Austin Cycling News

Cycling in Austin

On being an old, outta-shape guy…

By • Mar 13th, 2009 • Category: Hmm...

…and becoming a bicycle commuter…

When I was in my mid 30′s, I was overweight, out of shape, and not very healthy at all. Then I got into cycling. This was in the Houston area…where cycling is easy, because the place is pancake-flat. So, I got my weight down, my energy level way up, and my general health back under control. Then when I was at age 41, my daughter was born. You parents know how a baby can literally suck the spare time right out of your life. Not that I resent her for that, of course… I’m just saying that the cycling got seriously back-burnered. And I gained all the excess weight back, and got all out of shape again.

For years, I’d wished I could live close enough to work to commute by bike, but if you know anything about Houston, you know that many people there live a minimum of 15 miles from their jobs, often with only high-traffic routes available to get there…not good for cycle-commuting at all.

Years passed, and I found a job here in Austin, so we all moved up here about four years ago. The kiddo was in middle-school by then, and thus lower-maintenance in terms of parental free-time constraints. So I dug out the bikes and serviced them up, figuring to get back into it. Needless to say, the hilliness here was a major shock to a flatlander’s system, especially since said flatlander hadn’t ridden much in several years!

A few months after that, one of our cars croaked, and it was too expensive to justify fixing so old a car. So, I started walking down to the bus stop and taking Cap Metro to work. Finally, it dawned on me that I could save a lot of time by biking down to a farther bus stop, eliminating a transfer and long wait at the Park & Ride. So now, I ride about 1.5 miles to a stop on the 1M route, ride the bus about 4 miles, then hop off and bike the last mile to work.

The experience of using my bike to get to work is growing on me, still, two years later. I enjoy it immensely, and will eventually migrate to cycling the full distance to & from work. I do that occasionally as it is, especially when the bus comes along with a full bike rack, and I just don’t feel like waiting for the next one and praying that its bike rack isn’t also full. BD,DT!

My commute is in the far north part of town, from Wells Branch down Metric to Rutland, so I don’t see the kind of traffic congestion that y’all see in the central part of town. Plus, the streets and bike lanes in the newer parts of town are wider and (I feel) safer. I’ve never had an altercation with a driver, other than one hollering at me one early morning to “Git on th’ sidewalk!”, and this from a smoke-belching old Buick with only one headlight and one taillight working (Harumph!).

Anyway, now, at age 55, I’m feeling better than I have in 15 years. I really haven’t dropped all that much weight (it’s much harder when you’re older), but I feel pretty doggone good. I have way more energy now, definitely more phsyical stamina, and a much greater feeling of overall well-being. And I attribute all of this to the cycling, because I don’t get much exercise otherwise.

I figure I’m killing several birds with this one stone:
1. Saving tons of money by eliminating one car
2. Getting a lot of exercise that I wouldn’t otherwise have time for
3. Appreciating the old saying ‘…& smell the roses’
4. And as a bonus, reducing my ‘carbon footprint’ by roughly half

Perhaps I’m ‘preaching to the choir’ by expressing all this in this particular venue, but I have to say that I’m truly enjoying (after all these years of wishing I could) the experience of cycling to work. I’ve also even used my bike (and the bus system) to get around to other places around town on weekends. Sure, it takes longer, but at my age, speed doesn’t hold the importance that it once did. And then there’s that ‘smelling the roses’ thing, too…

is Age: 55 Marital: M Occupation: Mechanical Designer/Project Manager, wastewater treatment Hobbies: Guitars, Boomerangs, Bicycles, Cooking
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