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Biking professors brave the elements

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Dr. Brummond poses with his vehicle of choice. Photo by Maddie Malat.

With the recent improvement in weather, more students and faculty can be seen taking advantage of the extended daylight. For faculty members Bill Snyder and Donald Brummond, the warmer temperatures make their passion for walking and cycling more convenient, even though these hobbies do not go into hibernation for the colder months of the year.

As someone who played basketball and ran for several years, Dr. Snyder says that exercise is important to him. By combining transportation to campus and exercise, he is able to be more economical with his time.

“I could drive but then when I drive back I’d be compelled to exercise–so why not combine getting back and forth into work with exercise,” Snyder said.

Snyder walks to school throughout the year, including the winter months.

“If it’s like ten or twenty degrees below freezing, it’s … much more uncomfortable for me to have to go out into my car and sit there and start it up and drive–freezing to death–until the heater starts going,” Snyder said. “I think that starting a car beforehand just really wastes fuel, so I try not to do that unless it’s unbelievably cold.”

Snyder walks to school under most conditions via either the Lindenwood or Gooseberry Park paths. Once he arrives at his office, he stretches and then changes into his work clothes, hung on his office door.

“See, I keep my pants behind my door over here, and I keep extra socks and things,” Snyder said.

Though Snyder does occasionally ride his Bianchi bike to school–comparing the midwestern terrain to Ireland and Nova Scotia’s–he prefers walking because of the increased health benefits.

“Biking–I don’t know if it’s as good an exercise as power walking is, because you’re not using your upper body,” Snyder said.

Physics Professor Donald Brummond, an avid biker, says that he actually prefers to ride his bike in the winter months.

“When it gets nice out like this, there are a lot of tourists out–it gets a little dangerous,” he said. “And it’s easier to dress [for biking] in the winter time. You just assume it’s going to be cold.”

Brummond, who has been a cyclist since the age of four has spent 20 years in the bike industry, going on bike tours across the world .

“I’ve ridden bike [anywhere] from central Greenland to the Antarctic continent–and a bunch of places in between,” Brummond said. “I suppose at this point I’ve ridden close to 250,000 miles.”

Though Brummond has toured in locations across the globe, some of his favorite places include the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, the Pacific Crest bicycle trail and New Zealand. He also opted to live car-free in Wellington, New Zealand, for a year.

“Bicycle touring is an immensely rewarding experience,” Brummond said.

Brummond’s most recent tour was in Nova Scotia, where he biked approximately 1,300 miles and had the opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of the Canadian islands he visited.

“The thing that’s great about bicycling is how you meet people–you’re generally regarded as more approachable and less threatening,” Brummond said. “Many times when you’re touring, you have people inviting you to stay at their houses and it’s quite fun.”

During his bicycle touring excursions, Brummond often does not know where he will be spending the night. This unanticipated suspense is part of the thrill of bicycle touring.

“The adventure begins when the plan leaves off,” Brummond said.

Though Brummond has experience as a mountain biker, a racer, and an off-road touring cyclist, he says that one of the most important rides for him is his ride to work.

“If I don’t ride to school, I’m not in a very good mood all day,” Brummond said with a chuckle. “It just makes me feel better.”

One of Brummond’s favorite aspects about cycling is that it allows people to travel at a natural pace. Whereas cars move too fast for people and walking is too slow for most people, cycling is just the right fit, according to Brummond.

“When you go in a car–it’s too fast–you don’t take in the surroundings. And when you walk… it’s too slow,” Brummond said. “But in cycling, you just have a different involvement. The information that your body is taking in is at a comfortable pace and it just feels good.”

Despite the benefits of cycling, Snyder, perhaps will always prefer his winter walks to work for one simple reason.

“It’s kind of thrilling to walk when it’s really, really cold. There’s a sort … of danger or something.” Snyder said.

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