Commuter Profiles

Commuter Profile: Skipton Skiba

Today’s commuter profile comes from a fellow Chicagoan, whose bike – BlueX – I admired one day last fall. Skipton Skiba works at Trader Joe’s and has shared with us his love of bikes and bike building.


Skipton Skiba

Skipton Skiba

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I started commuting July of 2008.
I commute all year long.

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

I have always been into bicycles and bicycling. One of my best memories when I was 10 years old and my Uncle helped me build a 5 speed racing bike out of parts that I got out of the neighbor’s trash. In the mid 80’s I was a big road bike guy. Greg Lemond and Bernard Hainault were my heroes. But once I got a car, I got fat and lazy and didn’t do much biking for 15-20 years.

Then, in 2008, I was looking to do some stuff with bikes again. I had been an at-home dad for 7 years, and soon my youngest son would be in full-day kindergarten. I would have time to build some bikes. One night I stumbled on the web site and I saw the kind of bikes I had been dreaming about in my head.

Then in April 2008 my wife was laid off. So I needed to get a job.
I got a job at Trader Joe’s in July of 2008. I decided to ride to work for my work-out using my homemade cruiser. I had done two triathlons and I was burned out on road bikes and trying to stay fit by going to the gym.

My ride is 5 to 8 miles one way depending on what route I take. I usually take the Lake Front Path which makes for a very pleasant 8 mile ride. Riding the lake path is a great way to go. No car traffic and nice scenery.

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

I’m a crew member at Trader Joe’s in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

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

Bike commuting helps me with my lifestyle in so many ways. I always look forward to my ride no matter what the weather. I feel great when I get to work. It helps me stay as healthy as possible. It gives me more patience. Also I feel that riding every day is good message for my kids who are nine and ten. I want them to see that you don’t have to drive everywhere and they see their old man doing something healthy. Because I commute everyday I have a reason to work on and build bicycles that I enjoy. I’m not sure what I like the most, riding bikes or building them.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I ride bikes that I like to call Rat Rods.

These are bikes that I have built using an assortment of parts from all different kinds of bikes -some are old cruisers, some are just older “undesirable” types of bikes and I build what I want.

Building these kinds of bikes also satisfies my inner hot rodder. It is much cheaper and environmentally friendly to build a bunch of different Rat Rod bikes instead of spending lots of time and money on one tricked out car.

My main winter bike is a 1960 something Schwinn with a tank and 1950’s fenders.
This bike is what I would call a classic example of a Rat Rod. It has vintage and modern parts mixed together. Most of the bike is vintage parts with a Nexus 4 speed rear hub and roller bearing brakes on both wheels.

black bike

black big snow

black bike

The bike I probably put the most miles on is the one I call BlueX. BlueX started life out as an 80’s Schwinn three-speed. Then my friend, Gary, helped me weld up the super laid back seat post.

I put two old tanks from girl’s 1950 bicycles on it. I also added the 1930s tractor light and a giant speedometer from a 1940s pickup on it. The idea was for the bike to look like an old Boardtracker racing motorcycle. I really like how it turned out. I just love they way it looks and the reaction people have to it. I could ride all day long!


BlueX rear

Build journal…..

Another bike I built that I love to ride is one my 9 year old son named
Bellowing Yellow!

I made this with a 1980s three-speed Sears bike a friend gave me for free. I made the 180 degree front fender just to see if it would work. And it does! The bright yellow really makes it pop!

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

I think the main thing I want to share is how much I enjoy commuting. Even a supposed “bad weather day” on the commute is a great ride.

One day on my way to work, riding down the lake front path, on Bluex, a guy on a high dollar road bike rode up next to me and said his girlfriend in California sent him photos of my bike. He said it wasn’t ride able. Now he knows it is.

Also I just love it when someone ask where I got that bike or where they can get one and I tell them I built it.

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

Lots of my coworkers are bike commuters also. They do get a kick out of the bikes I ride but wonder when I am going to turn my handlebars right side up.

Do you have an ‘advanced commuter tip’?

Just get out and ride! You don’t need lots of fancy equipment, even a department store bike. Or a garage sale bike is enough to get started. You don’t need to be “Lance” to do this. But be safe – always wear a helmet. .

