Nick Kinling

[BIO]: Nick is a media manager and lives in San Francisco.

 

Confessions of a Super Commuter

Today marks one year since I started my job in San Jose, California. This is by no means an impressive feat. In fact, the work is quite easy. However, there is a huge obstacle that bookends each day: A one hour and forty minute commute.

My alarm goes off at 6:30 AM. I’m out the door and on my bike by 6:45 AM and to the train station by 6:52 AM. I sit in the bike car, where I bungee my bike to a rack with other bikes labeled “SF to SJ” (there is typically only one or two other passengers that go this distance). The train departs at 6:59 AM, stops at four stations and eventually arrives in San Jose at 7:58 AM. I detrain and bike four miles north via the Guadalupe River Trail. It is not until 8:25 AM, exactly one hour and forty minutes later, that I sit down at my desk, drink one glass of water and start the work day.

It is undeniably my fault for putting up with this routine. I could have easily moved to San Jose, most likely within walking distance of my office. However, that would require living in San Jose, an arid city with less than a tenth of the energy of San Francisco. It’s not for me, so I made a sacrifice.

Each day I neither want to go work nor leave work for fear of the commute. It doesn’t get easier with time either; in fact, it gets much harder by the end of each week. It’s a miserable existence being tied to a train schedule.

The other day a co-worker gave me an article about the detrimental effects of commuting long distances. It warned of fatigue, depression, weight gain, stress, and so on. Surprisingly, none of these applied to me. It was only at that point did I start wondering if my super commute was truly damaging, or, alternatively, actually good for me.

The conundrum is as follows: Long commutes absorb spare time and energy, yet by adopting one I’ve become extremely productive and healthy. I’ve created an iOS app, taken up several freelance design projects, read a handful of books and even fixed a watch, all while commuting. The bike car has a coffee shop feel to it, as most commuters spend their time busily clicking and tapping away at their laptops. It didn’t take long for me to get motivated and do the same. As for exercise, I bike ten miles a day, 200 miles a month, and 2,400 miles a year commuting. The wind is in my face on the ride out but at my back on the ride home. My legs feel stronger than ever. I ran the best race of my life, a half-marathon, a few weeks ago.

When people ask me about my commute, I safely say, “It’s not easy, but it’s not terrible.” When I ask myself the same question, I can’t find the real answer. While the positive effects have been great, the time loss has been a huge weight that I can’t lift. But it’s my routine, at least for now. And tomorrow, I’ll probably do the same.

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