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Pedal power good for you, environment

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:06PM May 22nd, 2014

Soft breezes, evergreens dappling the morning light and the quiet peace found only in nature.

For two avid cyclists, it’s not the vacation destination they’d pay to find; it’s a typical spring morning ride to work on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Dave Cerny and Tim Weldin have biked to work for 17 years between them, sharing a love for this practical sport.

Cerney, an engineer in the JBLM Directorate of Public Works, loves to ride. He bikes to work from North Tacoma two or three times a week, traveling 37 miles each round trip.

“I started biking to work in 2003, and I’ve been doing it more and more ever since,” Cerny said. “I just am really into cycling, and commuting was another way to do it. It’s great when I can spend less time in the car and more time on the road.”

Besides the enjoyment, Cerney said that he gets a great workout during his commute.

“For my distance, it’s definitely physically demanding, but it keeps me in shape,” Cerny said. “It’s just a way to stay physically active and to fit cycling into my schedule.”

Weldin, a pollution prevention technician at JBLM, agrees with Cerney’s enthusiasm for working out on the way to work.

“I like to exercise every day,” Weldin said. “By biking I get two hours of exercise every day. You don’t have to struggle to try to find some other time to work out.”

Weldin rides daily, April through September, from his Spanaway home. He said driving isn’t that much faster.

“What’s crazy is it takes me 30 minutes to drive, but just an hour to bike,” Weldin said. “Cars stop and go, but on a bike you just keep on rolling.”

Weldin said many people spend the same time in the gym, and biking leaves him as energized as those doing other forms of exercise. It’s a matter of taste.

“It’s almost like it gets your day going if you work out in the morning,” Weldin said. “It just seems like you have a lot more energy.”

Weldin said bikers make a positive difference for the environment.

“At my job, we’re constantly looking for more ways to get fewer cars on the road,” Weldin said. “At least half of the year, I can say that I’m doing my part, that I’m setting an example.”

Despite all these benefits, Weldin didn’t start biking to help the environment or to get exercise. Instead, money was his push to pedal.

“Originally I started biking in 2008,” Weldin said. “Back then, the gas prices got crazy high. I got tired of it so I started to bike.”

Weldin estimates he saves about $125 a month on gas alone; that’s not including the wear and tear on his car.

Weldin and Cerny said despite the benefits, biking to work in the winter is too dangerous. It rains more and gets dark earlier, not optimal conditions for safety.

On the other hand, now is the perfect time of year to start biking to work. Weldin advises beginners give themselves time to get adjusted to the demands and surroundings.

“Every year when I start biking again in the spring, it takes a couple weeks to get into the swing of things,” Weldin said. “I have to get those muscles back into shape, but anybody could do it. I would just start out one day a week. Pick an easy day at work, like a Friday, and see how it is.”

Cerny agreed that everyone can and should try it.

“That’s how you learn what works,” Cerny said. “You don’t have to start during Bike Month; you could start any month. Just get out and try it.”