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Why Do I Bike? Clean Air and Exercise — but Mostly It Makes Me Happy

By: Tom Daniels

May is Bike Month, and DEQ is celebrating by inviting bloggers to share their thoughts on choosing bicycles as an environmentally friendly form of transportation.

Tom Daniels

It’s 5 a.m. I stumble to the bathroom, run water through my hair, brush my teeth and get dressed: shorts, jersey, gloves, jacket and shoes; shoulder on my back pack, grab my lunch and stumble downstairs.

There’s my ride: 15 pounds of carbon fiber and titanium. My day is instantly better.

Two miles in 7 minutes to the Ogden bus stop. I throw my bike on the bus and relax for the hour ride in to work at DEQ.

My first “real” bike was a Motobecane. It had a brazed frame and bar end shifters. It was fast and light. My first ride up Emigration had me out of breath and sore. Biking took a back seat to college, marriage and kids. When I started at DEQ in 1995 I weighed over 215 pounds. It wasn’t until my car engine blew that I picked up my bike again, because it cost more to repair than the car was worth, and well, I had a bike.

Back then it was a 10-mile commute from my Murray house to the Salt Lake office. I was heavy, out of shape, and frankly I SUCKED! In 1996, mountain biking made its debut in the Atlanta Olympics. Tinker Juarez was 5 years older than me, slaughtering kids 10-to-15 years younger than him. I figured if Tinker could do it, so could I. It took the entire summer to get in shape. After 2 years living in Ogden, I dropped to 165 pounds, where it has stayed for the last 15 years.

It’s 5 p.m. I change, fill my water bottles, grab my back pack and retrieve my bike. There is a slight headwind so I tuck down to reduce my resistance and bring my cadence up. I feel the wind passing over me, the road beneath me, my legs are churning, and my lungs are starting to burn. All I hear is the thrum of the road beneath my tires, and the chain moving through the derailleur.

In 20 minutes I’m at Legacy Parkway where I meet up with another rider and we start working together. Our speed and cadence increase as we take turns pulling for each other, and the miles quickly disappear.

At Farmington Station, I peel off, hop on Highway 89 and start climbing through Fruit Heights, Cherry Lane then onto the Weber River Divide, hitting 45 mph on that descent. One last climb in Ogden in 1:52—not bad for a 35 mile-ride home with 18 miles of climbs.

Tom Daniels

I have ridden in rain, snow, hail and temperatures ranging from -17°F to 113°F. I am on my third road bike, having literally ridden the wheels off of two others. I have been hit by a car on three different occasions. I have had three concussions, two broken thumbs, a broken elbow and shoulder surgery. People ask why I ride. Biking saves money, energy and pollution. It also has helped me lose weight and keep it off. But that is not why I ride.

I bike because it doesn’t matter how tired, angry, frustrated I get throughout the day. When I get on my bike, it evaporates into the ether. I have had hard rides and easy rides, rides that have pushed me farther than I ever thought I would go, but in the end, there has never been a bad ride.

Biking makes me happy. That is why I ride.

May is Utah Bike Month. Why do you ride? We’d love to hear how biking makes you happy.

I am a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Utah. I work as an environmental engineer for the Division of Environmental Response and Remediation in the Superfund Section. I also teach a spin class at Weber State.

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