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View Full Version : The Tale of the Most Reluctant Bike Commuter Evar.



acc
01-20-2012, 08:19 PM
Let me be clear. I love my car. It has seat warmers and a most excellent sound system (especially with the volume set on sternum vibrate-o). It hauls the kids, their gear, the groceries, and my bikes. I have a close and personal relationship with my car.

Unfortunately traffic has become so bad it's *driven* me out of my car and onto my bike, kicking and screaming the whole way.

I hate the traffic on Maple Avenue in Vienna, it's always snarled. Most of my local trips are within a few miles. So... I had a rack surgically implanted on my mountain bike. Then I hung some big-ass panniers on the racks and asked Jan @ Bikenetics to throw some enormous fat tires on the bike formerly known as Free Willy. And suddenly I found myself pedaling around for transportation and not recreation. Where did I go wrong?

So far my biggest problem is a lack of bike parking. My dentist was great and let me bring my bike right into the waiting room. The grocery store, not so cool. I had to chain my bike to some sort of pipe. When I asked about a bike rack I received a blank look followed by the observation, "Yeah, three other people ride their bikes here." It's going to be all uphill on the education front.

I'm a fair weather commuter. I told myself if I couldn't find a safe route I wouldn't do it. I found a safe route using the mapping feature on the Ride with GPS website. I told myself if it took more than 45 minutes to get there I wouldn't do it. It took 35. Every excuse I came up with fell apart. So I rode to work. And did not die. I did it again. Still here.

I can't do it everyday. But on days when I can, I will. Unless it sleets. Or rains. Or snows.
604

Happy Trails (I still love my car)
ann

Greenbelt
01-20-2012, 09:04 PM
I get agitated when I'm in the car these days. There's no such thing as a relaxing, or even a calm drive, at least anywhere around here, at least outside the neighborhood. As soon as I get in the car, I'm checking traffic. Always checking traffic. Much more relaxed on my bike, even when the roads aren't built for us and we have to improvise our way around.

On my bike I've found lots of nearby stores, so now I don't really need to drive places much anymore. If I can't bike there these days, I pretty much don't go.

As little as we drive any more, I'm hoping we can keep the old Corolla running forever. Spending less on gas and cars = more money to spend on food and vacations!

eminva
01-20-2012, 09:10 PM
Yay, Ann! Welcome aboard!

Re: traffic, when I first got my driver's license, I lived in Texas and distances were great, so I thought, "wow, freedom!" Years later, when I started bicycle commuting, I thought, "wow, freedom!" Funny how things came full circle.

Liz

FFX_Hinterlands
01-21-2012, 07:33 AM
Such a great post, Ann!

I didn't like riding in the rain until I tried it. Kind of fun, really, as long as you have fenders. I recently picked up one of these (http://www.rivbike.com/PhotoGallery.asp?ProductCode=ar1)so I can blend in more when I ride in the rain.

acc
01-21-2012, 08:26 AM
This is me, crying on the inside.

600

"I'm only happy when it rains..." Not exactly.:D

ann

dbb
01-21-2012, 08:46 AM
I see the problem. The absence of rhinestones has eliminated the aura about the rider that deflects the raindrops!

acc
01-21-2012, 09:25 AM
Sadly, though most problems in life can be solved by piling on more rhinestones,

602

they are reflective in nature but not water repellant.

603

ann

KLizotte
01-21-2012, 02:35 PM
Welcome to the dark side Ann! Just think, you are setting a great example for your kids.

FYI: Streetview on google maps is a great way to check out potential routes since you can see what the roads and landmarks are like from an "on the saddle" perspective.

KLizotte
01-21-2012, 02:39 PM
This is me, crying on the inside.

600

"I'm only happy when it rains..." Not exactly.:D

You really need to get a rain cap for your helmet. Kinda like a fancy shower cap. Makes a big difference.

On the other hand, you just saved yourself the effort of a shampoo.:D

pfunkallstar
01-22-2012, 11:50 AM
I get agitated when I'm in the car these days.

Every night when I drive by the mile-long stack of cars on the Parkway, I think to myself "I'm glad I'm covered head to toe in spandex."

off2ride
01-22-2012, 01:00 PM
I too love my car but I also love it when I know I've saved some gas by riding to work. Sure it's cold but that's only for the first 3 minutes.

dasgeh
01-23-2012, 10:44 AM
I don't love my car, but I do love the butt-warmers. If only they'd come up with butt-warmers for the bike.

