Commuter Profiles

Commuter Profile: Jed Reynolds

This week’s commuter profile comes from Jed Reynolds, longtime reader of our humble site. Jed’s got lots of stuff to share, so let’s get started!

Name: Jed Reynolds


How long have you been a bike commuter?

I took bicycling casually about 15 years ago while in college–I got around using a mountain bike and transit. I eventually took being a software contractor pretty seriously, bought a car, and lost the bike. Eight years ago, I moved to Bellingham, and I bought a bike to get to my first job here, but I still occasionally drove to work. In the last three years I have “figured it out”…my knees don’t bug me, and I thoroughly got bit by the cycling bug. I’ve been a full time bike commuter for approaching two years and I’m busy cycling through my second winter in the pacific northwest!

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

Not wanting to own a car was while I was in college was a start. Now it’s about getting exercise and avoiding buying gas are why I started biking to work. Once my office relocated closer to home to about six miles–that seemed much less daunting to me. My health has changed and getting regular exercise has become a necessity. I’ve gotten get used to biking about thirteen miles a day, or more if I have time to expand the route.


How does bicycle commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I can’t claim to be the most frugal cyclist, but this year I did downgrade from two cars to one. If it weren’t so fun to upgrade my bikes, I’d actually save money. Using my cargo bike, I can go for about five weeks without touching the van. (My van is still very useful for family trips.) All my typical shopping I can fit in plastic storage boxes on my cargo bike. I also deliver my kids to school by bike, using a trailer or on the cargo bike. I haven’t calculated my savings, but the money wasn’t as important to me as the fun riding and the righteous feeling of minimizing my car use.

I’m feeling healthy and am now in better shape than when I was in high school! I realized recently that I really did need an hour or more of exercise a day. I didn’t lose 40lbs from just from cycling, however. The truth really is too serious: type II diabetes. I control my health with medication, diet and exercise. I have no excuse to live a sedate lifestyle now. Rather, I feel a responsibility to model an active lifestyle. (There are a million new cases of type II diabetes every year. Please take diet and exercise seriously. [Footnote: 1.6 million people in the United States aged 20 years or older are diagnosed with diabetes every year – ])

People from my past will find a new Jed. Previously I was a sloth-like asocial computer geek–never a fan of exercise and derisive of organized sports and loathed “jocks.” I’ve dropped all that attitude. Now I’m eager take my kids on bike tips in any weather, and I’m planning a summer of bike picnics and eventually bike camping.

I no longer talk only about computers–I can strike up a conversation about bicycling with almost anyone, and it actually feels much better. (Other people don’t like to talk about computers? Wow.). I’ve made friends in my neighborhood by offering bike tune ups. Just drawing a bicycle on my name tag at gathering invites conversations.

My inner childhood mechanic loves geeky DIY bike culture. I’ve been cutting up scraps of this and that to fashion light brackets and fender extensions. For my cargo bike I made a bright yellow rain tarp using reclaimed inner-tube as tie-downs. I’ve gone on my second tweed ride with my sons! (Tweed rides are almost as geeky as attending a Renassance Fair or being a larper [].)


My family relationships have been enriched in other ways. I have a brother in law who’s a professional bike mechanic and my sister has a 26 mile daily bike commute…so we always have something to talk about. As you can tell…I’m still waiting for this bicyclist thing to improve my relationships.

What do you do for a living and where do you live?

I’ve been a web application programmer and Linux system administrator for over a decade. Occasionally I hear that computer programmers tend to like bicycles, but it still seems uncommon. Conversely, Bellingham is very bike friendly and there’s a local software company that not only has its own bike shop, it keeps winning a pile of the bike to work month challenges. [] Editor’s note: we featured Logos and their bike commuter incentives back in 2009. Take a look at our original article by clicking here.

Bellingham has been recognized as a bike friendly town [] []

What kind(s) of bike(s) do you have?

I have three bikes that I love to ride: a Trek 7200 that I installed fenders and trekking bars on, and a 58cm Novara Expresso XC I turned turned Xtracycle. I’ve also started learning to ride a recumbent and now I have a Rans Tailwind. I also pull a Burley Bee trailer for shopping and lugging kids in…sometimes I tow it behind my Xtracycle.


