I started cycling over 15 years ago for fun and fitness. It gave me a chance to connect with friends, enjoy the outdoors and get a reasonable work-out in. It also provided me with some much needed “me time” outside of work and home commitments, while also being a great stress reliever.
When I was approached to participate in Cycle September as part of the 2018 National Bike Challenge, I was hesitant to move my cycling from a place of recreation to obligation. I knew that if I committed to participating in this event I would be committing to cycling for transportation beyond the fun rides I had grown accustom to over the years. But I also knew that the Bike Challenge might very well give me the incentive I needed to become a more sustainable commuter, something I’d been wanting to do for several years. Additional incentive came in the form of knowing that I was training for a half century fundraiser with the Canary Challenge (early cancer research detection) at the end of September, and what better way to spend more time on my bike in preparation for that ride.
I committed to cycling a minimum of 4 days a week, with at least one day of commuting to the office. Aside from cycling to work, I used the opportunity to think through and plan each trip I was making, whether it was to the store, the doctor’s office, the gym or lunch with a friend. In some cases, I found cycling more time efficient than dealing with traffic in Palo Alto and the surrounding towns. And still, I was able to enjoy my fun rides to the Pulgas Water Temple, Stevens Creek Reservoir and the dreaded Old La Honda road to Skyline. The Bike Challenge provided me with the push I needed to be more conscious of cycling for transportation and commuting. It took a bit more planning, but I enjoyed the Challenge and the feeling of being more sustainable and healthy. I ended up cycling just under 195 miles for the month, averaging 48 miles a week, with most of my short trips averaging 6 miles around town.
Special thanks goes to my friend Sally, who was my inspiration to start cycling over 15 years ago, to my husband Allen, who connected me to the Canary Challenge, and to Virginia Panlasigui for providing me with the opportunity and encouragement to get on my bike more for Cycle September.