Bike Your Drive!

Commuter Profile: David Byrd

Meet fellow Bike Commuter David Byrd, also known as “DB” when he posts comments. Here’s his Commuter Profile:

David Byrd
How long have you been a bike commuter?
Off and on, about 8 years now. I had a two-year stretch, though, where I wasn’t able to bike commute because of my job. I’m averaging 3-4 days per week, and hope to maintain that year-round.

David Byrd
Nice quiet street

What do you do and what city do you bike commute?
I’m a technical writer in Boise, Idaho. We design and write user documentation for client companies that develop hardware and software. Boise is trying hard to be a good biking city.

David Byrd
Main drag
Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
I started to ride basically because I wanted to save gas and exercise more. I already had two mountain bikes at that time, so I converted the older, cro-moly Trek into a commuter by adding a rear rack, panniers, and slick tires.

Currently my commute is 15-16 miles round-trip, depending on what options I take during my ride. About 3-4 miles of the round-trip is on a multi-user path (MUP), and the rest is on a mix of residential and busier city streets.

David Byrd
Bridge over water creek
What kind of bikes do you have?

  • · My primary commute ride is a Morgul-Bismark Manx road bike. I ride this bike for fitness as well, so it also sees some training and charity rides.
    · My backup commuter is that Trek 820 mountain bike that I converted. I use it if the weather’s gonna be wet, if my back is giving me a hard time, or if I need to haul more stuff than usual to and from work. I will switch to it as my primary bike when winter arrives.
    · I also have a Gary Fisher Hoo-Koo-E-Koo mountain bike that I use almost exclusively off-trail. I’ve probably used it to commute twice in the 10 years that I’ve owned it. I don’t like running knobbies on asphalt.
  • Any experience that you can share with us about ‘learning the hard way’?
    I’ve been really fortunate in that I haven’t had a lot of horrific events. I’ve learned to make sure that I have a backup light when biking, because my front light always burns out 5 minutes into my 30-minute ride. And that front light is critical not just for seeing the road, but for oncoming cars spotting you. The closest call I’ve had with a car was when a motorist turned left in front of me at 7 a.m., after my lamp had gone out. I couldn’t really get upset with him/her in that case.

    David Byrd
    Riding the bridge over MUP

    What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
    Not much. There is a pretty strong, visible bike community here, so even if people don’t bike, they usually know someone who does. I work within walking distance of the HP campus here, and that site tends to attract a number of bike commuters. My family, friends, and co-workers are supportive. I get the occasional “You’re crazy” when I ride in the rain or when it’s going to be 105 degrees, but other than that, they encourage me.

    Do you have a funny story or a weird experience that you want to share?
    More weird than funny. I hit a squirrel this year. I was lucky in that as fast as I was going, I didn’t lose control when he and my front wheel met, and the squirrel survived as well. In Boise, I see a lot of animals that most city dwellers won’t see — deer, coyotes, foxes, herons, eagles. Another plus to riding instead of driving.

    Anything that you want to share with us?
    I’m a pretty strong advocate of vehicular cycling.
    · Whether you’re out there as a commuter or recreational rider, act like you belong there, and follow the rules for vehicles.
    · Don’t blow through stop lights or stop signs if there’s other traffic present. At the very least, slow down when approaching traffic control.
    · Be predictable: use hand signals for turns to communicate with motorists.
    · Know your state’s traffic regulations for bicycles.
    · Put yourself where the drivers are most likely to see you. I see a lot of wrong-way and/or sidewalk riders in my town, and I think those are really good ways of getting hurt.

    We want to thank David for his time and for sharing pictures of himself and his commute.

    One in a hundred

    My wife works as a teacher for the City of Anaheim, yesterday she shared this story with me:

    “I was showing my kids a picture of a kid riding a bike and asked them to describe the picture, 100% of my kids described the picture as a kid riding a bike. However, there was 1 kid that noticed and pointed out that not only was the kid riding a bike, but he had no helmet and said it was dangerous”

    I say, give that kid an A+.

    Seattle Sports “Fast Pack” Pannier — First Impression

    Seattle Sports Waterproof Pannier

    Seattle Sports recently sent us one of their waterproof “Fast Pack” pannier bags to test in the harsh summer rains of west-central Florida. Any company based in Seattle will surely know a thing or two about wet weather, and Seattle Sports is well-known for their excellent gear that is built to handle extreme wetness!

    Here’s a bit about the bag, directly from the manufacturer’s website:

    -10″ w, 14″ h, 5″ deep
    -750 cu. in. per single bag
    -18 oz.
    -sold individually
    -Price: $59.95

    The bag is a simple three-roll-closure bag with nylon buckles, much like traditional dry bags for kayak and canoe applications. It is made of a radio-frequency welded nylon and rubberized fabric. It features a side compression strap for keeping loads from swaying, a smallish reflective patch on the back of the bag and a small zippered interior pocket.

    The interior of the bag is lined in soft nylon. Even though the bag only holds 750 cubic inches, a lot can hide down in there, and the interior is DARK. A lighter-colored liner would help a user locate small items hiding down in the bottom. The zippered interior pocket is located on the outer wall of the inside.

    Inside the bag:
    Inside the bag

    The rack attachment system is the real showcase of this bag. Comprised of two upper rigid clips with spring-loaded locking keepers and a sliding, rotating lower “toggle” that clamps around the bottom of the rack stays, this system is absolutely bulletproof. You will not shake this bag loose, even with a heavy load!! This attachment system is well-designed and is perhaps the best I’ve had the pleasure of using.

    The bag's attachment system

    Here’s a closeup of the upper clips. The keepers are on the inside — no real springs in there, but these keepers pop up and press back to release the bag from the upper rail of a rack:
    The upper clips w/ keepers

    I’ve only ridden with this bag once so far…and only with a light load (a pair of dress shoes). In the coming weeks, I will put this bag through its paces, including some serious wet-weather testing to check the waterproofness of this bag.

    So far, my only real gripe is the reflective patch on the back of the bag. There’s room on the back for a much more substantial reflector…something I’d like to see on this bag, since so many other pannier manufacturers put loads of reflective tape and patches on their bags.

    The tiny reflective patch:
    Tiny reflective patch

    Stay tuned for more as I torture this bag!!! I’ve got to say, though, that this bag really looks like it can handle some serious punishment. We’ll see if I’m right, won’t we?

    Visit Seattle Sports’ cycling products page for more details about their waterproof bags.

    Cargo Bikes

    The Bakfiets cargo bike sparked my interest on this type of bikes. Although most of these bikes cost over 2,000 large, Mike from summed up some of the reasons why spending 2 big ones may not be that bad after all:

    Expensive? Sure. About what you’ll pay in interest for a new or lightly used car. Or fuel for a years worth of SUV driving. Or 2 years of cell phone service on your new iPhone. Or the average spending on entertainment for a year (maybe two). Over a 5 year period a Bakfiets will cost you about the cost of a cup of coffee a day.

    I also did a search to see if anyone else made cargo bikes like the Bakfiets that is able to carry kids and its available in the US, here’s what I came up with:

    The Long Haul from Human Powered Machines, $2300

    The Bilenky Cargo Bike $2495

    The A.N.T Frontaloadonme, starts at $2,950

    You can find countless of bike trailers, pedicabs and rear attachments, but what I like about the cargo bikes is having the kids on the front and the not-so-wide profile. I think I want one….