By Cyril Jay-Rayon
As an endurance MTB cyclist and adventure athlete, 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 found a good route to ride to work. My car commute is a minimum of 35 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. 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 on a 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.
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 with my Light & Motion lights. At night I like to be well lit so I go all in! I don’t cut corners when it comes to being seen. Besides, the cost of the light system is quickly paid for by not paying for gasoline and it’s a good investment in safety.
On my helmet I use the VIS 360+. It has a very bright rear red light (where the battery resides) with side yellow lights plus a powerful front light (250 lumens and runs for 3 hours on high) also with side yellow lights. With a light system on my helmet, I can easily shine my light in car cockpits at intersections to make sure the drivers make 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 since many bike riders get hit from the side. An advantage of the VIS 360+ or the Vis 360 is that you don’t have to take it off your helmet to charge the battery 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 light system for the bike itself. That’s what I do with a VIS 180 rear light that easily attaches to my seat post (has rear and side lighting like the VIS 360 family) and an Urban front light (200, 400, 550, 700 lumens lights to choose from) that is incredibly easy to mount on your handlebar or stem. The Urban family of lights also features side yellow lights. Both the VIS 180 and Urban lights are also recharged using a micro USB cable (provided). I use Light & Motion lights because, when it comes to my safety, I want to use the best lights on the market. They are powerful, reliable, well designed, and aesthetically pleasing. 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.
Cyril Jay Rayon, is an Adventure Race athlete with Dart-Nuun-Sport Multi and owner of the “Feed the Machine” Nutritional Supplement Store.
By Jake Branch
Freezing temps are bearable, below freezing tolerable but it’s the just above freezing that really is a suck sandwich. Just warm enough to melt snow which becomes water, which splashes the legs, arms, face causing frozen limb syndrome.
For this trip I don’t have my o-so-fashionable grocery bag shoe covers, and my feet are tingling with the first pains of cold ten minutes in. The next puddle-ridden corner cements the fact that I will hate this ride.
Night brought strangely warmer temps melting more snow and ice. This in theory sounds like a great thing, but not so much. Water is just as cruel mistress as ice when the wind hits.
The knobs on the cross tires coupled with the puddle that was waiting for me mid-apex of a turn threw water face high, soaking everything in its trajectory. ”Oh, goodie, more water.” While the verbal sarcasm helped my brain my body was still to suffer.
Thus came the paradigm; do I pedal slower to cause less wind/ less freezing, or do I pedal as fast as possible hoping to get home before things I value start to turn blue? I chose the later and stood and stomped out the last few miles of the commute. Shaking, cold and hating life; my bike and me drip dry in the bathroom ruing the wet.
Jake Branch is a weekly contributor to the Lightlife Blog. He is riding his bike to work for one year.
With gas prices continuing to climb, more people are turning to bicycle commuting to reduce their fuel costs.
In 2008 when gas prices rose dramatically so did transportation cycling. When gas prices fell, cycling also declined.
Flash forward to the present: another rise in gas prices and transportation cycling. Will the current increase in bicycle infrastructure and well-designed gear keep people on the bike if gas prices slide? Let’s hope that people enjoy the ride and stick with the bike!
Check out these cool sites to inspire your commute by bike:
By Heidi Swift
Winter came with darkness. It does this every year. Daylight hours shrink, the chill creeps in. We keep riding our bikes (albeit maybe less frequently): bundle up, shove off, huddle, increase coffee stops, hot shower, hot chocolate, repeat.
In addition to cold and dark, winter brought me an unexpected development: for the first time in years, I found myself with something that resembled a “real job”. I accepted a contract position with a big company out in the suburbs. It required me to show up and sit under fluorescent lights for 8 hours a day. It required me, because of a lingering cyclocross injury that prevented me from pedaling, to sit in a car. In traffic. For 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon.
An hour and thirty minutes a day, 7.5 hours a week, 30 hours a month, 360 hours a year. That’s more than two weeks a year! Of my life!
I’ll be honest with you. I kind of lost it.
I’ve never had to endure a real freeway commute. In the Bay Area, I traveled to work by a combination of train, bus and foot. It took 5 hours every day, but it kept me off the freeways and provided lots of reading time. The sensation of being stuck in a long line of slow moving vehicles brought me to near-panic. “Is this how people live?” I thought.
Maybe people get used to it. I knew I didn’t want to.
As soon as the doctor cleared me to ride, I loaded up a waterproof backpack, strapped fenders to my road bike, lit the whole thing up like a Christmas tree and left my house in the darkness of morning.
In other words, it was perfect.
At the end of the day, I had 28 miles, 1800 feet of climbing and 2 hours of non-stop smiles to my name.
It’s your ride. Light it up.
Heidi Swift is a freelance writer and photographer based in Portland, Oregon where she lives with two mean cats and one rad Sicilian man. In addition to being cyclocross-obsessed, she enjoys good whiskey, romantic rain rides, and frequent international cycling escapades. Despite most often trending toward “tomboy” she has a penchant for very red nail polish, large scarves and obnoxious designer sunglasses. She’s a regular contributor to Peloton Magazine, Editor-at-Large for Switchback Magazine, and cycling columnist for the Oregonian Newspaper. Her work has also appeared in ROAD Magazine, Bicycling, Cyclocross Magazine, Wend Magazine, VeloNews and CyclingNews.com. You can follow her misadventures at GritandGlimmer.com or catch her on the tweets: @heidiswift.
Look for another “Lightlife” piece from Heidi Swift next week!