melissa anders | minneapolis to shakopee, 23 miles each way

For Melissa Anders, a car is just a fallback.

"I would sell my car in a heartbeat if my commute were under 15 miles," said Anders, 37, who has lived without a car for a total of 14 years in Portland, Ore., and the Twin Cities. "I hope to have a bus backup in case I break my arm. And I have co-workers who live within a few blocks of me.

"I get where I'm going, and I'm in a good mood, you know?" she said of her reverse commute. "If you're stuck in a car, you just ruminate on it. But when you're on a bike, it just washes away.

"I really do think the best part is the beauty. I see the sunrise on the lake. Going through Hyland Park, I see eagles all the time and deer and turkeys and all these random animals. It's a beautiful commute, it's exercise, and it's really grounding. I think it satisfies all those things."

Only about 29 percent of Twin Cities bike commuters are women, according to Transit for Livable Communities. Anders said she doesn't really know why that is but doesn't think too much about it since she's also in the minority as a female mechanical engineer. She works at Seagate Technology.

Anders varies her route, sometimes to ride with friends and sometimes to pick up some extra mileage. One day, she rode 97 miles, broken up by her work shift, then took an extra lap around Lake Nokomis on her return trip to make sure she reached the century mark.

She cuts back in the winter because of the darkness and because sometimes roads and paths aren't plowed. She's grateful for wide shoulders and turn lanes on Hwy. 101, which give her and drivers room, and for showers at work. Even the hunters' gunshots she hears in the fall while crossing the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge don't really faze her.

"They're bird-hunting. They're not aiming at me," she said.