SPC instructor commutes by bike
The benefit of Greg Byrd’s seven-mile round trip to work is that he can travel at a leisurely pace, taking in the pleasant view around him. The drawback: a rainy day can make his arrival at work a bit soggier than for other commuters.
That’s because he rides his bike.
“Biking to work for me is a great alternative to exercising in other ways; I’ve always disliked exercising for its own sake,” said Byrd, Clearwater Campus Communications instructor. “I feel rather like a kid who gets to go outside and ride his bike twice a day rather than someone who has to drive to work.”
Byrd began commuting by bike 20 years ago, riding to work atop a Raleigh 10-speed. At that time, the college owned a field house across the street from the Clearwater Campus, where he could shower before work. Once the field house was sold, he stopped biking to work.
Now that the campus has the LEED-certified Natural Science, Mathematics, and College of Education Building, featuring two showers for bike riders, Byrd started his bike commute again this past winter.
He initially rode a big blue Schwinn five-speed beach cruiser with a luggage rack and huge wheels, pedaling along well-traveled Drew Street. This summer, he switched to a Trek hybrid bike (a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike) that he bought for $50.
“People have been surprisingly nice and cooperative on the road,” Byrd said. “Mostly, people don’t pay attention so you have to look out for them.”
He says that riding his bike rather than driving his truck saves him about a gallon of gas or more a week. So far, the only problem Byrd has had with his bike commute came in the form of a nail that flattened his tire. However, after switching out the tube, he was back on the road within 10 minutes.
Otherwise, “it’s been perfect,” said Byrd. “I’ve been commuting three to four days a week during the summer term and throughout this term.”
Byrd offers a few tips for others who might consider biking to work:
- Find a bike that fits you – “The better the bike works and the better it fits you, the more you will enjoy the ride,” Byrd said. “But don’t feel you need to spend a bunch of money on a bike. I didn’t.”
- Wear the proper attire – “I do own some of those tight, shiny bike shorts but I wear them under my cargo shorts,” Byrd said. “I definitely have a helmet and wear either a safety green shirt or a bright orange when I’m riding. There’s no need to become a ‘gear nut,’ though. Get on the bike and ride.”
- Ride at a pace that is comfortable to you – “Don’t feel you have to be Lance Armstrong,” Byrd said. “All the biking gurus say that you should keep up a pretty brisk cadence so that you’re not putting stress on those knees.”
- Take the proper route – “The route you take to work in a car may not be the best bike route to take,” Byrd said. “It’s sometimes helpful to take a weekend day to ride the route and find out what works best on two wheels. You might find some really nice neighborhoods, parks or streets to take that are not much further than the big roads.”
- Don’t ride on the sidewalk – “Serious bike commuters and riders emphasize that it’s actually safer to ride with traffic on the street than on a sidewalk. This seems to be more and more true, as cars don’t look for you on the sidewalk but they see you when you’re in your part of the lane on the street.”
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