The season has arrived when half of us make earnest and optimistic commitments to live this year better than the last. Yes, we’re talking about New Year’s Resolutions, and the most common one (according to a Nielsen poll that actually tracks things like this) is to either stay fit or lose weight.
Now, the folks in the know at Nielsen also delivered the news that about 92% of us who make these resolutions will fail to keep them. What gives? Making a new habit is a pain.
Lucky for us Tampa is a bike-friendly place and biking is one of the easiest ways to multitask fitness. NYR nirvana is within reach! Here are three ways you can bike in Tampa Bay.
1. Bike to Work
With more than 40 miles of bike lanes and a growing network of long-distance shared use bike paths like the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, Pinellas Trail, and the Suncoast Trail, Tampa is a pretty darned great place to bike commute. T
he My City Bikes Tampa and My City Bikes Clearwater/St. Pete apps are free and a good place to find which trails, paths and lanes you can assemble to create your bike commute.
Here’s a fun project. Time your car commute to and from work, including the time it takes to park. Then plan your route ahead and time your bike commute to and from work. If they’re not too far off and you’re starting to realize how much time you waste in the car, just wait.
Now write down the amount of time you would spend at the gym working out plus driving there and driving home. Add the number of minutes that you take to drive to/from work and the minutes you take to drive to/from the gym and work out. From that total subtract the number of minutes it takes you to bike to/from work.
If you’re like the average American whose commute is around 10 miles, you’re probably going to save at least 5 minutes by bike commuting and rolling your fitness and transportation into one. That adds up to an extra 20 hours a year – just think what you could do with all that time!
2. Bike to Meet New People
Group bike rides are awesome. When wearing full-tilt spandex you get to blend into a crowd. Major plus. You also get to meet cool people who more often than not enjoy really good coffee, craft beer and baked goods after the ride.
If this sounds like your bag of donuts then check out Citrus Park Cyclery’s weekly group rides. They have beginner-paced road rides where no one gets left behind every Saturday morning. They also have a monthly women’s only ride (check their website for dates and times) that is a more social affair, so you can bring pretty much any kind of bicycle and be able to keep up.
Chainwheel Drive has weekly mountain biking group rides for people interested in off-road cycling. They also have a social ride every week and road rides that a beginner can keep up with.
Cyclovia is another cool group ride experience that everybody should try once. It’s basically a party on bikes. I’m going to leave it at that, you really just have to go experience it for yourself – and bring a friend or two. The more the merrier. Spring events are being announced soon and you can get the details on their website.
3. Bike to Go Out
This is an awesome time of year in Tampa. It is socially acceptable to walk around in public dressed like a pirate. But if you’re heading to one of Gasparilla Season’s signature events, or just going out on a popular night, everybody knows parking is a nightmare.
So why not cut the line and bike to the club/party/event that you’re going to?
OK, hear me out. Any hesitation you feel about being “that person” on a bike rolling up to a night out will be quickly replaced by the smug superiority of being “that person” who didn’t have to sit in their car in gridlock for 30 minutes getting high blood pressure. Not to mention you don’t have to pay for parking and your car can’t get towed. Now you get the picture.
Take advantage of the cool weather to enjoy a sweat-free leisure ride to your destination. Make sure that you bring a good lock, and lock your bike to a bike rack. University Bicycle Center can teach you how to use them, as well as a ton of snazzy bike bells so you can make some noise to let everybody know you’re beating them to the punch.
Just in case you were wondering/tempted, places NOT to lock your bike include street signs, stair railings, other people’s bikes (unless you know them and have hatched an evil plan to ward off bike thieves), or anything made of wood.
Party People Beware: In Florida bikes are considered vehicles, and riding while intoxicated is a no-no that is punishable by law. Yep, riding while drunk can get you a DUI. The takeaway? Ride your bike to go out, lock it up well, enjoy yourself and take a taxi home. When you go back tomorrow your bike will still be there. Unlike a car which will probably get towed and/or ticketed.
So there it is – your guide to New Year’s Resolution success. Add time to your life, life to your years and get nicer legs doing it.