City: New York
Occupation: Internet marketing/blogging. Founder of andythousand.com
Andy Thousand rode a lot of BMX bikes as a kid, but knew nothing about commuter bicycles. But his dad was constantly asking him to get a new bike so they could ride together. “After I bought one,” he recalled, “I was hooked.”
Although, like starting any new physical activity, it wasn’t smooth sailing immediately.
“My first few rides were tough. My legs were burning and I quickly got out of breath,” he said. But after seven years of bike commuting steadily, he couldn’t imagine any other lifestyle. “I love commuting because I feel at home on a bicycle. A lot of times I’ll challenge myself to go farther or faster while also being able to explore new areas.”
Today, Andy’s ride consists of a lot of city riding, with a mix of rough and smooth roads. He started out riding around 5 miles a day, but now rides between 10-20 miles each trip.
While many people would consider a 20-mile ride to be a sporty activity requiring special clothing, Andy doesn’t see it that way. “My typical clothing is regular pants, a t-shirt, helmet, cycling gloves and sneakers.”
But cycling regularly, even in jeans, still offers the benefits of a solid physical activity. “Since I’ve been bicycle commuting I’ve lost 31 lbs and feel much more energetic and creative,” he said.
Ditching the car has also enabled him to take in more of his surroundings and notice more of the small things in his environment. Or, occasionally, the surprisingly large things. “The funniest thing I’ve ever seen while commuting was a turkey vulture running down the street,” he said. “It was almost as big as an ostrich.”
Andy says that when people find out he bike commutes, many of them express interest but also hesitation, saying that they “wish they could do that.”
He always advises people to go at their own pace. “Bike commuting is tough at first until you get used to it,” he says. “Start slowly by going on bike routes and gradually increase the distance as you get used to it. And visit a trusted bike shop to get a better idea as to how to pick the right bike.”
And he has some packing advice as well: “When packing gear, always make sure you keep everything you use on a daily basis in your bag so that you don’t forget it. I keep stuff I use daily in a cinch sack and bigger stuff in my Two Wheel Gear Pannier/ backpack Convertible.”
But most importantly, he encourages people to get started. “My advice is to just go for it. Once you get used to it, you won’t regret it.”