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. bike20locker20sign20pic

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
5:45am Leave
6:05am Border (NEXUS lanes open at 6am)
6:35am Park & Ride, then cycle
7:00am Office
… (work, eat, work, workout, work) …
5:30pm Leave office, via bike
6:00pm Park & Ride
7:00pm Home

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!


One thought on “Biking to Work (when you live 50 miles away)

  1. It sounds like you have a pretty full day, not unlike what I had when the kids were young. My exercise solution, when I finally found one, was an elliptical trainer, which I used faithfully for many years. I currently don’t have room for it, as I’m no longer living in Burlington, and have moved to my cottage north of Orillia. So last summer, I got a small, folding treadmill, which I use when the weather is bad or it’s so icy that I can’t go walking, etc. It works quite well, and I get exercise even in bad weather. The one I have cost $300.00 and I consider it money well spent.

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