BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: Mir.I.Am

Bike monkey commuting in Honolulu, Hawaii - rain, shine, or tsunami! I don't have a car - if i did I would perpetuate Asian woman driver stereotypes.... so I stick to two wheels and bumming rides of friends, daBus, and the roomie's "Dingo" Jeep. Plus I am cheap (perpetuating other Chinese stereotypes) and green (perpetuating architectural obsession of this generation) and too lazy to work out a the gym! BIKES FOR LIFE!

How To Hang Your Bike on a Vertical Rack

Have you ever been 5-foot-n-change and tried to hang your bike vertically on moving transportation? Well, I have! This week my combo commute took a rainy Cantaloupe and I for quite a ride as we perfected the Art of Racking. And by Art of Racking, of course I am referring to hanging your bike on wall or ceiling-mounted vertical racks. From bike storage rooms to moving TriMet MAX cars, you TOO can hang your bike vertically despite being vertically challenged!

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Blurry photos… because I’m just that unstable on public transit. (Look, the doors are open, it wasn’t even moving yet)

This “How To” is a feat worth sharing and a basic commuter skill that everyone should keep in their cerebral saddle bag. Here’s a picture narrative of how to get a heavy-ass steel steed like Cantaloupe all vertically racked up without spazzing out and injuring bystanders:

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And… TADA!!! Vertically racked and totally stacked.

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Cantaloupe and the Art of Racking

Now, go ahead and make humping and straddling jokes all you want, but smashing the saddle of the bike into your stomach really makes it much easier to balance a heavy bike and navigate the front tire up onto the hook. Other options include growing taller, asking for help, or riding a lighter bike. I’ll stick with stomach-saddle-smashing for a perfect 10 in the Art of Racking.

 

Bike Share Program By the Bay

Cycle Ladies and Gents of Bike Commuters, please give a warm welcome to our newest staff writer and lady commuter… Emily Shellabarger (a.k.a. Shelly, to Mir.I.Am) commuting in the Bay Area, California! While Emily warms up her fingertips for some intense keyboard-slamming action for 2014, here’s a little guest post to give you a taste of the new bike share program in the Bay Area.

San Franciscans have watched enviously as bike share programs started cropping up in other metropolitan areas from New York to Washington DC, London to Paris. Finally, our turn came this summer with the much anticipated launch of the Bay Area Bike Share program. The network of bikes and docking stations spans the peninsula from San Francisco to San Jose, spattering a handful of cities between the two “San” bookends.

bay aear bike share

Personally, I was stoked to see the chunky, seafoam green bikes arrive in San Francisco––in particular, the double rack right next to the 4th & King street train station, which I visit daily on my commute down the peninsula. The docking racks have been strategically planted near various CalTrain stops to facilitate the last leg of a car-less commute, including my stop in Redwood City. I thought, “I must be the target user!” and wasted no time formulating my shared-bike commute plans.

Redwood City Caltrain Station

Bay Area Bike Share at the Caltrain Station in Redwood City… Look at them, so SEAFOAMY!

With further investigation I discovered both my homebase in the foggy city and my nine-to-five destination are not in the Bike Share network! Oh-so-close, but not close enough. The bike coverage is fairly limited both in San Francisco and the peninsula outlets. However, if you’re looking to ride within a confined radius or run a quick out-and-back errand, the shared bike option will do you just fine.

Bay Area Bike Share Locations

See the little Shelly on the map? Now how to get that Shelly down to the little building in the Peninsula, without bike hauling on and off the Caltrain… Bay Area Bike Share = sadly, almost there.

Currently, the San Francisco peninsula geographic expanse is served by only 70 sations with 700 bikes––doesn’t seem like enough, especially considering 35 of those stations are in San Francisco alone. Luckily, the program will bump up to 100 stations with 1,000 bikes this coming year, adding more stations in San Francisco’s most bikeable neighborhoods and a few more peninsula cities. My neighborhood isn’t on the list yet, but the neighborhood expansion is a start. For now, I’ll have to stick with hauling my bike on and off the CalTrain and save the shared bikes for special trips.

Bay Area Bike Share Locations Peninsula

Errrrrckkkkk. (Squeaky brake sound.) So close, but not enough stations yet to merit leaving Stallion behind.

Well, it sounds like everyone has to start somewhere, let’s hope the Bay Area Bike Share is responsive to user feedback, so we can all high-five for another successful bike share on the map. I felt the same way when I visited San Francisco last time… no bikes anywhere near my sister’s place in the Mission, but it makes more sense that the program is targeted towards Peninsula commuters. Any readers out there had a chance to try out the system? Let us know in the comments box, below!

Cold as Ice – Layer Up!

