My Bicycle is My Transportation

Taking the bike as transportation is becoming a popular alternative to cars. We got together with Nicole, a teacher from the Midwest who adopted the bicycle as her main form of transportation, to ask her a few questions. Our hope is to enlighten and help anyone considering the leap. Nicole’s positive energy and outlook was undeniable and contagious throughout the interview. Honestly, she left us wondering why more of us don’t sell the car and grab a bike.

How long have you used a bike for your only form of transportation and why?
It’s been about three years. Three years ago I was moving to Slovenia, so I sold my car. While there, I transitioned to mostly using trains, bikes and my feet for transportation. When I came back to the States, I decided I didn't want a car. I think it’s really easy to be lazy and I wanted to make a change. One of my favorite things to do is ride my bike. There is little point, while I can, to give myself the crutch of owning a car.
How has biking altered your life?
I have to wear a lot more layers! (She laughs while dressed in a scarf, coat, gloves, hat and jacket) Driving two hours used to frustrate me, but I always loved really long bike rides. To arrive somewhere feeling exhausted, satisfied and proud is a pretty wonderful way to get from place to place. I really think that we make things too easy for ourselves and that inconvenience is OK.
How do you motivate yourself to keep pedaling every day?
Well, I’ve got to get to work! If I want to go anywhere, I’ve got to bike there. It’s actually way more motivating than having a car. I have loved riding bicycles my entire life. It was what I did for fun as a kid. I looked forward to riding with my family. So, in a way, it has always been a form of transportation. Because of that, it’s not hard for me to find motivation.
How do other people respond when you tell them you don’t use a car?
I teach 150 kids and they all think I’m completely bananas. (As for adults) I have lived in a few different cities and had different reactions in all of them. Some people respond casually, as if it’s very normal that I don’t have a car. Others respond with complete disbelief and explicitly offer me rides. It really depends on the climate of the city.
You live in the Midwest and face extremes of every season, including blizzards and scorching heat. How do you deal with that on your bike? 
I actually love the heat! I have panniers and pack them full of ice for when I run out of water. In the winter I make sure to buy the right clothing. Without proper clothing, it’s terrible. I think that if you are serious about commuting with a bike, there are things you have to invest in to make it sustainable. If you buy things online or search for the right deals, you’ll find things for cheaper. It’s also very important to find a company you trust (for these items).
Music and cycling go hand in hand. What’s your favorite music to listen to while riding?
On long rides through the country I love listening to Brent Berry Band. It makes me really happy and feels adventurous.
Do you pack snacks for rides to keep you going?
If I’m going from city to city I pack a snack and stop somewhere for beer on the way. Having a tofu sandwich and drinking a beer for lunch is the only way to enjoy a nine hour bike ride.
Any long rides planned for the future?
You know, it’s tough as a first year teacher because I don’t have a lot of extra time. Now that it’s warming up I have the opportunity to get out more. I’m actually training for the Dirty Kanza in May and I'm really excited for that.
What would you tell people who are considering using a bicycle as transportation or just thinking about biking more?
My passionate side says do it! You will love it! You will not be disappointed! It is a challenge that will lead to a healthier lifestyle for you and the Earth. My side that understands people a little bit more says to hide the keys for three weeks and see if you can handle life without a car. See if it’s something you can handle that doesn’t cause you grief. You should understand that out of the entire year, you will have several days where you hate it, but your heart and body will be in better shape.

 

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9 Reasons to ditch your car and use the Bicycle

More and more people are switching from four wheels to two. Here is why: 

1. Money, money, mon-ay. 

If you pull up your bank statement and erase every slot taken up by gas or car insurance or gas station breakfast sandwiches" you might realize your dream vacation to New Zealand to see Flight of the Conchords Live is more of a reality than ever before. Not only does it allow more funds for fun, this allows some folks the opportunity to just have money for basic living expenses. Let's face it, we would all love to pay less bills.

2. Health

Gas station sandwiches or not, riding your bike, no matter how far, will get you into shape and feeling great! We met an XDS rider who started biking three times a week for just five miles each trip. After losing over 60 pounds, he felt motivated to change his diet too and lost over 100 pounds total. High fives were flying everywhere and he's now advocating the life change.

3. Your employer will love it

Employers are also jumping on the bike. Healthy employees are better employees! You will use less sick days and get more done. Simply put, you'll feel great, get more done and spend more time at home instead of working late. Pshh, I'd hire you right now. 

4. Maintenance on a bike is CHEAP

No one likes taking their car into the mechanic. The bill is magically always around exactly what you have in your checking account. Even if you have to get a new bike, it will still probably be cheaper than when you take your car in. Plus, you can do most bike maintenance in your own home. Tim (the tool man) Taylor will be proud. 

5. The Planet will thank you

You won't be burning up fuel, you won't be damaging roads, you really won't be doing anything harmful. You'll pretty much just be getting in shape and feeling great. I think we can all deal with that footprint. 

6. Ok, so you have to keep a car to take the kids around... 

Bicycles are a great alternative to getting a second car. A lot of couples are selling their second car and learning to organize their lives a lot more in order to save money. One of you will bike to work, the other will drive... and then you'll switch! Nothing feels better than letting your partner take the car and nothing feels better than telling your partner you'd rather get in a nice ride today. (You might end up using the car far less than you'd think)

7. Say goodbye to parking and tickets

The ticket lady will scowl when you do a little celebratory dance because she can't get you. No more driving around the block 458 times just to find a spot -- find a tree or bike rack and get there on time. 

8. Mental Health and Happiness 

Exercise allows your body to produce more serotonin that keeps you positive and happy in life. Mental health is just as important as physical. Cycling helps both. Hop on a bike and bring out that contagious smile and positive attitude your friends and family love so much. 

9. You'll meet people

You'll lock your bike up outside your favorite coffee shop and walk in to hear "nice bike" at least a few times per week. You'll find yourself swapping stories about your last ride and planning one together. Cycling seems to be a hobby that has no real hierarchy. The cycling addicts easily relate with the rider who just enjoys an occasional weekend cruise. It's all about the universal enjoyment the bicycle brings. 

 

Overall, getting a bike and using the car less is an adventure everyone should try at least once in life. We hope you try it and that we hear your stories soon! 

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