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Tag Archive: commuter profile

Commuter Profile: Skipton Skiba

Today’s commuter profile comes from a fellow Chicagoan, whose bike – BlueX – I admired one day last fall. Skipton Skiba works at Trader Joe’s and has shared with us his love of bikes and bike building.

Name:

Skipton Skiba

Skipton Skiba

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I started commuting July of 2008.
I commute all year long.

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

I have always been into bicycles and bicycling. One of my best memories when I was 10 years old and my Uncle helped me build a 5 speed racing bike out of parts that I got out of the neighbor’s trash. In the mid 80’s I was a big road bike guy. Greg Lemond and Bernard Hainault were my heroes. But once I got a car, I got fat and lazy and didn’t do much biking for 15-20 years.

Then, in 2008, I was looking to do some stuff with bikes again. I had been an at-home dad for 7 years, and soon my youngest son would be in full-day kindergarten. I would have time to build some bikes. One night I stumbled on the web site RATRODBIKES.com and I saw the kind of bikes I had been dreaming about in my head.

Then in April 2008 my wife was laid off. So I needed to get a job.
I got a job at Trader Joe’s in July of 2008. I decided to ride to work for my work-out using my homemade cruiser. I had done two triathlons and I was burned out on road bikes and trying to stay fit by going to the gym.

My ride is 5 to 8 miles one way depending on what route I take. I usually take the Lake Front Path which makes for a very pleasant 8 mile ride. Riding the lake path is a great way to go. No car traffic and nice scenery.

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

I’m a crew member at Trader Joe’s in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

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

Bike commuting helps me with my lifestyle in so many ways. I always look forward to my ride no matter what the weather. I feel great when I get to work. It helps me stay as healthy as possible. It gives me more patience. Also I feel that riding every day is good message for my kids who are nine and ten. I want them to see that you don’t have to drive everywhere and they see their old man doing something healthy. Because I commute everyday I have a reason to work on and build bicycles that I enjoy. I’m not sure what I like the most, riding bikes or building them.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I ride bikes that I like to call Rat Rods.

These are bikes that I have built using an assortment of parts from all different kinds of bikes -some are old cruisers, some are just older “undesirable” types of bikes and I build what I want.

Building these kinds of bikes also satisfies my inner hot rodder. It is much cheaper and environmentally friendly to build a bunch of different Rat Rod bikes instead of spending lots of time and money on one tricked out car.

My main winter bike is a 1960 something Schwinn with a tank and 1950’s fenders.
This bike is what I would call a classic example of a Rat Rod. It has vintage and modern parts mixed together. Most of the bike is vintage parts with a Nexus 4 speed rear hub and roller bearing brakes on both wheels.

black bike

black big snow

black bike

The bike I probably put the most miles on is the one I call BlueX. BlueX started life out as an 80’s Schwinn three-speed. Then my friend, Gary, helped me weld up the super laid back seat post.

I put two old tanks from girl’s 1950 bicycles on it. I also added the 1930s tractor light and a giant speedometer from a 1940s pickup on it. The idea was for the bike to look like an old Boardtracker racing motorcycle. I really like how it turned out. I just love they way it looks and the reaction people have to it. I could ride all day long!

BlueX

BlueX rear

Build journal….. http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=26173&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Another bike I built that I love to ride is one my 9 year old son named
Bellowing Yellow!

I made this with a 1980s three-speed Sears bike a friend gave me for free. I made the 180 degree front fender just to see if it would work. And it does! The bright yellow really makes it pop!

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

I think the main thing I want to share is how much I enjoy commuting. Even a supposed “bad weather day” on the commute is a great ride.

One day on my way to work, riding down the lake front path, on Bluex, a guy on a high dollar road bike rode up next to me and said his girlfriend in California sent him photos of my bike. He said it wasn’t ride able. Now he knows it is.

Also I just love it when someone ask where I got that bike or where they can get one and I tell them I built it.

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

Lots of my coworkers are bike commuters also. They do get a kick out of the bikes I ride but wonder when I am going to turn my handlebars right side up.

Do you have an ‘advanced commuter tip’?

Just get out and ride! You don’t need lots of fancy equipment, even a department store bike. Or a garage sale bike is enough to get started. You don’t need to be “Lance” to do this. But be safe – always wear a helmet. .

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

Nothing really yet. I always try and be a courteous bicyclist, and follow the rules of the road.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I do love to ride with my wife and kids, when the weather is nice we will ride to school, the beach, etc.

I also take the boys on the monthly TailDraggers Leisure Bike Club rides I have been organizing.
http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=50821
A bunch of people get together and we ride our bikes to a cool restaurant or coffee shop and talk about bikes-our next big build, swap commuter stories, things like that. It is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I know my kids have a blast and it’s fun to watch them ride around on the cool vintage cruisers.

Random pics of other bikes and my kids

If you ever see a bike like this “displayed” at the Trader Joe’s (on Clybourn ) bike rack come in and say:

Thanks, Skip, for sharing your story and your bikes with us! If you’re interested in being profiled, drop us a line at: info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com

Commuter Profile: Hermes Pagulayan

How long have you been a bike commuter?

