The past few years, I have pursued bicycling recreationally — a ride on Jefferson City's greenway system one day, a ride on the Katy Trail the next.
But a recent achievement of David Bange, my fellow licensed cycling instructor, made me rethink my approach to cycling.
Bange reached a milestone of cycling more than 8,000 miles in a year. That is a lot of time in the saddle and dedication that transcends just a love of bicycles. What impressed me the most (in addition to the very large number of miles) was Bange biked to work almost every day.
I have been to Bange's house and his office; there is some distance between the two. Making the decision to bike to work took determination and dedication on his part.
Riding a bike to work is not a casual undertaking. In the United States, cycling to work is the exception rather than the rule. More people, especially in Jefferson City, drive or ride public transportation to work than bike. After thinking about Bange's accomplishments, I wondered whether biking to work was suitable for me.
A few days a week, I help with tours at the historic Missouri State Penitentiary, a few miles from my house. I typically drive, but would it be feasible to ride my bike?
There are things to consider, like a few steep hills, lack of a place to change from biking clothes to work clothes, lack of running water and the demands of the job.
These are not insurmountable.
Yes, I have to pedal up hills, but I can coast down on the return trip. I will have to adjust my schedule a little. Instead of a 10-minute drive, it will take maybe 25 minutes or more. I will have to make a few trial rides to figure that out. I will also have to figure out what to do about clothing, cleanliness and various weather conditions.
Maybe I can do this.
The benefits are many. I get to do an almost daily bike ride. I will get in better shape. I am saving money and carving out a lower carbon footprint. I have more time to meditate and enjoy the scenery.
Cycling to work may not be for everyone. But, as Bange's accomplishment shows, it can be done.
And, I am going to try!
Jim Coleman is a League of American Bicyclists-certified licensed cycling instructor and a member of the city's cycling subcommittee.