What I Learned from a Week of Biking to Work

When I wake up in the morning the first thing I think about is going back to bed, certainly not jumping on my bike and heading through the busy streets of Chicago trying to dodge traffic and get to work.  But that’s exactly what I did recently for an entire week, loading up the gear for work in my backpack and getting on the pavement each morning to take my 10 mile trip to and from work.  I didn’t set out to save money or become healthier in a week, instead I looked at the weather for the week and thought the sun was shining every day, why not ride my bike all week.  I looked forward to the goal and of course the accomplishment of my goal, one that I could Tweet about or tell my friends or co-workers what I was able to do.  Here is a look at my week of riding my bike to work!

Waking Up Early and Getting Ready


Ready for a walk or run in 0.3 seconds.

Each day I woke up the alarm goes off at 5:30 am, which is actually the same time I normally wake up on a regular work day.  My morning started very similar as I walk my dog each morning, my wonderful Siberian Husky knows this and usually lets me know if I am “sleeping in” after 10-15 minutes after the alarm sounds, I pretty much can’t move or my dog will know and prompt me to take her outside.  The laughter I get from her morning stretch and howl usually cancels out any dislike I have for waking up to go outside regardless of conditions.  I usually only have one eye open at this point, but by the time I finish I’m ready to start the day.

Before I jump on my bike, I have to get everything ready, which includes:

  • Bike riding gear– which for me is shorts and t-shirt
  • Clothes for work-since the summer is in full effect I’m usually wearing dress pants and a polo shirt; luckily I keep an old pair of dress shoes at work. I do my best not to forget socks, boxers, and a belt (only happened once)
  • Lunch-The easy thing to do is forget this step and just buy lunch every day, so you don’t have to prepare a lunch or carry any extra weight, but my goal is to reach Financial Independence every $10 bill helps!

After that I’m all set, I can literally walk down the stairs grab the bike and go.  You probably think I’m missing a couple things and you are correct.

  • Don’t you need to shower? I shower the night before and sometimes right before I leave, we have a gym at work, but I’m not interested in paying $50/month for what I would use as a shower facility.  More on this topic later.
  • You make lunch in the morning? Not exactly I usually take whatever we cooked from the night before and eat this for lunch the next day, it’s sitting in the fridge ready to grab and go.
  • Don’t your clothes get all wrinkled? For the most part, I honestly don’t care that much, but what I do is carefully fold and sometimes roll each item so it fits nice and snug in my backpack.  Not once did I take out the clothes and think they were too wrinkled to wear.

Riding to Work

When I first grab my helmet (safety first kids) and bike down the road in my neighborhood, one of your last thoughts would be how great my clothing, backpack, helmet, and bike look.  Funny enough the backpack ($3), helmet ($3), and bike ($35) were all thrift store buys, did I mention I side hustle on eBay.  While I enjoy a good Jimi Hendrix song, I probably wouldn’t have put a patch on my backpack of the man, but for $3 I didn’t care very much.  Maybe it will give me street cred with the entire bike riding guitar players as I pedal through Wicker Park.


Protected bike lane’s are like riding on easy street, just living the dream!

I live in the city of Chicago, not in the center of the city, I would say closer to the suburbs and few miles away from the lake.  My best option is to jump on the streets and make my way downtown to work, right next to cars, bikes, trucks, and everything else they allow on the road.  One of the biggest initial fears about riding a bike in the city is getting hit by a car or at least it is for me.  As it turns out I found a street in Chicago that offers a bike lane the entire ride in the city, sometimes the bike lane is even far enough removed that you have your own protected lane, for me that’s as close to riding on the lake shore path without any vehicles (just tourists and runners).

The ride itself for the first couple miles is enjoying the sunshine and pedaling to get closer to the views of the skyscrapers, architecture, bridges, and Lake Michigan.

Once I arrive at work, I do a full change of clothes from head to toe.  I usually shower the night before, so taking the advice of Mrs. POP I bought some cleaning towelettes to make sure I smelled wonderful.  I like to keep things natural so I went with Burt’s Bees and the wonderful fragrance of Cucumber and Sage, I couldn’t have smelled better, although I do smell good naturally!

After that it’s pretty much business as usual.  I make sure to grab a little extra water and a morning snack if I didn’t get a chance to eat yet and I’m ready for the 9-5 grind, except with a feeling of accomplishment to start the day right.

Riding to work (The Best)

The best is simple, every morning I would wake up and ride down the street enjoying the sunshine and beautiful views of the city.  When I would finish my morning ride I had a feeling of accomplishment, all of that before 8 am!   I had already done something, it felt amazing.  I knew that the day was at its peak for me as taking a bike ride in the city beats out doing work stuff for 8 hours.  Sure I saved a few dollars from riding my bike by not taking the train and riding my bike is great for my health which is important to me, but I really rode my bike because it was fun to do, just that simple.

