet” time has become a great time for reflection. Maybe I’m lucky in that I am on either back roads or a bike path, and that makes traffic very little of an issue.
    Good luck on the biking!

  4. By rocketc on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    Lance . . . your last name doesn’t happen to be “armstrong” does it?

  5. By Mrs. Rocket on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    I’ll be waiting expectantly for those flowers.

    (And I’m sorry to break it to you, but you probably wouldn’t be picking up many chicks in our minivan either….)

  6. By Lance on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    Ummm…sorry, no – a different, less famous biker here!

  7. By deepali on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    Get a basket? 🙂 My friend bikes 6-miles each way to/from work in east coast humidity… I’ll have to ask her how she manages it.

  8. By Mrs. Micah on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    When I was younger, I’d sometimes walk to work and back (about 45 minutes). I carried my real clothes in a backpack because I got so sweaty most of the time (see deepali for east coast humidity). I know they make people look stupid but maybe a pair of biking pants would help the seat feel more comfortable and keep your pants from wearing out? I know they’re spandex, but if you duck into another building on campus you could change in their restroom.

    Jealous of your lack of humidity, we’re getting it in spades today.

  9. By Aaron Stroud on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Rocketc, you’ll get use to it. I use to ride everywhere with 20 lb of chains & locks in my backpack, plus my books, extra clothes, groceries, etc. Taking a lunch shouldn’t be too hard if you use a backpack.

    Just remember to lock both wheels to the frame, or you might find yourself with a unicycle.

  10. By Mary in CO on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Rocketc, for your homework I’d like you to Google these search terms:

    pannier
    bicycle cup holder
    safe bicycle commuting
    bike mentor

    Hope these give you help in turning some of those -‘s to +’s. And get a hair cut. 😉

    Good luck with your commuting!

  11. By rocketc on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for the advice, there are some good things there. I finally took my bike in for a tune-up – first time in 6 years. However, the last 6 years i only used it occasionally, now I am depending on it everyday.

  12. By Chris on Jun 10, 2008 | Reply

    Lots of places have biking shorts with helpful padding that aren’t ultra tight spandex racing shorts. Just for example:

    http://www.pearlizumi.com/shop.php?pc_id=331&mode=products

    Of course you don’t have to get $100 shorts. Try your local bike shop or the bike section of a sporting goods store for something a little cheaper.

    Also, I’ve heard good things about gel seat covers.

    http://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Adult-Double-Bicycle-Cover/dp/B000DZGLUA/ref=/ref=cm_cd_t_pb_i

  13. By EL on Jun 10, 2008 | Reply

    1. 16 minutes messes up your hair? Try a spray bottle of water and a blowdryer at the office if it’s really that bad. You are wearing a helmet, right?

    2. Get real (padded) bike shorts and change at work. Everyone thinks it’s like a diaper when they start, but there’s a reason for that padding! You can get the kind with larger shorts attached over top if you’re worried about your coworkers snickering.

    3. No argument there, although my latest road bike I picked up for $300 (new, but last year’s model).

    4. Panniers.

    5. You miss the radio — all 4 minutes worth?

    6. What you said!

    7. See #2.

    8. Haha! You are wearing a helmet, right?

    9. Check out “Effective Cycling” by John Forester from the library. Also check to see if you can find bike safety classes. The instructor should be LAB certified. Sometimes the city will offer them free, here.

    11. Tupperware and panniers. Pizza slices fit, I promise.

    13. You CAN pick up athletic people on a bike. 🙂 As for flowers, they fit too:

    http://bikecommutetips.blogspot.com/2006/12/who-needs-trunk.html

  14. By Killer on Jun 15, 2008 | Reply

    Another few drawbacks . . .

    When it rains, you’re in trouble. (Not having a car, there’s really no back-up option. Also, living in Wisconsin, it can be sunny and bright in the AM when I’m going to work, but pouring when it’s time to leave.)

    Walking into Shop-Ko with a (small) back-pack just makes you look like a shoplifter. 🙂 I rode there the other day and had to have something to carry home my potential purchases. I can’t leave my bag out with my bike – way too easy of a target for young punks. So I just try to look nonchalant and hope no-one cares! lol Maybe it was my sweet, innocent visage, but no-one said anything. I hope not for my sake, but they really should up their security.

    Other drawbacks – idiot drivers, puddles, and people driving to church as you’re biking home from work. Cue the double-takes.

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