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Senja Alden Beaman - Commuting in the Windy City

Senja Alden Beaman is a former organic farmer turned accountant. It may be a very different work environment, but they found a great way to still spend time outside every day - riding their bike to work!

Tell us about your commuting experience! 

I just started a job in Evanston, and I haven’t started riding there yet, but when I lived in Rogers Park and worked in the Loop, I would do that 11-mile each way bike commute in all seasons. It was the best thing that I’ve ever done for myself and I miss it very dearly. I started bike commuting within a month of moving into Chicago. I hadn’t really done it anywhere before.

What sort of gear do you use for bike commuting?

I always carry a full repair kit with me: two replacement tubes, patch kits, and wrenches, and it’s helped me many a time. I always check the weather, and have a GoreTex layer always in my bag. Particularly in winter, because the weather can change so suddenly, I also have additional pieces that I can throw on underneath, like leg warmers, arm warmers, and an extra fleece vest.

Do you ride other places, aside from work? 

I will usually ride to go meet friends if they’re within 3 or 4 miles. When I lived in Logan Square, I would bike to the co-op, load up with vegetables and bike back, or I would stop at a friend’s house on the way back from my commute. I would also bike to fencing practice.

How have you changed as a bike commuter? 

I did many dangerous things at first which resulted in me breaking my arm within two months. But after that, I realized I needed to take everything much more seriously than I was beforehand, so I’ve become a more responsible cyclist: always shouting “on your left,” keeping the three feet with the line of cars, wearing visible clothing and helmets, etc.

What prompted you to start bike commuting?

The biggest thing was time-saving. I try to do a lot of athletic things, and being able to cut everything I was doing for cardio saved hours in my life during the week. When I was doing the hour commute from Rogers Park, I got very fit very quickly.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about bike commuting?

It is much less scary than it seems at first. Especially with proper preparations, it can be very calming and very straightforward. But definitely make sure that you have a bike you’re comfortable with, and that the place you’re going has a place where you can park and somewhere you can clean yourself up. That will help you stick to it--if you find that you can only bike on the perfect day of weather, you’re never going to do it. But there is something really good about walking into work with those endorphins already pumping. I always looked forward to the commute; it became its own fun pastime.