Commuter Spotlight: Phil Roper, Mechanical Engineer, Ventana Medical Systems
Changing my commute at age 51.
Six years ago, I was changing jobs and wanted to get into better shape. I bought an inexpensive new hybrid bike and brought it to work on Mondays so I could ride at lunchtime and explore different routes on the weekends. After awhile, my endorphins and I were all in, and I bought a road bike for longer miles and a mountain bike for fun. The lunchtime rides turned into my current commute, 3-4 days a week, utilizing Pima County’s great Loop path system.
Pros and cons of my bike commute
I like biking to and from work because I get a little “Phil-time” to let my mind wander, be creative and plan my day or evening. I always arrive happy and invigorated, not like the motorists that are sometimes grumpy. The biggest benefit for me is to my health, although I will admit to often taking that extra cookie because I know I’ll bike it off. The biggest concern I have is inattentive drivers, so if it’s near dusk I light myself up well. As cycling continues to grow in popularity, there also seems to be a growing dislike between motorists and cyclists. I attribute this to the few rotten apples in both bunches, and I do all I can to obey traffic laws and be friendly to motorists to try to help turn this trend around. The money I save by not driving gets reinvested into my bikes. There isn’t much time savings biking vs. driving, but the work out and the relaxing nature of my ride saves me time in other ways.
Why I wear cyclist clothing
When I started biking I was safe and wore a helmet, but I never thought I would go all in and wear the cyclist clothes. Then one day while going about 20 mph, a bee flew up my shorts. I didn’t get stung, but it sure was an exciting 30 seconds. This is one reason why cycling clothes are fit snugly.
Advice for beginners
Talk to people who are already doing it. We’re a friendly group and everyone will want to help you. Then buy an entry-level bike, build up some endurance and smile the miles. Beyond your commute, join a cycling club or to make new friends.