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Thread: Bike commuting!

  1. #1
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Bike commuting!

    >>>>> ETA: Can a mod please correct the spelling of 'COMMUTING" in this title? THANK YOU!

    Inspired by the "We should not be flying" thread, I decided to rethink my transportation choices and try bike commuting. It's only 5 miles to work. Spoiler alert: I am totally loving it!

    So I cleaned up my old hybrid bike from 1992, attached safety lights and the original panniers to it (purchased for a long distance cycling trip never taken) and planned out my route on Google Maps. Dallas has been known as one of the least bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly cities, but they've made good strides at adding bike paths throughout the city and suburbs. I found a decent route that takes me half the way on wide bike paths through neighborhoods, then through a commercial district where I can use sidewalks and crosswalks.

    I've discovered some things during my 2.5 week experiment:

    - On average, it takes about 3 times longer to get somewhere by bike than by car, at least around here.

    - In the Texas heat, it's more comfortable (and safer on skin) to wear long sleeves and long pants. I'm using long lycra running pants with a long sleeved sunproof shirt. In 95+ degree weather, that bit of sweat cooled by the breeze of biking keeps my temperature good. I've just ordered a long sleeved merino shirt (!!!) to experiment with as well.

    - Long pants only for me from now on, because I got poison ivy the first few days after biking through a field when I ran out of sidewalk. Grr!

    - I'm using Keds shoes with flat pedals. No special bike shoes.

    - It's significantly more comfortable to make the bike carry the load, not my back. So no backpack for me: the panniers are the BEST. I fit my work clothes in one side (in a large Eagle Creek spectre cube) with a small toiletry kit. Other pannier has my Daylight Backpack with computer and all my work stuff. I have a hard case "bike trunk" on the back rack that holds my lunch or anything else that needs to be flat.

    - You notice totally different things on a bike. I feel numb and disconnected from my environment in the climate controlled bubble of a car. But on a bike, you feel like you're a part of the world. I notice temperature changes in the shade, the smells of the creek, the sound of twigs cracking as I roll over them, the extra effort required to go up the slight hills I never even knew were there. I've seen lots of rabbits, a hummingbird, an armadillo (RIP), and I've passed a Great Roadrunner three times on one of the bike paths. Did you know they're native to DFW? (I googled it.) Cool! Beep beep!

    - I bought a Foldylock for about $80, which sounds like a lot considering the current value of my vintage bike, but I really don't want to get even my old bike stolen. The common wisdom about bike locks is to not spend more than 10% the cost of your bike, but my common wisdom is to get the strongest lock possible because I don't want to get my only bike stolen! Also, if I ever got a more expensive bike, I'll use that lock with it. So what's the use of a cheap lock?

    - I'm paranoid about leaving the bike anywhere, and not every place has a spot to park your bike. So far, Walgreens let me take it inside the store and lean it on a wall while I shopped. CVS, same thing. A restaurant let me put it in the back where the wait staff was.

    - I got a huge feeling of satisfaction from reusing good quality equipment I bought decades ago. "Buy it for life" is the way to go.

    - It takes a lot more planning to do things. A quick or unexpected errand isn't always possible on a bike. I've had to resort to a borrowed car a couple of times.

    - Hygiene? I've figured out that you can cycle slowly and sweat a lot less. And do a freshen-up with water and towel in the bathroom, or some Chamois Butt'r skin wash (nice). Changing into clean clothes after cooling off and washing a bit seems to be just fine. I shower when I get back home in the evening. Also, I just discovered Lume deodorant. It is AMAZING.

    - I haven't been to the gym for my early morning routine since I started biking, partly because of my disgusting poison ivy leg, but also because I'm already getting an hour of cycling in a day. That means I get to sleep 2 hours longer. Win win! The extremist in me is considering quitting my gym membership, and putting all that saved money towards a folding bike, which I'm already eyeing, because that would let me do things like take the train downtown with my bike, or go into restaurants with it.

    - I feel like a little kid when I get on my bike. It's a very different experience to running or exercising. You really get a feeling of connection to your "trusty steed" that takes you back to childhood, when your bike gave you that first taste of freedom.

