Minneapolis gets all the attention as a mecca for bike commuting, but many bicyclists are pushing those boundaries, commuting from the suburbs to the city (or vice-versa) on wooded trails, residential streets and sometimes even major highways. It’s great exercise and it’s time outdoors that drivers don’t get, many say. Greg Anderson, who rides 9 miles between home and work in Plymouth, calls it “Cycletherapy.”
Chuck Hermes | Oakdale to Minneapolis, 15 miles each way, or stillwater to Minneapolis, 31 miles each way
Riding his bike to work is “like yoga or meditation,” said Chuck Hermes.
That’s a big reason why the Stillwater resident drops his daughter at school in Oakdale, unloads his bike from his car and rides the remaining 15 miles to northeast Minneapolis, where he’s a co-owner of Clockwork Active Media, a firm that develops Web and mobile applications for businesses. Once or twice a month, he’ll go the entire distance from Stillwater, 30.5 miles each way.
His colleagues have noticed that on days he rides his bike, he arrives full of ideas, but not so much when he drives, he said. That, and a workplace that isn’t as scheduled as most, helps ease the twinges of guilt he feels from spending a large part of each day on his bike instead of at work or with his family.
“I consider it not unproductive time,” Hermes said of his 90-minute ride twice a day. “I’ve realized I’m healthier and more energized when I get here, and in a better mood when I get home. All in all I think it’s a win for my workmates, for my family, and certainly a win for me.”
Much of Hermes’ route is on the Gateway Trail, though he encounters traffic and pavement issues getting through parts of St. Paul and into Minneapolis. When he and his wife moved from Minneapolis to Stillwater eight years ago, then started having kids, the commute seemed daunting. And he doesn’t ride when the trail and streets are icy.
His wife asked at one point whether they shouldn’t move closer to his work.
“But that wouldn’t be a long enough commute!” Hermes said. “I’ve realized how this has affected my life so positively — it’s really important to me. Would I be opposed to moving closer to town? No, for a number of reasons. But I really enjoy this ride.”
Hermes, 48, also rides for fun, trying to cover 100 miles a week in the warm months. That usually doesn’t involve a trip to town.
“The roads in Washington County are magnificent,” he said.