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Tag Archive: basic commuter skills

How To Hang Your Bike on a Vertical Rack

Have you ever been 5-foot-n-change and tried to hang your bike vertically on moving transportation? Well, I have! This week my combo commute took a rainy Cantaloupe and I for quite a ride as we perfected the Art of Racking. And by Art of Racking, of course I am referring to hanging your bike on wall or ceiling-mounted vertical racks. From bike storage rooms to moving TriMet MAX cars, you TOO can hang your bike vertically despite being vertically challenged!

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Blurry photos… because I’m just that unstable on public transit. (Look, the doors are open, it wasn’t even moving yet)

This “How To” is a feat worth sharing and a basic commuter skill that everyone should keep in their cerebral saddle bag. Here’s a picture narrative of how to get a heavy-ass steel steed like Cantaloupe all vertically racked up without spazzing out and injuring bystanders:

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And… TADA!!! Vertically racked and totally stacked.

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Cantaloupe and the Art of Racking

Now, go ahead and make humping and straddling jokes all you want, but smashing the saddle of the bike into your stomach really makes it much easier to balance a heavy bike and navigate the front tire up onto the hook. Other options include growing taller, asking for help, or riding a lighter bike. I’ll stick with stomach-saddle-smashing for a perfect 10 in the Art of Racking.

 

Cold as Ice – Layer Up!

Wow. I mean, WOW. Were you guys out on the bike last night? Did you feel the wind cutting through every piece of you that was not covered at least twice in layers as you caught every light on that downhill?

I DID! Cantaloupe is a beast, with her new sweet fenders. How could I resist a cold as ice night commute?

Let’s back up a bit. It’s in the 20’s here in Portland, and this girl has Hawaii body-core temperature still coursing through her veins, so don’t laugh at the pathetic attempt at layering if you are a seasoned winter warrior (you guys should leave tips in the comment box below, instead). I know some of you commuters are out there pedal-pushing in the single digits. Brrrrrmmmmnesota.

I’ve taped this photo to the inside of my front door for inspiration… it keeps me from wein-ing out and opting for a run for the bus:

Okay, so I did get a major flat and had to sprint for the bus the other day, only to find out that I had zero cash on me. Fail! Crap monkey, where did I leave my teleportation device…

My neighbors and I biked home together at about 7pm, or 20-something degrees o’clock here in Portland. And I am proud to say that I somehow survivor-ed the coldest commute of my life. How did my sissy-la-la pants make it happen?

Layers, Cycle Gators… layers! And lots of them. I’m no expert on looking fly riding home in the cold, but here was this night’s order of operations:

  • Step 1: Pull on your skivvies and cover up your underparts… Cycle ladies and gents, I would not recommend anything that’s gonna give your crotch a case of seam anxiety, but that is a very personal choice. Y’all know what works with your saddle, and what doesn’t – immediately!
  • Step 2: Pull on some Darn Tough wool crew socks.
  • Step 3: Next, some super-high waisted fleece-lined leggings. Do Cycle dudes wear leggings? No, but some kind of bike base layer tights might do the trick. Just ask Jack.
  • Step 4: Then your outer layer of pantalones. I chose the Chrome Vanya knicker for it’s stretchiness and crotch action (make sure you follow Step 1, re: crotch anxiety).

Getting warm yet, people? Okay… Keep going to the top layers:

  • Step 5: T shirt/tank/base. I wore a cotton tee tucked into my leggings/tights.
  • Step 6: Long sleeve zip-up running jacket thing. Stretchy, thumb-holey, and a freebie from my stepmom via Costco.
  • Step 7: Oh yeah, ANOTHER long sleeve, with more stretchiness, a super long back to cover my butt, and a high collar from that Lululemon review back in the day.
  • Step 8: Fruffy vest. Marshmallow it and warm up your core! I love puffy vest like my future unborn child.
  • Step 9: Patagonia Torrentshell with pit zips open and hood tucked in.
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Seriously, everybody on bikes looks like this today. All color combo Do’s and Don’ts go out the window for this weather, kids. I look like a bag of Skittels had a civil war on my torso.

And on to the peripherals (“I see a ficus tree…”):

  • Step 10: North Face gloves: inadequate – not cycling specific, but it’s all I got right now.
  • Step 11: Ear grips over ponytail.
  • Step 12: Buff over the neck, over the ear grips, ponytail, and up to the top of my head like a wetsuit hood.
  • Step 13: Shoes, helmet, and the obligatory Mir fannypack.

So, yeah. It did the trick. More winter wonderful commuting tips coming your way. In the meantime, hook us up in the comments box with your favorite or newly-discovered layering goodies. Go eat a bag of tiny donuts, cold weather! Props to all the winter pedal peoples out there.

Let’s Bike!

Sometimes we seasoned bike commuters can forget what it’s like to be newbie out there or someone on the fringe considering getting on a bike again (perhaps for the first time since childhood).

This afternoon my work has asked me to do a presentation on bike basics for my fellow staff, focusing on what you need to get out and enjoy biking. It’s aptly being called “Let’s Bike!” and will include:

* Best bicycle choices for you
* How to get the best bicycle fit
* What bicycle gear you need
* What are the best routes
* Ways to stay safe

I’ll admit that I’m a bit overwhelmed… as I have so much enthusiasm for this topic and maybe too much to share. Now I’m trying to stay focused and keep this presentation cohesive.

So, I turn to you – the experts – for your tips/suggestions. What are your best “basic” tips/suggestions? Or what is best bike gear (or non-bike gear) suggestion that makes your ride that much better or more enjoyable?

Thanks to you all for your comments and helping folks everywhere make it easier to “Let’s Bike!”

(hopefully this post will help us continue with a series of more in-depth articles on basic commuter skills)