Columbus resident Jason Tracy lost more than 100 pounds during 2½ years while commuting to work by bike.
When he switched jobs and commuted to Indianapolis by car, he gained back nearly all the weight.
Now he works in Columbus again, rides his bike to work and, once again, the pounds are coming off.
Tracy lives near Southside Elementary School and commutes to Faurecia’s tech center on County Road 450S. On the longest stretch of the 4.5-mile trip, he rides on County Road 225W near the interstate. He said the trip typically takes about 23 minutes, though he’s made it in 19 minutes on a faster bike.
Tracy, a Seymour native who works in computer networking, said he started commuting by bike a few years ago when he worked at Centra Credit Union and was trying to lose weight.
When he started, his commute then, 7.5 miles, took a half-hour; but driving his vehicle took 15 to 20 minutes. He figured that while the round-trip commute was taking about 20 minutes more by bike than by car, he also was exercising for 60 minutes each day, so he really was saving 40 minutes of time.
But then he left Centra and joined a software firm in Indianapolis, which was too far to ride his bike. He commuted to Indianapolis by car, and his weight ballooned from 220 pounds to 296.
He got serious again about commuting by bicycle to Faurecia after Christmas and lost about 7 pounds in the first month.
None of his places of employment have had showers, Tracy said, so he brings a change of clothes.
“Doing that has worked,” he said.
In the winter, Tracy said he usually is cold only for about five minutes and then comfortable until he gets to work — where, he said, he quickly has to remove several layers to prevent from getting too hot.
Tracy said that safety can be a concern, especially on busy roads. On his daily commute, he rides a small stretch on County Road 450S, which also is State Road 58. That’s not a place where you want to spend a lot of time as a cyclist, Tracy said.
He used to ride to the far right side of the highway, but cars used to zip past him and get very close. Now he sometimes rides in the middle of the lane to prevent motorists from passing him when there is oncoming traffic. Most motorists don’t mind, he said, because they have to wait only 15 to 30 seconds. Sometimes he just pulls his bike into the grass to let them pass.
Having to ride on the state highway illustrates one of the problems for cyclists, Tracy said. In the city, cyclists can take side streets to avoid heavy traffic, but in remote areas, sometimes they have only busy roads to get to where they want to go, which means they have to share roads with fast cars and trucks.
“I’m doing it to stay alive, not get killed,” Tracy said.
He said he would like to see a bike path connecting the city with Woodside Industrial Park.
The People Trails system provides safety, he said, as have bike lanes and bike symbols on the streets, which alert motorists to the possibility of cyclists.
However, he said the city lacks a good east-west connection for cyclists.
Tracy said he commutes also because he likes saving money on gasoline and vehicle maintenance. He figures he saves $5 for every day he takes his bike instead of his car.
Tracy also rides his bike to Jay C for groceries, which is about a two-mile trip. And, he said, his exercise has generated an interest among his daughters, Lauren, 10, and Megan, 8, who sometimes join him for 3.5-mile bike trips to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
Lauren has told him when she turns 16 she might not want a car right away. Tracy said that he would feel safer knowing his daughter is riding her bike to school; although, he said, his wife, Michelle, would worry about Lauren’s safety.