When Athletes Commute by Bike

I commute by bike when I can, and blog about it sometimes. Lately I’ve seen a neat trend: celebrities talking about transportation. Not long ago, Brad Pitt was on The Daily Show, and someone pull-quoted this gem from him:

After looking at this (exhaustive) page of celebrities on bikes, it seems he isn’t the only one. But a lot of those look more like weekend cruises than commutes. Yes, but! Look at LeBron James:

LeBron James biking to work. Photo credit: @jacknruth

King James is jamming in traffic, on the way to work. Just like a regular guy! (Except for $16 million difference in our salaries, I mean.)

But that ain’t all, sports fans. Turns out that in 2008, at least, a large number of pitchers for the Baltimore Orioles were commuting by bike: “At last count, the cyclists include Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff, Brian Burres, Garrett Olson and Lance Cormier.”

The original story in the Baltimore Sun is unavailable, but coverage in Streetsblog said that Guthrie rode to Camden Yards six days a week during long home-stands (on Sundays his wife dropped him off after church). His comment:

“There are some side benefits,” Guthrie said. “It’s the overall idea of being outside and exercising instead of driving. I hate cars, I hate driving, I hate doing something I don’t have to do. For me to drive downtown is a waste of gas; it’s a waste of my time. I can ride faster than I can drive.”

I can’t ride faster than I drive, but I do like the idea of having healthy legs.

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Put the Fun Between Your Legs

Sure it’s a callow double entendre, but if it’s good enough for a bicycling t-shirt, it’s good enough for a headline. I ran across Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips website today, which merits a mention for those of you waffling about whether or not to dust off the Schwinn. Besides, May is Bike Month. Saddle up!

Paul’s site has plenty o’ tips about commuting, but he isn’t one of those sniffy foot-in-the-clips-and-holier-than-thou types, as he documents the many mistakes he made (clothing, choosing routes, etc.) along the way.

One quoteworthy part:

A big reason why many people don’t commute by bike is because they think like motorists. As drivers, they know that the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B is by Route C. Unfortunately, Route C features abundant high-velocity traffic, plenty of potholes and rough pavement, a few steep hills and several dangerous intersections. Not very attractive even for a seasoned cyclist, let alone a beginner. (Not very attractive for a motorist, for that matter.)

However, there just may be a Route D that runs parallel to Route C. Route D features slower – and thus less abundant – traffic, and is flatter with good pavement, more trees, interesting scenery and many smiling pedestrians.

I did this too, riding on a stretch of a busy road with a 45 mph speed limit. Yipes! Not only that, while I was hauling ass to get off that stretch as fast as possible one day, I got attacked by a dog* (*well, if a Chihuahua counts as a real dog).

Now I avoid the big streets and ride on the quiet ones, just like Paul.

One other cool part of his site are some of the biking quotes he found:

“The automobile has not merely taken over the street, it has dissolved the living tissue of the city. Its appetite for space is absolutely insatiable; moving and parked, it devours urban land, leaving the buildings as mere islands of habitable space in a sea of dangerous and ugly traffic.”–James Marston Fitch, New York Times, May 1, 1960

“Driving a car versus riding a bike is on par with watching television rather than living your own life.”–Bruce MacAlister, Calgary cyclist

“This is the basis of car culture, the idea that the world and all of the world’s people are merely in its way.”– Travis Hugh Culley

“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.”–Christopher Morley, American writer and editor, 1890-1957

That last one, surely, should be any writer’s motto.