Wow. I mean, WOW. Were you guys out on the bike last night? Did you feel the wind cutting through every piece of you that was not covered at least twice in layers as you caught every light on that downhill?

I DID! Cantaloupe is a beast, with her new sweet fenders. How could I resist a cold as ice night commute?

Let’s back up a bit. It’s in the 20’s here in Portland, and this girl has Hawaii body-core temperature still coursing through her veins, so don’t laugh at the pathetic attempt at layering if you are a seasoned winter warrior (you guys should leave tips in the comment box below, instead). I know some of you commuters are out there pedal-pushing in the single digits. Brrrrrmmmmnesota.

I’ve taped this photo to the inside of my front door for inspiration… it keeps me from wein-ing out and opting for a run for the bus:

Okay, so I did get a major flat and had to sprint for the bus the other day, only to find out that I had zero cash on me. Fail! Crap monkey, where did I leave my teleportation device…

My neighbors and I biked home together at about 7pm, or 20-something degrees o’clock here in Portland. And I am proud to say that I somehow survivor-ed the coldest commute of my life. How did my sissy-la-la pants make it happen?

Layers, Cycle Gators… layers! And lots of them. I’m no expert on looking fly riding home in the cold, but here was this night’s order of operations:

  • Step 1: Pull on your skivvies and cover up your underparts… Cycle ladies and gents, I would not recommend anything that’s gonna give your crotch a case of seam anxiety, but that is a very personal choice. Y’all know what works with your saddle, and what doesn’t – immediately!
  • Step 2: Pull on some Darn Tough wool crew socks.
  • Step 3: Next, some super-high waisted fleece-lined leggings. Do Cycle dudes wear leggings? No, but some kind of bike base layer tights might do the trick. Just ask Jack.
  • Step 4: Then your outer layer of pantalones. I chose the Chrome Vanya knicker for it’s stretchiness and crotch action (make sure you follow Step 1, re: crotch anxiety).

Getting warm yet, people? Okay… Keep going to the top layers:

  • Step 5: T shirt/tank/base. I wore a cotton tee tucked into my leggings/tights.
  • Step 6: Long sleeve zip-up running jacket thing. Stretchy, thumb-holey, and a freebie from my stepmom via Costco.
  • Step 7: Oh yeah, ANOTHER long sleeve, with more stretchiness, a super long back to cover my butt, and a high collar from that Lululemon review back in the day.
  • Step 8: Fruffy vest. Marshmallow it and warm up your core! I love puffy vest like my future unborn child.
  • Step 9: Patagonia Torrentshell with pit zips open and hood tucked in.
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Seriously, everybody on bikes looks like this today. All color combo Do’s and Don’ts go out the window for this weather, kids. I look like a bag of Skittels had a civil war on my torso.

And on to the peripherals (“I see a ficus tree…”):

  • Step 10: North Face gloves: inadequate – not cycling specific, but it’s all I got right now.
  • Step 11: Ear grips over ponytail.
  • Step 12: Buff over the neck, over the ear grips, ponytail, and up to the top of my head like a wetsuit hood.
  • Step 13: Shoes, helmet, and the obligatory Mir fannypack.

So, yeah. It did the trick. More winter wonderful commuting tips coming your way. In the meantime, hook us up in the comments box with your favorite or newly-discovered layering goodies. Go eat a bag of tiny donuts, cold weather! Props to all the winter pedal peoples out there.

Cooped Up & Can’t Wait to Commute…

Happy End of Turkey Weekend, Bike Commuters. Is it just me, or is it getting stuffy in here? Of course, by stuffy, I mean I’ve been stuffed full of Auntie T’s chorizo dressing and cranberry-themed meat dishes all weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love family time and pretending to care about the Raider’s losing to those other guys, but a Cycle Lady can only take so much chips and guac, cooped up in front of the TV with cousins, until she’s ready to bike up Mt. Baker.

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After the holiday cray cray, there’s nothing like your Monday morning commute to power up those idle legs, cranky from couching it during a four-day food fest. Sauf your family’s excursion to the LBS to trample other human beings for awesome Black Friday bike goodies, right? Okay, we didn’t do that either… my dad is more the Cyber Monday type.

Ugh, it’s weekends like this that have me planning out my next caffeinated a.m. ride during the five hour train back to Portland. If only these maps had a coffee shop overlay button…

Portland City Bike Routes – Cantaloupe, I can’t wait!

Or it makes me want to stretch out my commute for some scenic easy riding.

Or it’s got me dreaming of buying a sweet folder so that I will never be without bike during any family vacation, ever again!

Anyways, bike commuters… Hope you are looking forward to the start of your week as much as I am: Enjoy the ride, and BURN FAT, NOT OIL!  Welcome back to the grind.

