June is Colorado Bike to Work month. I hope this motivates you to try bike commuting.
If you’ve never tried it, you might be surprised how differently you see the world around you when you slow the pace and travel under your own power. Who knows, it could become a habit because there’s a lot to love about it:
■ See where you live: Steamboat and Routt County are among the most spectacular places in the country to ride. Imagine living here and not realizing this. Riding your bike gets you in the outdoors and gives you a new appreciation for the beauty of the Yampa Valley.
■ It’s healthy: Burning calories instead of gas is your fastest way to shed a few winter pounds. An hour on your bike will burn 300 to 600 calories, which is more than an average healthy meal. Ride for the week and do the math; you will feel good and get lighter and stronger.
■ Save money: Ride every day for a week, and you could save enough for dinner out.
■ It’s green: During last year’s Bike to Work Commuter Challenge, more than 1,200 gallons of gas were spared from being burned in our valley because people rode their bikes instead of driving their cars.
Here are a couple of quick tips for those who are new to two-wheeled transportation (beyond the usual reminders to check your tire pressure and brakes and to carry a spare tube):
■ Be safe: Share the road and remember to ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road. Use a bike path (like the Yampa River Core Trail) for a more scenic and safer route. Please stay off sidewalks in downtown Steamboat; you could get a ticket.
■ Pace yourself: If this is early in your summer of biking, keep in mind to ride within your abilities and accept that it takes a couple of trips to start feeling stronger and more confident on two wheels.
■ Be ready: Prepare for changes in the weather by stashing a lightweight rain jacket in your bag or basket. If you have things to carry, a basket or pannier is a great addition to your two-wheeled steed.
■ Give awareness: A bell is a real asset on the bike path to warn others ahead, especially when approaching from behind, so that they can allow you to pass without surprises and to maintain your momentum.
■ Protect yourself: Don’t forget your helmet, sunglasses and sunscreen.
■ Track it: Smartphone apps