PEDAL POWER: Biking To Work Ramps Up

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Friday is National Bike to Work Day, and it might be a good time for you to give it a try.

You've heard ditching your car for the bike can have multiple benefits. For one mother of three, it's helping her for a variety of reasons. And, she's not alone in trying out a two wheel commute.

Kristen Haug Collet doesn't wear exercise pants or a bike helmet to work. The wardrobe just helps her get there. She says, "I work at Pioneer, and they have a very active bike group at Pioneer."

The Norway native started her two wheel commute in Des Moines a year ago. She spends 50 minutes pedaling her way through a 13 to 14 mile trek at least four times a week.

She says, "I get my workout in, both mental and physical well-being, and I also save money. I don't have to fill up my car as much, and it's good for the environment."

But, the mother of three has another motive. She says, "To me, it's important to set an example for the kids. And again, it just comes to fitting in as many things into the day as possible."

And she isn't alone. Brad Overholser says, "I don't even own a car. I haven't owned a car in 5 years."

Cycling trail routes

Overholser runs the Des Moines Bicycle Collective's shop in the East Village, so it's natural he would bike to work. The group hosts bike month activities every May. Last year, 1,500 people logged time on the trail during the month. Overholser says, "Every year it sort of ramps up and we get a little bit bigger every year."

The group says just give it try. Get a basic bike so you can avoid mechanical breakdowns. The collective sells refurbished ones starting at $35. Give your bike a check-up each weekend to avoid potential problems. Pack what you'll need the night before, keep it light and consider leaving toiletries and extra clothes at the office just in case you forget something.

Finally, plan your route. Haug Collet says, "If you're willing to add on two or three extra miles to your ride, you can pretty much stay on trail or bike paths in the city the whole way."

Two big Bike Month activities are coming up this Friday. One is the Handlebar Happy Hour at Malo Restaurant in the Des Moines Social Club. It's from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Pedal Art Poster Show also happens that night at the Social Club from 7 to 10 p.m. This is the fifth year for the show featuring Iowa artists' bike-themed posters.