BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: bicycle commute

I Got My Second Wind

This morning I was on my way to work with a new test bike (more on that later) that we received and as I am riding, I noticed to my left was my neighbor’s car. She honked the horn, I waved. We approached Cal State Fullerton, traffic gets a bit heavier. With hundreds of students on the streets, the road can become a parking lot really fast. As I was rolling along, I kept tabs on my neighbor’s Dodge Neon. I wanted to see if I could either keep up with her car or beat it. With all the street traffic, I was able to keep moving on the right side the of road as she sat stuck in her lane. The stretch of road we were both on was about 1.5 miles long. At a certain point I was leading the way. But when the road opened up and the speed limit went from 35 to 45mph, she took off leaving me behind.

But the story doesn’t end there. When I got to my office, I checked my watch and saw that I had actually arrived 5 minutes faster than I would have if I drove. I began to think, “could my bike be faster than my car?” The obvious answer to that is YES. Well, technically its not. But for my commute to work it is. Plus its cheaper too!

I’m sure most of you already know this, but I’ll say it again. Bike Commuting is way cheaper than car commuting. But before I get on my tangent, let me give you some background. I’m an IT 2.0 big wig for my employer. I oversee various locations in SoCal as well as throughout the US. On any given day of the week, I may have to jump in my car to take care of things at our Factory or retail stores. So that leaves me in the car most of the week. If I want to bike commute, I’d have to do some careful planning on my schedule and in the event I have to drive somewhere, I’d have to make sure the company car is available.

Ok now back to the whole bike/car cheaper thing. Recently, my aging car has been in need of some major repairs. My clutch needed to be replaced, that was $500, then my suspension is going out, another $550, my brakes, $100, a wheel bearing $50 and I had to replace my tires at $300, that’s friggin’ $1500!!!! With that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that my bike is cheaper than my car. That doesn’t even include the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance.

Now that the initial sticker shock of the cost of repairs has subsided, I’ve decided to start relying less on my car than I normally do. I’m not about to sell my car. Why? It’s because I do need it to make a living. So don’t start ranting and raving that I should go car-free and all that jazz. Some people can do it, but personally I can’t (due to my profession). Anyhow, I’m getting all side tracked. What I’m trying to say is that I’m going to start limiting my time with my car.

For starters, if I can get on the bike at least 2-3 times a week, then that should make some sort of difference in my wallet as well as my health. I told my wife about my idea and she was all for it, she even said, “Wonderful! You can lose weight at the same time!” Not sure if she was implying that I am fat….regardless, I have her support.

I know that my efforts aren’t as grand as some of you who are on bikes 10 days out of the week or the kind like Ghost Rider and Russ Roca who don’t actually own a car, but this has invigorated my bike commuting spirit once again. Funny thing is, as I was riding in this morning, I kept singing to myself with a made up Adam Sandler-esque song…”I’m riding my bike…oooh yeah, I’m on my bike and you’re not! (as I pass cars in traffic)….I couldn’t believe how happy I was on the bike. It felt like I was high! Not that I’d know what that feels like since I’m a good boy, but I think you can relate.

Commuter Profile: Peter Beers

From Northern Virginia, Peter Beers is a bike commuter who rides his bike to Washington DC; here is his bike commuter profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Part time (1-3 days per week): 15 years, Full time (250-300 days per year): 3 years.

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

I’ve been a bike geek since I was old enough to ride. As a kid, it was my freedom. Mom worked a lot to pay the bills. I was left to myself. I went for a lot of bike rides.

These days, living in a city with gridlock issues like the Washington, DC metro area, riding my bike to work is a natural extension of that feeling of freedom. I could sit in a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or I could be riding my bicycle.

I change up my commute route during the week. It is a minimum of 30 miles round trip, but I often take the long way home – 45 miles round trip. My weekly mileage for commuting is between 150 and 200 miles.

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

Riding 200+ miles per week throughout the year has both an up and down side. I’ve lost around 50 pounds over the last 3 years. I’ve had to increase my beer consumption in order to keep any semblance of a belly.
The down-side of riding in the city that much is that there are many more opportunities to get up-close and personal with taxis, buses and cars. I’ve been hit 4 times in the last 18 months. None were too serious, though I did miss 4-5 weeks of riding this winter with a dislocated shoulder. On the good side, I also missed 4-5 weeks of snow shoveling. All of the incidents happened because drivers were not paying attention.

The mental health/attitude improvement benefits of riding to work are beyond measure. I’m happier and more energetic at work. I arrive at the office with my blood flowing and ready to work. I’m productive from the moment my butt hits the office chair. I arrive home having de-stressed from the day and carrying no work-related baggage.


