Category: Commuter Profiles

Meet another one of our readers, Elijah Fan. Elijah is a Bike commuter as well as a Mountain Bike Rider, here’s his commuter profile:

Elijah Fan

What do you do and what city do you bike commute.
I’m a project manager at Westar Holding and VIVA Life Science. I manage the company’s property. I also do business development with our company’s core competency, which is nutritional products. I commute from Irvine to Costa Mesa, CA

Elijah Fan

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
I started riding my bike to work in 2003, because I hate traffic, I hate feeling like a hamster on a treadmill (exercise), and I love riding bikes, especially mountain bikes. It was a no brainer for me after I tried it once. My bike commute is about 25 miles round trip.

Elijah Fan

What kind of bikes do you have?
Three bikes – First is my 2005 Voodoo Bizango. It’s a steel hardtail mountain bike for that oh so fun single track. I also have an 80’s era Performance mountain bike that I’ve turned into a single speed to tool around town with, and I use it as my backup commuting bike. This summer I plan to add an xtracycle to it along with a rear derailleur. This Performance bike was my brother’s first serious mountain bike. I’d say it’s the bike that first caught my dreams and sucked me into mountain biking. My last bike is my main commuter, an 80’s era Fuji Ace road bike that’s been converted to a fixed gear. I’ve been riding the Fuji for a couple years. Coming from a mountain bike background, I found riding on the streets to be boring. Riding fixed adds a bit of excitement to my commute, although I sometimes see this guy commuting on his downhill rig holding wheelies until the cows come home. I’ll have to try that some time, although my wheelies would only last about half a second each.

Elijah Fan

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

On my ride home from work last year I saw a fellow commuter changing a flat, and I asked if he needed help. He said that he didn’t have a spare or a patch kit, so I gave him my spare and got him going. A half mile later I hit a small pothole and got a bad pinch flat. I couldn’t get a patch to hold and didn’t have another spare. Hanging my head in shame, I called my wife to pick me up.

Lessons Learned: 1. Check tire pressure, EVERY TIME, and keep goo tire pressure. I checked before I rode, but was too lazy to pump it up. 2. ALWAYS offer help even if it costs you.

Elijah Fan

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

They usually nod slowly and get this funny look on their face like I’m crazy or something. And then they ask, “Why?” People at work have no idea how to handle it. I always get the comment when I’m spotted in the hallways with my bike, “Oh, you’re still doing that.”

Do you have an “advanced commuter tip”?
A one liner that I tell myself when I start to drift: “Hold your line and you’ll be fine.” It rhymes, it’s silly and it helps me refocus. When I ride predictably, cars and MUP (multi use path) users know better what to expect from me and that keeps everyone safe. Secondly, obey traffic laws, although I tend to roll through stop signs. Early on, I thought that since I was on a bike, I could just ride through red lights if it was clear. Heck, I see roadies do it all the time. Once early morning, before the sun was up, I looked left and right through my fogged up glasses and then blasted through a light. I heard squealing tires and looked behind me to see a car with smoking tires barely miss my rear wheel. I was stupid and nearly worm food because of it. Shh, don’t tell my wife. She doesn’t know, hehe.

Anything that you want to share with us
Thanks for this site and the others that you guys run. I love reading and learning from them. And thanks for giving me the opportunity to share a bit of my story. Keep it fun and safe enough. I don’t say “safe”, because that’s just boring. “Safe enough” seems more appropriate. Keep it up and if there’s any way that I can help, let me know.

We are grateful to Elijah for sharing his time with us. Check out his blog at

Eric Smith

Today is National Ride your bike to work day, so we are profiling a bike commuter that is relatively new to riding a bike to work. His name is Eric Smith, he is an IT manager from Norwalk CT and commutes to Greenwich CT.

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

I bought my bike last summer for exercise. I soon found I was doing 24-30 mile rides. So this year, after putting on considerable holiday weight, I eagerly started riding in the first week of March, not waiting for the snow to melt. Then I put two and two together and realized I could ride to work and get my exercise in without taking those extra hours away from time with my family. My commute is 15 miles door to door going the most direct route. I take an alternate route home which takes me off the main road (Route 1, Boston Post Road) part of the way, so in all it is about 32 mile round trip.

Eric Smith

How do you like it so far?

The thing I like best is that I arrive at work on a high note, and I look forward to the commute home. I love it! I am slowly getting into shape and losing the extra pounds.

What is the biggest adjustment that you had to do from driving to riding a bike?

The biggest adjustment from driving to riding a bike is the preparation and necessary sleep. I usually get into work around 7 or 7:30. That means to keep that schedule with a ride that takes around an hour and 10 minutes, I need to prepare the night before. Preparation can take up to a half hour, just making sure I have my PC and electronic gear, the right clothes, keys, wallet etc… In order to get enough sleep I have to get to by 10. Normally, I would prefer to stay up past midnite, but at 42, that’s not exactly healthy anyway…

What kind of bikes do you have?

