Glenwood Springs woman makes her bike part of her daily life | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Springs woman makes her bike part of her daily life

It starts the night before. Before bed each evening, Mary Weiner makes her lunch — she likes to brown bag it — and sets it aside. She chooses the next day's outfit and packs it into a pannier. Come early morning, she doesn't even have to think about whether she'd like to take her bike to work.

In fact, it's been years since Weiner made that trip behind the wheel of a car.

"We're all creatures of habit, right? You just get into that habit," said Weiner, who was raised in Sioux City, Iowa, and has long walked or biked to get around. After bouts with shin splints in her early 20s, Weiner, then a runner, turned instead to cycling. It wasn't long before she realized it was an easy way to get around. Now the Glenwood Springs resident rarely drives anywhere around town.

"You just leave your car in the garage and grab your bike. It's not that inconvenient," she said.

Weiner will likely be joined by hundreds more cyclists for Colorado Bike to Work Day, to be held Wednesday. She urges those people to make bike commuting a part of their regular lives.

"It's a way to wake up in the morning. I feel more invigorated when I get to work, and not stressed because I just sat in traffic for three hours," she said.

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It involves planning, yes, but Weiner has also made major life choices that ease her ride. She lives 2.5 miles from her office at Holy Cross Energy. Because she prioritizes the ease of her bike commute, Weiner gives up square footage she might have in another area. But the commute is important to her.

Weiner also owns three bikes for different conditions: She's outfitted her Specialized commuter bike with fenders and bike racks, and she can easily carry a gallon of milk in her panniers. After the first snow, she'll switch to cyclocross tires, which will allow her to pedal through an inch or so of snow. Come winter, Weiner will switch to her mountain bike. Its tougher tires will keep her on two wheels through three or four inches of snow. (When the roads get really bad, she'll carpool with a colleague.) Her road bike is reserved for joy rides to places where "you really see the beauty of where we live," such as Maroon Bells and Castle Creek.

Weiner's employer also provides incentives. The company has on-site showers and indoor bike parking. Those who commute more than one mile each way using alternative transit receive $1 a day. Weiner uses her money for new tires — but that's not why she rides.

"I don't do it for that. I do it because it's healthy for me, it's healthy for the planet," Weiner said. "It's a win-win."

It's also better for traffic, and area officials hope others will join Weiner not only on Bike to Work Day, but permanently.

The approaching Grand Avenue Bridge detour will require a 35 percent reduction in automobile traffic in order to run smoothly. Heather McGregor of Clean Energy Economy for the Region, said Colorado Bike to Work day provides a prime opportunity to prepare. But a test ride would be beneficial regardless of timing.

"Take a test ride to work or school on the weekend or before school starts so you know how long it takes," she said. "Do you have enough rack capacity to carry the stuff you want to carry? Is your bike in good condition? Do you need a tune up? New tires? It's good to get that all lined up."

She said as many as one third of people who participate in Bike to Work Day are likely to continue to bike commute months later. Recognizing benefits — including exercise, increased sleep quality and quick transportation — is key to continued motivation, McGregor said.

She also speaks from experience. McGregor recently upgraded to a Trek Chelsea commuter bike and said she's significantly more confident on the road.

"When you're on your bike, you've got a feeling of confidence," she said. "It helps your mental health. You're more stress tolerant, you have a better sense of well being, self confidence, freedom, relaxation — that sense that I'm steering my own ship here."

If you go

Colorado Bike to Work Day

Wednesday, 7-9 a.m. Celebrate Colorado Bike to Work Day and get a free breakfast at any of three stations in Glenwood Springs (RFTA West Glenwood Park and Ride; Glenwood Springs City Hall; or Alpine Bank) or one in Carbondale (Carbondale Park and Ride). Pick up the new Glenwood Springs bicycle map, along with info on safe cycling and bikes on buses, and enter a drawing for bicycle prizes. You can also learn about the Ride Garfield County bike and bus challenges and find other resources online.

Multiple locations | Free | 704-9200 |
garfieldcleanenergy.org