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.