How do you get to work? Options other than by car.

Some days, I exercise for two hours, yet it only costs me an hour of my day.  As a lover of exercise, this ratio suits me just fine.  I accomplish this feet by combining exercise with my daily commute.  Allow me to explain; my car commute averages around 30 minutes each way depending on traffic.  Traffic, by the way, is something you never want to depend on.  My wife and I work, but in towns that are not in proximity to each other.  Wisely, we thought, let’s get a house somewhere in the middle, which we did, effectively committing ourselves to rather unpleasant starts and finishes to our workday.  Its a gift that keeps on giving.

Anyone who enjoys their car commute needs a few more hobbies, or they shouldn’t be in the car to begin with.  People blessed with a short commute should either be walking or biking, enjoying the fresh air and the added fitness that becomes part of their daily routine.  Those like me, with a longer commute should simply rue their life choices, using the time stuffed behind the wheel to figure out a way to rectify the problem.

My solution is called “32 miles.”

That’s the distance round trip for me to bike to work.  Now, as a physical education teacher, I have some inherent advantages.  Since I promote fitness for a living, it’s good for me to follow my own advice, as this tends to make me more believable.  Also, I’m allowed to dress causally, and be sweaty.

Anytime I bike to work, I proudly display my wheels for all my classes to see.  I show the kids my blinking lights, only to have them ask if this is some type of Christmas treat.  Down the rabbit hole we go, teaching elementary school should really be called “escape the rabbit hole,” as a kid will always ask a question that is completely off topic.  This question will have enthusiastic backers, and with that a show of bicycle lights evolves into questions about tree lights, reindeer, and Santa.  This discussion ends in tears after the inevitable “Santa’s not real comment.”

Anyway, back to the topic.  Kids have a woeful understanding of distance.  I tell them I bike 32 miles each day.  Ohhs, ahhs, and head nods, make me believe I’ve reached them, only for little James to chime in, “I road 32 miles in my driveway yesterday, wasn’t even tired.”  And just like that, EVERYONE has biked 32 miles.  Based on James’ balance abilities in class, I know he couldn’t bike 32 inches, let alone miles, yet I nod my approval and congratulate him for his feat.

“Build them up,” I whisper to myself through a fake smile.  Smartly a student senses the logistical fallacy of biking 32 miles in one’s driveway, and their interest peaked, asks “where do you live Mr. Sollenberger?”

“Several towns over,” I reply, “it’s called Landisville, right by Nook Sports” (the Nook is an enormous indoor sports complex, some students drive there for games and practices).  Now I’ve got them, several students’ eyes bug out, and they look at me with stunned silence.  Knowledge.

Little James, undeterred, and apparently not listening, chimes in, “there is a hook on my mailbox, its not that far,” and so it goes.

Now since my normal commute takes and hour total each day, I effectively gain an hour of free time by biking to work.  By riding the bike, I can exercise for two hours (I’m a bit slow as I have a backpack with clothes and food weighting me down) but it only costs me one hour in time that I’d normally be at home.  This is a win for my family, my heart, and my wallet.  My goal this coming year to increase my frequency of riding, planing ahead taking clothes and food to work so I can eliminate my backpack, and shave a few minutes off my ride allowing me to arrive home sooner.

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