commuting Tips

Day 1 – Bike Commute Challenge and Some Tips

Conrad's front wheel...flat on his first day of commuting.
Conrad's front wheel...flat on his first day of commuting.

I won’t update every day this month about the Bike Commute Challenge, but wanted to post about the happenings of the first day, and encourage as many folks to get out and ride this month, but also to help others ride where you can. My commute is not that long, just about 5 miles round trip, but I tend to talk myself out of riding because of other meetings, or gear that I need or like to take with me. I figuring out ways to make all that happen this month on my bike…perhaps even beyond the month. At any rate, the first day of the challenge left me with three things I thought would be worth noting in helping others to ride to work.

1. Let The Information Flow! – A friend of mine was considering riding a bike to work, but had no idea what he needed. “I guess I need a commuter bike, tell me about what I need.” Turns out, he had a perfectly good commuter bike already – my old Trek Navigator, (my full review here) which has a rear rack and everything. Only problem is that his wife has decided she loves riding it, and so it’s not available for his everyday use. After a lengthy email about good options for a commuter, and how I would ditch the shock for a rigid fork anyway, he ended up at the local shop, picking up another Navigator, in a different color.

Although he chose a bike that wasn’t on my top list for a commuter bike, I was happy to go round and round with the information on what could or would make a good commuter bike. I started out by telling him that he already had a great commuter bike in the Trek, BUT if he was going to look at a new bike (and who doesn’t love looking at new bikes!) I could give him some options. Turns out, that while I prefer the efficiency of a rigid fork for commuting, his back prefers the softer ride of the shock. Makes sense to me. At any rate, share as much info as you have with other people interested in riding!

2. Be Prepared to Help Out! – I typically take just enough to save my butt on the road because I hate carrying around a ton of stuff. A tube, a patch, some air of some sort, my cell phone. I’m good to go. I was just headed out the door to a 9 am meeting when my buddy Conrad called and said he had a flat tire on his bike, on his first day of the Challenge. Conrad lives further away from work than I do, and has hills and busy bridge to get across, so I’m stoked that he’s giving bike commuting a shot. I tried to remember what he was riding and thought he was on a mountain bike, so I grabbed a spare tube from my supply rack, some additional air, and tire tools, and threw them in my bag for the ride in. Turns out that he was on 26″ wheels, but using more of a road tire than the ginormous tube I had, but my office was just a block from the coffee shop where we met. I had a patch kit in my office, so we walked back there, found the hole in the tube, patched it up, and sent him on his way.

Later that day Conrad posted this picture with the caption, "Off to lunch at Ventis." Warms my heart.
Later that day Conrad posted this picture with the caption, "Off to lunch at Ventis." Warms my heart.

I also sent him out the door with some CO2 and an inflator just in case the patch didn’t hold. Although I can’t carry a tube for every occasion, it made me think I should try to carry some extras, especially during this month when there could be more folks needing a hand.

3. If You Can, Loan Out a Bike! – Nearly everyone I know that really gets into cycling, has more than one bike hanging in the garage. I’ve actually been thinking about clearing house a little, but am kind of glad that I haven’t quite yet because as it turns out, I think they’ll come in handy this month. In fact, one of my buddies at work said “I’d ride, but my brother took back the bike I was using. If you had one to loan me, I’d do the challenge.” DONE!

So today I’ll be dusting off the old Redline 925, and making sure it’s in tip top shape so he can ride to work this month! Do what you can to provide information, help out where you can, and even loan someone a bike if it will help them get out and ride! See you on the road!

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