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

Nothing really yet. I always try and be a courteous bicyclist, and follow the rules of the road.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I do love to ride with my wife and kids, when the weather is nice we will ride to school, the beach, etc.

I also take the boys on the monthly TailDraggers Leisure Bike Club rides I have been organizing.
A bunch of people get together and we ride our bikes to a cool restaurant or coffee shop and talk about bikes-our next big build, swap commuter stories, things like that. It is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I know my kids have a blast and it’s fun to watch them ride around on the cool vintage cruisers.

Random pics of other bikes and my kids

If you ever see a bike like this “displayed” at the Trader Joe’s (on Clybourn ) bike rack come in and say:

Thanks, Skip, for sharing your story and your bikes with us! If you’re interested in being profiled, drop us a line at: info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com

Cycle Ladies and Gents… time to get PROFILED!

Hear Ye: Cycle Ladies and Gents!

Good day, my bicycle commuting ladies and gentlepeoples…  As a follow up to Elizabeth’s post today, Bike Commuters is still on the look out for more Commuter Profiles!  We want to hear from YOU.  Want to tell the world about your awesome two-wheeled steed, your beautiful commuting scenery, and how you are an all-around badass Cycle Lady or Cycle Gent?  Well, my friends, it’s time to sharpen up your quills and refill your ink wells – send us an email if you want to show some photos of your mug, your bike, and tell us about who YOU are.  We even have a lovely questionnaire template for each of you looking for your 15 seconds of bike soapbox fame!  Email info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com  if that’s what you’re into!

black bike ~ mug shot

Commuter Profile Series - Show us your mug!

Commuter Profile:’s newest member, Matt Dykstra

Please join us in welcoming Matt Dykstra to the team! What better way to introduce Matt than to publish one of our long-running-series “commuter profiles”. Read on to learn a little more about Matt, and stay tuned for his unique perspective on commuting…he’ll be publishing articles shortly right here.

Name: Matt Dykstra


How long have you been a bike commuter?

I’ve been bike commuting at least part-time since 2007, and switched over to most-of-the-time in 2008 when my wife and I decided to become a one-car family. I’ve always biked when I could though – I biked to middle school and high school a lot, and didn’t own a car during college.

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

I started riding to work because I wasn’t getting any biking in at all. I felt like I needed more exercise and I thought I could do it. Also, I was embarrassed because two of my (much older) coworkers biked in all the time and I didn’t!

My first commute was 17 miles into Washington D.C. – I generally did a bike/metro combo on the way in and biked all the way home. My current commute is 6 miles, mostly on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. It’s a pretty pleasant commute most of the time.

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

I’m a manager for a government contracting company. I sit (either in front of a computer or in meetings) all day, which I don’t really enjoy – biking at least 3-4 days a week is essential for my health and sanity! I currently work in Sterling, VA – about 30 miles away from Washington, D.C.


What kind(s) of bike do you have?

This is actually a tough question! I do a lot of bike building/repairing so my bike fleet changes pretty constantly (It’s at 8 bikes right now). My primary bikes are a 700c geared commuter and a 29er single speed mountain bike. I also have a 26er mtb single speed and a road single speed under construction, plus a few others I’m planning to fix up eventually. Yes, I’m into big wheels and one gear…


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

Last winter my area got 10 inches of snow in about 3 hours, starting around 3 or 4pm. When I compared notes with coworkers later, it turned out that my hour-long (normally 30 minute) ride home was by FAR the quickest commute anyone had that day – one of my coworkers who only lived a couple miles from me took 6 hours to get home in his truck, and a few had to stay in hotels overnight!

I’ve almost been hit by suicidal deer and squirrels several times, but so far have avoided hitting or killing anything mammalian.

Snowy Commute

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

1) Wow! I didn’t think you could ride here.
2) What do you do about showers?
3) You didn’t ride in TODAY, did you??!
4) Do you wear a helmet?

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

I’m a member of WABA, MORE, and my town’s Pedestrian and Bicyclist Advisory Committee (PBAC). Advocacy – especially at the local level – is really important to me, and I’m working on making my time and money back that statement up.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I have my own blog that I try to write in fairly regularly – Daddy Rides Bikes. My wife Adrienne and I have two beautiful and energetic girls, J (3) and R (8 mos) – Adrienne is a stay-at-home mom and they keep her very busy! We also have a 7-year-old dog, Otis – who regularly gets abused by the human children, but adores them anyway. Adrienne and I both grew up in Massachusetts, so we’re legitimate Boston sports fans. We live in Herndon, VA and have a small house with a big yard and a big garage.

