Never Waste a Winter Storm…

This morning my wife and I awakened to a rather impressive amount of snowfall for the Denver metro area.  When I first went outside at 5:30 am there was at least 10 inches of snow on the ground and the thick winter clouds were continuing to produce plentiful additional snowflakes as the morning progressed.  The weather forecast had predicted snow for today but it was unclear to what extent the storm would affect us as the sun reached over the horizon and the work day approached.

As with everything in life, one can perceive this event as either positive or negative.   I, in almost all situations, choose the former! Thus, let me tell the story of my morning:

First things first, it is important to prepare the homestead, scooping the snow from the driveway and sidewalks.  Think of this like the warm up lap for the upcoming workout. There is no secret that biking in 10-15 inches of snow is a significant amount of work, especially when there is minimal snow removal and one must rely on the tracks of cars that have travelled before you.  I also knew I would be covering a significant distance.

Once the snow is scooped the next step is preparing for the journey.  Many people think that you need wide tires to safely traverse deep snow on a bicycle.  I essentially just hop on my standard every day commuter bike as I would any other day.  Clothing-wise, I opted for snow pants over my standard work attire as well as a winter coat, cap, and gloves.  When you have already committed to riding every day, no matter what, there is no reason to complicate things.

Next step is deciding on a route.  After years of this stuff, I have prepared mentally for every situation that can arise.  I know which roads get a snow plow and/or are well tread by commuter cars.  This morning, however, I was in particular good spirits so I ignored the route that I knew would be the easiest in favor of a little more work with a significant reward.  I opted for the path that took me through a popular park.  The pioneer post of this blog happened to be on a day very similar to today with less snow and I remember how fantastic riding through this particular park was on that day.  I really wanted to relive this because I find it to be quintessential business casual biking.  Nothing makes you feel more special than being essentially the only person out in a public place when that public place is at its best.

So off I went.  The start was a little more difficult than I had anticipated.  Although my family had been out scooping the driveway and alley behind our house at 5:45 it would be unreasonable to assume that others would be as ambitious.  I walked my bike through the deep snow to the main road, mounted the self-propelled chariot, and entered the traffic stream.  This road had been partially plowed and there was even a bit of a shoulder to ride on.  I was moving along at a decent pace.  There were many cars that passed me cautiously.  There were also several self-righteous truck drivers who rushed by ignoring all potential hazards ahead.

Eventually I turned onto a side street that had not been plowed.  As I began riding on this street, I realized that the consistency of the drifts was very erratic.  At times my tires had smooth packed snow to sail on and other times that packed snow dispersed and my rear tire slid right and left.  I was all alone on this road so I could safely slide back and forth, making it a game to not dismount even through the largest of drifts.

Finally, I entered the park on my route.  There was not a human soul to speak of for the first mile of treking.  There were several dogs who had escaped their masters and were frolicking through the drifts with unabashed joy, plowing their faces into the white dust.  The ponds in the park were covered with geese and ducks who seemed to be enjoying the fresh snow as much as I was.  As I continued to ride through the park, I began to appreciate the solitude that one does not often get to experience within a city of millions.  For only a small time I had entered Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.  To celebrate/destroy this concept, I briefly shoved my bicycle in a drift to document the solitude, taking several photos on my iphone (including the quaint picture at the top of this post).

As I was exiting the park, I noticed there was a man in a small sedan who was struggling to move in the deep snow.  I offered my assistance and found out the man had been chasing one of those dogs I had seen wandering about.  It only took a couple of pushes and he was going again and he thanked me for my assistance.

From here I made the final push to my place of work over a bike trail positioned against a nice creek.  The trail had been plowed shortly before I arrived so I was able to make the final push at a normal pace.

