I decided to go car free recently when I learned I needed major car repairs. I evaluated the costs, and my lifestyle choices, and it quickly became clear that transitioning to fully bike commuting was for me. I’m fortunate to have the resources and fitness level to make this decision reasonable. And after 4000 miles ridden, and 25 pounds lost, I have absolutely no regrets.
As told to James Lynch | Images courtesy of Gregory Whitmore
I’ve been working in bike shops for going on 25 years now. When I had a car, the drive to the shop was 35 minutes, and I had to deal with the stresses of daily traffic. Before I completely got rid of the car, I did a few test runs on my bicycle and it was only 20 minutes longer. Plus, I felt amazing.
Here in Pinellas County Florida, we have a fantastic rails-to-trails system with the main thoroughfare only three blocks from my home; I can see the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail from my driveway. The trails connect through multiple cities and make the commute to work extremely safe.
I live in Tarpon Springs and my family lives only about five miles south down the Pinellas Trail, the same trail I take to work, and my partner is only about 18 miles away. The Strava Beacon feature has made them all feel comfortable with my riding in all conditions. It lets them see where I am on a map in real time, so they can track how I am coming along and know I’m still moving.
The most difficult part about the transition was the logistics of planning for groceries and supplies. Fortunately, I live downtown and everything is biking or walking distance—food, bars, the beach, Publix and Walmart. Buying the right equipment really helped make these trips much more manageable. I purchased a trailer that converts to a shopping cart. It makes supply trips really easy. The cart gets a lot of questions and I love sharing my story with people.
And in those rare occurrences where I have something really big, thankfully, my dad lets me borrow his truck. I only borrowed it once in the last few months so I could save delivery costs on gardening supplies. Otherwise, I ride all the time. Even during the heavy rains or near hurricane winds, I’m out there; I’m still pushing. My shop coworkers constantly offer rides when the weather is bad, but I make sure to remind them that “I can’t call myself a badass if I’m not out there being one.”
Currently, I am riding my 2018 Giant Toughroad. It’s been a great machine. I installed a small mid-drive assist kit from Luna Cycles. Only using a small boost has really helped me stay fresh when I arrive for a 10-hour work day repairing bicycles, and then I still have some left in the tank for the ride back home.
The e-kit from Luna Cycles, waterproof bags from Axiom, and clothing from Specialized have all made the trip easier for sure. I also added a large bluetooth speaker to my rear rack so I can have my tunes bumping down the trail. It’s much more convenient than ringing my bell or shouting “On your left!” to get people’s attention.
I love sharing my passion with new as well as experienced cyclists. If you’re tired and need a pull, ask nicely and you’ve got it. Need some help with your bike, training, or some motivation? Just ask, I’ve got you. If you see me on the trail, expect a “Good morning” or “How’s it going?”
I’m out here everyday absolutely loving it. My cycling philosophy is “Pedal, Coast, Smile.” It’s about fun and enjoying life. Fitness is just a beneficial side-effect. I love the feeling of being on two wheels. Period.