Commuter Profile: Dan Gentry (Dan on Bike)

Here’s Dan Gentry’s commuter profile, he is also know as Dan On Bike. He’s a fellow blogger and bike commuter from West Lafayette, IN.

Dan On Bike

How long have you been a bike commuter?
I started in the late 90s, but it was about four years ago that I really got into it. It was only in the mid 90s when I returned to cycling after many years out of the saddle. My sister convinced me to give it a try.

Lafayette at Night

What do you do and what city do you bike commute?
I’m the director of one of the many IT departments at a major Midwestern university. West Lafayette, IN is a great bike town, and the surrounding countryside offers many miles of quiet roads with great scenery.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
The idea of not taking my car to work seemed outrageous at the time, so I tried it for the eccentricity factor. It turned out to be fun. Now, taking the car feels like the crazy thing to do.

I live just 3.5 miles from my office, which I cover in about 20 minutes. With parking ($240/year), it takes around 10 minutes by car. For the ride home, I usually take a longer route.

When the weather is nice, I can ride in 3 or 4 times a week, but I put in a lot less when it is cold or wet.

What kind of bikes do you have?
My commuter bike is a 10-year old Trek 820 with sensible street tires and platform pedals. I’ve amassed quite a collection of panniers and messenger bags that I use to carry my ride home clothes and various electronics.

Last fall, I added a road bike to the mix. I find the Trek Pilot 1.0 to be very comfortable and fun to ride.

Any experience that you can share with us about ‘learning the hard way’?
Taking the lane can help everyone act more safely. I complain a lot about people passing me unsafely, and I’ve found that if I move more to the left, those drivers are less likely to pass at a bad time if they have to use more of the oncoming lane to do it.

What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
I used to get responses like “that’s a long way” or “you’re a brave man”, but now I think people are just tired of hearing about it. It would be fun to make the same remarks to auto drivers. “You drove all the way from home?” “Aren’t you afraid of the semi trucks?” “What if it rains?”

Do you have an “advanced commuter tip”?

I don’t really feel advanced. I just point the bike East and pedal.

Anything that you want to share with us
To anyone thinking about commuting by bicycle, I would recommend starting small. Don’t vow to sell your car and only use the bike for all transportation. Instead, shoot for a few times a month in the spring (or whenever the weather is best in your area). Try out the route on a quiet Sunday morning before riding for real on Monday. Just ride on the easy days. You will find that issues involving wardrobe, schedule, and equipment will become clear as you gain experience.

Many thanks to Dan for sharing his story and also his pictures. Check out his blog at


  1. RL Policar July 27, 2007 8:49 am 

    ook a Trek Pilot. Nice Bike Dan!

  2. Cornfed Jay July 27, 2007 8:58 am 

    Major Midwestern University??? Purdue University is THE Midwestern University! Hail Purdue! Go Boilers!

    I’m a BS of Management/Finance – 1999 vintage. I know the street in the second picture (night picture) VERY well. I used to work at the Bank that was right behind you as you snapped that picture. Great area…Harry’s Cholcolate Shop and all.

    W. Lafayette truly is a great bike town with 35,000 undergrad students (at least that was the count back in the day). Purdue has a magnificient campus, red brick everywhere (except the Krannert school), and gorgeous in the summer.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane Dan! You’re a great representative of the alma mater!

    Say “Hi” to Pete and Rowdy for me!

    Cornfed Jay

  3. LLrider July 27, 2007 9:13 am 

    Love that bike! Even though it’s a Trek :) .
    You live near some beautiful country too. Those pictures on your site are great.

    I gotta try getting myself out into the lane more! Thanks for the tip…I almost got sideswiped a couple times yesterday. I’ve grown to dislike cars(or their drivers) quickly after being on a bike. Scary what people will do just to get in front of you!

  4. Ghost Rider July 27, 2007 12:50 pm 

    Excellent tips, Dan — I especially like your words of wisdom for people just beginning to dabble in bike commuting. Starting small is always a good thing!

    Thanks for the profile!

  5. Drew July 28, 2007 2:36 am 

    Great profile, bikes and advice Dan! I’ll be sure to check out your blog.

    I have discovered that taking the lane is absolutely the safest way, especially when approaching joggers or wrong way cyclists on your side of the road. Until recently, I never took the lane when coming into intersections or approaching places where I would be making left turns. Now that I do, I get much more respect from vehicle operators. I also spend much less time sitting on the side of the road waiting for a break in the traffic to get rolling again. Again, excellent advice!

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