Category: Commuter Profiles

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!

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Commuter Profile Series – Show us your mug!

Please join us in welcoming Matt Dykstra to the Bikecommuters.com 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

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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.

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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…

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=154425347915508

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…

http://sempredebicicleta.co.cc/

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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!

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.

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(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.

Today’s commuter profile comes from Willy Campbell, who submitted his information months ago and has patiently waited for his time in the spotlight. He’s coming to us all the way from Hawaii — and that makes our second Hawaiian bicycle commuter (hi, Miriam!) Take a look and see what he’s got to offer!

Name:

Willy Campbell [appearing as WillyC on the threads]

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

I have been commuting off and on for most of my life, but have become more regular [not diet related] over the past 2.5 years since moving to Hawaii. I started riding my bike to school, t-ball games, etc. sometime around grade 2 [about as far as I can remember]. We lived in the sticks in Washington State, and it was ~5 miles to and from school. I loved the freedom. I would occasionally ride to a t-ball game [again in the neighborhood of 5 miles] down country roads…of course, this was the early 80’s, and you just did things like that then. I continued to ride until my older brother got his driver’s license shortly after I started my freshman year of high-school. I had a neighbor move in that was a bike junkie [up to this point we had the equivalent of Walmart bikes growing up]. My brother got a Giant Mtn bike for Christmas that year, and they asked if we wanted to go for a ride. They let me borrow an old Schwinn Mtn bike [it was old in 1989], and we took a spin around the hills of the town we lived in..I was hooked. I didn’t ride to school regularly, but when it wasn’t raining, I would take rides as often as possible. Like I said, I just loved the freedom.

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

About 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with Diabetes. The doctor told me I needed to start exercising and eating right, or I was going to die [no joke, I switched doctors shortly after that]. I have never been much of a runner, and I loved to ride, so it all fit. A friend of mine had basically all the pieces I needed for a “commute” bike [mtn bike with slicks, you know the type]. Since I am a MTN biker down to my soul, the drop-bar and super skinny tires never did it for me. Shortly before the diagnosis, my work moved office locations, and happened to end up right on the bike path that splits the Salt Lake Valley. It was 7.5 miles from my house to work. The diagnosis came early spring, so I started to roll to work as much as possible. When the weather didn’t cooperate, I would ride after work and on weekends. Plus, there was no shower available at work, so that deterred me a little…I’m a sweater. About 6 months later, I took a promotion that moved us from Utah to Sacramento. We happened to move 3 miles from the office, but that was just enough to get me sweating, so I didn’t do it much. I did continue to ride after work and on weekends all year round since the winters in NorCal are milder than Utah. 2 years later, I took a job in Hawaii, where I currently live [3 years later]. I still have no shower access at work, so I bus in, and ride home as often as possible [try for 3 times per week]. My commute home is 18 miles; 6 of which are on a bike path that wraps around Pearl Harbor. The remainder is me being a gutter bunny since it is against the law to ride a bike on the sidewalk in most areas on this island. Other than the local favorite past-time of breaking glass bottles all over the gutters, it’s not too bad. I get the occasional finger from the impatient tourists…someone really needs to show them the proper way to “Shaka” [hang loose].

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

The traffic here on Oahu is horrific. I would compare it [during rush-hour] to LA [pretty much always]. The up side is you can only go so far, and if it’s not peak hours, it flows pretty well. Gas here is more expensive than most places in the US, and there is no such thing as free parking on the island. Costco doesn’t count; they will mark your tires, and tow after about 4 hours. Parking at work is $100/month, but they will buy you a bus pass if you use it at least 50% of the time. Winner, winner, winner!! The bus system here is excellent, and I can get from door to door in about 45 minutes. In traffic, it easily takes as long to drive as it does to take the bus. So I don’t have to buy gas for my car, no wear and tear, don’t have to pay for parking, or the bus pass, and get to ride home whenever I want…and since it’s Hawaii, that’s most of the time. I have 32 concurrent bus passes [$65 each], which is 32 months I haven’t had to pay for parking [$100/mo], no gas for the car [at $4.50 a gallon now, who knows], plus no maintenance on the car. Riding also lets me unwind from the daily grind. A bonus to riding the bus is all the books I read, and the occasional nap I get. I try to avoid sleeping on the bus; mostly I fear missing my stop, but even more that, I fear being the guy snoring that everyone on the bus can hear, but no-one wants to poke to get him to stop [which has happened on several occasions]. My company recently [in an effort to go green] has even offered to pay for a bike to get people to stop driving. The rules are still vague, but $300 is more than I could sell my ride for, so I will take it.

