Photos by: Jered Guber and Ashley Gruber. Words: Andrew Vontz.
Strava athletes ride for sport, but they also ride to get around town. In dense urban areas like San Francisco and London, commutes account for upwards of 50% of Strava cycling activities during weekdays. Bikes make life better and more fun and give riders a sense of freedom and empowerment that’s unmatched. Bikes help us see and experience cities in new ways. That’s why Ed Shires and Chris Altchek from the Foundation Cycling Team and Natalie Tapias and Jamie Soper from the Velo Classics p/b Stan’s NoTubes elite team love riding in New York City – to train and to commute. Take a look at how these four New Yorkers experience their city by bike, as both athletes and commuters.
The Century Road Club Association holds races in Central Park throughout the racing season that are the core of the city’s racing community. Central Park is also where many cyclists go to train before work in the morning during the week. The cycling day for these riders starts with a spin to the park for training, then a spin back home to change and get ready to ride into work.
Natalie lives just south of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, but works for a large media company just a few blocks south of Central Park - which means she has about a twelve-mile commute to and from work.
“I use Strava to record my training, but I also use it to record my commutes,” says Ed, who commutes from Williamsburg to his job in Manhattan, and as part of his training. “I get more miles and I get to see the city on the surface rather than underground. Sometimes I’ll ride into work at 6 a.m., drop off my bag, go train in Central Park, then head back to work. The city is quiet that early in the morning and I get to see the sunrise over New York, which is pretty special.”
Chris’s commute is a little over five miles long - the vast portion of it on the aptly named West Side Highway, more formally known as the Hudson River Greenway. The Hudson River Greenway is eleven miles of continuous path from the southern tip of Manhattan (Battery Park) to just below the George Washington Bridge at its conclusion in the north.
“Cycling life is the relief from New York life. If I don’t ride my bike, people know it because I’m in a bad mood. It’s kind of the best part of the day here. And what’s fun is if you are too busy to workout, even if you’re just commuting you still feel better than if you didn’t do anything,” says Chris, CEO of the millennial news platform mic.com.
After training in the park in the morning and grabbing a coffee, Jamie rides back home where she has a brief, seven-minute commute to the office.
After training, Chris puts his artwork back up on the wall.
Most of the vertical NYC commuters tackle comes in the form of walk-ups.
“The first time I commuted to work I was really worried. My heart was pounding. But every week I commuted, my body got stronger and was responding to the physical activity of it. Then I was able to open my eyes to how beautiful the city was,” says Natalie. “I find that I’m happier when I commute. In New York City there are very few parts of your daily life you can have control over. The subway can be delayed. Rents are high. You might have to stay late at the office. But human-powered movement is personal contemplative space. It allows me to feel anonymous in a city that is sometimes jarringly in your face.”
The moment when the commute ends and the work day starts.
And then the next day, it’s time to do it all over again. But the city ensures that even though the routes may stay the same, every commute brings with it fresh experiences.
What if riding your bike to work could help make the world a better place for everyone who rides? Strava Metro anonymizes and aggregates the millions of human-powered commutes uploaded to Strava every week, and then partners with urban planners and departments of transportation to improve city infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. 79,879 athletes from 180 countries joined the Strava Global Bike to Work Challenge on May 10th, 2016 and logged 835,094 miles—nearly 3.5 trips to the moon—and offset an estimated 514 tons of carbon emissions. When you record your commute on Strava, you can make your commute count, too.
Click here for the animation of how people commuted throughout the day on May 10.