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

I’m a computer geek (software lifecycle management) who lives in Northern Virginia and works in downtown Washington, DC. I’m fortunate enough to work in the same building as the US Environmental Protection Agency. They let us non-government wonks use their bike facility and showers.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I’ve got a wide variety to choose from. Spring, summer and fall commuting these days is done on a Surly Big Dummy cargo bike. Riding a 75+ pound bike gives a bit of extra workout value to the commute.

Winter commuting is done on either a Surly Steamroller fixie (with fenders) or a mutant fixie cross bike (with studded tires for ice and snow) made from an old 26?-wheeled single speed mountain bike frame that now sports 700c wheels drop bars and a front disc brake. When the weather is really bad, I break out the 29er dinglespeed (2 chainrings, 2 cogs for the drivetrain) based on a Salsa Mamasita MTB frame.

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

Anger management has been a challenge when dealing with cars, taxis and buses. I used to let my emotions get the best of me when someone would cut me off or actively threaten me with their car. The high point (or low point depending on your point of view) of that was when a woman ran a red light and ran me off the road twice in 2 blocks because she was talking on the phone. She never did see or hear me beating on her window. I was so angry that I chased her for 20+ miles through DC rush hour traffic. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind. At the end, I found myself 30 miles from home and pretty dang tired and no less angry. Not good.

Honestly that day was a red flag for me that I needed to change how I approached cycling. I had my own little intervention (Can you intervene with yourself?) and started a quest NOT to avenge any wrongs perpetrated against me on the road. I now do what I can to get rid of the “Us versus Them? attitude between bicycles, runners, cars, buses, taxis, tourists, etc. That is my new quest. Am I 100% successful? Hell no! I definitely try to be a good example of riding at peace with my environment.

This is a great transition into my next topic…

In early April I added a sign to the back of my cargo bike aimed at aggressive drivers. It says, “Honk if you’re horny!? I wasn’t exactly sure how well that would to over with the road ragers in the DC area. After about 3 months, I’d have to say that it is an unmitigated success. It has completely changed the demographic of people who are honking at me. I’ve had only one or two people honk in anger at me since. It has helped my attitude too, because my reaction isn’t to respond in anger… it is to laugh at them professing their amorous intentions so loudly. I get people laughing, waiving and honking playfully every day. Sure beats getting honked at in anger every day. It has changed the dynamic of my riding.

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

Mixed. In the winter people just think I’m a mutant that cannot possibly be in his right mind. Few if any can fathom the idea that the decision whether or not to ride is rarely made by me. If it is physically possible to ride, I will. If I can’t get through by bike, I probably can’t get through by car.

Spring and fall people think it is nice and express an interest in getting out there and riding with me.

With the summer heat index up over 100 degrees, I seem to fall back into the category of “crazy bike guy? with co-workers.

I’m the self-appointed person who promotes commuting on bicycle at the office. I’ve inspired a few to start riding a few days per week during nice weather. We have great access to bike facilities. On a good day we’ve got 5 or 6 people who commute on bicycle. In an office that usually has between 40 and 50 people working in it each day, that isn’t too bad.

I have a lot of co-workers that comment on my photographs.

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

My advocacy is kind of all-over the place. I show up to and support Washington Area Bicycle Association (www.waba.org) functions. I contribute to BikeArlington’s forums (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/forum.php) to help facilitate people choosing to incorporate bicycles into their life more often. I rebuild and donate bikes to charity on my own, though I haven’t had time to do that much this year. Up until this year I worked pretty avidly with the Mid Atlantic Off-road Enthusiasts (http://www.more-mtb.org/). They’re the local mountain bike club. I lead beginners rides and conducted skills clinics for many years as well as taking part in trail maintenance and building days. Work has not allowed me to do much of that for the last year.

I guess my bit of advocacy is just leading by example. I get a lot of comments on the cargo bike. My answer to most questions is simple. “This is the bike that lets me do what I want to do without having to drive.?

Though not really bicycle advocacy, I distribute water, clothing, food and what-ever to the homeless people I encounter on my travels. This morning I encountered one of “regulars? who had decided that the middle of the Custis trail (the main bicycle/pedestrian artery into the city) was the best place for him to be sleeping. Nothing I could do would convince him this was not a good thing. I left one of my flashy lights 15 feet in front of him so people would know to avoid him. I left him a bottle of water in case he was thirsty when he woke up. Not sure yet how that turned out. I did what I could.