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

I work for an Engineering firm based in Honolulu, Hawaii, and I teach/train/support Civil Engineering software. It’s basically just glorified baby-sitting, so the unwind on the ride home really helps keep me on an even keel. There are a few designated bike lanes in Honolulu and surrounding, but they don’t seem very well laid out, and usually just end abruptly. Another thing to keep you on your toes is the tide, when it’s high-tide, you never know what you are going to see.

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What kind(s) of bike do you have?

Currently I have a pair of Kona bikes. My commuter is a 2009 Kona Dew Plus, and my Mtn bike is a Kona Smoke 2-9 [actually sold as a commuter, but I added fat 29er tires]. The before mentioned bike I put so many miles on, and that followed me from Utah to California to Hawaii [after following him from Pennsylvania to Utah] was stolen about 18 months ago. I went to lunch with a co-worker, we biked over, and it was stolen in broad daylight. Mine was a bare-bones 10 year old trek I had put 5000+ miles on, and his was a Surly with discs, shock, etc…they cut the cable [my bad] took his bike off mine, and left his. That led to the need to buy a bike, and after shopping around, I decided to give the big wheels a try, and glad I did. Still a flat bar you understand, since my soul would go on strike if I got anything with a drop-bar.

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

The best I can do, is my claim to Bike Commuters fame. When I saw the profile for Miriam Gee, I thought she looked familiar. A few mothers later, sure enough, there she was at my office for another presentation. I saw the shoes and knew it was her. We had a good chat. She works on the other side of Honolulu, and heads the opposite way to get home.

The only other thing I have is I managed to run over a mongoose’s tail last week on the way home. If you’ve never seen a mongoose [and no, not the junk bikes], look it up. Two ran across the path in front of me, and a third hesitated almost too long. I waited for the bump as he went under my wheel, but it didn’t happen. I would have thought he made it, but there was a slight hesitation as I rolled over his fuzzy tail. Speaking of junk bikes, they really like to make that thing look all mean and frenzied on their decals. Truth be told, they are like roaches, they see you and they bolt, and the decals on the bikes are about double size what a real one is.

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

Mostly jaws on the ground, and that dumbfounded look that usually lasts longer than is comfortable. 18 MILES??? How long does it take? 1:15, oh, that’s not bad [like they could do it faster]. Then I watch them try and figure out how I do it. There really aren’t too many options when it comes down to it. A couple of pinch points, and no matter where you veer off, you end up within a street or two of the only other options. Most people don’t drive to where I live…ever. I work with a handful of people that have lived here their whole lives, and have never been to Ewa.

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

There used to be a Critical Mass occasionally, but they kind of faded when the cops started cracking down, but was before I got here. I am not aware of any groups or advocacy programs, so mostly it is just me riding home, waving to all the other guys I pass on bikes [cause that’s what you do when you ride].

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Anything else that you want to share with us?

1. If it seems like I’m roadie-bashing [with the dropbar comments], it’s not intended to be hateful or hurtful. And yes, I have had several road bikes and tried to “get used to it,” but they all ended up being traded or sold in favor of a Mtn bike [mostly it’s the upright position I like]. My current commute bike has 700×35’s [enough volume to take the bumps], a riser bar with extended steer-tube, and is dialed just right…leaving no numb parts after 40 miles.

2. I have tried several ways to keep a pack off my shoulders, but seem to be stuck now. I had a rack with a trunk bag, but all the Velcro made it less than convenient to remove it from said rack. I saw the article on panniers, found one on Craigslist for a song, and gave it a try. Just stuff my pack in, and roll. About 2 weeks ago, one of the mounts for the top of the rack [where the post screws to the frame] came out. The whole thing [which amounts to a fancy rivet] popped out. Took it to the shop, and they replaced it with yet another rivet. 2 days ago, the other side pulled out, AND the replacement was stripped out…the bag doesn’t weigh that much, but a couple thousand miles, and the bumpy roads around here = no more pannier or rack. As I mentioned, I sweat, so the idea of having a pack on my back is my last resort. If you have any other suggestions, please pass them along.

3. I took the chance recently to make a video of my commute home. I mounted a GoPro to my helmet, and had it take a picture every 2 seconds, then compiled to a video [I call a flick]. It is choppy, so if you tend to get motion sick, you may want to reconsider. (Editor’s note…it is quite choppy. Drop a couple of Dramamine and come back to the video):

We’d like to thank Willy for sharing his words and photos with us. We have a few more commuter profiles waiting in the wings, but the hopper is getting low. If you’re interested in being profiled, drop us a line at: info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com or ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.