Noah Dunker is a BikeCommuter!

We profiled Noah Dunker back in June of 2007, we are pleased to announce that Noah is joining the team. Noah has been around the blogosphere for quite a while and he will be sharing his experiences about cold weather bike commuting and multi-modal commuting.

Here’s Noah’s profile:


How long have you been a bike commuter?

I’ve been doing a multi-mode commuting with a bicycle and public transit for about 10 months now. I started in September 2006 and did not stop for the winter months.

What do you do and what city do you bike commute.

I am an information security professional for a large financial services company based in Kansas City, MO. We have offices world-wide, though. I currently live in Olathe, KS and I usually ride a few miles to the bus, which I take to my office in the heart of downtown KCMO.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I started bicycle commuting when my car’s clutch started acting up. Although I’m great with a wrench, the part was backlogged nation-wide. I had been driving a few miles to the bus stop every day and had joked about buying a bicycle to get to the bus. It didn’t take long for the joke to make sense. I had been off a bike for about 10 years but I recall bicycling as one of the things I was really passionate about as a kid. It sounded like fun.

My “normal” commute each morning involves riding to the bus stop closest to my apartment, taking the bus downtown, then riding my bike to work. That usually involves a detour for a quick morning coffee. An average morning is 3.5 miles for me.

In the evening, I occasionally ride the entire 22 mile trip back home, or sometimes catch a group ride on my way. Most often, I take the bus to my wife’s office, have dinner with her, then ride home, which nets
me between 6 and 8 miles, depending on route.
In a few weeks, my wife and I will be moving to another KC suburb which will practically halve the distance to work for both of us. My new commute will be 14 miles, which will facilitate a lot more trips without the bus. On really bad days, I won’t need to drive, either. There’s a bus stop a few hundred yards from my front door. The only thing that will be able to stop me is waking up too late to catch the last bus at 7:30.

What kind of bikes do you have?

Right now, my main ride is a 2006 Trek 1200. I sold one of my cars to buy it. It’s fitted with a 10W NiteRider Evolution headlight and Mars 3.0 taillight for tackling the darkness. I have a rack with Banjo Brothers’ saddlebag panniers, and I went clipless on it. I’m not sold on fenders yet.

I also have a rigid (no suspension) 1998 Diamondback Outlook mountain bike. I found it on Criagslist for about $50 in November 2006. It had never been ridden, except maybe around the cul-de-sac a few times! I swapped wheelsets with the Sorrento and added a narrower cassette to the Outlook, turning it into more of a hybrid.

My first “serious” commuter bicycle was a 1999 Diamondback Sorrento mountain bike that the previous owner had put slick tires on. I picked it up used for $100 from my LBS. Now that it has knobby tires, it’s my winter commuter and my weekend mud toy.

Any experience that you can share with us about ‘learning the hard way’?

Yes indeed! My first hard lesson of bicycle commuting is “do not buy bike shaped toys!” I was a broke commuter when I first started. I wanted to buy a bike but keep enough cash in the bank to fix my car once the part came in. I bought a cheap, full-suspension mountain bike from the toy aisle of some world-wide discount store for about $70. I had destroyed the bike in six weeks. It got replaced with the
Sorrento, which only cost me $30 more. That $70 bought me a renewed passion for cycling, so I don’t consider it a waste.

I find it interesting that more than a few bike commuters are involved in the tech sector, why do you think that is?

I have a two-fold answer for this. First, technical people are logical. They’re looking for the most efficient way to get any given task done. As a geek, I consider myself an excellent problem-solver. Technical people are used to breaking the traditional mold. Transportation is no exception.

The second part of my answer is that when you’re reading e-mail and blogs, you’re dealing with a subset of the human race that’s above average on the technical scale. It’s not surprising to find a bunch of loonies in the loony bin, nor is it surprising to find a bunch of techies in the blogosphere.

What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

They tell me that I’m going to get hurt. They ask me why. They tell me they couldn’t do it. They tell me I can’t do it. They swing by my cubicle when the weather’s bad pretending to say “hi” but they’re really seeing if my helmet is laying around somewhere. A few actually respect me. Not one person that I know of has been inspired to try it themselves because of me. And I’m alright with that.

Do you have an “advanced commuter tip”?

Yes. Don’t forget your towel! A towel is the most massively useful thing a bike commuter can have.

