I love working at the University of Michigan. The only downside is that I’m faced with a daily 50 mile (75km) commute in my car each way. For about a year I drove to the nearest parking garage, which was about 1 block away from my office, parked, walked the single block to my office, stood or sat all day and then did the whole thing in reverse to get home. I was getting pretty cranky (and heavy) with the lack of exercise and whereas I got myself a gym membership it was difficult to commit to working out. Sure, when things weren’t crazy at work it was possible to sneak in a workout now and then but when things picked up the first thing to go was fitness.
I decided it was time for a change, so this past Spring I started commuting from North Campus to my office on Central Campus. The setup at North Campus was a covered bike rack that offered some protection from the elements but not a lot of protection from theft. I wound up packing my bike in my car and taking it home for the weekend and returning with it in my car on Monday morning. This was not ideal for a number of reasons not the least of which was always needing to explain to the Canadian Border Guards that that was my old commuter bike and not a new purchase.
One day as I was heading home after locking up my bike at North Campus I looked over and saw a sign advertising bike lockers at the Plymouth Rd. Park-and-Ride. I was ecstatic! I had rented a bike locker when I was working at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Toronto. This would be a slightly different setup: rather than using the locker to lock up my bike during the day I would use it as storage during the evening and weekend. I immediately signed up for a locker, got a key within a couple of days, and I was all set to go.
Now this past summer was difficult for a number of reasons so my biking was hit and miss. I’d say I used my bike about 50% of the time. I’ll be looking to increase that as much as possible until the bad weather hits. Once it does, I have the option of hopping on a bus to get me from the Park and Ride to campus.
So right now my typical schedule looks something like this:
5:15am Rise & Shine
6:05am Border (NEXUS lanes open at 6am)
6:35am Park & Ride, then cycle
… (work, eat, work, workout, work) …
5:30pm Leave office, via bike
6:00pm Park & Ride
In all, I get about 55 minutes of riding in, plus I try to get in about 45 minutes of either swimming, rowing, or running at the gym. I’ve also found that it’s much handier to have a bike in downtown Ann Arbor than a car, so that’s a bonus.
I work this schedule for three days a week, then I leave a bit early one day to take my oldest daughter to music lessons and I teach on the remaining day. It’s challenging but very rewarding. We’ll see how long this lasts!