The answer for me is 22. 11 miles each way, totaling 22 miles every day. I pedal my bicycle in good and bad weather, rain, hail or snow.
It all started because I had only one car. My wife got the car and I bought a bicycle for $75 in a department store. It was enough to get me hooked. I was living close to Microsoft, but in the beginning pedaling 3 miles was so hard. I didn’t give up and in no time I out grew my department store bicycle.
So I bought a recumbent bicycle. (Pictured with my mom trying it out.) A recumbent bicycle has an actual seat with backrest, so it was extremely comfortable. But after I moved to the hilly neighborhood that I now live, I saw the major disadvantage of recumbent bicycles: they are inadequate for using on steep hills. Not only it’s impossible to use your weight to pedal, but these bicycles are very unstable at low speeds.
I ended up selling the recumbent and bought two replacement bicycles: a road bicycle and a mountain bike. The road bicycle for dry days, the mountain bike for rainy, snowy or hail-filled trips. Despite the image that Seattle region is always raining, I can attest that I use the road bike more often than the mountain bike.
Enough introductions! Here we have a bunch of questions that I’ve heard in these 7 years of biking:
Why do you do this?
Why not? It’s fun, healthy in many ways and different: I always have a nice subject to talk about. When I started biking my waist line was 36 inches. Now it’s 30 inches. But I kept the same weight.
Actually, it’s the other way around. When I come to work with the bicycle, I am all pumped up for work because I had a good dose of exercises. On the occasions that I use a car or bus, I find myself needing large doses of coffee to stay awake in the morning.
Don’t you get all sweaty?
Of course yes, but here’s one of the advantages of working at Microsoft: at-work showers. The building where I work has locker rooms with showers plus a towel service. So as soon as I get in my office, I can take a hot shower. Also, because I have my own office, I can place my bicycle in my office, or leave it in the garage, where there’s a bicycle rack.
Now, where else could I use my bicycle to work, have showers and towels waiting for me, and colleagues that think it’s perfectly normal for someone to stroll with bicycle clothes plus the bicycle itself at the corridors?
Do you really need to use those biker clothes?
In the beginning I didn’t use biker clothes, but when I started pedaling for more than 5 miles and during all sorts of weather conditions I saw the need for the biker clothes. They’re not only better for your… let’s say… body parts that touch the saddle, but they keep you warm on winter, cool on summer, and drier on wet conditions.
I have a rain suit that keeps me dry for some time. But I always get wet after 30 minutes. So I don’t stop pedaling, this way I don’t get cold.
Snow is actually easier, provided I’m riding a mountain bike with disk brakes. During the snow storms that happened here in the Seattle region in 2006, the bicycle was way faster than any car. Hail tends to hit only the helmet if I keep my head down.
What about hills?
I climb them. Everyday there’s a hill on my way to Microsoft, then another one when going home. I face this as any other challenge: in the beginning I go easy on them, learn how to cope with them, then after some time I master the hills. When I use the mountain bike, I use a different path going through some trails near Microsoft. On the way back, there’s a nice downhill trail.