BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: Art Aguilar

The Realities of Biking to Work

There are lots of reasons to trade in your car and make the switch to biking to work every day. The most basic benefits of the switch are outlined in this post from last March. Of course, knowing why you should bike into work is a lot different than knowing how to bike into work every day. The reality is much different than most new cyclists imagine. Here are the biggest obstacles that most cyclists face with their morning (and evening) commute and how to handle them.

Traffic

The relationship you have to the drivers on the road around you is going to depend as much on where you live as much as it does on how you operate your new engine-less vehicle.

The best thing you can do (because even in cycle friendly cities like Portland, the relationship with other drivers can be tense and irritating) is to follow the rules of the road. Remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle and, as such, you need to ride like you’re driving a car, not like you’re walking. Stay in your lane, keep up with the flow of traffic, follow your local traffic laws.

Visibility

While most drivers know to keep an eye out for cyclists, making sure you are visible is important. Don’t just pop on your helmet and head out to work expecting that you are automatically visible. The special reflective gear that is sold to cyclists is not a racket. You’ll want to make sure that your bike is equipped with the right lights and reflectors. You’ll also want to make sure that your clothing is easily visible. This could mean sewing reflectors on to your coat or buying special coats, pants and shoes that have reflective and glow in the dark capability built into them. You might feel a little goofy at first, but the last thing you need is to blend into your surroundings!

The Bodily Challenges

Riding a bike is great for your health and, yes, it can reduce your dependence on the gym. At the same time, the repetitive motion of pedaling, the posture your bike requires, etc. can lead to some new aches and pains in your muscles, especially when you are first starting out. You can also expect chafing to be a constant threat and worry.

To deal with these changes, treat each ride as the workout that it is. Warm up and stretch first. Make sure that you are outfitted correctly. Therafirm recommends wearing compression shorts to help wick moisture and prevent chafing during the ride.

Weather

Bad weather is a real problem for people who commute by bicycle. Rain and snow and extreme temperatures can all make your commute difficult.

The best way to deal with this is to wear weather appropriate gear while you are on your bicycle and pack your nicer clothing into your bag so that you can change when you get to work. This way you can stay warm (or cool) and dry on the commute and don’t have to worry about showing up for an important meeting looking bedraggled. Remember to adjust your commute for the time you’ll need to change clothes!

Storage

Most of us don’t travel to work with just our bodies. We have wallets, laptops, phones and other gear that must be accommodated. Fitting these things into a simple front bicycle basket isn’t always possible (or very good for the items you’re transporting). According to the BTA, Some things can be carried in a backpack that you wear during the commute. Another option is to fix a rear basket or fixtures that will accommodate saddle bags or panniers.

Remember to be patient! Adjusting to cycling life will take time. You won’t get everything perfect on that first ride. Take your time, do your research, talk to the pros at your local bike shop of send us your questions: info@bikecommuters.com when you need help. You’ll get there!

Car and Bike Safety Advice This Holiday Season

Those looking to commute this holiday season should take extra caution. Not only are the holiday seasons a time when more Americans are on the roads, it’s also a time of inclement weather that can cause safety concerns.

 

Cold weather biking and driving is nothing new. You may think that driving or biking during the snowy months is impossible but being a four season rider is indeed possible.

 

Proper Clothing

Having reflective clothing if you are riding as well as warm clothing is indeed important. In your car having the right warmth is important, especially gloves for those bitter cold mornings and nights. Not only can clothing keep you warm but it can also keep you safe. Ensure while out on the roads that you are protected and prepared for what you might come across.

 

Proper Gear

Having the right protection on your car such as paint protective film or car wraps which can help protect from corrosive and eroding items are important during this time of year. Having the right protection on your bike as well. Ensure you have checked for rust or areas that need additional oiling. All four or two tires should be well inflated and maintained for proper use.