MCL1981, PrintError or vvill -- could you jerry-rig something and tell us all how you do it? Bonus points if it has an auto-shut-off once you've started riding hard.

I am not built for winter.

americancyclo
01-23-2012, 01:35 PM
http://youtu.be/jQIbItOoiAA

acc
01-23-2012, 01:52 PM
With visions of a smoking hot saddle making me cringe, I bring you:
http://www.swimoutlet.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=21532&Click=310393&gclid=CJjdtcv15q0CFWm-tgodFl_TiQ

ann

Riley Casey
01-23-2012, 02:07 PM
Whats next on this slippery slope?

http://www.google.com/patents/about/6476365_Toilet_paper_dispenser.html?id=XP8KAAAAEBA J

mstone
01-23-2012, 02:11 PM
I don't love my car, but I do love the butt-warmers. If only they'd come up with butt-warmers for the bike.

MCL1981, PrintError or vvill -- could you jerry-rig something and tell us all how you do it? Bonus points if it has an auto-shut-off once you've started riding hard.

I am not built for winter.

http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2008/12/iron-saddle.jpg

DaveK
01-23-2012, 03:40 PM
I love(d) my car, but driving it around here would make me hate life. I sold it before I moved into the city. Couldn't bear the thought of it living the life our one car does now, being scratched, dented, walked on (!), and god knows what else. I'm still a huge car guy though. If I moved somewhere out further I'd get another car in an instant, even if I didn't drive to work. Bike guys can be (and often are) car guys.

PrintError
01-24-2012, 10:22 AM
http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2008/12/iron-saddle.jpg

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHA

Admittedly, my butt is the least likely thing to get cold thanks to the chamois padding. I need a bridge-of-my-freaking-nose warmer for the sub-freezing days.

baiskeli
01-24-2012, 12:17 PM
The grocery store, not so cool. I had to chain my bike to some sort of pipe. When I asked about a bike rack I received a blank look followed by the observation, "Yeah, three other people ride their bikes here." It's going to be all uphill on the education front.

I find that the response that has the best shot at educating them is "well, there's a store nearby that has bike racks - so I guess I'll go there next time." If that doesn't help, at least it makes you feel better.

acc
01-24-2012, 09:53 PM
Thank you for the advice. I honestly try to minimize my time in the grocery store (and my time in the kitchen) so I should, but didn't track down the manager to whine that there is no place to park my bike.

Now that I've managed to survive a few runs to work on my bike I can share the following observations.
1. Hills suck.
2. Test out the ride at least twice with an unloaded bike.
3. Hills suck.
4. Don't say to yourself, "Hey, I bet that's a shortcut..." when you really need to be at work in 30 minutes.
5. It's all about the weight. If it goes in the panniers I have to haul it. Suddenly I need so much less. Eyelash curler, gone. Lunch, yeah-- I'll buy that. Student papers -- uh, we're going all email submissions.
6. Hills are the instrument of the devil.
7. My U-lock key goes on a chain around my neck along with my ID.
8. Helmets are hell on hair.

Happy trails,
ann

PS - When will this start being fun?

jrenaut
01-24-2012, 10:01 PM
PS - When will this start being fun?
You might need to increase your smug factor - I find my elevated level of smugness keeps me warm on cold days and energized on crappy hills. Think of all the things that people in cars hate that just don't apply to you on your bike. Think about your carbon footprint. Think about how many calories you burn. Think about everyone who might say, "OMG, you BIKE to work?". Think about all the fresh air you breathe without having to change a cabin filter.

I can't, however, help you with your hair. It's been at least a decade since I was seriously concerned about how my hair looked - I have a nicely-shaped head (I've been told this numerous times), so I can cut my hair pretty close and not look silly. That may not apply to you.

DaveK
01-24-2012, 11:13 PM
Dirty little secret - I won't ride if I don't think I'll have more fun than I would riding Metro to work. Fortunately this gets me to ride almost every day. All the side benefits are nice but in the end I choose to ride because I enjoy it more than any other method I have of getting to work. Look at it vs the alternatives... if driving is great for you and you enjoy it, do it. If biking is fun, do that. If they both have their days, do both. I can't even fathom that anyone would enjoy riding Metro so I'm leaving that out.

Subby
01-25-2012, 07:55 AM
Thank you for the advice. I honestly try to minimize my time in the grocery store (and my time in the kitchen) so I should, but didn't track down the manager to whine that there is no place to park my bike.

