BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: commuter tips

The Realities of Biking to Work

There are lots of reasons to trade in your car and make the switch to biking to work every day. The most basic benefits of the switch are outlined in this post from last March. Of course, knowing why you should bike into work is a lot different than knowing how to bike into work every day. The reality is much different than most new cyclists imagine. Here are the biggest obstacles that most cyclists face with their morning (and evening) commute and how to handle them.

Traffic

The relationship you have to the drivers on the road around you is going to depend as much on where you live as much as it does on how you operate your new engine-less vehicle.

The best thing you can do (because even in cycle friendly cities like Portland, the relationship with other drivers can be tense and irritating) is to follow the rules of the road. Remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle and, as such, you need to ride like you’re driving a car, not like you’re walking. Stay in your lane, keep up with the flow of traffic, follow your local traffic laws.

Visibility

While most drivers know to keep an eye out for cyclists, making sure you are visible is important. Don’t just pop on your helmet and head out to work expecting that you are automatically visible. The special reflective gear that is sold to cyclists is not a racket. You’ll want to make sure that your bike is equipped with the right lights and reflectors. You’ll also want to make sure that your clothing is easily visible. This could mean sewing reflectors on to your coat or buying special coats, pants and shoes that have reflective and glow in the dark capability built into them. You might feel a little goofy at first, but the last thing you need is to blend into your surroundings!

The Bodily Challenges

Riding a bike is great for your health and, yes, it can reduce your dependence on the gym. At the same time, the repetitive motion of pedaling, the posture your bike requires, etc. can lead to some new aches and pains in your muscles, especially when you are first starting out. You can also expect chafing to be a constant threat and worry.

To deal with these changes, treat each ride as the workout that it is. Warm up and stretch first. Make sure that you are outfitted correctly. Therafirm recommends wearing compression shorts to help wick moisture and prevent chafing during the ride.

Weather

Bad weather is a real problem for people who commute by bicycle. Rain and snow and extreme temperatures can all make your commute difficult.

The best way to deal with this is to wear weather appropriate gear while you are on your bicycle and pack your nicer clothing into your bag so that you can change when you get to work. This way you can stay warm (or cool) and dry on the commute and don’t have to worry about showing up for an important meeting looking bedraggled. Remember to adjust your commute for the time you’ll need to change clothes!

Storage

Most of us don’t travel to work with just our bodies. We have wallets, laptops, phones and other gear that must be accommodated. Fitting these things into a simple front bicycle basket isn’t always possible (or very good for the items you’re transporting). According to the BTA, Some things can be carried in a backpack that you wear during the commute. Another option is to fix a rear basket or fixtures that will accommodate saddle bags or panniers.

Remember to be patient! Adjusting to cycling life will take time. You won’t get everything perfect on that first ride. Take your time, do your research, talk to the pros at your local bike shop of send us your questions: info@bikecommuters.com when you need help. You’ll get there!

Ridiculous Rain and a Thumbhole Sleeve Hack

Yo bikey peeps. A long time ago, back in Honolulu, I used to bike in the rain. And a not so long time ago, back in Asheville, I biked in some summer showers. And about 10 minutes ago, here in Portland, I got my ass handed to me by a downpour. Welcome to the Pacific NorthWet everyboday.

Oh man, I thought I knew cold. I thought I was a badass. I thought biking 13 miles home against the intense tradewinds and rain with nothing but spandex and a helmet holding me back was “cold”. Well, turns out “cold” in Hawaii does. Not. Exist. Period.

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Remind me to wait out the rain next time…

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Or maybe Cantaloupe needs some chromey fenders.

So, even though I roostered my butt with my lack of fenders, soaked my socks through my Chuck Taylors, and rolled home with totally drenched upper thighs through those Lulu Lemon pants that are so good for all other types of fall weather, I did come away with one successful cold weather hack. BEHOLD!

