The Power Of Redefining Normal (Via 145 Days Of Cycling)

On 13 August last year I decided to invest in an ebike, almost entirely to use for my 3.5 mile work commute.

One year on, I’ve used it for a total of 145 days (of course I’ve been tracking it on a spreadsheet, you know what a stats geek I am!).

I need to be at the office four days a week, so over this year I could have ridden 4/7 x 365 days, or 209 days. Subtract when I was on leave, this drops to around 160 days. Take off the 15 or so days where the weather has been too wet and ghastly to want to show up to work looking like a kitten who’d fallen in a toilet, and my total is 145 days.

Here are the three major benefits I’ve enjoyed –

1. 145 days of exercise.

The seven mile round trip means 1015 miles in total over the year. Now I know hardcore riders will do that in a week or two, but it’s 1015 miles of consistent cycling I haven’t done since I was in my early 20s.

2. 145 days of not spending the money on fuel to take the car.

Yes, of course there was an initial outlay for the bike (I’m tracking the cost per day on a spreadsheet too), plus the need to charge the battery for a few hours perhaps once a week.

But still, at around £6 a gallon for diesel, my reasonably efficient 40mpg car would have still have guzzled 25 gallons or £150 worth of the stuff in the same time.

3. 145 days of not polluting the atmosphere.

I have a love/hate relationship with my car, loving the freedom it gives in terms of being able to get me (and my family) anywhere but hating the financial commitment, and what a slave we can become to relying on one.

Also, at heart I’m someone who wants to make the minimum negative impact possible in the world, so every time I start the car, I feel guilty at the pollutants it spits into the atmosphere.

Thus, rolling off the drive near silently on my ebike in the morning I feel a whole other level of freedom and good feeling the car can’t give.

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So these are the three main pros of commuting for a year by ebike instead of car. 

But there’s something deeper, that’s perhaps even more important for me.

It’s shown me again I can redefine what I consider normal, and how that can become a very powerful habit with very little ongoing effort required.

Other examples of this in my life are yoga, which I’ve practised daily, less a handful of sick days, since October 2010, photography, and writing a blog, which I’ve done in some form regularly since around 2004, and in this 35hunter incarnation since December 2015.

Getting up, having a light breakfast, then doing my 20 minutes of yoga is just normal for me.

Writing a blog regularly, almost constantly thinking of new post ideas in my head, and enjoying the community it brings is just normal for me.

Going out once or twice a week making photographs – and in between looking at the last images I made and considering the next – is just normal for me.

Hopping on my ebike to get to work is now also just normal for me.

That which we do most often – our regular habits – define what’s normal.

And, over time, these can become the backbone of your life, and the root of massive progress, achievement and reward.

How about you? What’s normal for you that’s helped you made major progress in a positive direction? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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8 thoughts on “The Power Of Redefining Normal (Via 145 Days Of Cycling)”

    1. Gerald, thanks for asking!

      They’ve essentially formed two channels, one for my own creative output, one for self-development and coaching.

      From around 2004 I had a coaching blog which evolved into a Ning community around 2007 with my own blog within it. We had over 1000 artists at one point, it was such a thriving community.

      For example around 2007 it look liked this – http://web.archive.org/web/20071001100040/http://coachcreativespace.ning.com/

      This wound down a few years back as I used a blog connected with a Google+ group. That blog is archived here on WordPress –

      https://abigcreativeyes.wordpress.com/

      It ran from early 2010 until Sept 2015. I took a couple of months off to reconsider my approaches and began this blog (35hunter) in Dec 2015, which combines both my personal photography adventures and thoughts, and tries to encourage a community around the related topics.

      Alongside these I’ve had various writing and poetry blogs, mostly stuff like six word stories, 50 word stories and haiku, where I’ve used Tumblr blogs. I don’t think any of these are still active, though I have the content backed up.

      I also used Flickr essentially as a blog for years, as well as a way to archive and organise my best photos, and continue to use it for the latter, with 35hunter replacing the blog part.

      1. Thanks Dan _ It’ll be interesting to look at those later. At the moment I’m blocked from looking at the first link because it supposedly contains adult content!

  1. I’m sure I have shared this before but I went over three years without driving a car, it was hard at first but wonderful. I really don’t understand people who are unwilling to at least give it a go, especially with short commutes like yourself. Here in the USA it’s pretty likely that you could cycle that distance faster than driving a car because of the traffic. One of my best purchases was a Brooks rain cape, I once rode home 10 miles in a pretty good rain and arrived bone dry except for my face. Highly recommended. I actually just got in from a lovely bike ride a few minutes ago.

    1. Jon, you have shared it before, but I’m glad you did again, it’s very inspiring!

      We had a short travel survey come around at work last summer (which I had some input in creating the questions for, as I’m in the sustainability group) and one of the questions was what is stopping you from trying alternative transport (to a car) to commute to work. I realised my main one was I don’t want to arrive at work being too wet/sweaty/dishevelled, it’s not worth it for the short commute of 15-20 mins.

      Challenging this more deeply, I thought of ways to avoid or overcome these obstacles. To avoid getting wet I could not ride on very wet days, and on slightly wet days have mudguards and a waterproof jacket. The overheating issue led me to exploring an ebike, so I ride as hard as I can without arriving at work dripping, letting the electric motor kick in on the biggest hills. A major cause of getting too hot on a regular bike was having my stuff in a backpack, so I explored panniers for the bike, and the fantastic waterproof Ortlieb bags. I was out of excuses!

      I think it helped that I have a strong background in bikes as a child and teenager, so it was a return to an activity I enjoy anyway too. Perhaps many people have never ridden a bike much (or at all?) so this is a whole other set of challenges.

      But largely I agree with you, anyone with a less than five or even ten mile commute say, might be surprised at the benefits of cycling if they just gave it a try. And yes on the parts of my commute in town, I usually moved faster than the four wheeled traffic, and can get straight to the front of the queues at traffic lights.

      1. I agree Dan, I also have used fenders (mudguards) and Ortlieb panniers. I think both are essential to arriving at work neat and dry. I have used the heck out of those panniers and they still look great, worth every penny.

      2. My experience is the same. I bought a cheap bag that sat on top of the pannier rack for about £20 from Amazon. It lasted about two weeks before the stitching disintegrated.

        So I bit the bullet and paid around £60 for a pair of Ortlieb Back Roller City side panniers. Apparently they’re made from the same thick rubber tarpaulin used on the side of articulated trucks.

        Nearly a year later and aside from a little surface mud, they have never let a drop of water in, and are as good as new.

        Fantastic product, which is reassuring when so much these days is cheap plastic crap!

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