Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Daily Commute...

A guy can only ride their road bike or mountain bike so often. When that's not happening, I am commuting. Back in August, my truck broke down on me. From that point, I decided I was going to living car-free or at least car-lite. Since then, I have fixed my truck but still embracing the car-lite lifestyle. This is given me the opportunity to save some money and maintain a base fitness.

I am really fortunate to have a quality commute route. Each morning I get up and head out the door for the 10 miles into town. My commute mostly consists of a few residential bike lanes in my neighborhood, to the greenway and then cutting through the historic district of town. Once I get to school, I am also fortunate to have covered bike parking. Commuting by bike really gives me the chance to get my mind focused about the day ahead. You wouldn't believe how often I will be riding and thinking about something to incorporate into an essay for class. Some of my best ideas come while on the bike. There are limited distractions while riding, especially while on the greenway in the early mornings. On the way home each day, I have the opportunity to debrief my thoughts. This is normally when I will add a few extra miles to my commute just to get a little extra time on the bike. All in all, I'm typically able to get about 20-25 miles of riding per day just with my commute.

I have definitely noticed the benefit of commuting by bike. Over the winter, commuting has allowed my to stay in shape without getting on the trainer. I really hate trainers. You sweat more than you should and you don't go anywhere. I'd rather ride in 5 degree weather than hop on the trainer. Being dedicated to commuting also hardens you to the different weather conditions. I could care less about what kind of weather I have to face each day. Over the past few months, I have been updating a lot of my clothing in order to accommodate the weather conditions I ride in. This is really important if you plan on riding in the extreme cold or in wet weather. The best piece of clothing I've been using has been my Cutter Knickers. They pants are cut to be comfortable on and off the bike. They are made of softshell material which sheds water pretty well during a light rain and dries pretty quickly after a heavy downpour. Any commuter should also have a good set of rain gear. My primary rain jacket has been a Marmot Aegis rain jacket and the Marmot Precip rain pants. As for shoes, I've really enjoyed my Chrome Kursks. These shoes look like Converse Chuck Taylors but have been designed for the urban cyclist. The sole is a bit stiffer and the shoes is made of nylon and rubber.  These shoes are great even when it's wet outside.  The nylon repels water pretty well except in the worst downpours.  Another key part of my gear is my pack.  I've been riding with a Chrome Kirov packpack since December.  This pack is designed for bike messengers so it has a lot of volume.  The pack has enough room to stash all my books, my laptop and a spare change of clothes if needed.  The inside of the pack is lined with a truck tarp material which keeps it pretty weatherproof.  The pack rides well on my back while on the bike but it does cause some serious back sweat when the temps are warmer.  During the warmer months, I'll probably switch over to some panniers or a messenger bag.  

Chrome Kirov
Another key aspect to commuting is, of course, the bike. I've got two bikes that are committed to being my primary commuter rigs. The first is my Surly Cross Check. This used to be my CX bike but has since been replaced by the All City Nature Boy as my race bike, I have turned the Cross Check into a commuter rig. The bike has full coverage fenders, 32c tires with semi knobby tread, triple crank and an 8 speed mountain bike cassette.  I really like the 8 speed setup for commuting.  The cassettes are cheap and the shifting works well indexed or on a friction setup.  This bike is mostly used when it's wet outside. I'm rocking the Velo Orange 48mm Fluted Fenders.  These have been great!  They are full coverage and look good on the bike.  My other commuter rig is a no-name hybrid bike that I've had.  This bike is surprisingly fun to ride.  I have an 8 speed drivetrain setup with a triple in the front on this bike.  I'm running 28c Pasela tires front and back.  The frame is completely covered with stickers.  This is the bike that I don't mind getting beat up a little bit on the bike racks.
My Surly Cross Check

My Sticker Bike

Commuting by bike isn't really that difficult.  It just takes a little more planning and some quality gear.  The fitness to complete your commute just simply comes with time.  As the weather starts to warm up a little bit, give it a shot sometime! 

Here are a few pictures from my commute:

Morning sunrise on the greenway

Happy commuter

Along the greenway

Approaching the town square

Downtown Historic District

Peck Hall on Campus

My Bike Parking Option

Heading Downtown

Approaching Train Tracks on the Greenway

Alternate route when train is passing

Old Fort Park on the greenway

Our greenway has some really cool bridges

Bike lanes in my neighborhood

Need I say more?


  1. Hey nice post! The more people publicly taliking about commuting on a bike the better. I am planning on starting my bike commute Friday or Monday if the weather will let up.