First Bike Commute Ever!

Wednesday’s weather was supposed to be sunny and in the 70’s here in Portland. I excited planned to commute to work by bike for the first time ever.

It may not seem like a big deal, but let me give you this tidbit: I love my car. I love driving. I absolutely HATE relying on public transportation to get around. I will never be one of those “car-free” types. I like my freedom. I like being in control and I don’t want to rely on others to get around. So giving up my car for the day and riding my bike was a pretty scary thing. I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong, being stranded, being unable to physically bike and then not having a car, etc etc.

I prepped everything Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I woke up at 6am instead of sleeping in for another 30 minutes and showered. I dressed in my cycling gear: Pearl Izumi bike shorts with cycling tights on over that (for warmth), a cycling shirt plus my cycling jacket.

Michael and I ate a lighter breakfast in preparation for the ride. The morning was sunny but cold and I was a little worried that it would be a miserable bike ride.


I loaded everything into Michael’s car since he has a bike rack. Michael took off for his 5 mile commute to work from the house. I drove to Sellwood, parked his car on a residential street and then took off on my bike.

It was a cool, bright morning and it was really quiet as I rode through Sellwood. I saw a few other cyclists. My fingers were cold but I wasn’t miserable and 10 minutes into the ride they weren’t cold anymore. The wind was a bit cold on the bike but again, it wasn’t horrible.

I biked down to Oaks Park and caught the Springwater Corridor that would take me into downtown Portland.

It was so quiet and relaxing. There weren’t a ton of people out (just a few other cyclists commuting to work too and a few runners) and I enjoyed my ride.

I stopped about three times to take some photos. I was doing okay on time so I wasn’t worried I’d be late. I saw some geese along the trail with their adorable little babies! I didn’t stop to take a photo of the baby geese though because I didn’t want to scare them.

I saw the people on the Willamette rowing.

I left the Springwater Trail, rode passed OMSI, and then caught the Esplanade Loop. I took the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown (I normally walk the bridge every morning). That was kind of nerve-racking. There were a lot of bikes on the bridge, plus runners and walkers, and it wasn’t very wide. There was another cyclist right on my ass making me nervous but there wasn’t room for me to move so he could pass.

I got off the Hawthorne Bridge and road up the west side of the Esplanade until I got to my street and then road up a few blocks to my office.

I stored my bike in the office bike locker room and then went to the bathroom to change into my work clothes. It was liberating and exciting to ride my bike to work!

Morning Stats:

Time: 37 minutes

Calories Burned: 313

Distance: 5.7 miles

My goal is that by the end of summer I’m able to make the whole commute on bike, leaving from home instead of driving half way to park.


During my lunch break walk I scouted out the best route to get out of downtown. With the crazy way people drive downtown I wanted to ride down there as little as possible. I decided that going across the Morrison Bridge and catching the Eastside of the Esplanade was the best bet. It just meant the beginning of my ride would be up a hill to climb the bridge!

The good news: there was a very wide, safe bike lane. I got off work at 4:30 ready to bike home! Instead of the warm cycling gear I just wore my bike shorts and t-shirt. It was so nice out! My backpack was much heavier on the ride home because I had all those clothes in it. I rode through downtown a few blocks to the Morrison Bridge, crossed the bridge over to the Eastside.

Once I was on the other side of the river it was smooth sailing all the way home. It was pleasant out, not cold or too windy. And I was making GREAT time!

I thought the commute home would be harder and take more time (going uphill) but I was faster. Weird! I made it to the Springwater Corridor, zipped down the trail and then was faced with the HUGE hill up from Oaks Park. I was nervous about the hill because it’s a killer but I made it up without having to stop (or stand).

I rode through Sellwood neighborhood streets and made it back to the car in record time. I loaded everything in the car and headed home. It as a GREAT first attempt at bike commuting!

Afternoon Stats:

Time: 28 minutes

Calories Burned: 258

Miles: 5.7

Not too shabby! I like getting in a workout while commuting. My afternoon ride home meant my backpack was A LOT heavier though (all my cold weather gear was inside). That was difficult.


Calories Burned:  571        |        Miles Biked:  About 11

QUESTION: Have you ever commuted by bike?


Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

16 thoughts on “First Bike Commute Ever!”

  1. Hi Lisa, I’ve noticed your comments on Lori’s blog and finally cliked on your site. Sorry I haven’t found it sooner, love your story, your posts and your pictures. I’ve bookmarked and will visit often. Have a great day.

  2. That’s awesome! I’m jealous! 😛 I live 8 miles from my office and I sometimes contemplate biking but despite not having a bike it’s through some rough neighborhoods OR a major highway so I guess I’ll just have to stick with my car. 🙁 I’d totally ride a horse to and from work since I doubt I’d get messed with being on a horse…but the logistics might be a little tough 😉

  3. So awesome Lisa!!! I have never commuted by bike to work before but there’s no where for me to store my bike AND I get sweaty no matter what, so it would be hard for me to look work appropriate after a ride in. I do run home sometimes though which takes lots of planning but it’s always so great to get home and already be done with the work out!

    1. It does take a lot of planning. Luckily the sweaty thing wasn’t an issue in the morning. I was a little sweaty but not bad enough to need a shower (it was probably too cold when I rode). But in the summer time I might need to shower once I get to work and we have access to a locker room.

  4. I’m exactly like you, sorta, I hate not being in control, I won’t let someone pick me up, I’d rather drive & meet them somewhere. Biking to work is a huge challenge, but that’s really great that you did it!

  5. That’s awesome! I knew Portland was bike-friendly, but that all looks amazing! Unfortunately, the commute from my house to work takes me along very busy roads that are not bike friendly. And the drivers here seem to hate bikers. I’ll have to figure out how to get cycling in some other way.
    Emily recently posted..Busted!

  6. that is so great, Lisa!! you are braver than me, I love to ride but would be way too chicken to ride in traffic and with the crazy drivers you mentioned… I love springwater trail, if I had a whole commute like that I would do it! 🙂

  7. I drive part way before I start biking as well (I have a pretty long commute). I recently picked up a Montague folding bike to make the whole process easier. I don’t need a bike rack anymore and I can just leave my bike in the trunk when I’m not using it. It can also make changing plan or meeting up with friends easier as I can put the folded bike in their trunk!

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