Really, have a towel to dry off with at work, and basic toiletries. I also keep an entire spare change of clothes locked in my filing cabinet just on the off chance that I might forget something at home. The most frequently used are the socks. Nothing ruins your day like soggy feet.

Anything that you want to share with us

If you can ride a bicycle in a parking lot, you can ride it a mile. If you can ride it a mile, you can build up to 10 miles pretty easily. You do not need to be in great shape to be a bike commuter, although you might get there if you stick with it long enough!

Thank you Noah for sharing your time and story with us. Check out his blog by clicking here.


  1. James


    I enjoyed reading about your transition to bike commuter. It’s impressive to see how you’ve switched over to being a multi-modal commuter so quickly, and that you continue it through the winter. Your story is also a good reminder that folks don’t need to spend a lot to get a good used bike to get started (emphasis of course on good). And yes, biking to work in many cases is the logical solution. What do you think it would take to inspire others to try it out?

  2. BlackBear

    I would like to chime in with Noah’s excellent sentiment that it is more than possible for ordinary folks to build up the stamina to bike to work.

    I tell my coworkers all the time that biking is only strenuous if you are trying to go as fast as a car… slow down and find a comfortable pace. Before you know it, you’ll be back in shape and hauling!

  3. Marla

    That’s great. I’ve been reading his blog for awhile.

  4. ryan

    heh, I forgot my towel this morning. Then my chainguard decided to explode and get my chain wrapped into it.

    luckily, I’m closer by car than by bike to work, so my wife brought me a towel.

    I look forward to new commuting stories!

  5. Dave

    Hi, Noah. It’ll be nice to read a mid-westerner’s point of view since I live in NE Iowa. I biked all winter too. Did you enjoy 32 below zero one day as much as I did? That was the first time my rear hub’s froze up and free-wheeled both forward and backward! Spinning the crank by hand as fast as I could got the hub to engage, but I could not coast or it would start all over. Interesting commute that day.

  6. Pingback: Design Impact » Blog Archive » Tomorrow is National Bike to Work Day

  7. Steve

    Have to agree with your comment about why so many commuters are also techies/geeks. I’m certainly in that category and have been cycling to work year-round for more than 10 years. I’m up north of the border and we get some pretty intense winter weather – it can be a challenge but is certainly doable.

  8. rapps

    Noah is right, I am “just a Mom” according to the teen’s friends. But I can ride around work, errands, with the dog, out to eat whatever and it is the most enjoyable part of my day. The number of miles does not matter, the saddle and time are about all that limits a person.

  9. Dan

    Noah, glad to see you’ll have a new outlet. Look forward to reading your posts.

  10. wade G.

    Noah if you lived here in Mississippi you would take more than a towel. Luckily I have found a local church/gym that lets me use their showers. Every morning winter throught summer I have to take a shower regardless. Anyway good luck. I am going on a year now and being new like you to this realm. Techies rule!

  11. Paul

    I’ve had the same affect on my coworkers as Noah has, not 1 single person at work rides there since I started about 3 years ago! 4 coworkers I know of live less than 1/2 mile from work and I pass by their places on my bike everyday, but they STILL drive!! Bike to work day didn’t draw many more riders, either. Oh well, it’s their loss…

  12. Spencer


    Congratulations, dammit!

    OK, I’m jealous that I didn’t get a gig, but I’m happy that you’ll bring some new blood and experience to the blog.

    All the best of health, wealth and happiness!

    california, MD.

  13. Richard

    I just wanted to point out that you wouldn’t need a towel if you had the proper rain gear. Being prepared is obviously the number one tip for a commuter but only if you are properly prepared. I travel with my rain jacket, my rain bib-pants that fit over my pants and booties every day so when it’s rainy out I show up to work completely dry every time. I don’t worry about my, rather short, hair getting wet and I usually wear a cycling cap which keeps it pretty dry anyways but helmet rain covers are also available as are rain jackets that actually have a hood that goes over the helmet. Tip no.2: cycling is one of the few things that you truly get what you pay for. It’s not just the bicycle itself where it’s worth it to spend extra on something that is quality and will last or actually work. Bike clothing is expensive but it’s worth. Buy an actual cycling rain jacket and pants that will breath. In winter you don’t want to be soaked in sweat, that can be deadly.

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