By Ambassador Josh Rizzo// Photos by Michael Lundebrek

On short commutes to work, I’ve always thought you just have to find a way to make biking either a.) a little off road or b.) a little bit sketchy. Having a full stable of kids now, my days of ripping through red lights and skidding around on a fixed gear are pretty much history.Going over the handlebars with a no-rear-brake fixie and playing “bike frogger” to snake through red lights just isn’t as appealing as when I was 22.

Now the closest I get to sketchy is angry pickup trucks who shout words that rhyme with “tuck” and “cluck” when I ride assertively on the road.

But first, let’s back up.

Biking to work is really a special treat. For four years I worked 13 miles from home and barely biked to work 8 times per year. It required me to carve out an extra hour on both sides of my work day and bring a change of clothes and a towel to shower before starting work

Winter snow commuting was out of the question.

And to be completely honest, I mostly just lacked ambition at 6 in the morning.

I didn’t feel like a cyclist anymore. My entire life of biking has mostly centered around getting to and from work, errands, church, and the ice cream shop.

With my job being outside of my practical “commuting radius”, biking just didn’t feel like a part of my life for those 4 years.

But now that I work from home and also have a membership at a local downtown coworking space, I cherish being able to commute again.

My home office has a strict “bike art only” policy and I keep an old framed Brooks advert near my desk that says “back on the rivet” as a reminder of what a privilege it is to be blessed with a life situation that allows me the simple pleasure of biking to work.

Ok. Back to my current commute.

My ride is just 1.5 miles from my house on the East Hill of Eau Claire, Wisconsin to downtown by the river.

There are two stretches of off-road trail that add a little spice and sauce to my ride. This dirt section straddles the ridgeline between the cemetery and the downtown area.

Combined they’re just a ½ mile but they make me feel like I’m on the road less traveled.

Outside of the auto-rut.

Dipping my toes in the natural world.

Enjoying creation.

Honestly, it never gets old. Fresh air, 650B tires, and almost-forgotten dirt trails in the middle of the city revs me up. Wheeling into the elevator after my ride, leaning my bike against my desk, excited to ride it home again makes my whole day feel a little extra juiced.

It’s a simple ride. A short distance. Not technical. Some might even call it boring.

But just getting to bike to work is a treat. And getting to bike in the dirty way?

That’s bonus points.