Bike Your Drive!

Las Vegas Here we come!

It’s official, we’re going to Interbike 2007! Woohoo! No we’re not riding our bikes there.

Moe, Priscilla, Khoa and myself will be heading out to Las Vegas, NV on September 26-28, 2007 to provide Interbike coverage.

This should be an exciting year for commuters since more and more companies are catering to bike commuters. We’ll make sure we bring all the latest and greatest bikes, accessories and what ever else we think is cool.

Drew’s Redline 9-2-5

Drew, one of our readers just received his Redline 925. What’s the first thing that one does when we get a new bike? Personalize it, of course! Check out his rear rack and his new Brooks Saddle:

Drew's Ride

Click here to see more pics and read Drew’s opinion of the Redline 925.

Commuter Profile: Julie Bond

We are happy to profile our second female commuter. Here’s her Commuter Profile:

Julie Bond

How long have you been a bike commuter?
I have commuted by bicycle to work frequently for the past 5 years. I have always been a cyclist riding for recreation, exercise or for errands.

What do you do and what city do you bike commute.
I live in Temple Terrace , Florida and commute from my home to work at the University of South Florida in Tampa . I am the Director of the New North Transportation Alliance and a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). I moved to Florida almost 2 years ago to work at CUTR. My profession has been to create, promote and encourage sustainable transportation choices (carpool, vanpool, transit, walking or bike) for the past 12 years. I worked for the Utah Transit Authority Rideshare Department for 10 years prior to moving to Florida .

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
I started riding my bicycle to work frequently after my son crashed my vehicle while driving on Interstate 15 near Salt Lake City . He was not injured, but the car was totaled. I chose to bank the money I received from my insurance company and live car-free in downtown Salt Lake City . That was 3 years ago and the account is still growing along with the money I don’t spend on owning a car. My current commute is around 4 miles each way. I ride an extra 20 miles with my commute for exercise several times per week.

Julie Bond

What kind of bikes do you have?
I own a Trek 5200 WSD road bike and a bright yellow cruiser. I use the Trek for my commute to work, and the carbon frame on my road bike allows me to easily carry it up stairs into my office. The cruiser is for riding around my neighborhood just for fun.

Any experience that you can share with us about ‘learning the hard way’?
I learned to always plan my route when riding in Tampa . Many roads in Tampa have absolutely no shoulder and are very dangerous for cyclists. I have been caught a few times on roads that are not fit for bicyclist or pedestrians because of their design. Florida has the highest fatality rate for bicyclists and many roads are still being planned and built without shoulders or bike lanes.

What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
Many people say that I am crazy for riding my bicycle in Florida , especially because I am very aware of the statistics for accidents and deaths in Florida . But the positive comments outweigh the negative, and I personally know many people who have started commuting by bicycle this year. We started a new local initiative called Tampa BayCycle and the response was very positive. I have had many bicyclists thank me for caring enough to start this movement. I have received many messages from participants who have started commuting by bicycle and how it has changed their lives. They ride for many reasons: to decrease their impact on the environment, lose weight or just because it makes them feel better. I am always surprised at how many people stop by my office just to look at my bike and talk about my commute.

Do you have an “advanced commuter tip”?
Always carry a digital camera, cash and a cell phone.

We want to thank Julie for her taking time out of her busy schedule to be profiled on our site.

Route Mapping and Logging for Bicycle Commuters

A great way to visualize a new or different bicycling route is to pull out a map and try to find the best way from point “A” to point “B”. With the release of Google Map’s underlying source code, however, this process has become even easier! In this article I will present four route-mapping websites that allow a user to create, save and share favorite bicycle routes all with a few clicks of the mouse. All four use the Google Map source code, so from a functional perspective, they all work very similar to each other. Finally, I will show you a great place to log your miles and favorite routes on an easy-to-use Web interface.

