Friday, April 26, 2013

Biking to Work

We are a one-car family this week. This is inconvenient. My work hours do not really correspond well with school and various other activities my kids engage in. Most days, my wife needs the car to get my kids where they need to be. My work place is far enough away that it doesn't really make sense for her to drop me off and pick me up.

The most obvious solution is that I can ride my bike to work. My workplace is about 15 miles away from my home. On a good day, my drive is a little bit over half an hour. With normal "rush-hour" traffic it can take 45 minutes. I should be able to bike it on my trusty hybrid in a little over an hour.

The Denver area is blessed with a pretty decent network of bike paths, and it is completely possible to get to my workplace without spending more than a few minutes on roads without bike lanes. The company that I work for recently moved buildings, and the new building has a little shower area / locker room. This development had made me promise myself I would ride my bike to work more this year. This little car challenge made me think that I might as well start now.

Sun not quite up yet
Wednesday was the first day that we would have major conflicts with the one-car, so that was when I targeted my first bike ride to the new office. I spent some time with the bike directions on google maps. I actually blogged about these when I first came aware of them (see Bike Directions from March 10, 2010). The Google bike directions still say they are "in beta", and they still seem to have changed little since they first came out. They were pretty useful in helping me figure out the details of my route, but the suggested directions had to be modified quite a bit to fit a reasonable route.

Mother Nature helped out by dumping snow on the Denver Metro area Monday night into Tuesday Morning. Luckily, spring snow melts quickly in sunny front-range Colorado, and although we still had snow on grassy areas, all the roads were free of snow and dry by Tuesday evening.

Early Wednesday morning, I dressed in warm (but not too heavy) clothes and packed up my backpack and bike paniers. I started down the road a few minutes before sun-up.

Little stream I cross over
The Google directions told me that I would be riding 14.1 miles and that it would take me 1 hour and 20 minutes. The distance was pretty close, but it only took me a little over an hour. I am sure that many of you road-bikers out there think my time is pathetically slow, but I am pretty happy with that time. I think that is perfect for a commute.

At the last minute Wednesday morning I decided to print out the directions "just in case". As it turns out, I was very glad I had them. For the most everything made sense. There were a couple spots where I had to re-check road names on my printed directions.

The ride itself was pretty good. On my way in, I go downhill for the first 5 miles or so and then do a gradual climb the rest of the way in. All of the busy intersections I need to cross are on bike paths that actually go under the roads, which is nice. It was cold, in the morning, but with gloves and a ski mask, I was comfortable. Ideally, the ride home would not include the 5 miles of an up-hill climb, and my legs were pretty tired when I got home, but even that was not too bad.

View West from office building

I had such a good time riding to work, that I decided to do it again Thursday even though my wife told me I could have the car.

I plan on riding to work quite a bit going forward. I am glad that this little incident with the mini-van forced me to it this week. An added bonus is that I explored some bike paths that I had not been on before, and I came across some good spots to target for family bike rides.

Even so, I am glad we will have the mini-van back soon.

Go BlackHawks!


  1. I think you should consider Handcycling to work every once in a while just to give yourself a little reminder to work your arms...

  2. Well, thanks for the suggestion, John. I do not have a hand-cycle, and even if I did, you know how slow I am peddling with my arms. It would take me several hours to get there.