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Friday is National Bike to Work Day, a day when thousands of Americans will leave their cars and trucks at home and pedal to their place of work. This seems a very appropriate action in light of ever-present headlines proclaiming skyrocketing gas prices.
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Why not save yourself some money and give biking to work a try? A bit of planning and preparation can make a city like Juneau a wonderful place to bike to work. Gosh, if folks can bike to work in Fairbanks in January, surely we can bike to work in Juneau in May. As they say in so many places, "attitude is everything."
As an avid cyclist I have ridden to work thousands of days, often going months without missing a day. Why you ask? Why choose such a perverse mode of transportation when the car and road sit eagerly waiting to transport me, warm and dry, along my way? There are many reasons. I'm sure my wife places some blame for my cycle commuting on the genes inherited from my hyperactive mother.
How often have you dragged yourself out of bed, slogged through breakfast, crawled into the car and arrived at work still half asleep and lacking energy? You can relate, right? Riding my bike to work has often given me the great pleasure of arriving on the job site refreshed, alert and awake, my cheeks tingling and my heart pumping happily. Having a family and a full-time job can make squeezing in regular exercise a challenge. How wonderfully efficient to combine my commute with an aerobic workout - twice each day!
The weather in Juneau can put a literal damper on outdoor activity if you allow it. Proper clothing and a positive attitude easily jumps this hurdle. Dress in light layers, no cotton, with lightweight rain gear on top. Make Xtratufs your bike shoe of choice on wet days and fleece-lined fisherman's gloves your warm and waterproof hand gear. A baseball cap under the helmet doubles as a brain warmer and a windshield. Lastly, leave a few changes of clothes and a wash towel at work, allowing for a lighter load on the commute.
About your bike - one, 10 or 28 speeds - it doesn't matter. Just make sure it is tuned up in the springtime, kept clean and lubricated, with properly inflated tires. A small rear rack and saddlebag can make carrying lunch and any work materials that much easier. At work or home, gently rinse the road grit from your chain and wheels, dry and re-lube the chain if necessary.
Remember, the rain through the kitchen window seems far worse than when you're actually out in it. It's only water, and it's our home. Immerse yourself in it! Or, maybe Lady Luck will shine her light upon your commute, allowing shorts, shades and T-shirt to ride with you while the boots dry out at home. Ride to work. You'll thank yourself for doing so.
Andy Romanoff is a resident of Juneau who has been an bike commuter for over years.