Gmaps Pedometer
(no registration required) screenshot
This is one of the first of the public sites to use the Google Map source code “hack”, and is the one I use most frequently for planning rides and sharing routes with fellow commuters. The interface is easy to use, but not terribly glamorous. Since the underlying code is the ever-familiar Google Map, the routes can be viewed in four different ways: map, satellite, hybrid and topographical. Once a route is created, it can be saved and shared (a URL is generated “on the fly” by the Gmap interface). In addition, a user can turn on a “calorie counter” to determine just how much fat is being burned out there on the ride. All the while, a mileage counter keeps track of individual leg and total distance, and milemarkers are created on the route.

(no registration required) screenshot
Mapmyride uses the same Google Map “hack”, but adds a couple features to the route-generating toolbox. A user can add aid stations, water sources, parking spots and a bunch of other “markers” to the route. Also, route maps can be exported to GPS devices…a great feature!

(free registration is required to use) screenshot
While I have never used this route-mapper, I know that Bikely’s interface is very popular and is often the first one of these tools to be recommended by bicyclists. One of the things I like best about Bikely is that it knows your starting area without you telling it…kinda creepy but cool. The moment you log in, even though registration doesn’t require inputting a city, Bikely will take you directly to a map of where you live! This trick eliminates a few clicks to get started — you can start mapping instantly upon login. One of the other prominent features is a method to add descriptive tags to the routes created, which facilitates sharing (mmm…metadata…it must be the librarian in me!).

(free registration is required to use) screenshot
Routeslip is perhaps the sexiest of these route-mapping sites — the interface is cool and the site’s design is sleek and stylish. Despite the design, getting started on Routeslip can be kind of clunky, especially if you are used to one of the other sites mentioned. Some of the tools are hidden behind drop-down panels, and it requires some extra clicks to open and close these panels. However, once you locate and master the available tools, you will churn out well-labeled, shareable routes that are also downloadable to GPS units.

(free registration required to use, paid subscription required for advanced features) screenshot
While this site doesn’t let you create visual, shareable maps, it DOES allow descriptive routes to be created and shared. This site is really geared for something else altogether, though: logging bicycling data. With a free registration, a user can create a spreadsheet-style ride log that can contain up to 28 different data points to track (mileage, weather conditions, heart rate, watts, etc.). In addition, a user can create a detailed profile showing goals for the year, the bikes in a rider’s “quiver” and a lot of other fun tools. also offers a free user forum and collects and shares members’ stats for viewing. I am a dedicated user of this site…once I set a yearly mileage goal, I find that I am riding further and more often than I might if I didn’t have some way of tracking my progress. My favorite feature is the ranking — whenever you add a ride, your ranking among users updates in real time (as of this writing I am ranked 2783 out of 22,377 total members….whoo hoo!).

These are all great tools — you should try them! One of the things I like best about any of these tools is that it allows someone to create a safe, calm route for someone who is new to bicycle commuting…what better way to turn someone on to the joys of bike commuting than presenting them with a customized, full-color map that shows the best route for their needs?

Alright, then…get out there and RIDE! If anyone has another favorite route-mapping site, please let us know about them.

Breaking in a Brooks Saddle.

Most of you read my post about my new Brooks B17 Saddle that I purchased for my Swobo Sanchez. One thing that I didn’t care for is the breaking in period, 3-6 months seems too long for me. It also may take me longer since the Swobo Sanchez is not my only ride, I have to constantly switch rides since I’m a bike tester. I was reading Sheldon Brown’s method of breaking in a leather saddle, the fast way:

The easiest and fastest method to break in a new saddle is with a liquid leather dressing, such as neatsfoot oil, Lexol, seal oil (a French favorite) or baseball glove oil.

You can just pour the oil on and rub it in by hand, or for a more drastic approach, you can actually soak the saddle. The easiest way to soak a saddle is to turn it upside-down on a sheet of aluminum foil, then form the foil up around the saddle for a snug fit. Pour in a whole 4 ounce can of Neatsfoot oil or whatever oil you prefer, and let the saddle soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Pour the remaining oil back into the can, and wipe the excess oil off with a rag or paper towel.

Does anyone else have any other methods to speed up the breaking in process?