I only have one bike, a 2006 Gary Fisher Tiburon. Prior to buying this, I had owned a Huffy 10-speed as a kid, and some 10-speed that I used in NYC that someone gave me. When I went to purchase a bike last summer I was amazed by how much had changed. Bike sizes changed. There were road bikes, MTB’s, Hybrids, you name it. I picked this so I could get some exercise and ride with my wife and kids on outings… I’ve since had to change the tires to something more roadable, and put on a rack and panniers.

Eric Smith

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

The first couple of rides tired me out. There are many long and steep hills going into Greenwich from Stamford , and it took me a couple of weeks before I learned how to attack the hills standing up on the pedals. Since then, my strength has increased, and now they are challenging, but not as exhausting as they once were. I found that standing still tires me out, but allows for a much faster recovery.

Eric Smith

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

Most people are amazed at the distance. I would have thought the same just last year. But after riding for a while, you realize how do-able these longer distances are. Naturally, I am zealous and excited about all the benefits of bike commuting, so people are generally happy for me, but, so far, no one has asked if they can join me…

Anything that you want to share with us

I really like the fact that I am reducing traffic, gas consumption and resulting pollution, and possible adding years to my life. I only wish there was more awareness for this in the area of CT where I live. I know that Hartford is getting organized, but my area is made up of one city and town after another who all have their own agendas, and as far as I know, none of them include making cycling, or bike commuting part of their traffic and environmental plans. Oh, and my personal blog is

Thank you Eric for sharing your story, good luck and keep riding, it only gets better!!!

Ghost Rider
Jack Sweeney, aka Ghost Rider is a frequent reader and commenter of our site. Jack is an electronic reference librarian from Central Tampa, Florida. We are always curious to learn from other fellow commuters about themselves, their bikes and their commute. We asked Jack a few questions and he submitted a few pictures to share with our growing Bike Commuter Community.

Why do you bike commute?

I commute because I love to ride my bikes, because I live close enough to where I work to make it feasible, and I don’t have to pay for parking, gas and all that other stuff that goes with being a car driver (although I do own and drive a car, on occasion).

How long have you been bike commuting ?

I started bike commuting in high school and did it all the way through college. When I moved to Florida in 1992, I commuted by bike to my first couple of jobs. Then I took a break from it…Now, I’ve gotten back into it because I am paying penance for driving 100+ miles round trip EVERY DAY to a job I worked at for almost 8 years. That sucked, and getting back on my bike is resetting my karma /realigning my chi!!!

Ghost Rider

What kind of bikes do you have?

I own and ride all kinds of bikes. I have a dedicated commuter bike (MTB frame, 26″ wheels with rear rack, fenders and panniers — in your gallery), a vintage-y (I bought it new in 1983) steel Bianchi road bike, an even older French steel Astra road bike (converted to singlespeed/fixed gear) from 1971/72, a 24″ GT BMX bike for late-night excursions around my neighborhood, a funky pirate-themed 5-speed beach cruiser with an 8-foot flagpole flying a 4’x5′ Jolly Roger flag, a singlespeed Schwinn Frontier MTB (not yet completed) and a 16″ wheeled mini-BMX “Zoobomber”-styled bike. Many of my bikes have photos on ( I strongly believe in the “N+1” theory of bike ownership, and am always looking to increase my collection…although my wife will probably flip if I bring yet another bike home.

Ghost Rider

How long is your commute?

My current commute is 4.5 miles each way, for an easy 9 mile round trip. Sometimes if I have a little extra time, I will do some neighborhood exploring on my way to work, adding a couple or three miles to the mix.

Any funny or interesting story that you may want to share.

More sad than funny, but here goes: here in Tampa, bike commuters are a rare breed. Most motorists don’t know how to react to seeing a bicycle on the road and they are likely to buzz me or honk at me. I’ve gotten so used to flipping these motorists “the bird” that I have inadvertently flipped off a couple of my friends and coworkers, who were honking to say “Hi”. That’s a tough position to talk myself out of!!!

Ghost Rider

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

Most people react like I’m some drug-crazed fiend — “you RIDE to work? Holy cow, that’s crazy!” The more they think about it, the better it sounds, though, especially when I tell them the benefits (“I don’t have to pay for gas or parking and I ALWAYS find a parking space!!!”).

Do you have an ‘advance commuter tip’

“Find the path less traveled” — even if it adds a couple miles to your ride, there is ALWAYS a better, more scenic, less hectic route than the major surface streets you would use if you were in a car.

I’ve got a couple more –light yourself up like a Christmas tree at night; you can never have too many blinkies, reflectors and headlights. Be assertive — take as much of the lane as you need, signal your intentions with direct pointing (not the old-fashioned hand signals; no one knows what those mean anymore). Don’t be afraid to shout if you need to, and try to
maintain a pleasant demeanor even if faced with motorists doing idiotic things. Also, be prepared for breakdowns — carry a spare tube and some tools/spare batteries for your lights. Finally, have fun while you’re out there — smile wide and wave when you’re passing all those poor car-bound souls trapped in daily traffic jams!!

