This was the view from my commute this morning:
Morning mist was just dissipating over the Ottawa River – temperature hovering around zero. It was a beautiful ride. I don’t have the chance to bike in to work every day – It’s probably twice per week on average, more in the summer and less in the dead of winter. I used to much more consistent before having kids. That’s not meant as an excuse – just that with one child in school and the other in daycare at different places, it’s often impossible to swing it with my wife’s and my work schedules. However, the days when schedules do allow it, result in the best possible commutes. Today’s was a roughly 18 kilometre ride. The particular route allows me to spend 95% of the time on pathways as opposed to roads – most of it right along the river (Ottawa is a great city for pathways and greenspace – but I’ve seen many other great examples too). It’s longer, but safer, and the scenery speaks for itself.
I can’t express how much better the morning feels after a bicycle commute, rather than a drive. Aside from the gorgeous scenery, it’s probably the best time of my day for reflection, formulating ideas, etc. Kind of a moving meditation, which I find I’m much better at than the seated kind. It’s a bit different in traffic (which is sometimes the route I take) – in which case allowing the mind to wander is done at one’s own peril. However, there’s a certain zen to that, I find – to not allowing your mind to wander to anything else – redirecting, as needed, back to the pavement, the cars, lights, pedestrians. It makes a person realize how few opportunities we (well, I can only really speak for myself) to really focus on one thing, rather than multitasking.
I ride pretty easy on my way in to work, so I don’t have to waste time with a second shower once there. It’s still a decent workout though – well, not a real workout per se, but at least better than sitting around. The other metabolic advantage is that it’s done in a fasted state, so it’s a good fat-burner. I tend to follow a Leangains-style intermittent fasting eating pattern (i.e. I fast for roughly 16 hours per day with an 8 hour eating window). That means that I don’t eat until about 1 or 2pm, and stop around 9-10pm. So a morning commute is done while fasting. It forces me to do something active first thing in the morning. I totally applaud people who can get out of bed at 5 or 6 in the morning and get a killer workout in. I just can’t seem to do it. Prying myself out of bed is too damn hard! And once the kids are up, our mornings are just too busy with getting them dressed and fed and off to school/daycare. My best option is a lunch hour workout (more on that in a future post), whereby I can train in a fasted state and then eat my first meal of the day in the early afternoon. But a morning bike commute is a good alternate/additional option because it allows you to get an easy workout in during time that was already accounted for anyway.
I get to work feeling more energetic, less stressed and appreciative of a little bit of time spent in nature. It saves money too, that would otherwise be spent on gas, maintenance, parking, transit fees, etc. That’s win-win in my mind.