    I'd love to hear other people's tips for bike commuting!

    Bike commuting!-commuting-jpg

    The roadrunner sat there watching me! Didn't even act scared:

    Bike commuting!-roadrunner-jpg
    Last edited by aedifica; 06-19-2019 at 08:28 PM. Reason: fix broken link
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    I had no idea roadrunners were so small! I only know them from Bugs Bunny cartoons. I don't have any bike commuting tips to share at the moment, but I used to bike to work nearly every day (even in the winter sometimes) and I loved it. I only stopped doing it because I started working at a place that was easier to walk to than bike to!

    I agree that it makes a huge difference to let the bike carry the load for you. I feel so much less sticky and sweaty when my load is in a pannier than when I have a backpack reflecting my body heat back at me.
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  3. #3
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    There are huge communities online devoted to bicycle commuting and advocacy in general. It’s all been done and the members of those communities are enthusiastic to the point of being pain in the butt. I know. I was one of them.

    Folders are great little bikes but, unless you’re getting a Brompton or a Friday, folders are a mess of compromises. Just be sure you know what you’re giving up in the exchange. The gym membership is worth more than the bike. This I also know.

    I commuted on my bike since the fifth grade. My bike was freedom, independence, and the best introduction to being responsible for a mechanical device my father could have ever given me. As I got older and employed, the bikes got better and the support equipment expanded to fill a closet or two. For the last Twenty years I’ve ridden a recumbent and started (fully supported) long distance touring. Remarkable experience. When I hit my 60s my commuting temperature range got narrower.

    Want to have an incredible commuting experience? Test ride a performance trike.
    Last edited by Bogiesan; 06-19-2019 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Bike Friday!

  4. #4
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    Go Bike, Go!
    I was biking to work several times a week until this past year, when I started weight lifting at the gym super early in the morning, so I'm trying to figure out how to work it back in without getting up even earlier than my 4:45am alarm.
    I live in a densely populated area, so ++on the bright shirts and helmet.

    Good to see Coyote hasn't taken Road Runner out yet!
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  5. #5
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    @Bogiesan, thanks for the "performance trike" recommendation. No idea what that is, but I'll look it up!

    I've been looking at Bromptons and Bike Fridays as my top two choices, but I'm a long way from buying one. That's a lot of money to drop on something that may be a folly. Sure wish there was a way to rent one here in Dallas like you can in London.

    I can see bike commuters (new starry-eyed ones like me, in particular) being annoyingly evangelical. I've read a lot of posts and articles in the past couple of weeks about it as I've worked my way through some of the challenges (heat, sweat, traffic, etc.). It is a thrill being able to power your self via your own leg power across the city, along with everything you need. I like the "having all your gear with you" part.

    As for the gym membership being more valuable than the bike, I cringe at how much I've spent on my Lifetime membership over the past 18 years, and compare it to the one-time purchase of my Cannondale in 1992, and feel like the bike was definitely the better buy because its per-use cost is significantly lower, and its joy quotient higher. I am also trying to sort out how I can bike an hour a day and still have time for the gym. Seems like I'm going to have to do one or the other.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  6. #6
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aedifica View Post
    I had no idea roadrunners were so small! I only know them from Bugs Bunny cartoons. I don't have any bike commuting tips to share at the moment, but I used to bike to work nearly every day (even in the winter sometimes) and I loved it. I only stopped doing it because I started working at a place that was easier to walk to than bike to!

    I agree that it makes a huge difference to let the bike carry the load for you. I feel so much less sticky and sweaty when my load is in a pannier than when I have a backpack reflecting my body heat back at me.
    This roadrunner is a big bird, a couple of feet long including the tail, and makes a cooing sound like a dove. I never knew that. Saw him a couple of days ago with a lizard in his mouth, running to a tree in someone's yard. Then he flew into the tree (I'd never seen one fly before). Pretty cute bird, and seems fearless. He just stares at me when I ride by, and doesn't really try to run away. They're in the cuckoo family, I discovered. Maybe that's why.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  7. #7
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G42 View Post
    Go Bike, Go!
    I was biking to work several times a week until this past year, when I started weight lifting at the gym super early in the morning, so I'm trying to figure out how to work it back in without getting up even earlier than my 4:45am alarm.
    I live in a densely populated area, so ++on the bright shirts and helmet.

