the new commute

This post is long overdue. So without further adieu, and with apologies to Jeff, here, in his own words, is the scoop on a local who’s decided to take the plunge and begin commuting regularly by bike.

Attached are a few pics of my new old commuter bike. I hardly recognize my old Trek Multitrack 720.  The conversion was easy. To the basic set up I had the bike shop add fenders (which are nice in that they can snap off for easy change), rack, a new Brooks B-17 saddle, and new 32cc Bontrager road tires. I also picked up a Bontrager panier for hauling stuff. (I had wanted a chain guard but they couldn’t find one to fit with the front derailleur.) Even with labor and a few other things I bought it was still far less expensive than buying a new commuter bike. Plus it allowed me to put back in service my trusty old Trek Multitrack 720, the bike that got me back into riding a bike about 15 years ago. I feel great about getting more use/years out of my dear friend. I’m very happy with the outcome.

I actually rode my new old bike to Siena the very afternoon I got it back from Bikeworks. I knew it was going to feel different than my Cannondale, and I wanted to see just how different. (Turns out, it was quite different). Riding at a comfortable pace (about 10 mph) I got to Siena in 12 minutes.

I’ve been riding it each day since. Just in case I tuck my rain coat in the saddle bag. So far I haven’t needed it. Ordinarily I don’t like to ride in the rain (It’s a safety issue: wet roads are slippery, brakes don’t grab as well, you’re harder for drivers to see, etc.). But it’s such a short commute that, save a downpour, I plan to ride as much as I can.

The reasons for finally doing it are legion: the obvious health benefits, good for the environment, the world looks great from the seat of a bicycle, I work all summer to get my legs in shape and commuting will let me hold on to some of that through the usual “off-season” months, bicycling is an easy and very enjoyable form of exercise, save money on gas and wear/tear on the car (helps with ever tighter home budgets), I had a spare bike (didn’t have to buy new), riding with the Wheelers gets me jazzed about cycling, your “Hadrian” blog creates excitement about cycling, the cycling advocacy meeting at the Centre and talking to the people from LMB about Safe Streets, etc. It was just a “perfect storm” of events/influences that said to me it was time to do this.

In hind sight this was a no brainer, and I’m kicking myself that I waited this long to do it. The commute is a simple one and I’m looking forward to it.

Arriving at work sweaty has not been an issue. I don’t ride hard on the commute and I pack a change of clothes. Plus the weather is as hot now as it is going to get. Sweating will be even less of a concern when there is a fall nip in the air. Nor is safety much of an issue. The commute isn’t too long and I don’t have to cross any major roads. I do cross Main Street/52, but I ride early enough in the morning that traffic isn’t too great.

But it’s not a road bike. The commuter is a very heavy bike compared to my Cannondale. I also have stirrup pedals. It’s amazing how much more you work to pedal the bike when you’ve gotten used to riding with clipless pedals. In the end, however, both of these work to my benefit by helping me to be a stronger rider (kind of like a batter using a doughnut on his bat while in the on deck circle).

Let’s face it: Riding a bike is not nearly as convenient as driving a car. Some mornings I will look forward to the ride and others I may have to fight the temptation to just grab the keys and drive. But if more people would just try it, they might find they like riding a bike too. And there’s always room on the road to accommodate one more bike.

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6 responses to “the new commute

  1. Nice job, the bike looks great!

  2. commuting is a great way to shed some stress before you get home!! I wish I still worked in Adrian.

  3. I’ve commuted to work and just around town for anything I knew I could safely carry around for about.. 2 and a half years or so now. Taught myself to ride and caught the cycling bug from there. Since I can’t afford a “real bike” ($500+ I’ve bought from walmart and they’ve held up fine with regular maintenance. Though I’m probably too hard on mine hence why I’m looking into a new one as soon as I can afford it Once the people who commute in their cars around town see you out there every day, some will become more courteous and give you more room and such. It’s like the LMB’s “motto” : Same Rules Same Roads Same Rights”

  4. Well said, Bill and Cyclist. Riding into work, it gets the blood flowing and focuses my mind on what I have to do on a given day. Riding home, it clears my head and helps me process the day and reset.

    And I’ve also noticed that drivers eventually begin expecting you, which then leads to them given you more space and consideration. This would happen on an even greater scale if more folks were using bikes and riding in the proper way (viz., on the street and in the correct direction).

  5. How is that seat working out for you? I got a B17 but found it a bit narrow for me. (Apparently my hips are a tad wider than most.) I now have two bikes with B67’s on them and am convinced that I’ll never again settle for any thing less…

  6. The B17 has broken in very nicely. I have my commuter and two Cannondale road bikes and they are all outfitted with the B17. I’m still commuting every morning. Went to the LBS to get a headlight and taillight. The funny thing is all the close calls I’ve had with cars have come in broad daylight, especially with people coming out of their driveways. I’ve come to really enjoy the time spent riding to and from work, although packing anad changing clothes does get to be a hassle.