Archives for category: General

5 Steps to Start Bicycle Commuting to Work

1.       Set a commuting goal

2.       Plan your route.

3.       Check your bike over.

4.       Plan your clothing and gear needs.

5.       Commute by Bike Your First Time

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Set a Commuting Goal

One of the easiest steps but also the most important. Set your goal of how often you want to commute to work by bicycle. Is it once a week, giving you flexibility in your schedule and weather? Is it so many times of month? Set one and then write it down and create a way to track it. Goals that are written down and tracked are more likely to get completed. Share your plan with your friends and co-works, this will create some accountability. Maybe you’ll even have some people interested in joining you.

Plan Your Route

You may or may not be able to ride the same route you drive to work every day.

When you’re driving to work look at the shoulders and road conditions. Do you see other cyclists on the roads you use? Drive other routes to work and see if they are better. Ask others who bike to work how they go.

Use Google Maps with the bike feature for some inspiration if you are not sure about the best route. Strava heat maps are another tool to help your planning.

Maybe you don’t commute the full distance to work. We know of several people who drive to a certain point and then ride the rest of the distance in to work on their bike. They enjoy the benefits of riding and often save a lot on parking.

Do a dry run one day when you are off. You’ll familiarize yourself with the route and not be as worried the first time you’re doing it for real. Bring some friends along for the ride and have fun with it, get breakfast or lunch close to your work and then ride on home.

Check Your Bike Over

Just like you maintain your car to make sure it is reliable you’ll want to make sure your bike is ready for its new roll. Check the conditions of the tires and the gears and the brakes. A bell on your bike will come in handy to alert others of your presence. If you are going to ride in low light or darkness you’ll want lights. If you have any questions come by the store and we can go over your bike together. Do you have a way to fix a flat if you were to get one?

Here is a link to help you inspect your bike.

If you increase your bike commuting there are accessories that you’ll want to consider but aren’t necessary to get started.

Puncture Resistant Tires – These reduce the likely hood of getting a flat. If your route has rougher roads or sections with debris you’ll want to consider these.

Fenders – If you ride in wet conditions or after a rain shower these will help keep you dry and your bike a little cleaner.

Clothing – There really is no bad weather to commute in just poor clothing choices. Cycling apparel has come so far from gear to keep you dry to apparel to keep you warm. If your desire is there you can commute in temperatures below freezing to over a hundred degrees.

Plan Your Clothing and Gear Needs – So how are you going to get your stuff to work?  Can you ride to work in the clothing you work in? An easy solution is to drop off some extra clothes when you drive to work one day. Many commuters bring in their cloths for the week and drop them off the first of the week and bring the dirty stuff home at the end of the week.

Pro Tip: If your clothes are dry cleaned find a cleaner near work to take your clothes to or have your clothes picked up and dropped off at work.

Lots of bag options are available to get your gear to and from work. Many commuters use a messenger style bag to carry their clothing and electronics in. It can be multipurpose on and off the bike. Backpacks are popular as well.  You can install a rear rack on your bicycle and attached bags. Panniers are popular but there are also briefcases for laptops that attach to the rack and bags made to carry dress clothing.

When starting out you want to keep it simple to keep it fun. Just drop off your clothing prior to the day you plan to commute to work.

Commute by Bike Your First Time

You did all the preparation and the hard stuff now do the fun thing and enjoy your commute to work by bicycle. Have a great ride. Don’t forget to take a few photos to document the occasion! Congratulations on your accomplishment!

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A bike is 30 times less expensive to buy and maintain then a car.Last year I wrote the Bicycle as a great solution. It was full of compelling reasons the bike is a great solution to a lot of our countries issues.

Check it out here.

With Bike to Work Day this Friday May 18th I wanted to share a few reasons why you should considered riding to work at the least, some days.

  • It’s Fun
  • You’ll arrive feeling better
  • You Save Money

It’s Fun

Riding is certainly more fun than sitting in your car. Set a goal for yourself. Maybe once a week, two or three times a month. Then be sure to track it. Goals that you track are more likely to be accomplished. Make your initial goal something easy for you to achieve. Picking a modest goal will allow you to ride to work on the “Chamber of Commerce Days” so you get comfortable with it.

These are fun goals that you should look forward to completing. After all, work may not be fun, it should be, but riding to work will certainly start the day off right.

