Friday, July 20, 2007

Tampa BayCycle
Elite 100
Commuter Profile


I am a Physician Assistant with the USF Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and the commute from my home in Westchase to campus is about 15 miles each way (that is, if I don’t make a detour to Flatwoods Park to add in some extra miles!). It is a straight shot east on Linebaugh, north on Sheldon, then east on Gunn/Ehrlich/Bearss all the way to Bruce B. Downs, then south to campus. There are bike lanes about half the route, and I usually take the Upper Tampa Bay Trail for part of the way home. I probably ride 3-4 days a week, if I can. Some months I commute a total of about 500 miles.

I have been bike commuting for a few months now. I have been riding recreationally and competing in triathlons for about 7 years, after a long cycling hiatus since childhood. Once I started riding again as an adult, I remembered all the good times I had riding while I was younger. Once I started commuting, I could not believe that I did not start commuting sooner. I think bike commuting is like a lot of other activities people think about starting … we always think about starting something, but until we actually make the commitment and start doing it, it remains somewhat distant. However, once you start it, and realize the enjoyment you get from it, it becomes part of your life. That is the way cycling is for me. I ride for the exercise (an extra 30+ miles a day really helps) and it also is a very enjoyable 45 minutes or hour to start the day and to unwind on the way home after a hectic day in the office.

I find it very interesting the comments I get from friends and co-workers about commuting - most are very supportive (if not incredulous about riding on the streets of Tampa), although very few would ever consider commuting themselves. I try to be very positive about my experiences, because they are just that - very positive. I think that if you pay attention, follow the rules of the road and understand that you WILL LOSE any battle with an automobile, commuting can be a very safe and rewarding experience. I would recommend to anyone who is thinking about commuting to plan their route out first by car, and then once you think you have the route, try it out early on a weekend as a ‘pleasure’ ride, when there is very little traffic and you have lots of time. Make sure you are familiar with the area and look for spots that might be tricky if there is traffic. Plan for flats (always carry a spare … and know how to change it!); make sure you invest in a good set of lights (front and back) if you will be riding at all in the early or late hours; carry a bit of spare change – just in case; and probably carry your cell phone. I would also suggest to newer commuters to only ride once or twice a week at first to get used to it and then begin to increase the number of days as you get comfortable with riding.

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the feeling of getting something accomplished before you even begin your work day and enjoy knowing that you are doing something positive for yourself, the community and the environment. Good riding!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Wow, what commute. What about the rain in Tampa. How do you commute at that time?