Friday Musings – Tiny awesome things about Bike Commuting

Happy Aloha Friday everybody!  Sometimes I make tiny mental lists of the tiny awesome things about bike commuting that I love including tips, hidden moments on the commute, commuter-specific nuances, and ultimate randomness.  Let’s get all loosey-goosey and see what we can come up with.  P.S. – some of these things are shared from others, so be sure to comment and fill in yours too.  Let’s roll out the red carpet for the little things we love about Bike Commuting:

It's Friday, and it's time to NERD OUT over Bike Commuting!

  • Front light/Front flip: One out of three of my commuter stallions has had the problem of anorexic handlebars!  What this means is that in ideal spot to mount my front light, the tube diameter is too small for thesmallest grippy-diameter of my Planet Bike Blaze front mount (even with piling up those rubber fillers).  The front light would tip forward after every big bump in the road, resulting in half my commute flashing a front-light strobe party pointing straight down on the ground!  So much for being seen!… Instinctively, each time Bumblebee and I rode over a lumpy-hump, I would reach for the front light and prop it back up.  It wasn’t until this past year that my co-worker spotted a neat trick on someone else’s ride: flip the light upside down so gravity is on your side!  Now my front light hangs underneath the bars, and I never have to readjust after humps and bumps!  Yay! No more front light push-up like pointdexter adjusting my glasses.

    The Front Light Front Flip!

  • Smell factor: This can be something good or something bad depending on where you are in your commute!  Two awesome smells I’ve been recording on my brain are ripe mangoes at Hotel and Maunakea St. and cinnamon rolls baking at the enormous warehouse-style bakery a block from my office!  I love the smell of my bike commute, better than the smell of the inside of the bus on a rainy day, or that weird Crayola smell in Volkswagen Jettas.  I’ll take “fresh” bike air any day…
  • Helmet Basket:  No shame in this, a quick trip to the grocery store to grab the makings for a FlufferNutter – why grab a plastic shopping basket when you can use your helmet upside down! I do this all the time at the grocery!  I also use this trick while locking up: I clip the helmet so it hangs from my top tube, and toss the flat bar with key of my U-lock into the helmet as I thread the cable through my wheels and line everything up for the final lock down.  I love dual purpose of helmets: stores my brains and knowledge, or Fluff and U-locks!  Elizabeth has her own trick for carrying groceries home.

Ok, I don't think it works well the other way around, buckethead!

  • Nightride Karaoke Solo: Whenever I work late and am riding alone on the streets, I love to sing really embarrassing pop songs like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” out loud for no one to hear!  The streets are mine, and no one is around to give me the stink eye, so I enjoy it!

I want one that says Cycle Ladies like Bike Nerds.

  • Left-Turn Signal Habit: I know I’ve posted this before to the facebook, but to any new readers who didn’t catch it; you know you are a bike commuter when you left turn signal while walking back from lunch to your office.  NERD ALERT!  Another good one I heard from a reader is when you try to do a mirror check while walking in the hallway at the office.

Anyway guys, enjoy your Aloha Friday, Bike Commuters! Don’t be ashamed of nerding out, enjoy those tiny moments on your ride home this weekend.  What other awesome randomness do you enjoy on your commute!? Share it in the comments box puh-leeze!


  1. BluesCat

    Love that nerding out and checking-the-mirror and signaling-a-left action. I know I’ve done the mirror check, a lot, and since I wear a helmet mirror it looks like I’m trying to spot a fly buzzing around my left temple. I haven’t done the left signal … yet.

    One nerd reflex that I HAVE done lately has to do with the fact that my job, and some personal responsibilities, have forced me to use the car more than the bike for the last couple of weeks. Whenever I HAVE gotten on the bike, a nerd instinct forces me to reach across the front of my body with my right hand and search for the seat belt over by my left side.

    “Ha!” I say, “I don’t need that,” and I ride away with an EXTRA big grin on my face.

  2. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @Blues – That is EXACTLY the word I was searching for during caffeine-induced article writing, Bike Nerd Reflex! “Nuance” doesn’t do it justice.

  3. freddie

    My Jetta doesn’t have a weird crayola smell, but I do still like riding my imaginary bike better than driving…. hope I get it soon!! lol

  4. Ghost Rider

    I love the smells, too. It doesn’t smell so nice in Dayton, but back in Tampa I had the pleasure of riding past two Cuban bakeries, a couple of breakfast places and a coffee roaster. I “absorbed” breakfast through my nasal passages!

    One of the joys for me is seeing the same people every day…saying hi to the folks at the bus stop, waving to the old man who waters his garden every morning at sunrise, surprising the cop who hides behind a telephone pole with a handheld speedtrap laser (“hey, how fast am I going?” I yell as I blaze past).

    And, of course, I sing while I ride. Or I fantasize about being in the Paris-Roubaix or one of the other cobbled Classics.

    I will have to try the helmet-as-shopping-basket trick.

  5. Nick Nasty

    I enjoy watching the strange things other bike commuters do here in the strange IE. I saw a guy chase down a car that ran a red light and almost hit him. But after he got the car to stop, he collapsed on the ground mid cuss and almost had a heart attack. Had to wait with him until his family showed to take him to the hospital..

  6. Hep

    Ringing my bell, of course. Ding-ding, neighbour! (That’s Canadian for neighbor.)