 

Safety Concerns

There are many safety concerns when it comes to driving in inclement weather. These include visibility concerns such as other drivers or riders seeing you. To avoid collisions there are many things you can do to keep yourself safe:

  • Keep your line of sight visible, including buying new wiper blades

  • Utilize your mirrors or purchase them if you don’t have them

  • Wear reflective clothing and/or use lights when riding at night

  • Remember to take caution making turns and blind corners

  • Avoid the immediate curb area, as that is where snow accumulates

  • Consider taking up a lane during winter travel instead of trying to stick with bike paths as they will offer more stability for your vehicle

Becoming a Winter Rider

Experts suggest starting slowly with your integration to a winter riding or driving cycle. Use public transportation and combine your activities with a bike ride. Drive half way to your destination with your bike in your vehicle just to ensure you are slowly testing out this process. Bike every other day or alternate every three days to try it out. Once you find your rhythm you very well could be on your way to being a regular four season rider.

 

Areas of melted snow should be watched out for. These are often patches of ice and can cause an accident if you’re not careful. Look for black ice conditions and just ride slowly, don’t freak out or overcorrect yourself. Not only are they troublesome for a vehicle but also for bikers.

 

There are many ways you too can participate in bike riding and car driving in the winter months, no matter what vehicle or bike you have. Stay safe on the roads and remember these safety tips to get you through the snowy months.

Hiking socks for biking?

We we’re all about multi-purpose and re-purposing things here at BikeCommuters.com. So when it comes to apparel, we wanted to make sure that things we wear while riding can double as apparel for other activities such as hiking, camping and etc. With that in mind we reached out to one of our favorite backpacker-world traveler Chasie D. She’s sharing with us some information about socks.

Are you planning on taking an outdoor excursion with a few friends? If so, biking/hiking socks are essential apparel to your adventure; especially if it’s going to be a long one. While there are numerous travel sites that offer great advice in terms of clothing and safety tips, very few actually address these foot-warming wonders. So what are some of the top tips that will enable you to choose the best pair for your next trip?

Thickness

What climate are you planning to be in? Will it be a temperate environment or are you planning a trek across the Scottish Highlands? In either scenario, temperature plays an important role. Thicker socks are obviously better for colder climates and they will provide an extra level of comfort for your feet while they are pressed against your shoes. Thinner models are essential to avoid excessive sweating in tropical locations. Excess sweat can easily lead to the development of fungus.
socks
Aeration

How easily can your feet breathe within the sock? This is critical for two reasons. First, the aforementioned sweating concern needs to be taken into account. Secondly, feet that are sweaty within a cold environment risk developing hypothermia. In cold areas, this can even lead to frostbite! On a final note, socks which are aerated also tend to dry quicker. This is the reason that cotton has always been a preferable material over wool or polyester.

Layering

Professional hikers will often layer their socks. This keeps the feet warmer and the outer pair helps to provide a dry barrier against elements such as snow and water. Also, materials which are layered will contain tiny pockets of air. Air is actually one of the best insulators against the cold. So, it only stands to reason that layering your socks is a great tip when it is frigid or wet.

Good socks are one of the most important concerns while planning an outdoor journey. Thankfully, there are countless manufacturers of quality materials and with these tips, you can be certain that you are completely prepared for your upcoming adventure!

Some basic commuter tips

Bike commuting is a great way to stay active, save money, and help the environment at the same time. With your route planned out, and the proper mindset, you can set yourself up for a great experience. But without a little thought and the wrong setup, you could be setting yourself up for disaster.

Pick the right bike for the job

A lot of riders ride simple bikes to work every morning, and some ride the Ferraris of the bike industry to work. An expensive bike is fine but you don’t need it. The idea of commuting to work is to save you money. If your morning commute is mostly flat, there is no reason for a carbon fiber road bike with 30 gears. A simple bike that fits you comfortably, meets your budget, and has around 5 to 10 gears will suffice.

If you plan to commute at night or early enough in the morning that lights on a car would be required, you may want to also look into front and rear bike lights, as many states are now requiring them.

Protective gear
Not every state requires an adult to wear a helmet. Any seasoned rider can tell you there is no shame in wearing a bike helmet. In 2009, 91% of all bike fatalities were due to not wearing a helmet. These can and most likely will save your life. Although your commute might not be long, you will still be surrounded by other bikers and cars. Anything can happen, but know this. There are all kinds of helmets in all kinds of styles and shapes. Some of them are pretty amazing and comfortable.