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In my men’s XS rain slick, the sleeves and length are just a little long for me – the way I like it! That extra long sleeve is just long enough to reach my knuckles with the Thumbhole Sleeve Hack. Ka-bam-a-lam.

I call it the no-sew velcro thumbhole sleeve hack! Or, thumbholes for dummies. All you need is a rain slick with velcro straps at the wrist. And thank Gods I do, because it was the only thing keeping me from turning around on my commute and waiting for a bus while mumbling “Winter is coming!” All body parts wrapped in neon green rain slick stayed happy and dry.

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So SIM-POH! Why hadn’t I ever done this before with my pink kids REI rain slick?

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Thumbholes for dummies, I’m a dummy for not doing this YEARS ago…

So keep your sleeves down and your butts up, cycle ladies and gentlemen. You can bike commute in a race position all you want with the Thumbhole Sleeve Hack. Get your hack on, Bike Commuters, and keep your arms and wrists wind and rain free!

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)

End of Year Rabbity Wrap Up, the Top 11 for 2011!

Ok, okaaaaaaay.  So Ghost Rider the Whip has tasked me with the year-end update to all ye mighty Bike Commuters!!! For all you non-daily readers (myself included, no excuses, just the truth yo) consider this the ultimate BikeCommuters.com Cliff Notes of 2011.  Be sure to click the extra links, so many goodies embedded in this one.  And since I love LISTS as much as tweens love Ryan Gosling and puppies, here is the Top 11 Bike Commuters Highlights (and then some) from the Year of the Rabbit …  Let the countdown begin.

My expression of my love for LISTS can only be captured with this moment!

11.  Helmet on a Diet: Among many products, including the O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun Jacket, Levis 511 Commuter Jeans, and others from Chrome, Planet Bike, Velo Orange, and Ergon, we reviewed this half-weight BMX/skater style melon protector – the Pryme V2 Lite! Removable pads allow for easy cleaning, adjustment, and with 13 vents will keep you less than sweaty. RL even said this Pryme helmet on a diet was so light he forgot he was wearing it!

10. How To’s and Ghetto-rigging: Several articles this year featured DIY and easy commuter tips like how to apply Stealthy 3M Reflective Tape to your bike frame!  Check out the before and after shots in this follow up article.  We wrote about how to make a Bike Train, last minute tips for carrying groceries home, and a friendly reminder on lubing your chain!

9.  Winterize-Me! 2011, the year of the rabbit is also the year of the snow-bunny.  All-year and all-weather rider Elizabeth has cranked out some popular tips and posts on layering, waterproofing your getup, and winterizing your manos for the harshest winter climate commutes.  Two-wheeled transporting readers like yourselves named this article a top fave in our 2000th post giveaway contest!  Check out Layering as Easy as 1 2 or 3! Elizabeth makes us warm-weather writers look like sissy lalas, she’s a BAMF commuter no doubt.

8. Hear Ye, Hear Ye: From you the readers, we had a handful of commuter profiles in the Year of the Rabbit including my posts from Hawaii, Arizona, California, and Illinois.  Thanks to Willy Campbell, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Hermes Pagulayan, and Robert Guico for keeping it real.  We love to hear from the readers themselves about their best rides, funny stories, tips, and setups…

Bike Commuter Profiles Rabbit Round-up, 2011 photocrap edition!!!

7. Travels & Adventuretimes: Jetsetting, touring, and leap-frogging through time and space, the BikeCommuters staff writers adventured far and wide including visits to Bike Shares in France, Interbike 2011 in Vegas, vacation commuting in Chicago, and historical Bike Museums in Ohio!  I guess we could say we’re bunny-hopping through time and space.  We hope to have more Bike Commuters staff travels and adventures next year; maybe we can meet up with you local readers for events or rides!

6. Five-O, Five-O! RL roped his friend, “Officer Ben” into chatting about the DOs and DON’Ts of bikes in the city.  For more bike list-lust and Five-O insight, try this article titled “My Conversation witha  Cop about Bike Traffic and Safety Tips.”  As always with officers, remember your attitude makes a difference!

