Tomorrow, May 17th is National Bike to Work Day. It’s a great idea! Imagine the wind in your hair, the money you’ll save on fuel, and the improvement you’ll be making to the environment. Oh, and let’s not forget about the incredible calves you’ll have after doing that a few times. It will be fabulous when…
Okay, so biking to working isn’t really practical for much of the population of DeSoto, Missouri. I’m here to add some “practical” to the idea. I read on The League of American Bicyclists website that “40% of all trips in the US are less than two miles, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work”. That means everyone should be biking a lot more, but for those of us in the semi-rural portions of the country, and there are a lot of us, it just doesn’t make sense. Many of us have marathon distance commutes. I’m not saying there aren’t some of us that can’t bike that far or that shouldn’t strive to do so if it is a personal goal. I’m saying that biking isn’t always a practical option. If you have that marathon commute, it also isn’t a particularly pleasant odor for your co-workers either. (Estimated temperature tomorrow morning at 7 am…68 degrees with 77% humidity…No, you’ll smell fine, really!)
Let’s not even get started with all the tradespeople we have in our community; you know the ones who have tools, supplies, three bottles of water, and their lunch in a van that has room for…absolutely nothing else. Even minimal gear becomes a burden on a bike*. So what are we to do? How can we make this work? How do we introduce this idea of something that has a lot of health benefits but isn’t workable in our current situation?
My commute is 5.2 miles. I could probably bike that…if it was flat. Of course, this is southern Jefferson County. Nothing is flat here. I would also need to ride on a curvy two-lane county road that doesn’t have shoulders, cross the railroad tracks, and commune with the hill on Miller. See how much fun this is turning out to be. But isn’t fun what it was about when we were growing up and rode our bikes everywhere? Didn’t we see who could ride farthest up the steep hill before having to stop and walk? Biking wasn’t an environmental statement or a way to save money. It was fun. If you want to re-introduce biking into your routine, make it fun and start small. Biking to work might not be an option, but riding your bike to the neighbors or through the neighborhood after dinner is probably a good start. And repetition is wonderful. Once you make a habit out of something like that, it is amazing how other people notice. Perhaps subconsciously, they’ll start driving more carefully if there are regularly people and kids on foot or bike.
There are some other options too. If you’re looking for more than just a leisurely ride through your area, give the Tuesday Night Ride gang a try. They meet at Main and Mill Brewing in Festus at 6 pm on…you guessed it, Tuesdays! You can check out their Facebook page for more information.
You can also consider signing up the Bike MS. The nearest is in Godfrey, Illinois and has routes that are 25-100 miles each of the two days of the event in early September. That might require you to amp up your evening rides through the neighborhood, but it raises money for a great cause.
Always a personal favorite is the 2019 Bottleneck Bridge Ride. This cycling event in Jefferson County will be Sunday, August 18, 2019. The distances range from 10 (family ride), 21, 32, and 63 miles. The farmers’ market is usually a pit stop on the long route, and we love hearing all the flat-landers talk about how steep the terrain is and how they’ve heard about something called “Pratt Hill”.
Even though biking to work might not be in your near future, there are options for incorporating some cycling into your life. Whether you decide to bike to Flour de Lis Bakery for a pastry before the library opens one morning, spin your wheels to the farmers’ market, or decide to sign up for a longer ride, remember to start small and make it fun. It will always be worth it if you’re enjoying yourself.
*A fishing rod and tackle box has never been a burden for me on a bike. You might give it a try.