Hi all! Been lurking for a few weeks so I thought I'd be brave & post today
Got a new job in DC and I'm thinking about taking up bike commuting, since I'm now sitting at a desk all day turning into a blob instead of being on my feet all day like I'm used to. That way I can get exercise without having to get up much earlier, and save the $7 a day I'm currently spending on Metro.
(which of course will all get spent on shiny new bike gear, who am I kidding.)
My bike-fu is pretty non-existent at the moment since I haven't ridden in way too long, so I'm thinking I could start by catching the bus to the Pentagon and riding in from there (to 3rd & C NW), and eventually build up to riding all the way from Alexandria (Rt. 7 & 395-ish).
Most of my riding in the past has been on trails, so I figured I'd take the Confident Cycling classes to get up to speed before hitting the city streets.
Thing is, I haven't actually got a working bike at the moment, since the shifters on my ancient MTB have become purely decorative and I'm thinking it's not worth replacing them on a 19-year old bike that weighs approximately one billion pounds (a large factor in the lack of recent riding - it's too much of a pain to lug up and down the stairs with my spindly little arms), so I've been researching a replacement.
As much as I'd love to cruise serenely along on a cute fat-tired Dutch-style bike, that would put me right back to lugging 40 pounds of bike around, so that doesn't seem like a good plan. Also a step-through would be hard to carry, methinks.
I'm currently thinking of something like a Jamis Coda - checked out the Coda Comp at CityBikes the other week and it seems pretty nice (although the Coda Sport is more in my $500-ish price range). Other suggestions? I think I want to stick to steel, not aluminum, yes? And I think it will be a while before I have the fortitude for a fixie.
Also, how the heck do you get out of the Pentagon bus station and across the river on a bike? Google Maps has me mystified.
Welcome to the forums! (And hopefully soon we can welcome you to the streets/trails in the area!)
I don't know much in the way of buying a bike (I have a cheap Trek hybrid that I love) but I thought I could point you in the direction of some Pentagon Maze talk....This link below may not answer your question entirely, but it may nudge you towards people who do the trip (or one similar to how you're trying to get into the city) and they could maybe help you out more.
Bike commuting is awesome. I hope you try it and love it as much as I do.
Some things to consider: As you figure out your gear-situation, have you thought about using CaBi? Depending on your bus options, there are lots of CaBi stations in Pentagon City. And the membership is useful and not really expensive ($75/year) -- I commute to DC on my own bike, but take CaBi around town, e.g. to get lunch. You could grab a CaBi in Pentagon City and take the trail along Washington Blvd/27 to the Memorial Bridge, which will put you behind the Lincoln. Then you can ride up the Mall (Independence or Constitution) and basically get to 3 & C NW entirely on trails.
That route will basically take you from the Pentagon bus station into DC. I can't speak from experience on getting around the Pentagon, but this thread should help you out there. Also, googlemaps has bike directions, which can help. If you don't have an exact address, you can always approximate it (e.g. "Pentagon Metro") then move the end points manually.
Once you start riding from home, I imagine you'll end up getting to Four Mile Run, taking that to the Mount Vernon Trail, and that to the 14th Street Bridge. That will be a beautiful ride.
As far as gear, it depends on lots and lots of things. Personally, I love dutch style (think CaBi) for comfort, but aluminum road bike for going fast. I switch between a Felt ZW35 (from CycleLife - also used for tris), a Biria Citibike (from Bicycle Pro Shop, also used to tote around our kid) and an electric bike. Others love steel for durability, but my commute has hills, so I don't like the weight. Your commute sounds like it'll be a lot flatter, so maybe steel is the better choice. The real key is fit, so be sure to do test rides.
Hope this helps!
I know REI sells some nice inexpensively priced commuter bikes in their Novara line; also Trek and Giant make some entry level hybrids that would be good too. Steel is nicer for smoothing out the road bumps but it is a little heavier than aluminum. If you get a bike with hybrid wheels and a suspension seat you won't have any problems with aluminum. The Jamis ones you looked at look quite good so long as they feel comfortable to you. You can also outfit a road bike into a commuter bike but road bikes take more time to get used to than a hybrid.
My best suggestion is to test ride as many bikes as you can before deciding; maybe even rent a bike or two. You'll be spending a lot of time in the saddle when you do buy one so you want to be sure you are getting the right one.
After a few weeks I'm sure you'll be commuting all the way from 7/395. If you take your time it's amazing how far you can go on a bike without getting overly tired.
Also, for commuting you will want to ensure that the bike can take fenders and a rack; not all of them do so be sure to ask the salesperson or check on line.
