Unexpected Rewards

This Morning’s Reward

I commuted by car for 10 years and was never treated to anything like this. The crazy thing is that I had no idea what I was missing. It’s the inverse of the old saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” For the sad souls stuck in traffic on the freeway every morning, I suspect it’s more like, “You don’t know what you’ve been missing until you have it.” Seriously folks, if you haven’t tried bike commuting, and there’s nothing other than indecision keeping you from it, give it a go; you can’t even fathom the rewards you’ll get from it. And the kicker is that beautiful sunrises are only the tip of the iceberg!

16 Responses to “Unexpected Rewards”

  • John says:

    Indeed. If you’re worried that all you have is an “old clunker” of a bike. Get on it. Ride it. Take it in over a weekend and have it given a little TLC by the mechanic. The most important part is to just RIDE. You’ll fall in love with it. You’ll save money. And before you know it, you’ve saved enough money to buy that little something-something to replace your aging clunker.

  • Nate Briggs says:

    Hey Alan:

    The first thing that struck me when I began riding regularly was a real sense of liberation and enjoyment: reminding me of why I loved bicycles when I was a kid.

    And I’m amazed at how long it has taken for bicycle manufacturers and advocates to present this side of the story.

    Previously, bike commuting was presented as a kind of martyrdom: something you did because it was “good for you” – like a plate of unadorned tofu.

    Of course, in a car-centric culture it’s imcumbent on us to “testify” that something that is not a car is not only viable – but preferable.


    Nate Briggs (SLC)

  • Lucas says:

    I could not agree with you more…

  • Aaron says:

    I wish I had sights like this on my morning commute… I leave the house at about 4:30 AM and its still pitch black outside when I get there around 5:00.

  • ethan says:

    Having commuted by bike for almost two years now, I don’t know why I would ever go back.

  • Greg says:

    What I want to know is how Alan sees to always have time on his commute to stop and take photos. :) I always have my camera with me but seem to rarely have time to take the shot between catching the train and getting into work — and then of course this time of year it’s dark at night.

  • Alan says:


    I know you’re teasing, but I wanted to respond anyway. :-) I enjoy bike commuting so much that I factor in extra time for riding slow, shooting photos, taking unexplored routes, following side streets, etc. When I drove the car I always delayed leaving until the last second because there was no joy in it. Now I’m eager to head out because the commute is its own reward!


  • Sharper says:

    I think these are my official daily commute stats:

    Average time:
    Bike: 22 min / Car: 12 min
    Bike: 5.3 miles / Car: 4.8 miles
    Average brake lights seen (pairs):
    Bike: 4 / Car: ~60
    Average sudden applications of brakes:
    Bike: 0 / Car: 4
    Incidents of aggravating lane mergers:
    Bike: 0 / Car: 3
    Average distance between myself and road user ahead of me:
    Bike: 1 mile / Car: 100 feet
    Billboards passed:
    Bike: 1 (usually hidden from view) / Car: 6 (at least)
    Sunrises specifically stopped for:
    Bike (2009): 6 / Car (1999-2009): 0
    Average pacecar:
    Bike: jackrabbit / Car: boring “urban camouflage” silvery beige Honda Civic
    Other stops (neat photo ops, R&R, quick dip in the river on a hot day, etc.):
    Bike (2009): 8 / Car (1999-2009): 0
    If I ever care enough, I’d like to add “average noise”, but that hardly seems worth it. It’s nice to (be able to) stop for pictures, but it didn’t occur to me until my coworkers were discussing a billboard ad campaign that I hadn’t ridden by one in nigh on forever. If someone had told me bike commuting would also cut my advertising intake, I’d have started biking much more aggressively much longer ago.

  • JQFrederick says:

    I saw a similar (but not completely identical) sky in late afternoon (on a bike ride, no less!) in the middle of Kansas. When I looked it up, the formation is known as cumulus mamalatus (if I’m recalling the spelling correctly). Is this the same formation in an earlier stage of formation, or is it something different? Any “weather freaks” in the house?
    And, Thanks for stopping, Alan–I thoroughly enjoy your joy in your commute.

  • Greg says:

    @Alan: Yes, I was teasing. I used to be able to do the same. With school-age kids in the house I’m usually heading out the door at the last possible moment to catch the train. On the other side of the ride (between the train and work) I have a bit more freedom and do stop to smell the roses. There are fewer roses on my ride (mostly suburban arterials in Silicon Valley) than I’d like. I have a short stretch on a MUP that’s very nice and I ride across a river that often has herons and egrets, and honestly, I’m on my bike for the whole thing so I can’t complain too much.

    The other thing that’s on my wish list is to get a nice point-and-shoot camera like the Canon S90. It’s a bit inconvenient to stop and grab my dSLR for quick shots.

  • Alan says:


    I like your stats… :-)

  • Alan says:


    I wear my G10 in a tiny bag across my torso so I can get to it quick. I also keep a Gorillapod handy for low light exposures.


  • Bryan @ Renaissance Bicycles says:

    On a side note, I think this is my favorite EcoVelo image of all time … and that is saying something!

  • randomray says:

    I can’t cycle commute , but I was talking to someone on a bicycle ride today as I was taking pictures of his home , a beautiful remodeled church in Carversville , Pa . It was about how if you are in a car you don’t see 3/4 of the stuff around you . And how you see so much more on a bicycle and if you want a better look you just stop , something that is impossible in car most of the time . ” Believe me I try ” . When I stop now I take pictures too . I started taking pictures after I saw a three foot long purple lady bug floating through a field and no one believed me .

  • enviroengpe says:

    Commuting one day each week cuts gas use by 20%. My commute is 33 miles round trip. It’s only practical on Friday because we work a half-day. Here are my Friday stats:

    Time: 70 minutes in car with 30 minute elliptical workout = 100 minutes
    Fuel: two gallons gasoline
    Aggravation due to stupid Tucson drivers: plenty

    Time: 180 minutes, no elliptical needed
    Fuel: Stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup

    So the net difference is a lovely 80 minutes of riding. Also, I get the pancakes.

    This won’t work in the summer.

  • Jeff Lock says:

    I love the stars when I ride home after afternoon shift. About 11 pm at night away from the city lights the stars are just brilliant. I remember one period of nights seeing a comet that was just awesome. The milky way is so bright it encompasses the entire night sky. Something if you was in a car you would not even be aware of.
    I could never go back to being caged in a car.

© 2011 EcoVelo™