You’ll Arrive Feeling Better

“Increased Productivity – Bicyclists and walkers arrive at work with less stress than those who commute by automobile. The Berkeley Wellness Letter reports that “chronic exposure to traffic congestion produces an increase in baseline blood pressure, lowering of frustration tolerance, increases in negative mood, and aggressive driving habits.” In contrast, bicyclists and walkers often report feeling relaxed and more alert after arriving at work, ready for a more productive day.”

Source: biketoworkmetrodc.org.  http://www.biketoworkmetrodc.org/employer-resources/benefits-of-bicyling-in-the-workplace

Feeling better and being healthier is always a good thing.

You’ll Save Money

You’ll also save money. Both on your medical bills and on your parking costs.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, moderate physical activity (such as bicycling to work) saves 5 to 12 percent in annual medical costs, compared with a 6.5 percent savings from employees who don’t smoke.” Biketoworkmetrodc.org

Increasing your activity will decrease your absenteeism at work. While that may not sound like a great reason it does mean that you’ll be healthier when you’re not at work allowing you to have more fun.

Fewer miles on your car, especially commuting miles in traffic means less wear and tear and maintenance.

Be sure to check out tomorrow’s post. 5 Steps to Start Commuting to Work.

Our fifth and finale Blog in Our Year In Review Series

Saddle Bags

Saddle bags: Fit nicely under your saddle and come in a variety of sizes. The most popular use for these are for fix a flat kits. Your spare tube, tire levers, inflation device, patch kit, tire boot, multi tool.

If you use a saddle bag have you checked the contents to make sure they are ready if you need them? Is everything there? Is the glue in your patch kit dried out? Are your tire levers worn out? Do you have a spare tube in good shape and CO2 cartridges if needed?

Enough space to carry your stuff?

Having places to stash your stuff is key. When you need something you need it. Of course having too much just weighs you down.

The good news is there are lots of ways and bags to carry your gear. Cell phone bags are very popular, perfect to carry your phone on your handlebars and a few credit cards.

Top tube bags are also super handy. They mount on the top tube of the bike right behind the handlebar. An ideal place to stash nutrition. Which is what the bags were originally designed for. Often referred to as Bento boxes by triathletes to keep enough fuel on hand during their event.

While they work great for food they are also well suited for tissues, lip balm and just about anything else you can imagine.

Have larger items to bring along? A rack trunk is an ideal bag and after the saddle bag is our most popular bag. This sits behind your saddle and on top of a rear rack. Rack trunks come in all

Rear Rack Trunk Bag

different shapes and sizes with different pocket options. Pockets make it nice to keep stuff sorted and easy for you to find. Many of these have straps on the outside to stash items of clothing under it. With a shoulder strap option you can easily take the bag along for your explorations.

Rack trunks can also offer expandable pockets when you just need more space. Top expanders are popular or even a side pocket that opens to a side pannier.

Many of the bags like this are soft padded making safe areas to store a camera or slide in an ice pack or two for a picnic lunch along your adventure.

Handlebar bags

One of the best features of a handlebar bag is the access it offers you while riding. Many of the designers were thoughtful and have the bag zipper open in the direction of the rider. These bags generally have a clear plastic area on the top for your cue sheet or anything else you need to see while riding.

Most will come with a shoulder strap so you can bring it along with you off the bike. A basic handlebar bag may only have a single area to store stuff, where others may have side pockets, front pocket and an extra top pocket. Often they have mesh pockets on the side to stash your trash.

One of my favorite bags is the Topeak TourGuide….

Car Rack – Does what you want, easy to carry your bike?

Making your bike easy to transport means you’ll be more likely to want to take your bike different places to ride. A car rack is the best way to transport your bike. It protects your car and your bike.

Dragging your bike in and out of your car can not only damage your car’s interior but also your bike. We’ve seen damage to rear derailleurs that leads to shifting issues and damage to other areas of the bike.

A good car rack with protect both your car and your bicycle. Making it easy to get your bike on and off your rack and to all the great areas there are to ride in the area.

With today’s cars it is more important than ever to make sure the rack you are using is a recommended fit for your car. With all of the plastic on today’s cars it is super important to make sure your rack and bike are securely fastened to your car.

Looking for an upgrade that will increase your speed and improve your ride? Wheels! Wheels offer a big return on your investment. These are often an overlooked component when selecting a bike and are usually not spec’d to the quality of the rest of the bike. Stock wheels are generally heavier and more basic so they will last longer for the manufacturer. You don’t have to sacrifice quality and durability on your wheels.

