by Cyril Jay Rayon
As the owner of an endurance sports nutrition store, I know how proper nutrition can help you reach your performance goals. However, if you don’t stay active and on the move, especially during the long winter months, don’t count on any food to keep you healthy and fit. That’s why my secret “superfood” is not a supplement or food at all. It’s commuting to work on my bike. And, here’s why. Commuting to work on your bike is the best way to find time you thought you didn’t have to stay active on a regular basis.
I live in Los Angeles, one of the least bike friendly cities in the US, but I still found a good route to ride to work. My car commute is a minimum of 30 minutes to work. When I ride, it’s 1 hour and more reliable so I know exactly how long it will take me to get to and from work. So, for less than 1 hour more of commute, I get 2 hours of exercise per day. It took me a while to find a good route but I enjoyed creating the best route over time by trying different roads. I actually have different routes to keep it more interesting. I have my fastest route and then a few other options to add some time or hills when I have time. Mixing up my route keeps things interesting and less of a routine. Like with a lot of things in life, I try not to be too dogmatic so I do drive to work from time to time. After a day of driving to work, I’m excited to commute on the bike once again.
Aside from an effective use of my time getting to work, bike commuting offers numerous other benefits. One of them is that I get uninterrupted time to think. It’s amazing how much clarity I get after thinking through a problem on a ride. I often leave home burdened with issues only to arrive at work with a clear idea of how to take on the day. To me, my bike commute time has become an integral part of my decision making process. Another advantage is that no matter how tired I might feel at the end of a work day, I have to ride back. No one is coming to pick me up so I just saddle up and ride. Without exception, the fatigue evaporates within minutes of starting to ride and the shear pleasure of riding returns. When I get home, I’m always invigorated and enjoy my evening much more. I also don’t have to motivate to go exercise once I get home. It’s already done. An obvious side benefit to all this bike commuting is that the car stays in the driveway saving me on gas, car maintenance, and reduces my carbon footprint.
OK, I have to admit that my current commute is unique and enjoyable because part of it is along the bike path along the beach. Yeah, I know. It’s pretty sweet. But, the rest is through busy city streets. And, before this commute, I lived in Seattle where I commuted in the rain and freezing cold in the winter. And, before that, it was even tougher as I lived in Quebec where riding involved snow tires in winter but still doable and exciting. With the right gear, you can commute almost anywhere. As a friend once told me, “It’s not cold if you’re well dressed”.
I also understand that everyone has different situations to deal with but since the average American spends more than half an hour a day in his/her car commuting to work oneway, most can look at bike commuting as a way to stay fit and healthy despite a busy life.
And, if bike commuting at night is a concern, take a look at the incredible recent improvements in bike-light technologies. I feel safer riding on city streets at night because I’m simply more visible because of my light set-up. I like to be well lit so I go all in. On my helmet I use the VIS 360. It has a very bright rear red light with side yellow lights plus a powerful front light. With a light system on my helmet, I can easily shine my light in car cockpits at intersection to make sure the driver makes eye contact with me (something I can’t do during the day). The bright rear and side lights high up on the helmet help drivers see you not only from the rear but also from the side which is very important at night (many bike collisions happen from the side). The beauty of the VIS 360 is that you don’t have to take it off your helmet if you don’t want to. Just put it on your desk at work and charge it with a micro USB cable. Although the VIS 360 is all you’ll need, if you have additional funds, you should consider investing in a similar light system for the bike itself. That’s what I do with a VIS 180 attached to my seat post (same quality and powerful rear and side lighting as the VIS 360) and an Urban front light (180, 300, 500 lumens lights to choose from) that is incredibly easy to mount on your handlebar or stem. Both the VIS 180 and Urban lights are also recharged using a micro USB cable (provided). With this double light set-up, you will be the most visible thing on the road!
Since I’ve decided to commute to work on my bike, I’m fitter, healthier, and simply happier. If more of us opt for a bike or a pair of shoes to commute to work, we’ll reduce traffic, improve the health of our communities, and create a real superfood for our society.
If this blog inspires just one of you to commute on your bike, it was well worth writing. Of course, I hope a lot more of you saddle up!