CHICAGO — Melissa Zammit found her happy place on a bike.
Bikes, that is, as the former East Garfield Park resident has four of them. She owns a Specialized bike for commuting 6½ miles daily along Lake Street from Oak Park to the Medical District. She also sports a longer-distance Soma bike for the many 40-mile-plus weekend rides and races in which she competes. Zammit also has a mountain bike and folding bike.
"My husband and I have one car — a Volkswagen Passat — but I've only had to put gas in it once since July," Zammit said.
Zammit has ridden 3,200-plus miles already this year on her bikes. She started the activity in 2012 when she lived in East Garfield Park and got tired of being stuck in traffic on her way to and from work at a cardiovascular research company.
"I really hate traffic," she said. "Sitting in a car and watching taillights in front of me is really hard for me. I always felt I was in such a much better mood riding — knowing I could get to work in a happy mood instead of being angry at the person who cut me off."
She's also been able to quit the gym and join several cycling clubs and organizations, including Chicago-based The Chainlink. Last month, Zammit raised more than $2,000 for cancer research in the 180-mile, two-day Pelotonia ride in Ohio. Her favorite trails in Chicago include the North Branch Trail on the Northwest Side.
Zammit usually rides solo on Lake Street in the early morning, enjoying the quiet but wary of the loads of broken glass along the thoroughfare. She's part of a Google group called West Side Commuters, who let other cyclists know when they're leaving the Near West Side for the near western suburbs like Oak Park.
Biking, Zammit said, has become "an obsession."
"It just kind of snowballed into that," she said.
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