Now that I've managed to survive a few runs to work on my bike I can share the following observations.
1. Hills suck.
2. Test out the ride at least twice with an unloaded bike.
3. Hills suck.
4. Don't say to yourself, "Hey, I bet that's a shortcut..." when you really need to be at work in 30 minutes.
5. It's all about the weight. If it goes in the panniers I have to haul it. Suddenly I need so much less. Eyelash curler, gone. Lunch, yeah-- I'll buy that. Student papers -- uh, we're going all email submissions.
6. Hills are the instrument of the devil.
7. My U-lock key goes on a chain around my neck along with my ID.
8. Helmets are hell on hair.

Happy trails,
ann

PS - When will this start being fun?
I love reading your posts because I am new to this too - not just commuting to work, but this is the first bicycle I've even owned since college. Right now the best part of it for me is riding hands-free on the slight downhills - such a great feeling - sitting back in the saddle, arms across my chest or holding the back of my seat, just cruising.

I have a Honda Pilot which I LOVE, but I still get plenty of time in it toting my four kids around. Not having to take it to work is 20 miles per day of gas and wear and tear saved.

The side benefit is that I've lost 15 pounds of middle aged flab since the beginning of the year - excited to think how much faster I can go if I get down to my ideal weight.

Finally - on the hills - they totally suck. But if they were easy, everyone would do this. I take some satisfaction that most of my friends and co-workers think biking to work is insane/herculean.

/rambling

DismalScientist
01-25-2012, 08:10 AM
1. Hills suck.


Some on this forum would disagree.

That that does not kill us only makes us stronger.:rolleyes:

Tim Kelley
01-25-2012, 08:19 AM
Some on this forum would disagree.

That that does not kill us only makes us stronger.:rolleyes:


Yay hills! Not a single flat spot. (http://ridewithgps.com/trips/415512)

I can't wait for Pete to make it even harder this spring!

americancyclo
01-25-2012, 08:33 AM
Yay hills! Not a single flat spot. (http://ridewithgps.com/trips/415512)

I can't wait for Pete to make it even harder this spring!

Ok, that does it, since I can't make JB's Gran Fondo (http://www.alpineloopgranfondo.com/) this year, I am DEFINITELY making this ride whenever it happens.

culimerc
01-25-2012, 09:08 AM
Ann- Dont worry. Hills are an acquired taste. You start to enjoy them more, the more you do them. It's an odd evolution.

Rootchopper
01-25-2012, 09:48 AM
Ann

Be glad you have hair to mess up. We in the fifty something male cohort long for the days of helmet hair.

As for the hills, can you route your way around them? A straight line doesn't necessarilly mean the best route. I regularly take a steep down hill on the way to work, but avoid it in favor of a long, gradual uphill on the way home. It adds about 1/2 mile to the ride.

As for the fun, have you noticed the sunlight creeping into your morning and evening ride? Soon you will hear the birds coming back from their winter hideaways. And the trees will start budding. And the flowers blooming. And you'll smell the change of seasons too.

Keep at it.

P.S. I saw a bald eagle on the wing flying across Roaches Run near National Airport this morning.

Terpfan
01-25-2012, 09:59 AM
Dirty little secret - I won't ride if I don't think I'll have more fun than I would riding Metro to work. Fortunately this gets me to ride almost every day. All the side benefits are nice but in the end I choose to ride because I enjoy it more than any other method I have of getting to work. Look at it vs the alternatives... if driving is great for you and you enjoy it, do it. If biking is fun, do that. If they both have their days, do both. I can't even fathom that anyone would enjoy riding Metro so I'm leaving that out.

Aside from downpour days or days I know I will be drinking after work (drinking, cold weather and biking don't make for good rides), I avoid Metro. I can't fathom the idea of giving them $7 and them still managing to make me naseaus, standing on a crowded bus, or playing train bingo when one train breaks down thereby causing every line to take longer to move than it would to walk the 7 odd miles home.

What I can't wait for is more days like yesterday. Give me low 50s-low 70s all year round and no wind. That would be awesome.

dasgeh
01-25-2012, 01:29 PM
I can't even fathom that anyone would enjoy riding Metro so I'm leaving that out.

This is what I mean when I say Metro has done a lot for promoting bike commuting...

Well, this and how ridiculously unreliable it is, but that's part of the misery of Metro, in my opinion.

dasgeh
01-25-2012, 01:35 PM
As for the fun, have you noticed the sunlight creeping into your morning and evening ride? Soon you will hear the birds coming back from their winter hideaways. And the trees will start budding. And the flowers blooming. And you'll smell the change of seasons too.