As you will also be commuting near roads and highways, you may want to invest in some protective glasses or goggles to protect your eyes. Like helmets, these come in all forms of shapes and sizes and can even be made to prescription as needed. You’ll want to be sure these protect you from the sun’s UV radiation and are sturdy enough with polycarbonate lenses, as regular lenses offer less protection from small rocks and other debris flung from cars passing by.

Keep it simple
Take the time to get on your bike and ride to work on your days off. Take different routes and time yourself to see which one will save you more time. Also keep in mind the type of traffic and obstacles you may encounter during the morning work rush. You may also want to keep a backup route in mind in the case that there is an accident or road construction.

Carry only what you need
If your daily commute is only a few blocks, there is no reason to pack for a huge journey. Carry what you need for your day in a back pack or a messenger bag. If you normally carry a brief case, find a bike rack that will best accommodate it.
Make sure that in your pack to carry an emergency kit, emergency contact info, and possibly a rain kit just in case. The emergency kit should consist of at least an extra tube, tire levers, and a tire pump. Tire pumps come in many forms and sizes, so be sure to find one that fits your tube style and will not weigh you down too much. For rain gear, a simple poncho and rain pant will suffice, and usually only weigh a small amount.

If you are worried about carrying your dress clothes with you, or wearing them on your commute, you may want to stash a couple shirts, jacket, and a pair of shoes for work , in you cubicle or office. It might also be a good idea to keep a towel and clean up kit in your office just in case.

Bike security
Unless your office allows you to bring your bike inside, you may have to store it in a bike rack, or attach it to a sign post, or some other immovable object near your work. In most cases a u-lock will do the job by simply running it through your rear tire and frame. If you are worried this will not work, you may want to invest in a longer cable style lock. With a cable lock you can run it through you rear tire, frame, front tire, and then around the object you would like to attach your bike to. If you bike seat is attached to a quick release, you may want to take that and any other item that would be easily stolen with you.

Bike riding in Dublin, Ireland.

So the Mrs. and I are planning a trip to Dublin this November to what all the hoopla is all about with the Irish. While preparing for our trip, I checked out information on the weather. For starters it rains there quite a bit and their summers would be considered their rainy season. In addition, the hottest it ever gets there is about 74 degrees…sounds like my kind of place! Anyhow, being a resident of Southern California where it’s always warm and sunny, I’m afraid I would be in for a shock on how cold the weather will be when we’re there.

I do plan on taking a bicycle around Dublin to see the sights as well as to get a feel for the local community. But before I do that, I figured I’d get some cold weather gear I saw a jacket that might keep me dry and somewhat warm and have the options to allow me to cool down if I get to hot under it.

It’s called the Dare 2b Mens Scampered Windshell Jacket offered by High Octane Sport.

The Dare 2b Men’s Scampered Windshell Jacket (£24.95) can be converted from a jacket to a gilet, with zip off sleeves, for maximum adaptability to temperature rises

Features:

Ilus Windshell lightweight Polyester fabric
Wind resistant fabric
Water repellent fabric
2-in-1 design
Zip off sleeves convert jacket to gilet
Stretch bound cuff and hem
Mesh ventilated back panels for maximum breathability
Zipped rear pocket
Reflective detail for enhanced visibility
LED compatible
Weighs less than 300g
The Dare 2b Men’s Scampered Windshell Jacket offers the ideal solution to mixed weather conditions- perfect for the British weather!

So why would I bother ordering a jacket from a UK website like High Octane? Well the way I see it, if this Dare 2b Jacket is good enough for UK folks, then I’m sure it’s going to work well for me. I guess it’s the way I see things when it comes to products. For example, you wouldn’t buy a Mexican Food in Ohio because Mexican Food in Los Angeles…or better yet, in Mexico would be better right? It’s the same with this jacket, make sense? I figured I’ll order the jacket before we venture out to Dublin, that way I’ll be good and ready for the weather once we arrive.