I wish I could report that “environmental reasons” were behind my decision to start commuting by bike. But the real motivation was much simpler: I’m a cheapskate and biking saves money.
Yet three years and some 24,000 kilometres after switching from the train to the bike, I’ve discovered a number of useful fringe benefits beyond being frugal and reducing greenhouse gas: the daily exercise from the 40-km round trip each day puts me in a good mood, makes me healthier, liberates me from the hassles of semi-reliable train timetables and makes me a bit lighter as well.
No matter how lousy or stressful or full of irritations the work day might have been, by the time I’ve arrived home on the western fringe of Berlin from the city centre after an almost always enjoyable 50-minute bike ride, I feel transformed back into a happy human being. It’s magic.
Rain is a pain. And strong headwinds can be annoying. But even if I get soaked I still usually arrive home with a smile on my face — unperturbed even if some @&%?”$! motorist nearly ran me off the road. In the morning on the way to work, the bike ride often transforms my sleepy head into one spinning with ideas.
I got the idea, for instance, for this feature (click here) on the way to work one morning while backed up behind more than 40 other bikers at a traffic light. Peter Kupisz, the friendly lawyer quoted in the story, told me he thrives on the feeling of the wind blowing in his face. “On some days it feels sort of like I’m galloping on a horse through the middle of the city,” he said. I know exactly what he means.