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One year of cycling to work

Exactly on this day, one year ago, I came back from a one month long trip to Taiwan, went straight to work from the airport and immediately moved into a new apartment after work. Since then I have cycled to work nearly every day.

Fullscreen (map made with umap, routes made with GraphHopper)

Alternatives and motivation

Previously I lived in Heidelberg, 15 km from work and usually took the train, only cycling to work about once a week. But my new apartment was significantly closer to work, only 6 km, which takes just 15-20 minutes to cycle, so it became much easier to use the bicycle to get to work every day.

Taking public transportation instead is possible, and takes about 35-40 minutes. I only do that when I want to go to the city straight after work instead of going home first. For me personally public transportation is more useful in combination with the bicycle on longer trips.

Sometimes I take public transportation to work and just walk back in the evening, which can be great for listening to audiobooks.

For about a month I had borrowed a car and sometimes used it to go to work. Without traffic the driving would take 12 minutes, but with traffic it’s usually 15-25 minutes. Additionally I have to get a parking spot and walk further to the office, so using a car doesn’t save time compared to cycling.

Public transportation


I remember feeling tired when getting to work early in the morning using public transportation. After all you just keep sitting and standing, never really jump starting the body. While cycling to work I certainly wake up and feel more energetic and focussed when I arrive.

Having a clear separation of work and private life is important for me, both by using different spaces for each as well as having a strict time separation. So after I get out of work and get onto my bicycle I will still be having work-related thoughts circling in my head. But while cycling I might take a quick stop to write down any insights that I have or tasks that I forgot to finish. Then I can finally shut down and clear my brain from work by enjoying the ride, the views and the physical exercise.


I find the simplicity of cycling for locomotion beautiful. I never have to be stuck in a traffic jam, feeling stressed by moving at a snail’s pace. Even if cycling is slower the feeling of making progress is stronger. I never have to be waiting for a late train, a bus that left too early or be stuck inside of a train while there are problems with the power line. In the worst case I can pick up my bicycle and walk around some obstacle or fix a flat tire in a few minutes. Being outside in nature, at least for half an hour every day, feels good.

Combined with the gym at work I feel like I’m getting enough sports to be reasonably fit without having to spend much time on it. I regularly get home from work at 17:00 with all work and sports done and can enjoy the rest of the day without any worry.

When I’m using the bicycle to get to work already, I feel like the barrier to combining this with larger trips is lowered. I occasionally do 40-50 km cycling tours before or after work, depending on the weather and my mood.

Longer trip


At home my bicycle is locked into a room in the basement, making it reasonably secure and still easily accessible. At work we have roofed-over parking spaces for the bicycles with robust metal bars for locking. Some of the cycle racks even have two floors with an easy mechanism for getting your bicycle down from there. When I don’t need my lock I will just leave it there after work for the next day.

Multiple buildings at work have special showers for cyclists. But to be honest I don’t use them after my usual route to work, for three reasons:

  1. It is cooler in the morning.
  2. The distance is short enough.
  3. I cycle slower when going to work in the morning than when going back.

Especially in the summer it is nice to do a two hour cycling trip at 5 am and go straight to work afterwards. Then the showers are a godsend of course.

Morning fog

The journey is the reward

Close to my home I have to cross a red light, which is also where I had the only accident in this year. A car driver ignored my right of way and so I had to break hard and ended up sitting on their hood. But luckily that didn’t result in any injuries or damages. (Edit: I have never had an accident involving a car before, so this is probably an outlier.)

After exiting the industrial area I am riding exclusively on small field roads. Especially in the morning this makes for nice sunrises with fog on parts of the fields. Along the way there is also a fishing lake.

Fishing lake

The way tunnels below train tracks, runs over a stream, tunnels below a large street and finally bridges over another large street. This means there are no large intersections where you have to wait or be cautious. In consequence the ride is quite relaxing.

The only potential stop along the way is a small airfield where planes are occasionally landing and starting. But that’s fun to watch, so I don’t mind waiting for a minute or two.


There are about 250 work days in a year in Baden-Württemberg, excluding weekends and public holidays. Of those I was missing for 34 days for vacations, being sick and doing home office. On 11 days I used public transportation, on 5 days a car. That leaves 200 days on which I cycled to work.

The distance to work is 6 km each way, so in total I cycled 2400 km just to get to work and back. I need 20 minutes to work and 15 minutes back, so 117 hours were spent cycling.

T-Randonneur (mine is in green though)

I had two flat tires, one accident and needed one major part replacement in the entire year. But to be fair I also cycled in my free time and it was the first large replacement my bicycle needed since I started using it 15.000 km ago.

New parts

Animal nature

On one day in summer I counted the wild animals that I saw on my short trip to work, which included 4 rabbits, 1 deer with fawn, 1 white stork with young in the nest as well as a group of 21 white storks in the fields. A few weeks ago I was happy to see an elusive black stork flying towards the closeby forest for the first time. On another occurence there was a Heron successfully catching a snake.


Apart from wild animals there are of course many people walking their dogs, and the pet home on the way features lots of dogs behind the fence as well as a few cats walking around outside.

Lazy cats

Winter is coming

Appropriate clothing is important since cycling exposes you to wind and precipitation.

In summer a t-shirt and short pants are usually fine. For colder times dual-function pants for office and cycling are great, otherwise jeans also work.

During rains I certainly don’t want to wear jeans. Then I also need to bring another set of clothes to switch to once I’m in the office. The most important measure for rainy days is to have good timing, since I have flexible work times and the rains are usually not equally strong for hours. Weather forecasts can be remarkably inaccurate though.

Cycling in snow (photo from 2016)

I use wind-proof jackets and shoes as well as gloves and a balaclava in winter. Snow and ice are rather rare and not so strong here, so they are not a big issue. The above photo was taken two years ago and that represents about the worst winter conditions I ever had to cycle in.


The road ahead

I’ll keep cycling to work in the foreseeable future. I don’t think this post is of much use to anyone, but I had fun reflecting my last year of cycling to work. Thanks for reading. Comments on Hacker News.