Riding to work (The Worst)

As you can imagine not everyone is paying attention on the road, so an occasional close call with a driver who is turning and deciding to cut me off while I yell out obscenities that he cannot hear does happen.  I’m sure I have taken a Yellow/Red light or not used the perfect hand signals or slowed down the guy that was late to work while I pedaled in first gear because my legs were waking up.  I think it all evens out in the end; you know Even Steven I hear is a popular phrase around here.    I was never injured or involved in an accident the entire week and assuming you pay attention and stay in your bike lane; it’s fairly safe to ride your bike in the city.

I did forget one guy, actually a person on a bicycle who happened to weaving and what looked like staring at the park/trees/butterflies, who knows.  He was wearing shorts with a Hawaiian shirt or something similar, a drawstring backpack, sunglasses, and longer hair.  Don’t think Fabio long hair; think Tom Seleck if he skipped the acting gig and went straight for not working and instead spending his days at a little bar called Rummy Mummy for 45 years of his life, yeah that should do it.  Well since he was weaving and going slow, I chose to pass him and from what I can remember I passed with an appropriate amount of distance as I went by at my normal speed, I heard something in the background a short time later, but I was just trying to get home and not surprisingly do not care much what others yell from a distance.  As I sat at the red light, the light turned a biker’s favorite green color and none other than the beat up version of Tom Seleck decided to curse at me for what I can only remember as passing him on the left while he swerved in a booze filled haze.  If I was pretty sure of the booze filled haze, but when I found an open container of Fireball he had on the side of his drawstring bag and some slurred speech it cemented my claim of being drunk.  Because the guy was not the nicest guy in the world I did have thoughts of just getting off my bike, punching the guy in the face and heading home,  everyone’s happy right:)  Instead I chose to just pedal away and think what a great story to share with a few select people here on the blog.  Just remember be careful for the drunken, long hair,  beat up, shorter version of Tom Seleck, he could be riding the streets near you!


It was a great week of riding my bike to work, I enjoyed the ride!  My bike trip was over 100 miles from the week and even had the pleasure of riding with Mrs. Even Steven on the lake path once or twice as we chatted about our days on the ride home.    At the end of the 100 miles I was pretty worn out, especially since I normally bike to work once a week.  I don’t think I will be biking 100 miles again this year, but I really do like taking the bike to work a couple times a week when the weather is full of sunshine and the temperature is right where I like it.  My plan is to certainly ride more in the future and riding I hope that you give riding a bike to your place of work a try this summer or fall, you just might love it!


Do you plan on biking to work?  Why not bike to work, let’s get rid of those excuses!




If you are traveling down the road wondering if your next step is towards financial freedom, it’s time to see what’s around you today so you can change your tomorrow. Getting the big picture all in one place with Personal Capital has really helped me see what I can do with my finances today and in the future. Take control of your financial life and you will have more time to enjoy the bike ride on the lake front instead of the bike ride to work.  If you’re looking for a great way to track your net worth, analyze your portfolio fees, manage your cash flow, and get a handle on your finances for today and the future, sign up with Personal Capital today.

24 Responses to “What I Learned from a Week of Biking to Work

  • I work from home so I can’t bike to work, but we have been biking many other places though. We bike to get our groceries and to the store 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…How I Made $25,138 Online In July Plus My 4 Year BlogiversaryMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      That’s great Michelle! I occasionally will do the same and I’ll bring the backpack with me to load up what I can, certainly makes the shopping a little more planned out.

  • I would love to ride to work. I wouldn’t even mind a shower when I get here in the company gym. Unfortunately Houston is the literal worst for anything even resembling bike lanes or bike safety, especially in 7am traffic.
    Adam @ AdamChudy.com recently posted…5 Steps to Accomplish AnythingMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Haha, well I’m sure it will get better with time. It’s inevitable in my opinion, more people means more people have to go to work and more cars, which should lead to more bikes, trains, etc. to reduce traffic and pollution and and all of that.

  • That’s great that you started to bike to work! Living 28 miles from work, I’m not really interested in biking (yes it’s an excuse!). This sucks, though: “I’m not interested in paying $50/month for what I would use as a shower facility.” Our work out area/gym are free for employees to use. Anyone who bikes typically changes and showers when they get in, but again, it’s free!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Best Cheap Cell Phone PlanMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      You should give it a try one day, challenge yourself! I said I want to walk to work one day, just want to try it, nice little 10 mile leisurely walk;) Great point on the gym, it really is a service they should offer. Problem is the gym is a separate business and not affiliated with us, but I’m going to look into it, thanks.