A year or so. I think I started last June.

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

It was a total fluke. My brother in law was commuting at the time and recommended it but I wanted to take the bus. I did have a bike so I thought about riding it on days that I missed the bus. I had an old Huffy cruiser that my friend gave me so I used it and found that I liked riding a bike better than taking the bus.

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

Health wise, I’ve lost weight. I’m pretty skinny so I think it was just fat that I lost. I used to be 170-175 and now I’m 160-165. A total of ten pounds! I’m kind of embarrassed to say that, haha. As far as economics, it was probably cheaper to take the bus at 45 dollars a month for a pass since I went through 12 bikes in a year. As a result of having to go through so many bikes, and learning so much from fixing them, I’ve become the bike guy to all of my friends and pretty much anyone who wants info on bikes since my friends tell their friends to ask me. And anyone who’s close in my circle has either bought a bike or they started riding their old bike. Even my brother started bike commuting at one point but his boss did not like it, sad face.

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

I am a mentor/part time IT guy and most of my work is in Irvine, Ca.

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What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I currently have a Windsor Hour Fixie that’s mostly stock but with Nitto cross bars, Bontrager mtb saddle, a 23mm tire on the back and a 28 on the front. Before that, in the past year, I kid you not, I had in order:

4 Walmart bikes that I kept on returning because something was wrong with them (I know, I know). I was a newbie…

A Raleigh Grand Prix
Diamondback Interval TG
Diamondback Transporter
Diamondback Maravista (Yes I went to a comfort bike…I wanted to be comfortable shut up.)
A Schwinn Circuit with shocks on the front.

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

At the start of a massive hill that I never rode on before, my tire’s treads give out and the tube goes through. I obviously had to slow down which I think saved my life since I didn’t know that cars mashed down the multi-lane hill and the bike lane got considerably very small to where I think I would have had a pretty bad wipe out going 30. But instead, I walked for half an hour down the hill.

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

I either get, “Oh, cool. That’s pretty healthy of you!” or “Do you have a car?”.

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

Active? Probably not. I mean I’m a part of some group that I signed up for at the local Performance store. That’s probably the extent of my advocacy.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I hated fixies before as they reminded me of death, politics and the Celtics but I ride one now! I probably will for the rest of my life unless I move to a hilly area that requires gears. I’m also going to build my first bike–a performance hybrid–in the next few weeks. I need a bike with gears. I want it to have an aluminum frame, 2200 group set, a mountain bike saddle, decent wheels but I won’t spend more than a hundred and probably Cannondale brakes. Wheels and Sprocket sells a pair for 24 dollars including shipping. What else…I like Democrats more than Republicans. I love sushi, the Florida State Seminoles football team and the Miami Dolphins. I also stalk RL Policar occasionally.

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Commuter Profile: Jeff Wilson

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Over a year. I started in March 2008 as gas prices started climbing
and fell in love with it quickly. 4,000 miles, 10lbs, and three bikes
later, I’m still having a blast.

What do you do and what cities do you bike commuter?

I ride to work in suburban Santa Clarita, CA, a big suburb of Los
Angeles. The city has a nice network of bike paths; unfortunately my
route includes none of them. I seldom see other bike commuters save
for Latinos riding beater bikes to their jobs.

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

I started because gas prices were approaching ridiculous levels and I
wanted to get fit. My commute is very easy- only 2 miles- but I work
for a school district and I’m sometimes required to visit schools
during the work day. So, sometimes if I’m lucky, I’ll put twenty miles
in while riding to various schools.

What kind of bikes do you have?

I started out on a standard Trek hybrid. After having a few
reliability problems with that, I sold it and got a Swobo Dixon, which
was my main commuter for much of the last year. As I took up road
riding, I found I had a need for speed, so I’ve shelved the Dixon to
beer-bike duties and I now ride a rack-equipped Jamis Quest road bike
to work. It’s so much faster!


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

Let’s see. I’ve saved hundreds in gas, car payments, and insurance
since I got rid of my car last year and we became a one car household.
I’m in much better shape, I get to be outdoors, and I’ve lost weight.

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

In my first week of cycling to work. I got into a very minor accident.
You see I wasn’t paying attention closely enough and ran into the back
of a stopped car. I wasn’t going fast and no damage or injuries
resulted but it taught me a valuable lesson- pay attention!
Situational awareness is king when you’re cycle commuting, think ahead
100 feet, 500 feet, a half mile etc. Make plans and signal your
intentions!

What do you do for a living?

I work as a database administrator. I’m not sure why so many tech
people ride to work, but I’m pleased to be one of them. Just wish I
had more commute buddies in this car-dependent town.

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

Jerks say: You’re weird. Skeptics say: How are you going to handle the
heat this summer (it gets up to 110 in Santa Clarita)? The
Unimaginative say: I could never give up my car, I have
kids/dog/insert special problem here. Girls say: Nice, I bet you’re
going to lose weight and look good!