    Good to see Coyote hasn't taken Road Runner out yet!
    Just give those coyotes time! We've got them all over our neighborhood, but they mainly eat rabbits and pet cats.

    I too am trying to decide if it's possible to squeeze in a 5:30am gym class AND commute to work an hour a day. Sounds a bit much, and I've seriously enjoyed sleeping in till 6:30! Also, one of my favorite things at the gym was the stationary bike for an hour, which I don't need to do if I'm commuting!

    Agreed on the helmet and bright shirts. Where I live, we have packs of cyclists on weekend/evening rides, but few lone bike commuters, so I feel very vulnerable to cars on the busy streets. I've got a headlight, blinking tail lights, a white helmet, reflectors everywhere, and I still stick to sidewalks whenever I can.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  8. #8
    Forum Member xyppy's Avatar
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    I have a Xootr folding bike and loved riding it more than my favorite road bike. I say loved because a bad hip replacement has made pedaling impossible. Prior to hip problems I was riding 30 miles a day nearly every day, for years.

    It sounds like you've figured out a lot of good things for making your commute easier on you. One thing I might add as a suggestion is to get several -cheap as you can find them- quick dry baseball caps, or "runners caps" and wear them under your helmet. They're good for 2 things: keeping the sun out of your eyes and keeping your helmet cleaner.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    I've been looking at Bromptons and Bike Fridays as my top two choices, but I'm a long way from buying one. That's a lot of money to drop on something that may be a folly. Sure wish there was a way to rent one here in Dallas like you can in London.
    I can confirm that a Brompton is a great bike, especially for a commute. Iíve done most everything from quick trips around town to 40-mile road rides without any problems. I typically go multimodal in the summer, and the ability to just fold the bike and board a bus or train is just great.

    It can even do bike tours!



    You can use TB luggage as well but you need to find away to attach it to a Brompton luggage frame (Iíve seen YouTube videos on it).

    If youíre interested I would see if there is a Brompton dealer in your area; they can let you take it for a test ride and sometimes they can be had for a week to rent.

  10. #10
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyppy View Post
    I have a Xootr folding bike and loved riding it more than my favorite road bike. I say loved because a bad hip replacement has made pedaling impossible. Prior to hip problems I was riding 30 miles a day nearly every day, for years.

    It sounds like you've figured out a lot of good things for making your commute easier on you. One thing I might add as a suggestion is to get several -cheap as you can find them- quick dry baseball caps, or "runners caps" and wear them under your helmet. They're good for 2 things: keeping the sun out of your eyes and keeping your helmet cleaner.
    Sorry about the hip! And that is a good suggestion about the cap under the helmet. I never would have thought of that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  11. #11
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Bike commuting!

    @allanorn,
    Lovely bike! There is a local bike store that sells Bromptons so I took one for a spin a few weeks ago. It rode great. I hadnít thought about asking them if they ever do rentals. I did search for dallas Brompton rentals and nothing came up. Thanks for the tip.

    Now that I am biking again, I do think it would be so cool to have Tom Bihn quality bike bags. My old USA-made Cannondale panniers do the job, but seem so flimsy by comparison, and I just wonder how long they will last now that I am loading them up so heavy.

    Considering converting one of my Side Effects into a handlebar bag. I think the size might be perfect.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyppy View Post
    It sounds like you've figured out a lot of good things for making your commute easier on you. One thing I might add as a suggestion is to get several -cheap as you can find them- quick dry baseball caps, or "runners caps" and wear them under your helmet. They're good for 2 things: keeping the sun out of your eyes and keeping your helmet cleaner.
    For those, I like the Headsweats brand. They wick great, dry fast, and aren't too expensive.

  13. #13
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    Headsweats are good, there is also a gut'r to divert sweat. And good ole classic cycling caps. Designed to be under a helmet.

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk

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