I recently sold a Trek 3900 that I hybridized–taped the fenders up with yellow tape, and extended the fenders with milk jug panels, added toe clips and a rack. Good bike. I also sold a Trek 820 that I also made a rain commuter with yellow fenders. Now I just have one more Trek 820 to outfit with some yellow fenders on and sell.


Any funny/interesting commuting story you’d like to share?

My route takes me up Northwest Avenue and under Interstate 5. That area until just recently has been a snarl with bad left turn traffic and then construction to redevelop the intersection with a roundabout. Going home months ago on my mountain bike, I was passing through this underpass and a contractors pickup rumbles by and I hear the tinkle of nails in his truck. Suddenly I cannot pedal and I’m skidding right into the middle off the offramp merge lane! Luckily, I land on my feet and still full of adrenaline I don’t skip a beat to drag my bike to the shoulder. The bike will not coast. I drug it to the sidewalk, unhooked the panniers, dug out my toolkit, and what did I discover but a five inch nickel-plated nail slammed through both sidewalls of the tire! The nail was wedged against the rear brake pads which explains my sudden skid. I had just taken the read wheel off when I look up to see on of my neighbors parked right next to me with his trunk open! “Need a ride?” I love living in a small city.


What do people say when you’re a bike commuter?

While its common in Bellingham to compare bike commutes, I’ve met a variety of reactions. Generally-impressed is almost as common a reaction as nodding-approval. People in line at the grocery often ask how far I ride, and then they seem quite reflective and wish that I stay safe on the road. I enjoyed talking to a grocery bagger who was astounded that anyone could bike from Bellingham to Ferndale.

I get impressed looks from people when I clarify that I’m looking forward to another winter on the bike. Snow? Yes: studded tires! Rain can’t stop me, its part of the adventure (like camping). But I admit it–wind will stop me. Sustained winds over 25mph are not safe or enjoyable, and gusts beyond 35mph have pushed me to a standstill and into traffic. On those days, I’m fortunate that I can work from home.

People are often left with the impression that I’ve been biking and athletic my whole life. That’s not the case at all–overweight nerd programmer hated exercise, never played a sport and resents sports on TV even more.

How about bicycling advocacy? Groups?

I’ve recently met many of the local biking and transit advocates in Bellingham: Mary and Linda and Karen from Whatcom SmartTrips [] and EverybodyBIKE []. I’ve won some transit prizes from our SmartTrips program. This summer I attended a recognition ceremony at the farmers market with my younger son. We met the mayor Dan Pike and congressman Rick Larsen. Mayor Pike does his best to ride to work…and so have a many previous Bellingham mayors.

But its not really up to my congressman to model the behavior I expect. Like Ghandi said: you must be the change you wish to see in the world. When I bike, I feel like that change. When I talk about bicycling, I also feel like that change. After bragging how much I save on gas, I often ask people if they ever considered biking to work. I invite people to tell me why their commute wouldn’t work by bicycle.
People’s comfort zone is pretty obvious, but some people have provided other instructive answers:
• people live dozens of miles away
• people work early shift and have to leave the house at 3AM to be in my 4:30AM
• people work late shift and I don’t want to bike in the dark
• people run, don’t have time to bike
• people live X miles up a 50mph windy highway lacking bike lanes or any shoulder
• afraid of traffic
• that huge hill
• “that wife” put the bike behind the couch again

Bicycling is just bicycling, of course, it’s not superior for all people. I believe that advocacy has got to be fun. Bike parades, themed rides, and multi-economic angles need to play together. I believe in keeping the conversation going around parents with kids. I think that getting groceries while taking the kids with you – on a bicycle – is how we need to break our addiction to cars.

In Bellingham, there is an inspiring project providing disadvantaged youths bicycles and group rides called The Bike Shop []. Families wanting bike come in and can buy a really cheap beat up bike…but they cannot leave with it until they’ve learned to fix it up. This helps build independence and removes the concept that bikes are a disposable appliance.


