On Bike to Work day, I enjoyed free coffee, a buttery scone and fresh strawberries. Feeling proud I delivered my kids to school and preschool with the bicycle and trailer. I filled out the survey for my “I biked to work today” sticker.

The last question caught me. “What aspect of bicycle commuting do you most enjoy?” The options: being green, avoiding traffic, saving money, exercise, other.

I do bike to avoid traffic and save money on gas. The exercise is great. But what I enjoy most is the connection to my surroundings I have when I’m bike commuting. Senses alive – smell, sound, sights. In touch with the elements – wind, slope, cold, wet.

My ride to work at the museum takes me down a valley. I’ve pedaled at the pace of a great blue heron flying the same natural contours. A morning coyote howl and sighting in an open field wakes me up. A three-petaled Trillium blossoms along the road. After a rain, the fragrant eucalyptus’ remind me of a European sauna. And the song birds! The spiraling notes of a Swainson’s Thrush and the complex warbling of the wrens. These daily nature connections are what I enjoy the most.

I often pedal commute the river levee along the San Lorenzo. Dragonflies dart in front of me. I can hear the whiz of their wings. I brake and swerve to avoid a gopher snake that looks like a stick. The bird watching is fantastic: kingfisher, heron, egrets, grebes. In winter, the buffleheads stop to rest in the lagoon on their migration path.

biking along river

And our coastline – what a commuting super highway! I follow the monarchs on West Cliff and East Cliff Drive and ride on the edge of the blue as the fog hugs the shoreline. I love gliding along with a V-shape formation of brown pelicans. Waves crashing. The headwind, tailwind, sidewind. These are what I enjoy most about bike commuting.

P.S. On next year’s bike to work survey, for the last question, chose “Other” and write in Connecting with Nature.