National Bike to Work… sort of…

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OK, so the National Bike to Work Day is actually in May, but I want to make it in October.

In South Louisiana, October is usually the beginning of bearable weather, near close to perfect for biking to work, or ANY where. The month of May can be, well, down right BALMY.

As a life-long bike-for-transportation-person, the question often comes up: Why bike when you have a car?

Part of my passion resides in the knowledge that if you don’t use it, you lose it … and it’s much harder to get it back if you do let it go. And as someone who LOVES to use what I have and push it to the max, I want to USE IT as long as I live. But I can honestly say that the majority of my dedication comes from watching my father go from an active 36 year old to someone who could barely walk– in the blink of an eye. He eventually died at the age of 46. I witnessed, as well as experienced, how quickly someone can go from “can do” to “can’t.” As a result, I learned to appreciate the physical abilities that God granted me as a gift and not take them for granted. Our health, our SELVES are the first thing that God gives us stewardship over.

First I want to share the great advantages of biking for transportation. Here they are, in no particular order.

1] EXERCISE: When I taught high school, I realized that biking to work only added about 40 minutes more time to my round trip commute of 25 miles. And in return, I got almost 2 hours of cardio split between the morning and afternoon. If I didn’t bike, I easily spent more time than that exercising through other means. This was more time efficient for me. And it was basically FREE… since I already owned a bike!

2] SAVE MONEY:  Rather than spend money on extra gas, tires, oil changes, and general wear on the car, I’d rather invest that back into my health, home, or have fun out with friends.

3] SUPPLY & DEMAND: Instead of creating more of a demand for fossil fuel by using my car, I lessen my demand for it. This helps everyone, really.

4]  REDUCES TAXES: When I bike to work, I take the stress of my car off of public highways and roadways. Think of the overall impact if more people decided to do this.

5] POLLUTION: A reduction in air pollution is always a plus.

6] PRAY: I spend my commute time conversing with God.

7] OVERALL HEALTH: This activity is so much better for my overall health, I reduce the amount of time and money wasted on healthcare costs and time loss from work.

8] PRODUCTIVITY: I am much more creative and productive when I bike for transportation than when I do not.

9] MENTAL HEALTH: I am MUCH happier and content when I bike to work. Ask my former students, if they can recall that far back.

10] LESS STRESS: You take yourself out of the traffic jams & parking lot issues.

11] TAX BENEFIT: As of  January 2012, if you commute to work 3x’s a week on your bicycle, you are entitled to a $20 per month tax-free reimbursement for bike-related expenses. Qualifying expenses include bike repairs and storage expenses. How cool is this!!

12] GREAT EXAMPLE: To your children and/or younger generation. Everyone knows children watch enough TV, play too many computer games, and witness enough couch potatoes, etc. Leave a legacy of good stewardship of your health to those around you.

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Making it happen takes a bit of planning, but it’s worth it. Here are some tips that help me:

1] Check the weather & your schedule and then pick a day a week to drive to work. On that day, bring a clean set of clothes & towels for the rest of the week. Take home your dirty laundry to wash.

2] Leave an extra set of make-up, hygiene products, a blow-dryer, etc at your place of employment.

3] The night before, set out your biking gear, headlamps and backpack, and check your tire pressure.

4] If the route to work seems daunting due to distance or dangerous sections, drive part of the way. Every little bit helps.

5] If you do not have shower access at work, wash your hair in the sink and clean up with soap and wash clothe.

6] Invest in a powerful headlamp system and reflective wear. It’s worth the expense.

7] I prefer to use a mountain bike. It offers a more comfortable position on the bike, allows you to jump curbs, go off road, AND greatly reduces the chance of getting a flat tire.

8] You will find far more considerate drivers than less patient ones. Don’t let the ones who lack understanding deter you from this exhilarating experience.

9] Get you a pair of those funny-looking bike shorts with a cushy pad… your rear end will thank you!

I challenge you all to bike just ONE DAY to work in October. Give it a try. You have plenty of time to prepare. And let me know how it goes!

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