Upgraded wheels can be:

  • Stiffer – Climb better, more power transferred to the bike
  • More Aerodynamic – Faster with less effort
  • Roll Better – More comfortable ride, less resistance
  • Accelerate faster
  • Lighter Weight – Climb better

Aerodynamic features of the wheels can be more important then weight from a performance standpoint at certain speeds.

We continue our Year In Review with Part Four. Please check out the other posts if you are just joining us.

Shorts

Did you have some shorts that aren’t quite as comfortable as others? Maybe they work for shorter rides but not the longer rides. Cycling shorts do wear out. Their chamois breaks down and leads to less support and even chaffing. How you clean and care for your shorts greatly affects their life span. The most expensive shorts are designed to last five years or so but the average short has a year and a half to three year lifespan depending on the amount of riding you do. Once you start to hit six or seven thousand miles of riding you could see your short wearing out. Yet if you still ride frequently just in much shorter rides the cleaning of the shorts could reduce the life of the shorts. Wear a pair four or more days a week and you still may see lifespan issues at a year and a half or so.

One of the biggest threats I see to cycling shorts are saddle bags. Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Well it is the Velcro strap that attaches the bag to the seatpost. The Velcro tab rubs on the inside of the thigh on the short and pulls at the material causing it to wear and possibly tear.

Helmet

If you purchased your helmet in the last three to five years or more it is time to replace it. The materials that the helmet is constructed with breaks down over time from, sun, heat and your perspiration. Not sure how old it is? Most helmets have a date stamp/sticker on the inside indicating the manufacture date.

Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve checked over your bike now it is time to check over your accessories.

Do you have everything you need in one in place? Can you find everything? Are they working properly?

Keeping all of your cycling gear in one place makes it easy for when you want to ride. I’ve arrived to a ride missing something and it is no fun. It also reduces stress on ride days knowing everything is in one place a ready to go.

Floor Pump

Are you having any issues with your floor pump? The head is staying securely on your valve during inflation. Is there any air leaking from the house or any other areas of the pump? Is the gauge working properly? Is it easy enough for you to get your tires to the proper tire pressure?

Lights

Bontrager Daytime Lights

If you have lights are they working? Are the mounts secure? Are the batteries charged? Did they provide you with enough light for your rides last year? Do you use daytime lights for your rides?

Daytime lights provide increased visibility of the cyclists by cars and other road users. Motorcyclists and cards have been using them for decades, cyclists should be too. Learn about the ABC’s of cycling here.

Computers/Electronics

Check the operation of your computers. When was the last time you changed your batteries? If you have a wireless system there is a battery in the head unit and the transmitter. If you have a wired one is there any damage to the wire?   Is it securely fastened? Are your magnets securely fastened and lined up with the sensor?

Sensors not properly lined up are the number one reason we see for computers not working properly.

It’s always a bummer to lose your computer during a ride. Taking a few moments will ensure that you have a functioning computer for navigation and to record your rides.

If you have other electronics like GPS units or Power devices make sure you have updated them to the latest firmware to ensure they keep working up to there potential.

Always bring enough hydration with you.

Hydration

Did you have enough ways to carry hydration with you last season? Cyclists should be consuming a bottle of water an hour during a ride. Many bicycles have places for two bottles but if yours doesn’t or you need more there are more options to attach bottle on the handlebars or behind the saddle.

Are your bottle cages intact? We see lots of broken cages. A functional cage will hold your bottles securely and ensure you have plenty of hydration for your ride.

Our Next Blog Continues on with Accessories & Clothing

 

Addressing maintenance issues before they become an issue will reduce hassles for you and save you money. Having a ride destroyed because of a mechanical issue that could have been prevented is no fun.

So before your first ride of the year it is always a good idea to review your bike and accessories to make sure that everything is working properly and you have everything you need to enjoy your

A Clean Drive Train is a Happy Drive Train

first ride of the year.

First you want to check over the major systems of your bicycle.

Braking and Shifting.

First run through the gears and make sure your bike is shifting properly. Think back to the last time you rode. Did your bike shift smoothly and properly? Or does it need a little attention?

Next you’ll want to look at the brakes. Are they working properly? Do the brake pads line up on the rims? When you pick up the bike and spin the wheels do they spin smoothly between the pads without rubbing the pads? Do the brake levers stop before touching the bars so that you have enough to actually stop the bike?

