BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: The Bike Geek

The bike geek is a dude that enjoys all sorts of bicycle riding. He has been a bike commuter, Mountain bike racer and recreational roadie. He has an affinity for gadgets, software and data, lots of data!

The Bike Geek: A lesson in public transportation

This week was going to be my second time taking the train and commuting on my bike to work, but it was not the case. Due to the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Los Angeles was in high alert and this caused for all train service to be halted due to a “suspicious” package chained to a pole at one of the train stations. The stoppage happened one minute before my train was supposed to arrive but I waited for an hour to see if the train service would resume but no dice and I ended up driving to work.

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As I arrived to work and followed the news regarding the train stoppage, it was found that the package contained clothes and all train service resumed at 10:30 AM. Now, I would think that because train service was stopped, a refund would be in order. Nope. All sales are final. So I basically wasted not only the fare going to work, but also the one returning since I bought a round trip ticket. The lesson: buy a one way ticket.

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This was pretty discouraging given that $14.50 worth of gas would take me to and from work 4 times. Factor in the fact that I’m taking the train to work so I won’t have to deal with the stress of driving, this snafu pretty much negated all gains from using the train as a method of transportation.

But fuck the terrorists, I will continue to take the train and ride my bike to work at least once a week because very few things beat the freedom of riding a bike.

The Bike Geek: Ride the talk

Walk the Talk:

1) Back up or prove what’s said with action.
2) Represent words with action.
3) Practice what’s preached.

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Well, here we are, time to “walk the talk” or in my case “ride the talk”. I’ve been planning this multi modal commute for almost a month. I got my train schedule, planned my route, got my commuter bicycle and we switched to daylight savings.

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I showed up to the train station armed with very little information about riding a train with a bike from the Metrolink site, so I basically followed a couple of bike commuters and observed what they did.

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The train that I was going to board had a “bicycle car”, this meant that there were three stalls where you can “park” your bike and then sit down. If you are the type of person who spit shines your commuter bike or really minds getting a little scratch on your frame, this is not for you. You basically stash your bike on top of other bikes and secure them via a tie down. I’m not much of a stickler when it comes to my commuter bikes but this was a little unsettling. I was actually worried that my bike would scratch the other bikes but I guess this is what you do. You also have to be mindful to move your bike if it is on top of another bike and the person is about to disembark the train, no biggie, just simply move the bike out of the way.

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Riding the train was pretty cool, I met some friendly people and learned that I stuck out like a freaking sore thumb among the train-bike commuters. I guess I’m a little old school and it has been years since I rode my bike to work.

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I changed my route based on the suggestion from a person who rides to work and lives near by, he also happens to be the President of the company. He is cool in my book. The route had nice wide bicycle lanes and it was not too busy, I also took the river trail for part of my bicycle ride.

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My entire commute took about 55 minutes, it sure beats an hour and 20 in heavy traffic. Is it worth the $14.50 round trip? Financially speaking it is a close no, but damn it feels good to ride a bike to work again.

Here is a little video I did of my experience, I’m not good at video editing so if you don’t like it, don’t vote for me for the Oscar.

Next week: Bike Commuter fashion

The Bike Geek: My favorite safety accessories

Yes, we all hate Mondays but “The Man” wanted me to try to posting on Mondays instead of the weekend. Something to do with SEO, PPC, blah, blah, blah, best day to post, blah, blah.

Stick It To The Man

So now that I have my train schedule, my route figured out, got my commuter bike, it is almost time to “Ride the talk”. One thing that always concerns me about riding my bike to work is careless drivers. The “ride as if you are invisible” is always on my mind when I ride on the streets, so to make myself more visible and ride defensively and I carry a few safety accessories:

1. Bright ass blinkies and a horn.
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My new personal favorite rear blinkie is the NiteRider Sentinel that we reviewed a little while ago and I’ve been using the Orp light/horn (the jury is still out on this one, more on that later)

2. Mirrors

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The Chuck Harris helmet mirror that I used to ride with back in 2008 was awesome, unfortunately I lost it and Chuck Harris passed away in 2012. However, I found a company that not only do they make Chuck Harris style mirrors, they are able to make them with your logo! Check out my brand spanking new BikeCommuters.com helmet mirror:

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I also ride with a handlebar mirror, but those can be tricky to adjust.

3. Hi-Viz clothing.

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As I walk into the office, I’m always told that I can be seen a mile away. Good I say, now you have no excuse to run my ass over!

4. Helmet.

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I do not understand why people refuse to ride with no helmet, I rather be uncool than a freaking vegetable in case of a crash.

5. “Personal Protection”
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Yes, I do carry pepper spray with me, thankfully I’ve never had to use it. I carry it because people suck.

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I love this bracelet, all your information that you choose is there in case you are incapacitated and someone needs to call your emergency contacts.

7.Inexpensive Action Sports Camera
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This maybe a little over the top, but when motorists do not care about you and see you as a nuisance, better to have it on video. Oh, and because people suck.

You maybe thinking, WTF, why does he carry all this crap with him? Again, I want to get home safe to my family and unfortunately I live in a region where the car is king and pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders are just a “bump in the road”.

Next Week: Time to “ride the talk”!

The Bike Geek: My take on electric bicycles

The fine fellows at BikeCommuters.com have given me the opportunity to post whatever I want (bicycle related) unfiltered and uncensored. So when I told them that I was going to give my blunt opinion of electric bikes, they were second guessing if my raise in the form of recycled water from water bottles was worth it.

I share the opinion of many of our readers, electric bikes are not for us. Yes, I know that I’ve personally reviewed a few bikes, heck, I was an early adopter of the technology. In fact, here is my first electrified bicycle from 2005:

It was an entry level Giant Boulder with an EV Kit. Since I was going to start commuting 32 miles round trip, I figured that an electric bike was going to be the best solution for my commute. Nope. This effing thing weighed 80 pounds, had a range of about 20 miles, the top speed was like 15 mph and it handled like a dried turd. Here is why an electric bike is not for me: I’m a roadie at heart. That meant that I found myself pedaling this monstrosity most of the way because of “range anxiety” and I also easily outran the motor’s top speed. I ended up using the bike for about a week and ended up selling it.

Fast forward to 2010 and the technology advanced quite a bit and I reviewed the Torker T-450 Hybrid bicycle:

Lighter, better looking but same top speed and about the same range. I really tried giving an electric bike a chance, but my inner roadie just kept telling me “pedal damnit”.

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The technology has advanced some more as you can see from the E-lux Fat tire review.

Just look at that controller, that thing is sweet!

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So yes, technology keeps getting better but and a BIG but; these freaking bikes are expensive. There is no way in hell I’m paying over $3,500 bucks for an electric bike when I can spend less for a decent road bike.

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So why review them? Well, they are free to review first of all, they are actually fun to ride at full blast and it does wonders for SEO. I went ahead and interviewed a salesperson from a bike shop that sells electric bikes and found out that there is actually a decent market for these bikes. The buyers are usually around their 50s, have lots of disposable income and they live near the beach.

So to answer the question if riding an electric bike is cheating, ask Femke Van den Driessche.

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Next week: One of my favorite safety accessories and an update on my commuter bike