After exiting the trail, across the street from my work, there was a business man who had gotten his brand new 4-wheel-drive Subaru stuck in an unplowed lane of traffic.  It was apparent that he had been stuck there for a while and had recruited a resident homeless man to assist him.  After realizing the good feeling developed after helping the first stuck car, I was quick to offer my assistance again.  It was apparent that all wheels had been buried in the soft snow and the driver was making futile attempts to disengage the car even with the homeless man’s efforts and excessive gasoline combustion.

The difference between this commuters’s mood and mine could not be more apparent! He scoffed that his office was open today, forcing him out into these horrid conditions.

I knew that even by adding my additional pushing, there was little chance that we could muscle this 3600 pound beast out of the drift.  I saw some nearby landscaping rocks, which I grabbed and shoved under the tires.  We recruited one more passerby and with two big shoves we were able to get the feeble Subaru back on the road.  I was once again proud for having helped this hapless commuter get on his way.

I had now arrived at my destination, parking my bike all by its lonesome on the usually half-filled rack.  As I walked into the work place, I reflected on these first hours of my day.  I felt a minor amount of fatigue, having used different muscles to remain on my bike in the snow.  However, that minimal amount of weariness was nothing compared to the energy my heart felt.  I had experienced the pureness of nature, assisted two men, and experienced again the pleasure of hard work, yet my day was just beginning.

Many folks will spend hundred or even thousands of dollars to get out into the wilderness by investing in cabin stays, snow shoes, and ski lift tickets.  I got all of this for “less than free,” all on my way to work!

Please comment below.







Long Break, Now I am Back

I apologize to the dedicated readers and subscribers to this blog.  It has now been about 6 weeks since my last post.  I decided to take this hiatus as I realized that continuing to write on this blog was just not practical with all of the upcoming time obligations I had planned.  I am happy to see that many people are still stopping by to read my older posts and I look forward to restarting from where I left off (Go to the Post Script at the bottom of this post for more details about the “future of the blog”).

I do not want to make this blog too much about me but since I have failed to maintain the blog, I might as well provide an excuse.

As it turns out, the concepts related to the Set Your Mind Free post has actually had a negative impact on this blog.  As I spend almost 2 hours per day thinking about various subjects related to all aspect of my life, it has not been surprising that I think a lot about my work as I ride.  It just so happens that my primary occupation is highly integrated with research pursuits, although this is not an obligation.

In the past year, I have drummed up a large series of research projects, most of which I have thought up and planned out while on my bike between work and home.  The best aspect of these research projects for me are dreaming up the ideas and then creating methods to either prove or disprove the theories.  The hard part about research is finding the resources to put these projects together.  Almost all of my project have basically zero financial cost.  However, they all have significant cost in terms of time.  Since I do not have the resources to pay someone for their time I end up burning what has become a more and more precious commodity: MY TIME.

What is more, these project seem to find a way to eat up my time when I least expect it, often when I am more in the blog-writing mood and not in a technical data analysis mood.  The research proposals, abstracts, presentations, and manuscripts have deadlines, while with this blog project, I set my own deadlines.  In the last 6 weeks, I have been willing to push these deadlines to write my posts back in favor of my research projects.

I am proud that this work related to these research projects is certainly paying off.  As of this writing, in the year 2015 alone, I plan to present data from 8 separate projects at 5 national and international conferences!  I think that this is a series of momentous accomplishments that will have an incredibly positive effect on my career path.  I also hope that this work will have a large impact on the respective fields that I am contributing to and will lead to significantly improved understanding of our world.

It would not be a BCBiker post if I was not able to boast the amazing life-changing benefits of biking to work.  If I was an average Denver metro person, unhappily driving my enormous metal framed, fossil fuel powered, massively depreciating machine to work, I would be too busy listening to music, mindless morning show chatter, and advertisements to have considered all of the amazing possibilities that exist in my current work to make bona-fide discoveries.  Fortunately for me, I have been practicing the BCB lifestyle and I, in many ways, take this for granted.

How can you make this a reality for your life?