Thank you, Jed, for sharing your words and stories with us. For the rest of you who would like to be featured in a future “commuter profile“, drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.

Guest Article: My evolution as a cyclist:Thoughts of a bike commuter By Hermes Pagulayan

Beach Cruiser to Hipster to Weekend Warrior

I have been riding seriously and commuting now for about two years but before I took it seriously I was given a 15 year old Huffy beach cruiser that a friend was no longer using. It had: a dark blue frame, a wide seat, white-walled fat tires, fenders, chain-guard, and a huge handlebar that reminded me of Harley Davidson motorcycles instead of my childhood BMX bike. This Huffy, with its faded paint and rusting body would soon change my life. At first, I only used it for very quick errands like going to the grocery store to get soda. But it broke down which made me want to replace it. A year after that, I started commuting using a bicycle which led to riding with friends as a hobby. Because of this Huffy, I was introduced to experiences that only a fellow cyclist or few would ever know about.

How I got the Huffy

In the last year of college, a friend had asked me if I would like to tutor someone who lived on my street. I accepted it considering that I was still looking for a job. The tutoring sessions were about three times a week and since it was only a couple of miles away, I thought that I would just use the Huffy. A few months had passed by and I no longer was tutoring that same child when a similar opportunity came up. It was similar in distance so I thought I would use the Huffy again to commute. But a couple of weeks into it, the aging tires on the Huffy had given way to a sidewall tear puncturing the inner tube. The cost to install and replace the tire and tube was around 40 dollars so I thought, “Why not just put that towards a new bike?”. I didn’t care for bikes at the time and so I thought, “I’ll just get another one that has wheels–it’s that simple.”


My Wal Mart Experience

I went online and saw plenty in my price range–which was under a hundred. I know, I know…foolish of me to think that it was going to turn out okay but I was a “noob”, all right? I bought this cool shiny chrome mountain bike. It was 79.99 plus tax and it was the last one they had. I even called several Wal-Marts to see if they had it in stock. Lucky for me, there was one close by and even had them set it aside. But as soon as I took it home, I found the sprocket slipping! So I returned it. I thought spending more would get me a better purchase so I spent a little more and got a road bike, the GMC Denali for 169.99 plus tax. It had 21 speeds with Grip Shifters installed on the drop bar (not the prettiest thing to see). That one also had a problem but I liked having a road bike so I returned it for another. Unfortunately, this one also had a problem. Frustrated, I spoke to the Wal-Mart bike mechanics (Can you call them that since they just put bikes together?) and one recommended this mountain bike called the Genesis V-something if he were to get anything. Well I got it and within a week the front hub had loose bearings! I don’t even know how that happened since I rode it on the street. At this point, I had completely lost faith in department store bikes.


While doing some research for a bike, I had read that Craigslist is how someone should buy a bike if they’re on a tight budget. I found a Raleigh Grand Prix with a Reynolds frame, 7-Speed 105 groupset on some beat up wheels for $200 from a reseller. I miss that bike and I wish I still owned it. It was light, fast and quite a looker. I loved that bike and didn’t want to replace it but as I rode more and more, I realized that the bike was too big for me (It was a 57 cm; I should have gotten a 55 cm or less). A couple of bikes later, I decided to try a fixed gear bike. It was great but I soon had knee problems from skid stopping and a high gear ratio. I had bought a total seven bikes purchased from Craigslist. All of them I wanted to keep but all of them had problems that were too small, large, or hurt my knees.

PicMonkey Collage1

Riding with friends

Because of my new found interest in commuting, a few of my friends took interest in road cycling. Having owned a few bikes, I became the “expert” amongst my friends and a year later, we had a little group that rode on the weekends with a team name and everything. It first started out as something fun to do–nothing serious. Some of my friends borrowed bikes from others while some found bikes on Craigslist for $100. The rides were about once a month but slowly it became something more serious. People bought new road bikes and along with it cycling clothing–this was something even I wasn’t prepared for. The biking I was doing at the time was more in line of a hipster not a weekend road warrior. But a friend bought me a jersey, padded shorts, shoes and pedals for Christmas and as much as I felt weird wearing the clothes, I was soon a weekend warrior myself.