The Dykstra clan:
Fam at Christmas

Commuter Profile: Victor Domingos

Although we’re primarily a U.S. based commuter site, we’re always excited to hear from readers abroad. We’ve met quite a few people from other countries over the years, and it is energizing to learn that our message spreads beyond our shores. Today, here’s a special treat all the way from Portugal…bike commuter Victor Domingos:

Name: Victor Domingos


How long have you been a bike commuter?

I started about 10 months ago and have been bike commuting nearly every work day since then.

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

Well, I have been a pretty sedentary person for decades. While I was in school, university and even when I started working. When I recently moved to this town, I realised that I spent a few minutes everyday getting the car out of the garage plus about 15 minutes walking from the nearest free car parking to the door of my workplace. And gas prices kept going up and up, also. I guessed that with a bicycle it would become easier to get out of the garage, and I could make a direct “door-to-door” trip, saving some time and making a bit of exercise. And hopefully I would be saving a few euros in gas… My bike commute is about 3km long and I am doing it 2 times a day, both ways. So, I ride about 12km each day.


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

First of all, it makes me feel good! Finally, after all those years, I am doing some exercise almost every day. And I was able to save about five or ten minutes in each home-to-work travel, which makes about 30m each day. It’s not a lot of time, but hey… I only have one hour for lunch and this way I am able to have lunch at home, and that’s great: I have lunch in the company of my wonderful wife. I eat healthier, and waste less money than if I was going to a restaurant. Also, I enjoy some fresh air everyday – it’s nice.

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

I live and work in Braga, Portugal, at an Apple Reseller that has both a retail store and an online store. Most of my time, I work at the online store.


What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I own a 7-speed, 20-inch wheels, folding bike. It’s a Giant Halfway that has recently been upgraded with a pair of fenders and rear rack.


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

Well… The fact that I ride a folding bike was received with a bit of surprise at first. I used to go by a street where there is a school. One day, one kid saw me passing by and was so excited about my bike that he started calling for is fellows to see it “Hey, guys! Come here! Look at that a little bike… so small!”.

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

It depends on the person. Some find it a bit weird, as if I was a bit crazy. But lots of people seem a little jealous and tell me that they would like to do the same, if… and then they list their personal reasons to keep using their car. Most people are frightened by the traffic speed in town – which is not that bad, I think.

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

I guess my bike commute is already a soft form of bicycling advocacy. Every now and then people seem interested about it, and I just try to give them some useful information and take away any fear, showing that bike commuting is easier than it seems.
I am willing to participate in my local Critical Mass rides (which has happened last month for the first time), but at that time I am still at work.

On the web side, I have been a little more active. I started a Portuguese Facebook group which title means “We want cities that are friendlier for bicycles and cyclists!”

And more recently I started a blog named “Sempre de Bicicleta”, which means “Always by Bike”. It is a blog mostly dedicated to bike commuting and utility cycling in general…


Anything else that you want to share with us?

Sure! I am a big fan of your blog, and I must confess that it was a main inspiration for starting my own. I love your “Commuter Profiles” series, the product reviews, and so on. I wish we had a blog like yours here in Portugal! 🙂

We’d like to thank Victor for sharing his words and photos with us, and we’d like to remind the rest of you that if you want YOUR turn in the limelight, drop us a line at info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com or ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com. We’ll provide you with our questionnaire and simple instructions for submitting a profile for publication. We’re running low on profiles to post, so don’t be shy — get your face and your words out into the world!

Two of my very favorite bike commuters…

I was happy to see this published in the online and print editions of the Tampa Tribune this morning…two of my favorite bike commuters, Doug and Doreen Jesseph of Tampa.

(Shameless photo borrowing from the Tampa Tribune…because it’s just so dang cute!)

I had been hounding the Jessephs to submit “commuter profiles” for our recurring series…perhaps now, with a little celebrity, they will agree to pull the trigger and share their two-wheeled thoughts with us!

Anyhow, take a look at the Tribune article by clicking here. And, stay tuned for more commuter profiles as we empty the hopper in the next few weeks — I am a bit behind on publishing a few of them.