January 20, 2024

Did I Have it Right All Along?

If you've spent any time at all surfing these pages you know I have posted hundreds of thousands of words trying to articulate the benefits of commuting to work by bicycle, and it is very nice to see that this topic is still as relevant today as it has ever been.  Back in 2008 during the financial crisis and subsequent inflation and big spike in petrol prices in the states, traffic to this site nearly tripled.  Today, that cycle continues - at least evidenced by YouTube content, social media, podcasts, and everything else that has taken the place of the humble blog.  My own fault, really: a personal education journey and subsequent tripling of my workload in the office has wiped out any desires to spend additional hours at the keyboard to type out what others are articulating very well in fewer typed words or well produced videos. 

To that end, I want to share the following with those of you loyal readers some of my favorites from the vast array of content out there these days, particularly from a source which - in my opinion - represents the best of cycling on the internet:  GCN. 

Now, hold on ... there are as many opinions about other people’s opinions out there as there are.... well, opinions.  Some have criticized GCN as being too "racer" focused, which may well have been accurate a few years back, but I contend they have become quite aware of this notion.  Their content of late is broad, well-balanced, and it paints a far wider picture of cycling than it had perhaps originally intended.  Simon Richardson seems to be a champion of this balance, with a terrific blend of well-timed delivery, humor, research, and first-hand knowledge across a wide range of cycling topics.  Needless to continue reinforcing what is clearly apparent here:  I'm a fan of their stuff and have been watching it here and there for over five years now.  This isn't a plug, really -- they're doing just fine on YouTube, and certainly don't need my endorsement - and to be transparent, they haven't prompted, asked, or compensated me in any way for the posts below.  I simply feel they are worth sharing.

The first video delves into winter commuting - which may be a touch easier to stomach in the UK than, say, commuting in upper Manitoba this time of year ... or the American Midwest.  UK winters may not have the staggering Arctic temps and icy roads we must contend with here in the central US, but the content still translates well - especially considering most would only consider riding to and from work if the temperatures were well above freezing anyhow.  Beyond that mark, not much actually changes ... just add layers, and ride carefully.

Reinforcing another point that I've attempted to make on this blog over the years is the beneficial training that commuting to-and-from work provides.  For me, this was simply observational:  I did it because I liked it, and I just also happened to attend randonneuring events and the occasional ultra-distance race.  I never had much time to train in big chunks, so the commuting to and from work just had to do.  The daily exposure to the elements allowed continuous improvements in layering techniques, required adaptation to daily workout loads, demanded that I listen to my body, it kept the weight off, sharpened my logistical sensibilities, allowed me to experiment with lights and reflective gear, and so-on.

It never occurred to me that riding twice daily was actually a highly beneficial training tactic that others have begun to adopt, from pros to aspiring amateurs.  Turns out, recent research backs this up, and GCN (this piece also presented by Si), produced a brief video discussing it in some detail. 


Obviously, both videos have done quite a bit toward getting me back into a routine.  The pandemic un-did a lot for many, but I can only speak for myself:  comparing my fitness between 2018-2019, and today, a clear piece is missing that I have never successfully replaced:  consistency.  I have, however, not had a physical office to return to since our company radically downsized our real estate footprint in early 2021 … but that is beginning to change.  Now that our team has a mandatory once-per-day appearance at the office on the calendar, I have put bicycle commuting back into my lifestyle – and I didn’t realize just how much I’d missed it.  As I get my legs back underneath me and set big targets this spring, you can bet that I will be commuting to and from the office beyond our current once-a-week mandate, adding consistency and twice-per-day rides as a big part of my training regime.  Not only has it worked for me in the past, but research backs it up … not to mention all of the mental health benefits that will come with it. 

Remember that big bicycle boom that started during 2020?  Still have that bike today?  Well, here we are, friends.  I think, especially considering the current financial climate, riding back and forth to work may be just the thing for all of us.  Hope to see you out there!