PicMonkey Collage2

A lot has happened since I decided to accept my friend’s bike as charity. This past weekend, our group, dubbed “The Cyclers” finished a self-promoted charity ride with funds going to churches in South America. What started out as a temporary solution became a lifestyle that I can’t see myself giving up. If you had asked me that a rusty, faded, beach cruiser would do all of this, I would have laughed at the impossibility.


Commuter Profile: Dwight McKay

This week’s commuter profile comes from Dwight McKay — we’ve had his profile in the hopper for several months…it’s fair to say that I am a little behind in publishing some of these. In any case, check out his words and photos below!

Name: Dwight McKay


How long have you been a bike commuter?

I started commuting shortly after college in 1984, but stopped after moving out of town in 1988. I started again in 1995 when we moved closer my work, and have been working towards a nearly car-free commute. Right now I am pretty much bike-only for the work commute except for days when I have a few time critical errands or need to haul my kids around to after-school activities.

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

Back in 1984, I commuted by bike because my wife and I had only one car. When we moved out of town, my wife and I rode for recreation and did a century together on a tandem. We moved back into town when my first daughter was born. The growing family responsibility ate into the time for long recreational rides, and the closeness of campus made switching back to bike commuting a natural choice.

My commute is about 4 miles one-way. The route has bike lanes the entire distance and a single moderately steep hill that’s up hill going home. It is a pleasant ride in a small college town. I grew up riding in a suburb of New York City, so this is a very easy environment to ride in.

When the weather is nice and I’m looking for more time on the bike, I make my homeward bound trip longer by heading out into the county and then looping back to the house. The beauty of a small town is that it is easy to escape onto less traveled roads. County roads here in Indiana are mostly in a north-south, east-west grid, so it’s easy to add distance in increments. My commute goes right past the Junior-Senior High School my kids go to, so I’ve been able to ride to school with them as part of my commute when they let me.

Typical Indiana county road viewed from my Leitra.

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

Cycling is about mental, physical and spiritual health for me. Commuting embeds most of my exercise time in my commute time, so it is as if I get my exercise for “free”. I find that I’m physically more aware and awake after the ride to work and the ride home.
But I judge that the mental and spiritual side of cycling may be a greater, and more easily overlooked benefit of bike commuting. Being outside has always deeply moved me. Seeing the sunrise or sunset, seeing wild geese fly overhead, or smelling freshly mowed grass fills me with awe. I feel like I am part of something much bigger than myself when I look down a long road to a far horizon as I ride. The ride home provides the physical sensation of putting miles between myself and whatever went on at work. That creates the mental space to set that aside and be present to my family. I commute for my head and my heart.

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

I live in West Lafayette, Indiana. I am the Director of Research Systems in the IT Systems and Operations group at Purdue University (Go Boilers!). I manage a team that deploys and operates supercomputers and grid services for researchers at Purdue. It’s a terrific combination of smart, technically savvy colleagues and a relaxed college town atmosphere.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I’ve been a recumbent rider for about 20 years now. I got hooked when my wife and I were living out in the county and I was looking for something more comfortable on long rides. I’ve owned a couple of different recumbents over the years and have two in my stable at the moment.


The above is my Rans V-Rex. It’s my fair weather ride. The short wheel base makes it maneuverable and easy to park in bike racks on campus. I started off using cheap panniers off the rear rack, but got fed up with the lack of rain protection they offered and the need to take them off the bike when I parked at work. I found a black storage box at Wal-Mart that is just about the same width as the seat back. Putting a few bolts through the bottom box into the rack converted the box into a weatherproof truck.

I typically carry a change of clothes for work and my laptop in the box. I leave a pair of shoes and pair of pants at work and trade those out every so often when I have an errand to run and am driving the car to work.