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve had this blog in my mind and even outlined for some time. The original plan was to post this in January but here we are in March. Better late than never right?

Ironically I wrote this on the first full day of spring in a snowstorm. Yet unlike January consistent good cycling days are right around the corner.

It is always a good thing to look back at the previous season or year of any activity and think about what worked and what didn’t work for you. Cycling is no different. A new year should mean more adventures and more fun.

So over the next few blogs we are going to dive into just that. The goal should be to make this year even more fun than last year. Plus if you have things to look forward to it makes it even easier to stay motivated for those things. I don’t know about you but I always am happier and stay a little more focused when I know my next activity, event or vacation.

Creating a plan makes everything easier. You know what you have to look forward to. You think about it once and then you know you are going to get to do what you want to do.

It is always a good idea to ask yourself some questions to help make your next year of riding even better.

So the first question is:

What worked and what didn’t?

Obviously you want to keep doing more of what worked and address the areas that didn’t.

If it is a ride that is easy – just don’t do it again. Simple I know.

Before the climb. Tucson trip November 2017 Mt Lemmon

Memories from great rides last a lifetime!

What were your favorite rides? Do you want to do them again?

Most organized rides happen on the same weekend each year. Look them up mark your calendar and register early to save some money. Then invite some friends come along and ride with you. Riding with friends and family members is always more fun.

What came easy?

It is likely you’ll want to continue doing more of this. Make sure you keep it in the plan for your year. The easy stuff elevates the fun factor for your cycling.

Did you ride enough? – Mileage Goals – Do you track your rides?

Planning your riding season early and getting the rides on the calendar is the first step to making sure you get the rides in you want and don’t miss anything.

If you have a mileage goal which I know many people do. Do you have enough time to meet that goal with the riding you do?

Sometimes it is hard to find the extra time but if you include riding in stuff you already do you can often find extra time.

When you hang out with friends what do you do?

Could you do that on a ride on the local bike trail? You can still talk and maybe you stop for lunch or food along the way. Could you commute a few days a week to work? You’ll arrive at work more energized for sure. Maybe you couldn’t ride both ways. My Uncle used to rideshare with a friend. They would drive in together and then one of them would ride their bike home, taking turns driving. That way they arrived for work clean and ready to work and had the ride home to look forward to. They would leave their cloths in the office and then bring everything home on Friday. Many offices have locker rooms making riding round trip even easier.

Finding local group rides, typically weekly, is a great way to meet new people to ride with and to increase your riding mileage.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Spies

Elbows out: After its debut in 2011, Elbowz Racing quickly became one of the top amateur teams in the U.S. Photo: Elbowz Racing. Cat. 1 racer, and most notably, he started the successful Elbowz Racing team, which, in its rookie season in 2011, won more than 70 races. Spies won the AMA Superbike national championship for in 2006, and successfully defended his title in 2007, and again in 2008. He then went on to win the world Superbike championship in 2009, which he describes as nothing more than “a big dream.” Even with motorcycle racing at the forefront, Spies began cycling as a way to get in shape, beginning nearly a decade ago. Despite the difference in the physics and dynamics of bike racing and motorcycle racing, there are also similarities, in body position, and in the accompanying adrenaline rush. – Velonews

Professional Athletes are integrating the bicycle into their workout routines in greater numbers. Many NASCAR drivers are riding and Jimmie Johnson recently said on Lance Armstrong’s Podcast that in the mornings you’ll often see large groups leaving the track to go for a ride.

Today we are going to talk about a local athlete Ray Lewis and his love of the bicycle. We’ll circle back to NASCAR in an upcoming post.

Ray talks about his love of cycling in this Intro to a Spinervals video he recorded with Baltimore resident and Coach Troy Jacobson:

From: The Post Game

Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the All-Pro linebacker is in the best shape that he’s ever seen him in, and Lewis says that’s thanks to cycling.Ray Lewis Indoor Training

“I credit a lot of my training to a lot of my cycling,” Lewis told reporters, getting more excited by the word. “I did a lot of cycling. I became real big in it. First couple times I went out there I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I mean, the fatigue that you go through…”

One reason Lewis brought out the bicycle is because it puts less stress on legs than pounding the pavement.

Have any of you seen Ray while out on a ride?

This post is part of our celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Bicycle and the people who love them.