To Bike, or Not to Bike?

Have I mentioned that I often ride my bike to and from campus? Oh, and when I say bike, I don’t mean the cool, loud, revved up motorcycle. I mean Wal-Mart Schwinn mountain bike. The only engines I have are my own two legs. It’s a great way to exercise, but sometimes I feel sorry for the poor soul I plop down next to in class as I wipe the sweat running down my face and fan myself with a binder. You’ve got to love Texas weather.

On my route home, it’s mainly uphill, so by the time I get to this certain stop sign before turning onto my street, I’m breathing pretty heavy and looking pretty sweaty. Once, I was biking back in a light rain after working out, when I made it to the stop sign and prepared to wait for a break in the traffic. This motorcycle pulled up beside me, and a spark of jealousy flickered inside me. Here I was, exhausted and sweaty on a mountain bike, and next to me was a bike upgrade with an engine that required no exercise to propel it a distance that would take me five times longer to move! So naturally I looked over at Motorcycle Man, who was looking at me, and said, smiling, “Now where can I get one of those?” Wait, What?!? Mental face palm. He just laughed and drove off, leaving me to peddle my way home laughing at myself.

Yes, sometimes I get jealous of motorized vehicles when I’m huffing and puffing myself all the way home. But in all honesty, I’ve saved a ton of money and time biking to Texas A&M. It has it’s pros and cons just like anything else, but it’s a great way to get some extra exercise mixed in without having to make time to go to a gym.

As a college student, finding ways to save money is usually a high priority. Every dollar counts, and so if I can make fewer trips to the gas station by getting off my butt, then sure, count me in. Even with the gas prices being lower now than they have been for what seems like forever, filling my little Mazda up with twenty to thirty dollars worth of gas each time can add up after a while.

Another priority for college students is time. More time to sleep, eat, and study (because that’s all college students do, right?). And how does biking save me time? Because I can bike right to the bike racks in front of the buildings my classrooms are in. It takes me twice as much time to drive my car, find a parking spot, and walk to class than if I just left my house via my trusty Schwinn.

My bike also lets me get extra bits of exercise throughout the day without me taking the time to actually go work out. This fact is always made painfully clear to me when the first week of school comes around like someone who has never been horseback riding and decides to go on a five-hour ride. Except riding my bike is a little less exciting than riding a horse to school. And if you’re not from Texas, no, riding a horse to school is not typical. Although possible in some places I’m sure. But even exercising in those ten-minute increments throughout the day can add up and make a big difference in your personal fitness!

Granted, there are cons as well. You get sweaty, sometimes it’s raining too hard, or you have a lot of baggage you need to lug around. Here are a few things I do to adjust for this:

  1. Stick some body wipes and/or lotion in your bag. You can go to the bathroom and wipe yourself down before you give your body a chance to get stinky.
  2. If you lug lots of baggage around, look into getting a rear rack. Lots of people get panniers to put their gear in, but if you don’t want to spend as much money, just find a milk crate and attach it to a rear rack. There are lots of how-to articles on the web.
  3. Consider getting a locker if that option is available. I have one at our recreation center and it has saved me an enormous amount of trouble. Sometimes I just shower at the Rec, so I keep shower stuff and a change of clothes in there.
  4. Keep a trash bag and plastic grocery bag with you. I use the trash bag to put valuables from my backpack in in case it’s raining and the grocery bag to tie over my seat when I’m inside so that if it rains I can just take off the bag and not have a wet bike seat.
  5. Be safe. Invest in lights for if it’s raining or dark outside so cars can see you. It makes a BIG difference. Learn the rules of the road for biking. Wear a helmet. Be smart.

If you’re considering biking to work or school, go ahead and give it a shot! My bike has more than paid for itself five times over with all the gas money I’ve saved. Besides, maybe you’ll meet a Motorcycle Man too!

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