Commuteering is about adding adventure to the daily journey to work.
19 years ago, when my eldest daughter was born, I gave up smoking as I didn’t want her to be exposed to my smoke. As many people in a similar position do, I began to pile on weight. I had to slow my expansion somehow, but couldn’t possibly give up cheese, bread and beer, so chose the only other option and began to cycle to work.
Between then and a year or so ago, riding remained the main way that I made the daily trip. Over those years I’ve taken all sorts of different routes around the local roads and enjoyed the sensations of the seasons changing a day at a time; I’ve ridden mountain bikes and travelled cross-country and enjoyed the sting of brambles on my shins as I sat through dull meetings later in the day, my forearms scratched like a self-harming teenager. I’ve ridden punishing laps of the local hills in elevation challenges and had 100km days, splitting the distance before and after 8 hours in a factory.
For a while we lived within an hour’s walk of work, across farmland and a country park, so to make a change from cycling I’d do that instead. On a couple of occasions, I left the night before and bivied high on the hill in the country park with a great view across the city, and then walked in to work after watching the sun rise and cooking pancakes on a gas stove.I even kayaked to work once. We were at a conference in a hotel by a river, so an early start, an hour’s paddling and a quick change in the toilets and I was set up for the day.
But for the last few months, illness has meant that I’m not riding my bike like I used to and I’m averaging only one day a week on two wheels. Instead I’m travelling in the van. I’m trying to keep the microadventure spirit going though by stopping along the way and brewing coffee. I’ve done it a dozen times or so across this summer and loved it, seeing some tremendous views and enjoying precious moments of peace before the working day.
I know that not everyone can, and many will travel across a city to their workplace or need to deal with children, but I urge you to use your imagination. It might not seem much, but parking a mile from work and walking the last stretch or digging out your bike and riding in occasionally will break some of the monotony that so many complain about. It’ll give you a new experience, you might discover new streets or areas that the car journey along the main road takes you straight by.
It’ll also give you a pause between the stresses of the day and getting home to family. Too often, we’ll get wound up through the day, sit in stop/start traffic or encounter road rage, and then get home grumpy. Fill that gap with a bike ride or a walk, and you’ll find yourself in a much happier state.
You’ll thank yourself for finding ways to bring the Commuteering spirit into your day.
Words and photos by @barnaby_nutt