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

I monitor local cycling situations and blog about them at my new blog,
soulcyclist.blogspot.com . I’ve also spoken before the city council on
issues pertaining to cycle commuting. I’m thinking of starting an
advocacy group as well, but, I’ll be honest, it’s hard to find bike
commuters out here. I’m so jealous of the success I read about in
other places.

Commuter Profile: Scott Litwiller

Meet Scott Litwiller — he’s from Murphysboro, IL; check out his Bike Commuter Profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?
On and off for about three years now, through various odd jobs, distance permitting.

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

Initially I started riding because I didn’t have a car of my own. Even now that I have a truck to drive, I still prefer to ride everywhere I go.

Right now I commute between 4-6 miles one way, depending on weather and time.

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

Well my truck gets about 15mpg, so even though my commute is pretty short I save about $30-$40 a month, which almost always goes toward something bike related at my LBS.
Health-wise riding makes me feel fantastic; I have a pretty lean build so exercise seems to be the only way for me to gain weight. Since I’ve upped my mileage at the beginning of the year I’ve put on about 4-5 pounds or so.

Relationship-wise it gives me something to talk about with friends,family,coworkers,etc. I feel like riding makes me stand out (not that I don’t already).

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

For the time being I work at Wal-Mart as an electronics associate, at least until my fiancee finishes school.

Later I hope to finish school and hopefully get more involved in cycling, either as a career or a hobby.

I live in Murphysboro,IL, right next door to Southern Illinois University.



What kind(s) of bike do you have?

For the past year or so my only bicycle has been a Surly Steamroller (Complete), but at this point very little is original. It took me awhile to get used to riding a fixed gear, but now I prefer the simplicity. I love climbing hills on this bike, and I love the feeling that I’ve pedaled every mile of the way.

Just over a week ago I picked up a sun-faded Ross 290s at a yard sale, and after some parts and paint it has become my beater, grocery-getter, and all around frankenbike. Pretty much anything I wouldn’t do to my Surly has been done to this bike, and it weighs a ton as a result!!. All it needs is a pair of Sweetskinz!!

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

I saved a turtle from being hit by a car on Bike to Work Day. And another previously on Earth day, but not during my commute. One of the downsides of commuting through wooded areas is that you see a lot of road kill, so its nice to make a difference every once in awhie.

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

Its a real conversation starter at work; I think I’ve made more friends as a result. I’m the only one commuting by bike at the moment, but a lot of coworkers have asked me how to get started. My workplace installed a bike rack pretty much just for me!!

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

I join in a critical mass ride every now and then, and I’m trying to join a few other rides this summer. Otherwise I’m not much for clubs.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

The site is great, If i have any ideas or guest articles I’ll be sure to send them your way. The sticker idea is a great way to get more people involved. It sure worked for me!!

We thank Scott for his time and for sending us his profile. Your stickers will be on their way!!!

Commuter Profile: Ryan Hernandez


Ryan, taking first place at Southridge

If you are a regular MtnBikeRiders.com reader, you may recognize Ryan’s screen name as FlynnRyan. We know Ryan to be a bad ass Mountain biker (First place in the Southridge Series in the Sport Category) but what is little known is that Ryan is also a dedicated Bike Commuter, here’s his commuter profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I have been commuting for almost three years. coming up on 6000 miles.

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

In this order, I love to ride, to help me stay conditioned for mountain bike racing and to save money on gas. In the morning up 30 miles depending on how much time i have from point A to point B 14 miles each way.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your racing?

Keeps my legs conditioned and loose through out the week in between races. Getting an extra 60 miles in a week definitely keeps the edge on the competition. and having those base miles always helps on the endurance end.


Ryan (right) with MTB legend Hans Rey (left).


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

I manage a Locksmith company in Newport Beach and have been a locksmith for 10 years. I commute from Anaheim CA to Newport beach. I don’t commute from my house b/c its a little to far,although i have in the past it’s about a 70 mile round trip and just under a 2hr ride each way.

What kind of bikes do you have?

I own a 2003 Specalized Allez comp w/ an ultegra group all original with a total of about 8000 miles.(commuter) 2008 Cannondale Scalpel 2 xc race bike sram x9.

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

Not really. But the best part of my commute in riding to and along the coast. Its a definite personal favorite to do a morning ride to the coast right before work.

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

They think its a cool thing. There will always be the Lycra jokes but being in the position that i am in at work i think it helps promote a positive out look on staying healthy. I have not directly changed anyones life but i know that most of my employee’s have tried to live a healthier life.

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

I am big on sharing the road but not part of any groups. Bicycling comes second to family. I try to promote safe driving and bicycling when i can and in a situation where it’s not preaching.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Keep the rubber side down and the helmet side up. I appreciate everything you guys do for the bike community,bike commuters and mountain bike riders. Thanks for giving me the opportunity !! Ryan

Big thanks to Ryan for sharing his profile with us. If you want to share yours, email us at info@bikecommuters.com.