I have always said that it was a goal of mine to live within biking distance of work. To be honest though with every new career change my distance commuting with car has grown longer.
I just accepted a position at Penn State College of Agriculture in their IT dept. State college is home to Penn State University and is a busy college town from July to May. University park has over 40,000 undergraduate students on top of the local Centre County residents that make commuting traffic very slow.
My first week I had the option of parking in either the East desk parking garage or parking out at the stadium and either walking or biking into work. Originally I decided on parking in the closer garage because of convenience. After an experience of sitting in line for a half hour waiting to leave the garage I figured I would give the commuter lot a try.
It is a mile straight shot from the commuter lot to the building that houses my office. I would leave my house 10 minutes sooner and just ride the mile to my office before work.
But a mile on the bicycle was not really worth it in my opinion. I wanted to incorporate a decent ride into my every day commute. A way to functionally exercise every day was optimum.
In State College I would say there is a large cycling culture. There is a huge network of bicycle paths going from town all the way out to Rothrock State Forest or Scotia Game lands. If I lived within town it really wouldn’t make sense to drive.
Below is a link to maps of the local bike paths.
PSU bike path map
Besides the paths and trails in town there are also a huge network of mountain bike trails and fire roads on Tussey Mountain in the Roth rock State Forest. People love to get outdoors in this area, I can ride up to Bear Meadows in Roth rock any time of the day and find a group of people riding or running the beautiful single track that area has to offer.
Photo of Roth Rock found on mtbproject.com
Photo I took of a gravel ride with Freeze Thaw bicycle shop.
Last week A friend of mine told me about the Bellefonte Rail Trail in town.
One lunch break I rolled down on my single speed and checked the trail out. It is a beautiful trail with many off-shooting connecting trails to various other parts of town.
After riding the trail I kept thinking of a way I could make this into a morning ride to and from work? I started making routes in a program called Strava. If you aren’t familiar with strava, it is a online riding and running app that tracks your runs or rides and offers many widgets to tailor your training and performance. I would highly suggest checking out the program, plus through their online community you can join challenges and compete with your friends.
Once I had my route created I started to plan out my morning gear.
What goes in my backpack for my new commute:
- Wallet and phone
- Nalgene of Water
- Rain jacket
- Mini Bike pump
- bike multiool
- bicycle tube and tire lever
- bike front light and taillights
- helmet and cycle cap.
The commuter steed: It is a 2017 Cannondale Slate Apex.
It is a 1 x 11 Sram Drivetrain with Surly Knard 650b x 41 gravel tires and on top of that I ride a Brooks Pro Imperial saddle.
I only have to leave 20 minutes earlier every morning to commute by bike and that is okay by me. My commute is 6.5 miles one way and that is a total of 13 miles both ways with an elevation or climb of 800 feet. There are two major hills on my commute.
These hills are great little training climbs.
I have been riding my daily commute for a full week straight and I notice a difference in my fitness. I normally ride between 50-100 miles a week normally but I can’t say that I normally do a large amount of climbing. With this daily commute and 1 extra ride a week I have ridden over 80 miles this week and climbed over 6000 feet of elevation.
Bellefont Rail Trail.
I’m glad I started riding this route, I see wildlife early in the morning, It helps me relieve stress and clear my head. I get a good morning workout of a half hour (if I’m really speeding) and I show up to work relaxed and ready to take on the worlds problems.
Like I said, I don’t live within optimal distance from work, but I made the best of it and It makes me happy. If you do live within walking distance or a few miles from work, grab a bike and start commuting. It takes time developing your system at first but you’ll instantly thank yourself for making the effort and getting out there.