Oddly enough, I think I appreciate winter more when I bike commute, because I truly experience the seasons. Or maybe this winter just hasn't been so bad.

As for hills, two words: electric bike. (I'm still waiting to be booted from the forum for saying that. Maybe that's why Tim is doing his purge.)

acc
01-25-2012, 06:16 PM
Yes, I am truly experiencing the seasons... And after careful consideration I have to say that I'd prefer to experience winter in Miami where this weekend a local bike shop is sponsoring a Beer/BBQ ride. I plan to spend this weekend decrusting my gloves.

As for hills...To me an acquired taste is caviar or absinthe, something a bit out of the ordinary but with a recognizable payoff. I will try to focus on the positive, what is uphill in one direction is downhill in the other.

But I am making progress. Tomorrow I will not put my helmet on my head until I've snapped my light onto my helmet.

Wonder where I can find some caviar and absinthe?
ann

Jason
01-30-2012, 10:55 AM
Oddly enough, I think I appreciate winter more when I bike commute, because I truly experience the seasons. Or maybe this winter just hasn't been so bad.

As for hills, two words: electric bike. (I'm still waiting to be booted from the forum for saying that. Maybe that's why Tim is doing his purge.)

I hope I don't get booted as well, but I would definately consider that a future option as the regenerative brake technology gets allot better.

WillStewart
02-09-2012, 06:52 AM
The grocery store, not so cool. I had to chain my bike to some sort of pipe. When I asked about a bike rack I received a blank look followed by the observation, "Yeah, three other people ride their bikes here."

Ann, I grew up in Vienna and have seen massive changes over the decades. If the grocery store chain does not provide bike racks, complain to the district/regional HQ. If that does not work (where they respond back with a "Yes, we will have one put in right away", then consider taking your business elsewhere. If it is Magruders, then send an email to the ownership. Keep us posted on this, bike infrastructure is sorely needed and squeaky wheels play a big part.

Kudos on your lifestyle change - if more did so, oil imports wouldnt' be such an economic and national security problem.

WillStewart
02-09-2012, 06:55 AM
:)
This is me, crying on the inside.

600


No wonder I never see you - I've always thought the rhinestones would stand out blazingly :D

acc
02-09-2012, 08:54 AM
Silly man. This is the "before" shot. I've been busy adding more bling to the helmet and pimping out my ride to a whole new level of tasteless obnoxiousness.
750

Subjectively, three weeks into my new fun bike to work hobby, it is still a slog.
Objectively, I was distracted by the chance to gawk at a group of firefighters while climbing one of those horrid hills, forgot to shift into my smallest ring, but didn't particularly notice. I think that means I'm becoming more proficient with hills. Or perhaps the firefighters were really hawt. Hard to sort.

Back to bling,
ann

creadinger
02-09-2012, 11:27 AM
I can't even fathom that anyone would enjoy riding Metro so I'm leaving that out.

I think metro deserves a teeny bit of credit. My wife takes metro daily and gets an extra 90 mins of sleep everyday. That is something I would not recommend while driving or biking. The RAAM guys talk about falling asleep on the bike sometimes, but I think they also say it's a very bad thing to do. I wouldn't want to metro daily, but it's not all bad.

Metro saved my ass during the commutapocalypse last January.

DaveK
02-09-2012, 12:15 PM
I think metro deserves a teeny bit of credit. My wife takes metro daily and gets an extra 90 mins of sleep everyday. That is something I would not recommend while driving or biking. The RAAM guys talk about falling asleep on the bike sometimes, but I think they also say it's a very bad thing to do. I wouldn't want to metro daily, but it's not all bad.

Metro saved my ass during the commutapocalypse last January.Metro is usually perfectly fine about getting you where you're going. It's the employee attitudes, the general state of the system and vehicles, and the random breakdowns with no communication that drive me up the wall. Also I'm not the kind of person that can be stuck in a tube with random fellow humans for more than 5 minutes and be okay with it. I also hate flying.

KLizotte
02-09-2012, 01:33 PM
Silly man. This is the "before" shot. I've been busy adding more bling to the helmet and pimping out my ride to a whole new level of tasteless obnoxiousness.
750

I suddenly had visions of Elvis. Perhaps you have become an Elvette?

Shame those rhinestones don't light up at night. Now that would be cool.

Congrats on keeping up with the "horrid" commute. Perhaps you can ask the firefighters to hang out on your route everyday to provide inspiration. I'm sure they don't mind women oggling them :rolleyes: