Finding the Time

One of the biggest struggles to consistently working out is finding the time. Eric, one of our operations specialists, looked at the problem only as an operations specialist could. After analyzing his schedule, he found he could create the time, but it required a change is the way he gets to and from the office. Here is his story:

EricLike many of us, it was a challenge for me to fit physical activity into my busy schedule. Between family, work, friends, and a myriad of miscellaneous responsibilities exercise often fell by the wayside. As the inevitable effects of this inactivity manifested themselves, it became apparent that I needed to find the time…….somehow.

Following a thorough analysis of my available time, I discovered that incorporating exercise into my daily commute was the solution. I was unwilling to sacrifice my time in others areas of my life i.e. kids, chores, sleep, recreational activities, etc. but my daily commute presented an opportunity. Given my proximity to work, walking, running, or some equivalent option was not viable. Those activities would have taken more additional time than I could afford. Though, I discovered that cycling to work add only 30 minutes to my commute, round-trip. Logically, it was an easy decision.

Despite the soundness of the logic, I still had some reservations. I had never been much of a cyclist. Of course, I learned to ride a bike when I was young and it was the preferred modus operandi for transportation before I was able to drive, but I never anticipated that it would become a large part of my life. I would see cyclists on the road and derisively snicker at their shorts and matching shirts (I have two sets now) or grumble about their brashness in traffic. Certainly, I never thought that I would become one of THEM.

Also, a major downside to this form of exercise is the initial cost; I had to come up with an initial investment for a quality (aka dependable) bike. Plus, I needed to acquire the necessities like a waterproof bag, lights, helmet, clothing, anti-theft protection, etc. I found it especially difficult to justify this cost because I didn’t have any evidence that I would really like it. Thankfully, I took the gamble and acquired the equipment so I could at least give it a shot. Again, given my time constraints I had to try.

My first few rides were wonderful: great weather, a feeling of accomplishment, the adulation of my friends/family. These were easy days to ride but life-style/routine changes are particularly tough and after the honeymoon stage wore off, it wasn’t always so easy to get excited in the morning for that ride……especially on days when it was cold or rainy.

Thankfully, the vast benefits of cycling daily motivated me through the difficult days and eventually the routine set-in. Now, I don’t even think about the commute – it’s just how I get to work. My energy level throughout the day is considerably higher, my mood is improved, and my productivity is enhanced. Each person is different and finding a physical activity that you enjoy is a challenge. Ultimately, for me, it is cycling and it has enriched my life infinitely………..and it only cost me an additional 30 minutes a day.

If you liked this story, check out Elaina’s story about her family’s decision to switch to bikes for their everyday transportation.

I Love to Ride My Bicycle: Part 1

I recently found out that Elaina, one of the employees in our Boise, Idaho office, bikes everywhere she goes.  To me, that was really amazing, I can barely walk on snowy roads let alone contemplate riding a bicycle on them,  but it left me with a million questions for her. How do you grocery shop?  How do you get your kiddos to school, how do you get to work without looking like a hot mess?  Here’s part one of Elaina’s bike riding story.

Bicycling combines exercise, lifestyle prioritization, financial benefits, environmental IMG_1359consciousness, and being awesome all into one single outdoor activity. This will be my 5th straight year of commuting via bicycle year-round, with kids in tow, and I’m having the time of my life.

If you ride a bicycle, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to humans and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes (J. Exp. Bio, 1973; 68 (9): 689 – 709). The less energy per weight you use to travel over a distance, the more energy-efficient you are. Vance found that the most efficient creature without mechanical help is a condor. With mechanical help, the cyclist comes out on top. Here is a partial list, ranked from most to least energy-efficient:

  1. Human on a bicycle
  2. Condor
  3. Salmon
  4. Horse
  5. Human in a jet plane
  6. Human walking
  7. Human running
  8. Human in an automobile
  9. Cow
  10. Sheep
  11. Dog
  12. Hummingbird
  13. Rabbit
  14. Bee
  15. Mouse

Biking forces you to be efficient with your choices. 

When I became a single mother, I was forced to be ruthlessly efficient with my choices. Armed with no resources but supportive family and my sociology degree (with its associated altruistic yet teensy paycheck), I had to decide between being able to afford a car, which would make the choices for child care suboptimal, or to live without a car and spend the bulk of my income on better childcare.  I chose the latter and have never looked back.

I met the love of my life and his daughter a few years ago and moved here to Boise, where we have slowly built a life that caters to bike commuting and living simply. Together, my family of four have twelve bikes (our ancient dog even has a trailer) and one (equally ancient) car, which is rarely driven. We sold my partner’s house and now live in a small home that is next to the bike path and the pristine Boise River. I sought out work at this amazing company, which, refreshingly, encourages wellness endeavors and just so happens to be less than a mile away from my home and across the street from my children’s school, with only one major street to cross. It may seem a stroke of luck, but mine is a lifestyle carefully engineered over several years to focus on the priority of living without being dependent on a car.

If you want to hear more about how Elaina stays on her bicycle during winter, spring, summer, and fall, check out Part 2 of this blog.

Patrick’s Commuting Adventures – Sunny with a chance of Bugs!

We are nearly half way through Bike and Walk to Work Month! And Patrick has shared another adventure during his ride home. Though, this time, it is not the weather providing the challenge!

Weather.com says I don’t need to worry about any surprise rain this time!  75 degrees and sunny without a cloud in the sky.  It’s days like this that I hope nobody from out-iStock_000036215810Smallof-town is here, because I can’t imagine anyone from anywhere not wanting to instantly move to the Northwest if they got to experience a day like this!  For bikers, it doesn’t get any better!

As I don my helmet and prepare to leave, I see a group of flying insects lit up by the bright afternoon sun.  They seem to be almost frolicking; a giddy dance without purpose or direction.  Little did I know what an ill-portent that would be for my trip home.

A few minutes into my relaxing ride, I get a rude awakening as an enormous flying insect decides to dive-bomb my ear.  In the blink of an eye, I process the split second crescendo of humming flight, then feel the dull thud of a collision immediately followed by the loud angry buzz of a bug trying to extricate itself from my ear.  It feels fuzzy and large, and fortunately is able to fly away before my natural instinct of smashing it can take over and inadvertently drive it into my brain.  Disconcerted but not permanently scarred, I ride on!

Sometime later a bug flies in my mouth.  It happens.  I’ve had worse.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s small and goes down quickly.  I figure it was about 0.02% of my RDA of protein.  Boy the bugs are active today; apparently Bug-Spring started today!

Later, I begin to cross the Knickerbocker Bridge over the Willamette River.  I’ve learned from experience that there are a couple spots that bugs like to hang out around this bridge.  The river is literally a spawning ground for gnats and the stupid ones seem to like to hover directly over the bike path – at head level no less.  I’m on high alert from my previous interactions with Order Diptera, so I easily spot the swarm dead ahead and have plenty of time to close my mouth – careful also to breathe out so they don’t fly up my nose.  I feel a few hit my face but none manage to lodge themselves in any orifices, and I emerge unscathed.

I’ll still take 75, sunny, and buggy over 37, rainy, and bug-less any day!  Bring on Summer!