You can’t be shy and ride a recumbent in a small town. I get lots of questions, most often about how much the bike costs and how tough it is to balance. Recumbents are expensive due to their custom builds and limited production runs. My short answer is that they cost as much as a custom bike frame, which seems to satisfy most folks. Balancing on a recumbent is something an experienced cyclist can “get” with a few minutes of practice. Several of my riding buddies have ridden the V-Rex with just a few minutes of practice in a parking lot.

But if you really want to get noticed, you should try riding a velomobile to work! This is my Leitra, built by Carl Rassmussen in Denmark. It is a tadpole style, recumbent tricycle with an aerodynamic fairing. I imported it three years ago to see if I could replace my car during the winter months. You can read more about them at


The Leitra has a large cargo bin behind the seat with plenty of room for my daily haul to work. It has turn signals and windshield wiper on the front windshield. The wiper is driven by hand with a small lever inside. A triangular scoop on the nose of the fairing feeds vents that help to keep the inside of the windshield clear.


The Leitra doesn’t fit into older bike racks. You need to find a spot on the end or between two of the bike loop style racks. On the side of the fairing, ahead of the Leitra logo you can see the adjustable side vents. These can be opened and closed while you ride to control how much air blows into the cockpit.

The nose fairing tilts forward to allow the rider to sit down. The nose fairing has a quick release that makes it easy to remove. Here’s what it looks like with the nose fairing off. The carbon fiber seat is more comfortable than it looks. I use a small inflatable pad on the bottom. Steering is via the two side sticks on either side of the seat. There’s also a small amount of interior storage below and to either side of the seat. That’s a great place to put a hat or heavy gloves when you get hot and need to pull them off.


The Leitra has succeeded in freeing me from my car in the winter, but not without some problems. The fancy wheel covers you see in one of the pictures turned out to be impractical in the snow and had to be replaced with simpler fenders. Even though the Leitra design includes a ducted vent from the nose to blow air over the wind shield, fogging and icing of the wind shield can still occur. And while the fairing gives you a lot of control over airflow and a good deal of warmth, it’s still a challenge to keep my hands and feet warm when the temperature gets down to 0F and below.

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

I am a believer in riding “like a car”, so I take the lane when I need to for turns or when the bike lane is blocked. One morning, I was riding the V-Rex into work and moved over to take the lane due some debris in the bike lane, getting in front of some traffic. A county sheriff car passing by in the other direction flipped on his lights briefly right after he passed me and turned around to come up behind me. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I’m going to get an ear full about taking the lane.”

But when he rolled up along side me and rolled down his window, he greeted me by saying he rode a recumbent also! We had a brief chat about who made my bike and wished each other a good day.

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

This time of year (winter), most folks are amazed I’m riding at all! “Are you crazy?”, they ask. People are concerned about the weather. How do I ride in this heat / cold / rain / dark / sun? Folks want to know about how I deal with clothing changes. They are concerned about my safety in traffic. My staff, who have seen me ride year-round for several years now (and are sure I’m crazy!), are generally more encouraging.

Most folks wonder if I do this for the cost savings, which really isn’t the motivator for me. I’m often amazed that folks have a hard time seeing the emotional and spiritual benefits as sufficient reason to ride. If you could do something that adds a little adventure, a little spark to your day, wouldn’t you do it?

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

While I appreciate the work of bike advocates, I am not involved in those efforts.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I write a blog about my rides and other random things called “Up Hill Both Ways”. You can find it at

The local magazine did a brief article on my Leitra. It might appear on their website at some point, but at the moment it’s only available in print. The site is

We’d like to thank Dwight for sharing his pictures and thoughts with us. It’s refreshing to hear a fellow commuter expound on the “spiritual benefits” of using a bike as transportation — something I’ve long thought about but wasn’t able to put into eloquent words like Dwight does. For the rest of you, if you’d like your fifteen minutes of Internet stardom, we are ALWAYS on the lookout for profilees. Drop a note to ghostrider[over there at]bikecommuters[dot]com and we’ll hook you up with our questionnaire and simple instructions. Don’t be shy — share your commute with the rest of the world!

