Getting to work by bike is a fantastic way to start the day, yet we could all use a little inspiration sometimes. So as part of Red Bull’s ‘Million Mile Commute’ challenge this summer, let’s look at three of the most amazing bike commutes out there.
From a frankly incredible 140-mile (225km) roundtrip across south Wales, to unicycling through snowstorms in Minneapolis, to hacking down the Rocky Mountains for hours on end, there’s plenty of variety here.
Can you go the extra mile this summer? By running or cycling to work you can be a part of Red Bull’s UK-wide Million Mile Commute. Join the club in Strava to be eligible for a Red Bull sample kit to set you on your way. Don’t forget to share your commutes by tagging @RedBullUK and use the #MillionMileCommute hashtag.
Commuting challenge accepted
The first amazing commuter on our list is an IT manager from Wales who was determined to prove he could make it into work by bike. Simon Mansfield lives near Cardigan and works in Port Talbot, a distance of around 65miles (105km) each way.
After buying a bike to get fitter, his colleagues kept asking when he would be riding it into work. “Then one day I thought – you know what? I think it’s possible to do it,” he told local newspaper the Tivyside Advertiser.
Setting out at 3:50am, he rode more than four hours through pouring rain and into a headwind to arrive at his desk at 8:20am. After putting in a full day’s work, he left work at 4:20pm to arrive home at 8:45pm, making it around nine hours in the saddle.
“It went a lot better than I had expected. I thought I would be tired and aching but I was fine,” Simon added. “While I won’t be doing it on a regular basis, I wouldn’t mind trying again in better weather to see what time I can manage.”
‘Unicycling feels like having wings’
Next up is one US man’s totally normal, run-of-the-mill commute from his home in northeast Minneapolis to the museum where he works. Absolutely ordinary, apart from the fact he does it on a unicycle, all year round. Being Minnesota, this can include lows of -20°C in winter and highs of 30°C in summer, so there’s plenty of snow, ice and sweat to cope with.
One advantage of commuting through a Minnesota winter on a unicycle is the machine’s simplicity
“To me, it feels safe and normal,” says Dan Hansen, 51, who’s been riding to work on one wheel for around 15 years. He was inspired to ride by a chance encounter with one of the best-known unicyclists in the Twin Cities area, Irene Genelin, who flew past him on the street one day and impressed him so much he had to try it for himself.
After practising intensely – at night to begin with, so no-one would see him fall – he got the hang of it, and now cranks it up to a cruising speed of 14mph (22kph). He says that one advantage of commuting through a Minnesota winter on a unicycle is the machine’s simplicity – there’s no chains, no gears, no brakes, so much less can go wrong.
“Walking is great, running is great. But physiologically, I’m not as much about that,” adds Hansen. “I’m a short-legged, stout character, and so somehow, [unicycling] feels like having wings.”
Adventure, amazing sunrises and endless singletrack
Last on our list is BikeRadar’s own US tech writer, Russell Eich. For more than a decade he commuted by bike from high up in the Rocky Mountains to an industrial park near Boulder, Colorado, a daily journey of around 30miles (45km) which he gratefully describes as most people’s best MTB ride of their entire year.
“Word of my commute never ceased to amaze others. Because of that, I was super fortunate to have a handful of equally motivated friends join me. We’d meet up no matter the season. Even in winter we’d take off bundled up, headlights ablaze, eager for the sunrise, and often laughing at the stupidity of it all.”
Russell’s commute was tough but huge fun David Banas
With an endless array of singletrack, animal paths and old mining roads right on his doorstep near Nederland, Colorado, not to mention thousands of acres of national forest, Russell’s spent nearly two decades exploring, trying to figure out every valley, every hillside, and every connection inbetween.
“From all singletrack to a mix of gravel roads to sneaky shortcuts only to be done on certain days, I had it dialled but more amazingly kept finding more and more routes,” he says. “I’m not going to lie, it was an addiction for a while.”
Being able to make his own schedule at work meant that some mornings his exploring got a little out of hand. “I’d get so freaking lost when logistics went haywire or my bravery was misplaced. I’d find myself bushwacking off trail, bike on shoulder, literally climbing up a mountain to get a vantage point.”
Besides adventure and shredding bikes almost daily, there were loads of other benefits too, he says. Amazing sunrises, cloud inversions, being able to eat constantly, and seeing many, many critters including coyotes, deer, elk, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, eagles, and the occasional hobo.
Russell heads down to Boulder David Banas
How long it took him would always depend on which route he chose, who he was riding with, and how zesty he was feeling that morning. But while the majority of the ride was downhill, he’d still rack up 2,000ft of climbing most mornings. After putting in a day’s work, he’d usually grab the bus back up towards home.
His favourite part? “In summer, we’d often just lay in the woods and watch the sunrise slip through the evergreens and the shadows lose their length.” That sure beats crawling along in an endless traffic jam, paying for a cramped train or waiting for the bus that never comes…