Bike Your Drive!

I better not hear about our readers doing this…

In a 3-mile stretch in Arlington , police have filed 18 reports over the past year — more than the previous two years combined — that have ranged from bike-on-bike accidents to a woman who received unwanted sexual advances one afternoon while push ing her baby daughter in a stroller. Some men have been spotted running naked, others urinating in the bushes.

In one instance several years ago, a bicyclist kicked a Jack Russell terrier and yelled at the dog’s owner, “Get the [expletive] over to the right!” as he passed by. Police tracked down the bicyclist and, after he apologized to the dog owner, did not press charges.

“It’s a good thing that it’s used so much,” said David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. “But in some ways I guess you can call it a victim of its own success.”

Read more about Road Rage

Commuter Profile: Drew Bryden

Drew Bryden

Drew Bryden is a 38 year old auto parts sales person that rides in Falmouth, MA. Here’s his commuter profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I began riding my bicycles to work six or seven years ago. I have been a fair weather bicycle commuter since. By “fair weather,” I am admitting that I do not ride when severe storms are in the forecast, and I am not an all winter rider. Although I am geared up for winter riding, I have yet to attempt the ride when the thermometer dips well below freezing.

What do you do and what city do you bike commute?

I commute in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where I sell auto parts. Is there some conflict in riding my bicycle to an auto parts store each day in my Cars-R-Coffins socks?

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

At the time, riding my bicycle to work seemed a natural extension of my fitness routine. Not to mention that road traffic can be a real headache. I was living on Cape Cod and working on the mainland when I started cycling to work. The bridges on and off Cape are known for their summer-time traffic snarls, and I was getting sick of sitting in my vehicle for 40 minutes of what should have been a 15 minute commute. The same bicycle commute never took me more than 25 minutes. Plus, I quickly found that the scenic route to work was a relaxing way to start the day. My attitude is much better when I pedal to work.

Today, my bicycle commute is 7 miles each way. I live 5 miles from my workplace, but I take a 2 mile detour to avoid main roads where I have been harassed by a few moronic motorists.

What kind of bikes do you have?

I have two primary commuter bikes: a Trek 7500fx, and a Bianchi Volpe. Although I have had both bikes equipped with fenders over the years, I now keep fenders on my Trek for foul weather days and the Bianchi has become my fair weather ride.

In addition to these two, I have a Raleigh M50 hardtail mountain bike equipped with road slicks and a rear rack (my winter “beater”), a Specialized Stumpjumper (my dedicated off-road bike), and several antiques: a 60’s vintage Raleigh Sport 3 speed, a 60’s vintage Triumph 3 speed, and a late 60’s or early 70’s Nishiki 5 speed.

Any experience that you can share with us about ‘learning the hard way’?

Any bike-commuter guide worth its weight will tell you to allow for some extra time (15 or 20 minutes) in addition to your normal ride time when commuting by bicycle. This extra time allows for unplanned events (tire flats, etc.) and clean up/ dress time when you get to work. It took me a while to realize that it was much easier (and more relaxing) to work this 20 minute cushion into my commute than it was to race the clock and arrive to work sweaty, with little time to spare.

What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Many people say “I wish I could do something like that!” to which I reply, “You can!” I also get the same repeated questions: “How far do you ride?” and “You ride every day!?!?”

Do you have an “advanced commuter tip”?

I work in the automotive industry– not an industry conducive to having the cleanest bathrooms (cars, trucks and their parts are dirty). Heavy foot traffic can make the floors very messy in a couple of days’ time (especially in winter). I discovered a helpful trick early on that helps me keep my feet clean while cleaning up and changing my clothes. I keep a flattened cardboard box stashed to lay out on the floor as my own personal floor covering when getting ready. It keeps my socks and feet clean, and the box can easily be replaced on a regular basis. For me, starting the day off feeling clean is key to maintaining the positive experience of commuting by bicycle.

Anything that you want to share with us

On a heavy traffic day, it takes me 15 minutes to drive to work. Cycling the same route takes me 21 minutes. With gas prices and traffic congestion what they have become, cycling to work is a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. Most obstacles to bicycle commuting can be easily overcome (and most are merely misperceptions rather than obstacles). I encourage anyone to give it a try… Beware: using your bicycle for transportation is addictive!

Drew is also a fellow blogger, his blog is the Sunday Morning Blog, check it out!

Are mountain bikes the SUV’s of Urban Bikes?

Moe in Aliso
This question was posed yesterday to Gary Fisher at the LA Bicycle Film Festival. Gary didn’t quite hear the question so we didn’t get a concrete answer. I will attempt to answer this question.

First, lets start with the definition of an SUV per Wikipedia:

An SUV is a passenger vehicle which combines the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or station wagon together with all or off road ability

Since most bikes have the same towing capacity and passenger carrying space, we’ll focus on the off road ability of SUV’s.

