The Ride, Issue 111
"I ride to work about 97 percent of the time, unless it's really raining," Walsh says. "I try to get on the bike everyday, it just makes me feel better."
Walsh works for a company in Waltham, MA that disposes of construction waste. Formerly, he drove to work, drove a truck all day, and then drove home to get in a bike ride. He also used to help with sales, so he had to travel to visit potential clients.
But a year and a half ago, a friend suggested that he commute to his office by bicycle. Since then, he sold his car and reduced his sales work. The 9-mile commute to his workplace provides a regular slot of time on the bike, which he can augment by longer rides before or after work.
In summer, Walsh often gets up early, near 5 am, for a workout in the morning, or he'll do a long loop before returning home after work. In the dead of winter, he just rides to and from work, adding a few extra miles with lights when he can. Walsh boasts that the cold doesn't bother him; in last winter's brutal chill, he hardly needed extra layers.
Driving for a living means Walsh has seen his share of road mayhem.
"People in a big rush to get nowhere," he says. "Americans don't like people on bicycles because they think the bicycles are in their way. They don't want to share the road."
After a long day driving, Walsh finds relaxation in getting on the bike. He says cycling clears out all the stress of traffic, and all the honking and noise from a workday.
This Massachusetts native grew up with a passion for bicycles, which he attributes to the sense of freedom felt while riding. He later became a varsity collegiate ice hockey player on a national championship team. The sport made him very aware of his surroundings and the space around him, which now aids with maneuvering such a large vehicle and in staying safe on the bike.
Also fond of weightlifting, cycling used to be Walsh's main cardiovascular activity. But watching a pro race in downtown Boston made this inexperienced rider's interest soar. He met better riders and improved his skills while learning about spinning the pedals, strength, and conditioning.
"Good fitness feels great," Walsh says. "It's awesome to be able to ride a distance that might have once seemed long, and then get off the bike and feel like a million dollars."
Now Walsh, 41, regularly rides with Masters racers who teach him a lot. He says they call him "the fastest guy who never raced". Despite much urging in that direction, he admits that he doesn't really want to race, as he doesn't want to get hurt, particularly by his own aggression. But this gregarious fellow is certain that he would have wanted to race bikes if he hadn't been a hockey player.
Walsh currently commutes on a Specialized carbon frame, which doubles as his training bike, but he saves weekends for his best bike, a Merlin Extralight. This fall he plans to buy and build up an Independent Fabrications cyclocross frame for commuting.
About one thing, Walsh has no doubt: "The best thing I ever did is start commuting by bicycle."
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Planet Bike honors the silent hero of the Revolution: the bicycle commuter. A supercommuter rides through every season, in all types of weather, day and night. Choosing the simplicity, health and pleasure of bicycling, a supercommuter isn't necessarily against automobiles. They simply prefer to ride a bike to the grocery store, to work, to a concert or the cafe.
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