Ghost Rider

Anything that you may want to add.

I love what you are doing with your site — a perfect blend of bike geekiness, practical advice and human-interest stories, plus great product reviews…keep it up, and thank you for honoring me in this way!

We want to thank Jack for his time and for sharing his thoughts with us. Keep on ridin’!

Russ Roca
Meet Russ Roca, he calls himself the “Eco Friendly Bicycling Photographer”. Not only is Russ a Bike commuter, he uses his bikes as his method of transportation for work. He owns a Trek 520 with a Xtracycle Freeradical,

Trek 520 with a Xtracycle Freeradical

a sweet Surly Steamroller with orange deep V’s built by himself and a Bike Friday Tourist (which he is selling by the way).


I asked Russ a few questions regarding his method of transportation:

Why did you decide to ride a bike instead of a car?

Commuting by bike really started by accident. Six years ago I was
telecommuting from home, so didn’t really need a car. I used it mostly
for picking up groceries and shopping. One day my car broke down and
it would have cost way more to get it fixed than what it was worth. I
decided to see if I could get along without a car. It was a bit of an
experiment. Lots of things happened then. I was outside more walking
and taking the bus. I realized how much of the outside world I was
missing. I quit smoking at the time too. I actually started inline
skating at first to get around, but found I couldn’t carry enough on
skates. So one day my neighbor gave me a mountain bike and I tried
tooling around town. I felt like a kid again and I was hooked.

How long have you been using your bike to ride to work.
I’ve been a full time bike commuter for about 2 years.

What is the longest commute that you’ve done on your bike to a photo shoot?

The longest commute to date is about 70 miles round trip. It was a
food shoot for COAST Magazine. The woman’s restaurant was in Laguna
Beach, which is about 35 miles south of Long Beach. I took PCH all the
way. It was definitely a long day. About 5 hours total cycling with
a 3 hour photo shoot in between. I also carried a bit of equipment
with me.

What do people think when you show up on a bike to a photo shoot instead of a car?

It’s a mixed bag. Some people get it. They don’t need any
explanation. They understand why I do it and are supportive. Others
look at me as if I just stepped off of a spaceship. No matter how I
try to explain it they just can’t seem to get that look of horror off
their face. I’m pretty good at telling how my clients will react, so
if I think it will help get a job or break the ice I’ll mention it.

What is the heaviest load that you’ve carried on your xtracycle.

The heaviest load I’ve carried is probably around 125 lbs. It included
my camera, 3 light stands, softbox, umbrellas, reflectors and a box
with 2 portable strobes and batteries. Not to mention a spare set of
clothing, food, water and tools.

How has the Xtracycle made your job easier.

The Xtracycle has made my job possible. If it weren’t for the
Xtracycle, I don’t think I could be as car free as I am. I’ve used
single wheel trailers and double wheel trailers, but they don’t compare
to the versatility of the xtracycle. I’ve used it to go shopping, to
bring other bikes to a bike shop, to carry my equipment around and to
even advertise my business.

Do you have a funny or an interesting story about a ride?
Every ride is a mini adventure of some sort. Since I freelance, I’m
always going to different places. Today, I had an assignment that was
about 25 miles away. I almost ran into a horse. Part of the trail is
buy an area where people keep horses and they take them on walks on the
bike trail. I was exiting a tunnel under the freeway just as a guy on
a horse was coming in. On the ride back, I saw a falcon swoop down
and snatch up a little bird. It was something out of the Discovery

There are also urban adventures. Battling through stop and go traffic,
getting honked at and navigating through streets where people have
never seen a bike before.

Any advance commuter tips that you may want to share?
As you approach an intersection or driveway, always assume the car you
hear behind you is going to turn in front of you. That has kept me out
of lots of accidents. Also, for me, I like to wear wool shirts when I
commute. The thin smartwool shirts are great because they breathe
well, dry quickly and don’t stink. I hardly touch my synthetics now.

Russ’s view on Bike commuting:
I think the bicycle will be a tool for change in the future. But for
it to take a big impact, we need more commuters. People have to see
the bike as a utilitarian object and not just a toy. Sadly, in the US,
bikes fall under expensive road bikes, expensive mountain bikes or
cheap knock offs of the two. The whole middle ground of utilitarian
cycling is missing in LA.

For me, every day I’m riding in the streets with all my gear, I’m
hoping that at least one person sees me and thinks, “wow, that’s
friggin cool. I want to try that.” I think as bike commuters, we’re
also ambassadors. We’re early adopters. Bike commuting can only go in
one direction in the US and that is up. The more people we can get to
try it, the bigger social network we can create around the bicycle, the
more successful we’ll be with increasing the number of bike commuters.

As you can see, being carfree IS possible in Los Angeles. Check out Russ’ website ( for more information about his photo business and check out his blog to see what he is up to next.

We want to thank Russ for his time, pictures and contributions to the bike commuter community.