One Man’s Commuting Story

Editor’s Note: Anthony Coley, contributor to The Cyclist, has a story of the commuting kind to tell…………

My bike commuting story:

It’s been a year since gas was $4.50 a gallon and I started bike commuting regularly. As the price of gas climbed year after year I
kept telling anyone that would listen “once gas hits $4.00 a gallon I’m done driving, I’m going to ride my bike to work“. Sometime in early 2008 gas hit $4.00 a gallon and I kept driving and changed my tune to “once gas hits $4.50 a gallon I’ll start bike commuting“.

Last year high gas prices motivated many to commute by bike

Last year high gas prices motivated many to commute by bike (Photo by A.Coley)

April 2008 in Southern California gas hit $4.50 and I started bike commuting. I didn’t commute every day because I quickly found it was a lot of work to gather all my things and leave my house at 4:45 AM to make the 13.5 mile commute so I can be at work by 6 AM. But, the more I commuted the easier it got and I gradually increased my days. I started commuting one day a week, then two, then three and currently do four days a week.

Unfortunately, my work doesn’t have showers ( or anything bike related ) and the gym down the street is one of the super high-end places with something like $150 monthly dues. Ouch! That’s pricey for me… So, I do the bird bath thing. I actually have a more colorful name for the bird bath process, but I’ll spare you… After a year I have it down to a science. Getting to work at 6 AM has its perks because I hardly ever see any one the restroom, so I pretty much have reign to take care of business. I tried the baby wipe thing, I tried the wet towel thing, but what works best for me is to use the pink soap, a water bottle and get busy. It’s almost as good as a shower, well, maybe not as good, but it works for me. NOTE: Just to be clear, I’m not washing my business ends over the sink. Also, I make a point to leave the restroom as clean as I found it so I don’t annoy my fellow employees or management.

Since becoming a full time commuter I’ve become slightly obsessed with gas prices and I see they are creeping upwards again, which I guess is to be expected since it’s summer. I wonder if will top $4.50 this year? Everyone hears the rumors about how high gas is going to get, but we won’t know for sure until we see it at the pump, or as we ride by the pump. 😉

I used the Gas Savings Calculator and last year I saved enough money to pay for my ‘new to me’ ( it’s used ) Specialized Langster I just bought last weekend.

Daily Savings: $3.25
Weekly Savings: $13.00
Yearly Total: $676.00

That’s great! I should have used this information when trying to convince my wife to let me spend the money on a new bike that I didn’t really need. She’s a sweetie and didn’t give me too much grief. I believe she makes a game out of messing with me about the number I have bikes I have. Hmm…

Anthony makes his regular commute on this Specialized Langster

Anthony makes his regular commute on this Specialized Langster

I read somewhere that people always post how many miles they ride to justify their rider status, so for the record, I logged around 2500 commuting miles and I feel that’s a pretty darn good accomplishment for someone who just started commuting.

How about you?
Do you have a bike commuting story to tell?


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5 Responses to “One Man’s Commuting Story”

  1. Tom Says:

    Is that a centerstand on your Langster?

  2. Shiny Flu Says:

    My parents were always wary of letting me ride to school- in fact it was forbidden.
    1) We lived up on a big hill with some rather steep streets.
    2) My older sister once had a very very bad crash on said steep streets.
    3) My sister had 2 bikes stolen at school.

    So I was stuck with walking. Which was still nice, but oh so slow. As I moved to a new school and then later a new house busses were the go.

    As I was getting to the end of Highschool, I was already riding around for fun because my doctor had recommended exercise not for fittness so much, but more for producing endorphins. My mum had bought me a Schwinn (pre-walmart) hybrid. I would happily trundle round the lake or down to the shops. During my gap year when I got a job near by and it just made sense to start riding to and from work.

    Ever since then I couldn’t imagine not commuting or running errands by bike. That one $500 hybrid got me into mountain biking and later road. Now cycling is a huge part of my life. For me it was a kind of evolution of all the bush walking I used to do- being outside and enjoying the world.

    I’m currently living in Berlin and commute regularly. My partner has a car, but we both rarely use it. Most of the time we ride everywhere. It’s just far more enjoyable- even when you’ve got crazy tourists and drivers trying to kill you! The public transport is good here, but the cost is high- 72 Euros (US$100) per month. Commuting by bike just makes sense.

    For me it’s not about saving the planet (although any potential benefits are good of course), it’s not even about saving money on tickets/petrol; it’s just about getting outside and having some good fun whilst getting to work, the cinema, the supermarket at the same time.

  3. AC Says:

    Re: Tom,

    No, it’s a “Topeak Flashstand”

    See it here:

  4. electric Says:

    Yup, “new” work is 8mi away and sometimes I just have to laugh when I’m cycle by various gas stations. Some things just seem so absurd from another perspective.

  5. BillG Says:

    I started commuting last year as well. I hit right around 50 for the year (37 miles round trip minimum) and this year I am at 24 already shooting for 100.

    By the way this is in Buffalo, NY and I was commuting in sub-zero weather back in the late winter/early spring – fun times!

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