One of the things I like about working at Business Publications Corp. Inc. is that we’re trying to become a healthier workplace. So when I realized that May is Bike-to-Work month, I decided to take the Des Moines Bicycle Collective’s bicycle commute challenge.

Right now, I’m a team of one, but that doesn’t mean I have the corner on wellness here. There’s our sister act, saleswomen Yolanda Chrystal and Maria Davis, who have a team that rides RAGBRAI every year;  Katherine Harrington, a former ballerina who competed in the Hy-Vee Triathlon last year; and designers Annika Peick, who teaches yoga, and Adam Feller, who’s planning to run Dam-to-Dam, just to name a few. 

When four employees here happened to mention an interest in health in the workplace, Publisher Janette Larkin declared us the company’s wellness committee. 

Human Resources Manager Eileen Jackson created a Facebook group for employees to use to share tips and suggestions for healthful recipes, how to meditate, etc. Kris Maggard, who heads our magazine division, encourages us to participate in physical competitions to help raise money for others, such as the Fight for Air Climb that benefits the American Lung Association. My contribution will be sharing about Des Moines’ wonderful network of trails and encouraging co-workers and others to use them. 

I started occasionally riding my bike home from work last summer and found it to be incredibly enjoyable, a great stress reliever and actually much easier than I anticipated because:

  • Des Moines Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART) buses have bike racks.  I live in Urbandale, so riding to and from work takes about an hour each way. That’s more time than I wanted to devote to exercise each day, but DART makes it easy to go just one way. I ride a few blocks to the bus stop, load my bike on the rack on the front of the bus and ride the bus downtown. The bus stops within four blocks of the office, so it’s no sweat – literally - to pedal that last bit (via downtown’s new bike lane system)

  • I can ride the trail system almost all the way home.  I am somewhat experienced riding on the streets, but I find riding the trails more relaxing and almost meditative. I don’t have to worry about traffic, the scenery is beautiful, and there are lots of other people to see on the trail, which is fun.

  • I arrive home full of energy and good cheer for the rest of my evening, instead of feeling cranky, exhausted or lethargic.

  • I use a backpack to carry my lunch, my extra clothes and bike helmet. Plus I have a bag on my bike to carry repair supplies in case I break down. The Des Moines Bicycle Collective has this list of ways to make commuting by bike workable, including the idea of bringing a week’s worth of work clothes to the office on Monday so you don’t have to schlep clothing back and forth daily.

If bike commuting just doesn’t work for you, May is a great month for recreational riding. Several events are scheduled that celebrate biking and the trails system.

Anne Carothers-Kay
Managing Editor, Business Record