  7. FauxPorteur

    RE: Planet bike front lights. The QR bracket that comes supplied with Planet Bike headlights has a ratcheting ability that is not apparent to 95% of the people that buy them. Many people that buy these very popular lights simply try to tighten the threaded bolt in the cam. This is not sufficient. They will fit firm and snug even on 22.2mm diameter bars if the clicking ratchet is properly clicked. Out of the box they do not fit snug even on 25.4mm bulges. One, two, or three clicks usually does it. Unclicking the ratchet is a bit harder, so don’t click too many times. To check if you have enough clicks, put the bracket on your bars and try to push (with a decent amount of force) the two ends of the clamp together, if they touch, click once, if they then have about a 2mm gap, click again, if theres a 5-10mm gap, you should be good.

  8. Ghost Rider

    Good tips, FauxPorteur — PB clamps always left me a bit cold, so I throw a bit of hockey friction tape under where the clamp is to take up the extra slack, too.

  9. Jae

    I love the fact that I can get home from work in less time than it does to drive … it may be a super hilly 18 mile ride [in either car or on pedal power] – but an hour or less [weather permitting] on bike beats always 1 plus hours via car any day …

  10. Lisa

    Love it. I sing on my bike, and think that when it’s dark, no one can hear me. Ok, sometimes I sing in the light, too. And sometimes I even stop in the bike underpasses in Boulder so I can sing an entire song in the awesome acoustics. And voila, the Boulder Bike Underpass Choir is born. Other tiny awesome things are the smell of spring blossoms on the trees and tea making at Celestial Seasonings. I too, find myself looking for a rear-view mirror when I’m walking. Another tiny awesome thing is always getting awesome parking at events. No need to leave early to beat the traffic when you’re on a bike.

  11. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @Fauxporter – thanks for the tip, I will try to ratchet mine down too!

    @Jae: Yup, another tiny awesome thing to add to the list would be cruising past all the cars backed up on a street that leads to the freeway on your way to work.

    @Lisa: Good one on the parking! Whenever my friends gets a tad bit frustrated about trying to get both wheels and the frame under lock and cable, she reminds herself: this is WAY faster than finding a metered parking spot in downtown!

  12. Danielle

    @ bluescat: I also have that strange feeling around my midsection before I pedal off… that no-constriction feeling of being sans seatbelt!

    For me, my favorite thing about biking is the ability to look around at little things I wouldn’t notice during a car drive. Beautiful flowers, goofy lawn ornaments, the great smell of the jasmine.

  13. Cam

    Ghost Rider beat me to it – I wrapped the handlebar with a piece of old inner tube to make it thicker and give the headlight clamp something to bite down on.

    I like it when I manage to get the wind on my back for the trip to work AND the trip back.

    And who doesn’t like cycling to work in bad weather and hearing your coworkers say, you rode to work in THAT???

  14. Elizabeth

    ah… the smells… if I take the out of the way route, I get to treat myself to the smells of freshly baked bread and chocolate!

    just tonight… I had a passenger in a car ride by me with her window down and shouted a compliment about my helmet all lit up and then gave me the thumbs up. 🙂 It took me a moment to realize the car wasn’t yelling at me in a bad way but praising me. Awesome. I caught up with the car at the stop light and she was amazed that my helmet just had lights strapped on it. She actually asked me where she could get a helmet like it. 😉 Ah… bike love.

  15. BluesCat

    Danielle – There are a couple spots in my commute where the view OTHERS have of ME makes ME happy. For instance, take a look a this picture: Underpass With a View. That long line of cars on the road going over that underpass is there every day at that time. Sometimes I’ll glide at walking speed just to the end of the railing on the right and, if I see someone in one of those metal boxes notice me, I’ll wave. Sometimes, they’ll toot their horn and maybe wave back. A couple of times I’ve seen someone put their hand out of their window and give me a thumbs-up, and one time (chuckle) a guy gave me a DIFFERENT finger-up!

  16. Chad Taniguchi

    -smell of blooming ginger flowers on old Pali road
    -meeting up in the dark with pig hunters with rifles and hunting dogs (uh, is it ok to pass?)
    -singing my favorite song “Kokee” day or night
    -explaining to a police officer that it IS legal to ride in the middle of the lane because the lane is too narrow to share with a car (and being told that makes sense)
    -joining up with another commuter even for a short time

    Thanks Miriam!

  17. Ken Kress

    My fellow nerds have hit many of my favorites — seeing the same people, exchanging greetings, but I have some more.

    Gliding silently through the woods with glitters of light coming off the stream; seeing the sunrise and sunset; crossing a bridge at night watching the moon; watching deer watching me; briefly following a bat; hearing the birds chatter in the early morning hours; calling out “car right” when driving with my wife; calling out “on your left” (got to get a bell); standing up and out accelerating a car at a light.

  18. bg

    My old main route took me through a park that held a farmer’s market twice a week in the fall. ROASTED CHILIS! I’d have to buy a bag and would eat them the rest of the day at work!

  19. JazzyJ

    I keep a running list of all the awesome things I see everyday that I wouldn’t have seen had I not been bike commuting. The other day I added an extra special bullet point to my list. A group of HOT! shirtless soldiers were exercising on my bike path. Did I mention they were shirtless? I felt like I was riding through the cast of 300. Perfect start to my day. 🙂

  20. Dan

    Wildlife Watching!

    I love being able to stop to watch a diving hawk (and occasionally a bald eagle) or play chicken with the deer (there’s always a second one about to cross). In town I see brave squirrels and chipmunks running across in front of me.

    Since I work on a college campus, there is always plenty of human wildlife doing interesting things.

  21. bigbenaugust

    Wait Miriam, you only karaoke on night time rides?

    I do it in broad daylight almost every day.

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