Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bike Commuting Makes You Happier, And Faster

everything relates to kevin bacon. everything.

Here’s a great little blog post on the pros of bike commuting by local superstar Alex Grant. It almost makes me miss the days of commuting in LA, when I used to race cars down Wilshire Blvd en route to the Beachbody office. Almost, of course, since I prefer living in Utah and the efficiency of working from home, but it’s definitely inspired me to use a bike for more of my errands.

Grant is a great racer but that’s got nothing to do with this article, which is about the different vibe you get when riding a bike vs driving a car.

I’ve always thought that bicycles can do great things for society and the planet. Switching to bicycles for transportation will lessen our carbon footprints and improve the overall physical and mental health of our society. I’d like to see a study done on the happiness of those who commute to and from work by bike versus those who drive in traffic each way. I don’t care how bad the weather is, I bet the bike commuters have less stress than those who drive.

I could not agree with Grant more. In LA, not exactly heaven for bike commuting, never once did I have a bad ride to or from office, in spite of many instances where someone would do their best to ruin my day. People in LA aren’t used to seeing bikes. The looks I’d get were mainly shock, as though I was some kind of alien--"Hey, dude, where's your car?" LA’s so bad that I once had an irritated guy yell “don’t ride on the bike path!” without a touch of irony. That said I drove defensively and never had a dangerous close call. And, in fact, even the worst day of bike commuting left me feeling great, which was pretty much the opposite of how I felt whenever I had to drive anywhere.

how to dress--fashionably--for winter commuting

Grant has a short commute in a bike friendly city with little traffic (though we’ve got plenty of nasty weather) and it still improves his mood. So much so that he credits his best-ever racing season in part to his commute. Not for training reasons but due to reduced stress.

It’s amazingly liberating to be out of the car. I was driving a lot as an outside sales rep – it’s the nature of the job. I have been working just as much and just as hard at the new business; but without all the windshield time, my stress level has gone way down.

How does this translate to racing? I feel like I have been riding faster than ever for the past two months: I pulled off my best finish at Nationals in July with 8th and managed 3rd at the Leadville 100 a couple weeks ago.

So get on your bike, or consider investing in one. You’ll be amazed at how much it will change your outlook on life.

Watch more video of Trans-Sylvania Epic Stage Race 2011 on

grant not commuting


Chris said...

I totally agree with Alex Grant on all this stuff. Driving to work stresses me out so much - having to deal with other people in their cars and their mess ups and all this other stuff that's totally beyond your control. I have a long commute, so I still do drive for some of it, but I got a folding bike last year, and ever since then, it's been a totally different story. It actually takes me less time to ride to work than to drive the whole way - I just keep the bike in my trunk, and when I get to my convenient halfway parking spot, it's just unfold and go. And even if I do get stressed in the car, the ride lets me decompress before work. No other way to go for me.

Steve Edwards said...

I forgot to mention speed. In LA I was faster on my bike 99% of the time. There's a great vid in netland showing a race through New York between a commuter bike and some race motorcycle. Of course the commuter won easily. It wasn't a bike messenger but someone on a upright single speed with a basket just cruising along.

Jeff said...

In 2000 I commuted daily from Cupertino to San Jose: about 14 miles each way. I could make it faster on my bike than in my jeep 99% of the time also... until the economy nose dived in 2001, then truck was faster. I still rode. Then I would ride at lunch also. I loved it.

I agree with you and Grant; even in bad weather, bike commute days are happier days.

I look forward to getting back on my wheels. I have been spending more time backpacking or kayaking this summer and my commute is 73 miles one way two days a week. The other days I work from home thank God!

Steve Edwards said...

I think I'm happier when people comment on this post than any other I've written. Bikes are great. Riding is great. I'm going to paraphase myself from on old climbing video, I feel so sorry for all the people in the world who don't ride bikes.