I ride bikes a lot, so I know all about Bike To Work Week, which is going on right now. If you're a non-cyclist, you can ignore Bike to Work Week. After all, it's just a period of time on the calendar that tells you to do something that you should be doing anyway. Like Valentine's Day.
But there are a lot of reasons to start biking to work this week. The weather's nice. It's great to exercise while you're going to work (multitasking is a key American value). It's nice to keep your body trim for yourself (and your partner to enjoy - wink wink, nudge nudge). It's good to take wear and tear off your car or truck. It's also nice to pedal silently but smugly past gas stations. It's nice to
get to work on a vehicle that doesn't pollute and is easy to park.
I understand those reasons may not be enough. So here's another: donuts.
Stay with me here.
Before I moved from New Hampshire to Stamford and took up cycling, I used to weigh about thirty pounds more than I do now. Part of why that was so – other than the fact I wasn't getting much exercise – was that I lived and worked in an environment that showcased sugary baked goods almost daily. I think everyone has worked in an office where nearly everyday it is someone's birthday and there is perpetually a plastic-enclosed cake with the kidnergarten-paste frosting planted in the break room.
I, however, have always been particularly fond of donuts. In Fairfield County, there isn't a shortage of places to pick up a good donut. There's Lakeside Diner in North Stamford, but closer to my home (and between my home and my office) is Bedford Street Diner, which makes some excellent homemade donuts – and sandwiches, if you're there during lunch.
When I first started riding to work, I'd often stop at the Bedford Street Diner, lean the bike gently against the glass, and head in for a donut. Maybe two. My reasoning was that the donuts were more or less canceled out because of the three-and-a-half mile bike ride (I've never asked for a calorie count nor have I consulted a nutritionist; I just felt like believing).
Eventually my Donut Reward Theory changed (or, as President Obama might say, 'evolved'). Not because I got tired of the donuts at Bedford Street Diner, but rather due to me cycling to work early. Because I'd often pass the diner before 7:00 in the morning, I'd usually miss the 'donut window' since there is a brief period of time when the diner opens and when the donuts are actually available.
So I still try to ride to work about once or twice a week. Even though it's been months since I've stopped in to the Bedford Street Diner for a donut, I still think about them sometimes as I ride past because of the price of gas: since regular unleaded costs about $4.15 a gallon and my SUV manages 23 miles a gallon, I figured I save about $0.18 a mile riding my bike to work instead. At three-and-a-half miles each way, I save about a dollar and a quarter on a ride to work day. That's two-and-a-half donuts – and just what I can measure in the price of
My point is, biking to work, even if you don't do it all the time, does have some tangible benefits attached to it. It's not about having a donut each time you get on the bike, but rather knowing you can choose to have a donut. And personally, I've found the more I ride, the less I crave donuts anyway. So strong is the link between donuts and cycling I'll never eat one unless I had ridden a bike to the donut source. And a number of times I've pedaled right past the Bedford Street Diner during what I knew to be a donut window without stopping.
But I might stop for one to celebrate Bike to Work Week.
Mike Norris is the founding editor of DIYBIKING.COM, a site dedicated
to casual cycling, random builds from scrounged frames, and bike
travel. He lives and works in Stamford and owns one 3,300 lb. SUV and
7 and 2/3 bicycles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org