5. Commuter All-in-One Review –We Reviewed some non-commuter specific bikes this year (like the Xootr Swift and the Redline Urbis) but Jack pulled the lucky straw and got his heine on this Breezer Uptown 8 back in Spring (full-on Wabbit Season)!  The Uptown 8 came fully-loaded with all kinds of commuter goodies: rear rack, chaincase, dyno-powered lights, full fenders, internal shifting, bell, high spoke count wheels, water bottle cage, and a kickstand!  And all for $999.00 MSRP, a low maintenance sturdy steed for city riding requires only one stop at the LBS.  Jack gave this all in one commuter a HIGH FIVE of awesomeness.

4.  Planet Bike Superflashy-flash TURBO! Hoo-hoo, you caught me!  My soft spot for all things blinky lights and hi-viz leads me to this post by Vince.  The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo has 1-Watt a licious power of red LEDs and a attention-grabbing flashy pattern that earned an “A” from Bike Commuters!  Read the full article here.

3.  Nice Paint Job, oh and Nice Bike Too – RL reviewed some single speed and fixed gear rides this year like the Torker KB2 and the 2011 Redline 925.  The KB2 is a fixie with a 2-speed kick back hub and a pearly green paint job.  The Redline 925 is a single speed city slammer, excellent stopping power in the breaks, a smooth ride, clean lines, and commuter staples like fenders, chain guard, toe clips, and rack mounts!  For those of you in the market for a single speed or fixie ride, put these mamas on your bike lust list and ride these velos non-stop like bunnies in springtime.  Now for some bike p0rn with the Redline 925 in “Pearl Dark Brown”:
and in the KB2 Torker in “sparkly green”!

2. Ok, So Interbike is Kinda a Big Deal –  So we can’t pass up the year of the rabbit without highlights from Interbike 2011!! RL was all over this event sorting through the good, ze germans, and the goofy to make us feel like we were all there too!  He even bumped into some other traveling bike bloggers!  There’s a lil som’n som’n for everyone at Interbike…What about Urbana Bikes commuter with belt drive?  And for us nighttime commuters LED by Light’s got light kits with turn signals?  How ’bout you been broke phi broke all year and wanna haul a lotta stuff with an affordable Dutch Cargo bike?  Sign us up!
1. 2000th Post Giveaway! The countdown ends with a big-timey milestone, the 2000th post hit us in December 2011.  Thanks to all our staff writers this year and in years past that made it possible!  We celebrated with a giveaway of awesome stuff as readers posted their favorite articles on facebook and in the comments. It was really cool to dig up older articles and see feedback from readers who don’t usually post (without enticement of free bike goodies).  Hopefully, our winnder John Leddy from Burlington, VT is enjoying his Banjo Brothers backpack, Planet Bike lights and accessories, a Bikecommuters.com tshirt and sticker pack and a Chainspirations zipper pull.
Special thanks go to Banjo Brothers and Planet Bike for helping sponsor our prize giveaway.  So here’s the part where we say goodbye to the Rabbit and hello to the dragon!  Thanks for sticking with us Bike Commuters readers, Ride ALOHA!

Photocredit to Papajka on Flickr! Take that you toasty rabbit!

A Hat Tip from The Greenists

Here’s something to share — our site was featured on the excellent “The Greenists” online magazine. I was able to answer some general bike-commuting questions for the author, Jacob Johnston, and his article “Pedal Power to the Rescue”. Jacob is a new commuter, and seems very excited by the prospects of riding two wheels instead of four.

Spin on over to The Greenists to take a look at the article…a nice roundup of tips and observations for the first-time or newish bicycle commuter. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Thanks to Jacob for a very pleasant interviewing experience and for being eager to learn and share tips with his readers at The Greenist. Enjoy yourself out there; get on that bike and ride!