Debbie Miki is participating in the Clean Commuter Challenge for the first time this year! Inspired by her sister and ready to give cycle commuting a try, she is using the three-week challenge to improve her health — adding to her running and swimming routine, while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Q. What’s your job at Fraser Health? How long have you worked there?
“My nursing career with Fraser Health began in 1998. I worked in a community pediatric program called Nursing Support Services. This program assists parents and caregivers to help children with special health-care needs lead active, healthy lives in their communities, while providing safe, consistent care and appropriate health supports.
“In 2006, I moved to Information Management to work as a clinical information specialist, providing education and support to clinical systems such as Meditech and PARIS.”
Q. Where do you commute from/to?
“I commute from Cloverdale to Central City Tower, which is a round trip ride of 40 kilometres.”
Q. How have you commuted in the past? What inspired you to change your commute?
“I have always commuted to work in my vehicle. Riding a motorcycle to work was a distant idea, but riding to work was not even a thought until my youngest sister, Jody, would describe commutes (the smells, the sounds, the wildlife — bears and deer — the reduced costs of commuting, the great sense of accomplishment, the health benefits) to and from work along the Sunshine Coast. She has truly been my inspiration! After two years of commuting to work, she has ridden more than 4,000 kilometres!
“I have always been active and enjoyed all forms of physical activity. The challenge of seeing if I could commute by bike was a challenge that I was ready to try. The funny thing is, my husband recently bought me a new car to enjoy my commutes in, and now he is busy ensuring my bike is tuned up for my ride!
“One day, I would love to do the ride to Seattle for Ride to Conquer Cancer. This is a good step in training for that ride. I think it would be incredible!”
Q. How did you make the shift from idea to action?
“The shift came after a health scare. As I mentioned before, I have always been into health and fitness and then, all of a sudden I was being referred to a cardiologist. I was having severe heart palpitations. The thought of having something chronic that would be limiting or require medical intervention did not sit well with me. I knew, as a nurse, I needed to apply the principles of self-care.
“So, one Saturday morning, I woke up, early as always. I told my husband that I was going for a bike ride and then rode the distance to Central City. I remember being amazed to see all the signage and bike lanes. As I rode, I started thinking about the clothes I would need to wear to make the commute more enjoyable. Upon arriving at Central City, I texted my sister and husband to let them know that I had arrived at my planned destination.
“The next challenge was getting home! It took me a little while to work out the best route for my commute. There is lots of information, maps and resources out there! I spoke to my sister, googled information about biking, went to a local bike store and bought lights, bells, reflective vest, maps, and then I knew I had no excuse but to ride in to work the next nice day.”
Q. How do you organize yourself for bike commuting?
“As I ride a motorcycle, I am used to packing small. I soon realized that I would need to pack at least two sets of clothing, if not three. I pack bike clothing for the return home and work clothing, and (as I did not want to give up other forms of exercise) I needed to pack a set of clothing for our noon-hour fitness class.
“I have always worked out before work, so that was nothing new. But I had to think “light weight” if I was going to manage to make it up the steepest hill.
“Being organized is essential. I make sure that the lights are all charged, my bike tires are fully inflated and that all the gear I need for the morning is set aside. I make sure that my lunch is light but nutritious and ensure that I keep some quick but healthy items at work to complement what I will need. Given that my clothing is soaked by the time I get to work, I pack a “dry bag” to roll the clothes into.
“I also carry extra coins and a cell phone. If for some reason I need to take a bus home, I can do that. I also have a habit of letting my husband know that I have safely made it to and from work, which he greatly appreciates.”
Q. What advice would you give to someone else who is thinking of making the change?
- Do it! It is wonderful!
- It is tough when you first get started but feels so great overall.
- Visit bike stores such as MEC as the staff are wonderful and inspiring.
- Join the challenges as they give you a goal.
- Cross-train to keep all of your muscles in good condition.
- Set small goals and once you achieve them, add more.
- Talk to others about your commute to work.
- Inspire others to consider joining you! Tell others about your plan to ride to work and it will help motivate you to keep to it.
- If you want a buddy and you live in my area, I will certainly buddy with you.
- Make sure that you buy gear that is meant for biking – it may cost more but it will make your ride comfortable and will enhance your safety.
- If you have an older bike helmet, make sure that you have one that works for you.
Q. What about your goals for the Clean Commuter Challenge?
“My goals for the challenge are to continue to improve my health, cross-train with my running and swimming routine, and cut greenhouse emissions. It also gives me the opportunity to enjoy my community. My goal is to continue to learn about the culture of cycling/cyclers and also to ride my bike at least two to three times per week.
“I am so excited to continue this cycling journey – both by myself and with family and friends.
“My medical appointment yesterday confirmed the health benefits of riding. I had the best recorded results I have had in over a year!!!”