I am certain that anyone, even without research opportunities associated with work, can apply this principle to one’s Business Casual Bicycle commute.  One can think about ways to work more efficiently at work, how to make one’s job more enjoyable, how to impress one’s boss, what promotions one might be eligible for, how to ask for a raise, how to better invest one’s saving, et cetera.

These considerations are important and by spending a small proportion of your bicycle commute thinking about them, you can change the trajectory of your career monumentally! By doing these things continually in your career, one can increase his or her earning power substantially: improve work performance –> earn accolades for this behavior –> earn raise –> earn promotion –> increase responsibilities –> earn additional raises.  Do not underestimate the power of these things to change your life!

I try to continually stay in this process.  As it turns out, I am currently in the process of applying for additional advanced training in my field.  (I apologize again because this application process will likely slow down my writing on this blog.)  The field is highly competitive and these research experiences are very import for being accepted into desirable positions.  I know that all of this work I am doing on these research projects will give me an enormous advantage!  Would I be in the position that I am in now if I did not ride my bike to work every day?  I can confidently say, “NOPE!”

In the comments below, tell me about how your bicycle commute is helping you get ahead at work! If you are interested in the future of the blog, please read the Post Script below.


Post Script: So I hope that all those reading this have a burning desire to know what my plans are for the blog.

I made a lot of promises related to the development of this blog early on.  My original goal was to post two times per week.  That pace was completely unsustainable as I learned how much work it takes to create posts that meet my standard.  I refuse to post anything that I feel is of minimal value and/or quality!  I feel that in all of my posts so far, I have put forth really valuable information that one cannot find anywhere else on the internet, and I plan to continue this.

In the future, I will temper my goal down to posting one post every 1-2 weeks, depending on my other activities.

My other blog related projects that I am now months behind on are 1) purchasing and implementing a new Theme, 2) building on Open Source “Things I Thought of While Biking to Work”  section and 3) publishing video of my daily ride.

1) The prospect of purchasing and building a new theme for this blog has been much more daunting than I thought.  I really want to find a theme that demonstrates the ethos of BCBiking.  I have a hard time determining what that means but everything I have looked at so far is not what I have in mind.  Most of the themes available have a very “corporate” feel to them that, in my mind, clashes very strongly with my perception of what I want this to be.  Another factor that slows this process down is that at the moment this is not a money-generating venture so I want to continue to keep my costs down until I have better developed money-making “scheme.”  At the moment I do not have any active plans in changing the theme.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments section.

2)  Just like I find coming up with interesting research projects while I am riding on my bike, I think up countless potentially profitable ventures while riding to work.  I have some really BIG ideas that I want to start with so people get excited about this concept, but I think that the smarter way to start this is to throw out my ideas as they come to me and see if anything sticks or creates excitement.  I also would like to create a platform that facilitates discussions surrounding each individual idea: perhaps a forum, although it is not immediately clear whether this would be intuitive for most people and useful for building on my ideas.

Check back in the Open Source “Things I Thought of While Biking to Work section in the coming months and I hope to have these ideas coming in on a regular basis and hopefully a lot of related conversation going on.

3) The idea of recording and publishing every daily bicycle ride was actually one of my original goals for this site.  I really want you, my readers to be able to experience what I do on a daily basis, including the good and the bad weather, the set backs, the joys.  The practicality of bringing this to you is still yet to be determined.  Despite being really tech savvy, I really don’t like the burden of technology (more on this in a future post).  I actually don’t own or carry a cell phone at the moment.  For better or for worse, this will be changing in the near future.  Once I am carrying around a cell phone, I will be able to integrate a GoPro camera into my wearable tech while biking and hopefully get some really high quality video of my daily commute! Stay tuned!


It feels really good to be writing again on this blog! I look forward to the future of this blog and I appreciate all of you who take time out of your day to read!  I plan to continue to make it worth your while!



Health, Wealth, and Mental Stealth BTYB Bicycle Commuting