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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Zora on March 20, 2013, 06:07:38 AM

Title: Commute by bike?
Post by: Zora on March 20, 2013, 06:07:38 AM
Hello all,

My first post here.  I recently found this site and have been quite inspired by it.  I have always been thrifty but had never considered early retirement as an option.  I have gotten WAY burnt out on my career (lawyering) in the past year or so and am in the process of trying to figure out to what extent Mustachian principles will help me ditch my job. 

Anyway, I am just in the process of planning / info gathering at this point which brings me to my question.  I live about 7 miles from my job.  My typical commute is to walk .6 miles to catch an express bus that takes me right to work.  I do drive sometimes for convenience, like if I'm using the car for other errands after work or something, but really the car is not all that tempting because the traffic and parking headaches make it take longer than the bus in at least one and usually both directions.  I get reimbursed in full for both my bus pass and any parking fees.

To bike to work would be pretty easy.  The route would be great, a bike path for most of the way.  I have never been a fan of getting to work sweaty, and I would get to work sweaty if I biked 7 miles. 

So my question - is it optimally Mustachian to ride my bike?  In general I am a fan of the Mustachian bicycling mandate and I'm planning to upgrade my bike (I've currently got a rusty, heavy Huffy-type thing I "won" about 8 years ago) and get a trailer for that purpose.  Am I a bad Mustachian for riding the bus or is that OK too?
Title: Re: Commute by bike?
Post by: GuitarStv on March 20, 2013, 06:41:38 AM
The key behind biking is optimization.  When biking:
- You get free exercise as well as transport, so you can save time (sometimes money too if you give up a gym membership or similar).
- You spend very little money (bike upkeep is usually well under the cost of a transit pass, and well under the price of a car) - although if you're being reimbursed for transit fees this is not really applicable to you.
- You get to help the environment.  Biking pollutes less than public transit.
- Ideally you also develop some basic mechanical skills by maintaining your own bike.

If there are no showers at or near your work, then that can be a non-starter for many people.  Personally, I sweat like a pig and NEED a shower after my 11 mile bike in - towelling off with paper napkins in the bathroom would not cut it in my case.  Especially in the summer.

You can get many of the same benefits of cycle commuting by doing all of your grocery shopping/errand running with your bike.  You get exercise, you get to save gas and wear/tear on your car, and you get to help the environment - all without worrying about being stinky at work!  I'd try that in your position.
Title: Re: Commute by bike?
Post by: Kriegsspiel on March 20, 2013, 11:14:17 AM
Even if you don't need to ride it to work because your commute is free, you should be riding it to go to the grocery store and whatever.
Title: Re: Commute by bike?
Post by: Zora on March 20, 2013, 11:44:19 AM
Yeah, I do enjoy riding for neighborhood errands - my standard explanation for why I have such a crappy bike (to my extended family who enjoy continual upgrades to Lance Armstrong-style jobbers) is that it's for "neighborhood transportation" rather than fitness/distance.  Taking MMM's advice about the bike trailer and about sucking it up when it's cold/snowy should increase my riding greatly.

One of the reasons I'm so delighted by MMM is that he describes a lot of stuff I've already been doing but enunciates a kind of unifying theory for everything.  Like, I've always done small grocery runs on my bike because it is faster than walking and easier than driving (especially when I lived in a more crowded, urban neighborhood than I do now).  But when I was standing out by the bike rack trying to fit 12 bottles of beer and a dozen eggs into my backpack along with my three bike locks or whatever, it didn't even occur to me that I was also being thrifty and helping my physical fitness!
Title: Re: Commute by bike?
Post by: uspsfanalan on March 21, 2013, 02:53:29 PM
If you get a bike rack on the back of your new bike it won't be that bad. Pack a change of clothes in the pack and change when you get to work. You can ride to work earlier than normal and spend 10 minutes cooling off outside before you go in. Once you're in the building you can change in to your work clothes and most likely other people won't notice. That's what I did at my prior job and it wasn't an issue. Oh, get a fan at your desk too if you don't already have one. My new job has a shower so I'm spoiled in that sense.
Title: Re: Commute by bike?
Post by: the fixer on March 21, 2013, 03:40:31 PM
You can also try going slower on the commute in to work to get less sweaty. You'll probably sweat a lot anyway when you're first starting out because you're not used to the biking, but after a couple weeks it will get easier and you can do a nice leisurely ride in to work. Then on the way home you can gun it for the exercise!
Title: Re: Commute by bike?
Post by: jnik on March 24, 2013, 08:14:25 AM
7mi, properly attired, at an easy pace, with a change of clothes at the end shouldn't be a problem for most people in most climates. Some people sweat heavily; some live in Houston...

It would be worth checking into the option of showers at work. Then you spend less hot water at home. Would work defray a shower-only membership at a nearby gym if you stopped taking the bus pass? Tax-deductable (for them), up to $20 a month for bike commuting expenses they reimburse you for. Does the bus have a bike rack? Can you take the bus in and ride home?

That's assuming you want to ride. I don't think the Mustache Police are going to come and fine you (shave your lip?) for taking the bus instead. Maybe it would make more sense to do your "other errands" on the bike rather than commute.