  • I used to bike to work here and there when I lived about 18 km (~11 miles) away from work. Now I live about 40 km (~25 miles) from work so might be a bit too much to bike to work then back home. Congrats on being able to bike to work for a week.
    Tawcan recently posted…Happy belated 1 year blog anniversaryMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      What’s the difference between a nice 11 and 25 mile bike ride in the morning:) Yeah where you live certainly makes a difference for biking and the commute and certainly how into biking you are as well. Putting in 250 miles a week sounds like a lot!

  • My commute used to be 25 mile, 50 round trip so not very practical, plus we don’t have many friends bike road here on long island. Love the saving and health benefits though, nicely done.
    Brian @DebtDiscipline recently posted…Net Worth Update: July 2015My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Thanks Debt Discipline, yeah it was a fun week I enjoyed the ride and now my transportation card is probably filled with a ton of money! Free rides for everyone!!

  • So proud of you for making it a whole week! One thought, though. Thrift store helmets can be risky since you don’t know if their safety has been compromised by age or by being in an accident. (Car seats for kids can’t legally be sold in thrift stores for those same reasons, but they haven’t extended the regulations to bike helmets even though the same logic applies.) So if I were your mom, I would not-so-gently encourage you to make an upgrade on that one. =)

    Now I’m going to hop on my bike to head to work! Have a great week =)
    Mrs PoP recently posted…PoP Income Statement – July 2015My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Thanks Mrs. Pop, you are probably right on the bike helmet, although my response to my Mom would be that she should be happy I’m wearing one at all;) I’ll make sure to keep my eye out for a nice one…….that we know will work. Appreciate the advice:)

  • I think it’s awesome you bike in to work. When in the winter will it stop (if it does)? How long does it take? I walk to work everyday! I live a little less than a mile by foot from work. Usually takes me under 15 minutes to walk to and from work everyday. This 100% sucks when it’s raining or 0 degrees with winds howling, but I make it work. If it’s really bad outside I’ll just work from home since the office will be quite empty anyways from all the commuters who won’t come in due to snow or what not.
    Fervent Finance recently posted…The First $100k is the Hardest!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I have gone a few times in the fall/winter, but it drops to lower than 30/40 degrees I’m not a huge fan since I have to wear a bunch of layers and then the wind on the bike ride is dropping the temperature another few degrees. So October/November is probably my limit, the 60 degree morning rides are my favorite. Ride takes me an hour, since I’m riding the streets with traffic signals especially.

      I wish we had the snow rule in Chicago, I have seen our company close once and that was when it was like the top 5 worst snow storms in history. I love that you have the flexibility, thats awesome.

  • That’s awesome you rode your bike to work all week. The only concern I have is that you purchased a helmet from a thrift shop. Like Mrs PoP, you don’t know the safety record. I am all for saving money, but when it comes to safety, probably best to spend a little more to make sure you keep your brain safe.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Apparently this is a big deal and I missed it. I apparently have to go shopping and get a new one, it’s one of those cheaper ones that you get from Target/Wal-Mart that are like Styrofoam. Well thank you both for the advice, much appreciated.

  • Well, I work at home. So arguably, I already do, right?

    In Arizona, there are about 5 months of the year during which you try to avoid going out at all, let alone exercising in. (Well, I do. I see brave souls jogging in 100+ weather.)

    Health problems and a very stretched out city keep me from biking more places. But I think it’s a great alternative for others. Even if it does mean we have to avoid insane cyclists from time to time. Most people stay out of the way, but some folks are happy to cruise along at 20 mph in front of cars trying to go 40.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Arizona has some serious heat, I know it well enough that you need to get all of your outside items done before 10 am and can only go outside after the sun goes down.

      I’ve only biked in AZ a couple times and that was just local, I haven’t had the chance to bike downtown which is probably the best use for the locals.

  • I was contiplating on getting a bike to ride to work for a while, I only live 4 miles away and it would be a good way to save a few dollars and lose a few pounds, plus it would be a good way to enjoy the Florida sun 🙂
    Vadim recently posted…Getting StartedMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Yeah 4 miles would be perfect probably take you 20-30 minutes in the morning, I recommend it.

  • First of all, congrats on a week’s worth of bike commuting. That’s something not a lot of people get to say that they have tried.

    Does you have a bike-to-work program at your job? I know of some that incentivize low-impact commuting.

    I bike to work almost everyday. It’s convenient and easy for me to do, though. It takes about 15-20 minutes.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Thanks Mr. MM! We do not have a bike to work program, but our office does have a bike room with a security guard as something. They only incentive train/bus with a small addition each month, which is nice to have.

      15-20 minutes is perfect just enough to wake up and get going without getting into an intense ride.

  • I live too far from work to bike to/from work but I love the idea. Lots of people who live closer do it and I think it’s a great idea – better for the environment, it means less cars on the road and also a great way to save. Cars are a money pit
    Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet recently posted…July 2015 Dividend IncomeMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I couldn’t agree more Dan, I haven’t had my own vehicle in almost 5 years and it’s helped me pay off my student loans with all that “free money”!

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