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Commuter Profile: Emily Shellabarger

Hey Bike Commuters! Mir.I.Am here to share a super commuter profile with you for your after-turkey-afterglow enjoyment. Say “hello” to Emily Shellabarger, a Bay Area train and bike commuting gal on the go.  Although the Bike Commuter staff guys may argue that we indiscriminately love ALL commuter profiles, I’ve gotta say: I personally love when Cycle Ladies rep the commute because women on bikes are just plain hot!   Alright, enough hype-man shiz, introducing… Miss Emily Shellabarger!

Emily is a hipster

Emily S., posing as a hipster!

Name: Emily Shellabarger

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I’ve been bike commuting since I was a wee lass in the jump seat on the back of my dad’s 1983 silver Peugeot. He pedaled me all over the streets of Eugene, Oregon–including the hilly commute to daycare. And, even though I have to do all the work these days, my love for biking and two-wheeled commuting endures. I’ve been regularly bike commuting for the last five years––two years in Sacramento and three years in San Francisco.

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The wee lass in her bike commuter beginnings in Eugene, Oregon.

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And the grown-up Emily, bike commuting in Norcal!

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

I started riding my bike to work in Sacramento because it was faster than driving. I lived less than two-miles from the office. And let me tell you, that was an easy bike commute. Downtown Sacramento has all of one hill––actually, calling it a “hill” is generous, I’ll go with “incline”––and it was not on my route. Just the right kind of ride for me and my creaky old Schwinn, Stallion.

Boy, was I spoiled. After the company I work for relocated from the sunny flats of Sacramento to the Bay Area, I moved to San Francisco. My current commute includes 4-miles of biking + 30-miles of train riding + 2 more miles of biking. All told, it takes me just under an hour each way and beats the pants off of sitting in traffic on Highway 101.

 

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Beating the pants off sitting in craptastic traffic on Highway 101.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

Bike commuting in the Bay Area keeps me sane. Nothing puts me in a bad mood like sitting in stop-and-go traffic. I’d much rather start the day whooshing down hills as the sun rises and pedaling my way to the train station. Plus, thanks to those San Francisco hills, I don’t have to invest in a gym membership and my money can be saved for more important things like happy hour.

 

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I manage consumer marketing and social media for a renewable fuel company in Redwood City, California. I live in San Francisco, so my bike commute spans the Peninsula of Silicon Valley. When feeling ambitious, I’ve been known to bike the entire 34-mile route, especially on Bike-to-Work Day (and not just because six-miles from my office, Oracle hosts the most amazing free breakfast buffet for cyclists).

Emily & Roy on the way to RWC

Whoa! Catch that sunset on the long way home from Redwood City. Emily on Roy the Road Bike.

B2W 2012 Orcale Breakfast w Commuters

Oracle free breakfast reward – from 2012 Bike to Work Week

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More Bike to Work Week 2012

What kinds of bikes do you have?

My trusty steed, Stallion, a big Schwinn cruiser from the 80’s. And my daily commuter, a 2007 Raleigh Cadent affectionately dubbed, Roy the Road Bike.

Emily & Stallion Sacramento

Emily and “Stallion” cruising in Sacramento, CA.

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“Roy” the Raleigh roadie, hiding in the back of the rack at work.

 

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

After moving to San Francisco I was anxious to dial in my bike route. I hunted online for the safest, flattest route and poured over my handy San Francisco Bike Routes map. I wrote out a turn-by-turn directions list. I had screenshots of the street route on my phone. I clicked through all the turns on Google street view, so I’d be fully prepared for visual queues. And I was still a bit nervous to venture out on the rowdy city streets, so I ended up bribing my roommate with coffee to accompany me on my first ride to the train station. Sometimes all you really  need is a bike buddy to help get you out on the streets!

 

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

When folks find out I bike/train commute from San Francisco to Redwood City, most people are impressed that I make the effort––or are slightly horrified.

 

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

I’d love to be more active in bike advocacy, especially since there is such a strong cycling community in San Francisco. Currently, I’m most active with Commute.org, participating in their San Mateo County Bike-to-Work activities and clean commute challenges.

Larry & Em in Calistoga

Bike Buddy Advocacy – Emily on a ride in Calistoga

Moonlighting as  bike mechanic

Or moonlighting as a bike mechanic – just in time for Movember Moustaches!

Emily Shellabarger (oh man – such a good “two-name” name, who can resist holding back that Shellabarger?!), thanks for sharing your commuter profile and a little bit of west coast sunshine with Bike Commuters!  I am personally jealous of your sweet commute with that killer sunset.   Want to show us your ride and plaster your fantastic commute all over the internet?  Then send an email and we’ll hook you up with a Commuter Profile questionnaire. Email Mir.I.Am for details.