Commuter Profile: Danny Abalos

Howdy Bike Commuters… We put out a call to arms for Commuter Profiles back in the day, and we had some lukewarm responses.  Since none of the velo monsters who initially emailed us have responded with a completed questionnaire, I have decided to cajole my friend Danny from NYC into submitting his Commuter Profile!  We hope the photos inspire you to share your commuter profile story too.  Get ready for more silly sarcasm and major hipster points… without further ado, Danny Abalos’ 15 minutes of Bike Commuter Internet fame:

Danny Abalos and his red single speed Schwinn in a white spaceship (a.k.a. his office)

Name: Danny Abalos

How long have you been a bike commuter?

5 years since college + 5 years at college before that. So, 10 years!

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

I hail from California, but I hate driving and traffic, so I got a job in NYC which is super bike friendly and it’s totally extra hipster points when you ride your bike everywhere. The subway is cool too, but bikes rule. My ride to work is a pretty easy 3 or 4 miles of  the beautiful bike lane-lined Brooklyn waterfront.  It only takes about 20 minutes, allowing me to get to work only 20 minutes late every day!

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

I already mentioned the extra hipster points right? So you can assume that I have five hundred friends on facebook because I ride a bike.  Also I never buy an unlimited metro card because they are lame, so I save about a hundred dollars per month to spend on things like… not gas.

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

I work at an Architecture firm in New York City.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have a lovely minimal shiny red single speed Schwinn with an awesome “ratio” that I know nothing about.  Editor’s side bar: one time Danny g-chatted me telling me the story of how some guys were admiring his bike on the way to work, and they kept asking him what his ratio was.  I told him they meant his GEAR ratio, but that I also did not know an easy way to answer the question! HA.

The red single-speed Shwinn with street cred and something about "ratios"

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

Sure, but it’s more of a photo thing. I see lots of public art (or maybe it’s wannabe graffiti) during my commute that is pretty cool!  Plus, check out the dope view of the city I get twice a day over the Pulanski Bridge as I ride from Long Island City to Brooklyn to and from work.

Clever stencil...

Does this count as public art?

Along the bike path.

More art on the bike path.

Scenic Waterfront views.

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

Nobody is phased, come on this is Brooklyn!  Honestly though, I’m just a regular guy like everybody else.

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

I try to get my friends to bike everywhere by saying that we are in a bike gang, but I still don’t have a name for it yet.  Editor’s side bar: this is actually true and not sarcasm.  Our other friend, Justin, was bummed that he doesn’t have a bike yet so he can’t join the unnamed architecture bike gang.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Sure, check out my ghetto fender I made out of an aluminum foil box today cuz the roads were a little moist in the pictures over there.

Danny's bike on the way into town- check out the killer view (I'm obviously talking about the view of his Aluminum foil box "fender"!)

Thanks for sharing, Danny… All the readers out there must be jealous of your separated bike path and green painted bike lanes – I know I AM!  So, if there are any other Cycle Ladies and Gents interested in submitting their commuter profiles, please email us at info{at}bikecommuters{dot}com.  It’s so easy and fun, even Danny can do it.

Beginner Tip-Pace yourself

One of the mistakes I used to do when I first started bike commuting was trying to get to my destination as fast as possible. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to beat your time or use your bike commuting for training, but for the bike commuter who just started, you may want to pace yourself.

Why? Well there’s a few reasons. The biggest one for me was that if I went balls out on the first leg of my commute, I’d find myself getting way too tired before arriving at my destination. That poses as a problem because I would find myself way too tired to keep riding. Which made me stop to rest or have to buy a Redbull or Monster just so I can finish the rest of the ride. Another reason to pace yourself was I got way too sweaty. One of the things I hated was arriving at my destination dripping in sweat. This mattered to me because my work place doesn’t have a shower. If it did, then I’d roll out of bed, get on my bike, ride fast and just take my showers at work.

Now you’re probably wondering, “how do I pace myself?” For me, and this could be an entirely different experience for other riders, but what I do is I find the right cadence while riding. I’m not pushing too hard or going too easy. Basically I’m cruising around 14-17mph an hour.

I do hope that this little tip will help out our new bike commuter friends. Enjoy your ride!