The ironic part is that SUV’s hardly ever see the dirt but are more of a “social status symbol”, have you ever seen an Escalade or a Navigator off road??? Heck, most H2 and H3 Hummers never see the dirt. Within this context and without counting the Big Box “Mountain Bikes” (they never see the dirt, nor would I recommend it), I would not consider Mountain Bikes to be the SUV’s of Urban Bikes.


However, Xtracycle is a company that strives to duplicate some of the SUV’s passenger and carrying space abilities. Xtracycle’s freeradical attaches to most types of bikes and has the ability to carry a passenger, a load of 150lbs and to go off-road. The Freeradical IS the SUV of Urban bikes.

Books for Bicyclists

I recently starting working at a busy downtown library here in Tampa. One of the first things I did was to consult our online catalog to see which, if any, books on bicycling our library had on its shelves. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few! Here are some of the ones I’ve read over the past couple months, organized by type:

Bicycling History and Development

Classic American Bicycles by Jay Pridmore (MBI Publishers, 1999). This book covers the many popular brands (Schwinn, Huffy, Columbia, Roadmaster, etc. and includes many color photographs.

The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle by Frank Berto, et al. (Van der Plas, 2005). This is an exhaustive volume covering the origins and development of the shifting mechanisms we’re all so familiar with. This book is filled with historical photographs and manufacturers specifications and is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the component manufacturers such as Campagnolo, Huret and Shimano.
The Dancing Chain

No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, an American Institution by Judith Crown and Glenn Coleman (H. Holt, 1996). This is an incredible account of the history and market dominance of family-owned Schwinn Bicycles. The book offers a no-holds-barred analysis of the embarrassing and mostly avoidable financial downfall of one of America’s great bike makers.

Bicycle Touring and Culture

Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia by Roff Martin Smith (Adventure Press, 2000). This book chronicles the author’s circumnavigation of the Australian continent, from charming seaside towns to blistering desert. The author meets quite a few characters along the way, too.

Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman’s Bicycle Trip through Mongolia, China and Vietnam by Erika Warmbrunn (Mountaineers Books, 2001). Erika Warmbrunn writes a captivating tale of her experiences riding a bicycle from Russia into Mongolia and China and beyond. It’s a truly amazing story, and her experiences with the native people of those regions are heartwarming.

Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle by David Lamb (Times Books, 1996). The author decides to get on his bike one day and travel from the East Coast all the way to California. This is an inspiring and funny tale of his adventures, filled with just enough bike-geekery to keep diehards entertained for hours.

The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power by Travis Hugh Culley (Villard Books, 2001). This book looks into the mystique of bicycle messengers, those daredevils of the concrete canyons. The author covers all aspects of his experiences and includes a good bit of railing against America’s carbound, consumer-based culture. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
The Immortal Class

Bicycle Repair and Maintenance

Zinn and the Art of Road Bike/Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn (VeloPress, 2005). These two books are some of the best repair manuals currently on the market – filled with useful tips from the man who builds custom bicycles and components and writes the many tech articles for

Sloane’s New Bicycle Repair Manual by Eugene Sloane (Simon and Schuster, 1991). There may be more recent editions of this book, but this is a fantastic “starter? repair manual for the budding home mechanic. It covers tool selection and overhaul/maintenance of all major bicycle systems. I have an older edition of this book at home – no V brakes or disc brakes are covered, nor are suspension systems.

Bicycling Magazine’s Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes by Jim Langley (Rodale Press, 1999). Here is another great starter manual covering nearly everything one needs to know about maintaining your own bicycle fleet. Again, there may be more recent editions that cover disc brakes and such.

Bicycle!: A Repair and Maintenance Manifesto by Sam Tracy (Speck Press, 2005). This is an irreverent look at bicycle repair, written in a hip manifesto style. Not terribly well-arranged, but fun (if not particularly useful) information.

Childrens’ Books

Anatole by Eve Titus; illustrations by Paul Galdone (McGraw-Hill, 1956). This children’s classic is about a mouse named Anatole who devises a great way to keep his family fed with the finest cheeses in all of France. It’s not about bikes, but Anatole and his friends ride bikes through the streets of Paris. Kids and adults love it!!

Super Grandpa by David Schwartz and Bert Dodson (Tortuga Press, 2005). Based on a true story, an elderly gentleman is told by race officials that he is too old to race in the upcoming Tour of Sweden. Because the old man is stubborn, he decides to do it anyway, riding through the nights and sleeping during the days. He rides 600 miles to start the race, rides 1000 miles during the race and WINS, then rides 600 miles back home. In the meantime, the old man becomes a national hero. This is one of my favorite children’s books of all time!!!
Super Grandpa

So, visit your local library, and if you have other book recommendations, we’d love to hear about them!