Is that bicycle advocacy? No. I guess I’m being an advocate on a bicycle though.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I belong to a small band of people who have a group on Flickr to document their cycling. The group (Bike180 for 2009, 2010Bike180 for this year) was an active photo essay maintained by a group who ride at least 180 days per year and contribute one photo for every day we ride.

The 2009 Bike180 (http://www.flickr.com/groups/bike180/) group had 54 people in it and a total of almost 2100 photos contributed. Many rode more than 180 days, 4 rode more than 200. 2 of us rode more than 300.

The 2010Bike180 (http://www.flickr.com/groups/bike180-2010/) group has fewer people (38) but they’re much more prolific. We’re at mid July and we’ve already surpassed the number of photos/rides of last year.

For me the challenge isn’t to make 180 days per year… it is to take interesting photos every day. Starting in June I decided that I needed a theme. I started documenting one statue, sculpture or monument each day. It has forced me to stop and smell the roses. It has renewed my love affair with Washington, DC.

Thanks for the opportunity to share.

Thank you Peter for sharing your profile and your pictures with us. We are still working on other commuter profiles, so be patient if you haven’t seen yours yet!

My Xtracycle is back in business

A while back I found myself not using my Xtracycle setup as much as I would like.

Rather than letting my bike sit in the garage collecting dust, I dismantled it and used the parts to build up a single speed bike for mountain biking. Even with that I found myself not riding the SS as much since I started doing some downhill racing.

So for months my Xtracycle frame hung off a hook in the garage…collecting dust. After a while my I started thinking about all the memories I have created with this bike setup. I’ve taken this bike commuting numerous times, loaded it up with groceries and have used it thousands of times chauffeuring my kids to and from school the last few years.

Instead of using the original Ibex RSR frame, I decided to go with my other favorite frame, a Sette Reken. I also upgraded the wheel set and threw in a few new things.
xtracycle

One problem I had with this frame was the fact it didn’t have a kick stand tube that goes between the chain stays. I was too cheap to purchase another Front Attachment Plate (FAP) from Xtracycle, so I found this thick aluminum seat post bracket and made it work.

I also splurged on a new Nitto bar and pink ODI grips for my daughter (my main passenger).
xtracycle

The fork was upgraded; it’s a Spinner Season 100mm fork. Check out my wheels — I purchased those at a bicycle swap meet for $30! The rims are red anodized, laced with Formula Hub (front) and XT in the rear. I am using Kenda Karma tires.

Red Oury lock on grips, with Mr Dirtz end caps. 1.5 riser bars, pink Jagwire der cable housing.

My final piece of bling that I got for the Xtra — Planet Bike Freddy Fenders.
xtracycle planet bike freddy fenders

Though my setup isn’t anything extravagant, this setup will work perfectly for me. Oh one more upgrade soon to come, full disc brakes. All I need is an 8″ rotor for the rear, and we’re ready to stop on a dime. I’m sure you’ve noticed that this Xtracycle looks more like a long mountain bike; well, it is. I plan on using this bad boy on many mountain bike rides, and all that cargo space I have in the back can carry all the beer and lunch we’ll need.

Bike Commuting is Fun!

As some of you already know, Bike Commuting is really…

Due to my job…you guessed it, an IT Guy. I oversee 3 of our offices in Southern California. Each of them are about 40-50 miles away from each other and on any given day, I have to drive to either one of them. So that leaves me having to drive most of the time. But there are days when I can get a ride in and I have to tell you, I LOVE IT!

There’s just something about riding in traffic and being alert and having a sense of euphoria while zipping away from it all. I simply love having to bunny hop over each pot hole, or racing to make a light and even timing myself. I’m convinced that I can make it to my office in the same amount of time as I would if I drove.

I also have that feeling of satisfaction when I roll up to my office. It’s a great feeling that I know almost all commuters feel. Besides, bike commuting just feels soooooooooo good! I feel relaxed and happy!

Deal Days: Helmets, Fenders and Stuff

Here’s your deals for this week!

From Pricepoint.com
Nathan Cycle/Helmet Reflective Stick-ons $5.98

Bell Furio Helmet $44.98 normally $65.00

Sette Slik Fender Set $14.98, MSRP $50.00

From Nashbar
Bell Solar Helmet $19.95

Halt Dog Repellent $5.49


Planet Bike Freddy Fenders
$29.95, normally $34.99

From Performance
Bell Alchera Euro Road Helmet $34.99, normally $84.99

Transit Grocery Bag Pannier $24.99 normally $49.99