There are two easy trails from the Pentagon parking lots into DC but I have no idea how to get to them from the Pentagon transit center since I never use it. I'm sure someone on the forum knows.
This is late notice but the Bike Rack in DC is holding a bike commuting seminar tomorrow at 7:00 pm. The invite I received says:
Our Bicycle Commuting Seminar is a great way to get ready for a safe bicycle commute, riding in traffic, preparing for your ride, and choosing a route! Plus, we'll show you great bikes and gear to get you ready to ride!
The clinic is Wednesday, April 25th at 7:00 pm at The Bike Rack, 1412 Q St, NW. Join us for some wine and cheese, and pizza provided by Pizza No. 17 - and don't forget that WABA members receive a discount on all parts and accessories at The Bike Rack.
Only 30 tickets are available at only $5 each- RSVP now!
I visited the Bike Rack recently when I was looking for a new bike and the folks there were very friendly, helpful and laid back.
Welcome to the fold!
Last edited by KLizotte; 04-24-2012 at 03:27 PM.
I would second starting out on CaBi - that's how I got started. It's a relatively cheap way to see if you like the idea of bike commuting. And if you don't, you may still find it useful to have the membership, especially with all the expansion plans they have.
Then, when you're ready to buy your own, go test ride everything you can. I've said a bunch of times here that the bike I loved online didn't feel right AT ALL and I ended up getting something else.
Welcome to the forum! I was checking out the Jamis Coda myself a couple of weeks ago. It seems to be a very good bike, and in the long run, I think it would probably keep you happier than a fat tire city bike. The new Codas have a very adjustable stem allowing for a more upright riding positon and wider tires than previous years' models. I think, based on what i've heard and read, that it's a pretty comfortable and sweet bike in that price range.
What area do you live in? I used to take the bus to the Pentagon too, and might be able to offer some suggestions. Getting to Pentagon City to pick up a bikeshare bike may not be very convenient if your bus doesn't stop there. Because the trails heading to the Pentagon can be pretty flat, depending upon where you come from (and how far away you are), you might be surprised at how easy it is to ride a bike all the way in.
A year ago, I started with CaBi for recreation (it's a gateway drug!) and then moved up to a Coda Sport and started also using it for commuting, so I think I'm in a position to offer some thoughts
I don't want to turn this into a bike review, but my thoughts in a nutshell...the Coda Sport is a fine bike, but I think it's overpriced for what you get. The 2011 model had a pretty lousy mix of MTB components (Deore) and super basic generic Shimano stuff. Also, the cables and stuff seemed to corrode at the very mention of rain or high humidity...so it has some drawbacks. Shortly after getting my Coda, I convinced my fiance to get a bike and we picked up a Fuji Absolute 2.0 for her that is, IMHO, a much better bike for the money...full Tiagra road components, disc brakes, adjustable stem, and just a higher quality feel. I think it was a decent amount cheaper too. Maybe the 2012 Coda models are better though...I noticed they went with a steel fork over the previous model's carbon one, so they've definitely made some changes.
Once I got started on my own bike, I was totally hooked and it wasn't long before I was salivating over proper road bikes, and my hybrid made me feel like that dorky kid whose mom wouldn't buy him name brand shoes (true story of my life, actually). Of course, that's just my ego, but I did find the Coda to be limiting once I started taking longer and faster rides. Eventually, I bought a used aluminum road bike for fun and a steel cyclocross bike for commuting and sold the Coda. Anyway, I'm not saying you should go buy a road bike or anything, but try to think ahead a little rather than focusing on how you plan to use the bike right now...if that makes sense.
Thanks for the warm welcome & great advice, all!
Ah, I need to search for "Pentagon Maze" and not just "Pentagon", got it.
I forgot to mention the Judi Square CaBi station is right by my work so I was thinking I'd get a membership and start riding around on my lunch hour for fun
I'm at King St & Menokin Dr - I take the 25A or 25C bus to Pentagon and then hop on the Yellow Line. Is Shirlington on the list to get CaBi? Then I could grab a bike right at work and drop it off there (or vice versa)
I definitely want to try out lots of bikes! I suspect bike technology has improved since 1993
I was thinking the Coda looked pretty versatile for street & trails since it has the wider tires, and I can lift it with one hand! (until I slap fenders on it and a rack and panniers and a couple of bottle cages and and and...)
I'll see if I can make it to the Bike Rack seminar tomorrow, that sounds great.
Bike reviews appreciated! I need all the advice I can get.
Otherwise I'll just run off and throw a lot of money at that Electra Cruiser with the sugar skulls on it that I keep looking at online and then be sad later
I suspect once I get properly hooked that I'll be asking you all how to fit multiple bikes into a one-bedroom apartment...