Yep Cycling is SO much easier!

For almost 20 years, I drove 26 miles from my front door in Federal Way to the Mighty P in Seattle. In study after study, Seattle keeps coming up on top of the worst commuting cities in the country. But I was good at it. I could read the traffic, knew what lane to get in, Paul Tosh the traffic guy came through time and again for me, allowing me to bail out and get off the freeway and use my patented alternate routes.

When I moved to the Holy P for 3 years, my skills enhanced even more as the commute was longer. After coming back to the Mighty P again, Michelle and I were lucky enough to score spots in the office 5 miles from our house. No more traffic issues… Continue reading “Yep Cycling is SO much easier!”

Cycling Zen

Speaking as a cyclist, I think I can truthfully say we are a different breed.  I can see some of you nodding at this and thinking “No kidding pal!! Y’all pedal 100s of miles. climb hills that mountain goats think twice about and will ride for 15 hours straight if you have to.  Y’all are nuts!”

While all of this is true, I think of this as normal, I am talking about other things… Continue reading “Cycling Zen”

A straight line… Why?

Folks, I am finally feeling like I am getting back on track!  I have 3 rides already this month each over 30 miles (2 are 40 or more) I have been riding in the shed when I couldn’t ride outside and, as of today, I am back to the regular office and able to do my normal 17 mile route home!  I am much happier with my activity level.

Plus, with an app my wife and her friends use on the smart phones, I can finally map my routes.  Doing so today though, showed me something I hadn’t expected. Continue reading “A straight line… Why?”

It really is a matter of convenience…

You know what’s fun about reading other cycling blogs?  You sometimes read a post that results in you “borrowing” the theme for your own blog.  (OK, maybe we could call it stealing the idea)  This happened just yesterday when I read a post by my british blogger friend Jude (Cycling with Heels) Continue reading “It really is a matter of convenience…”

Couple of minutes can mess up the commute

It is SO nice not to be sick anymore!  And the recovery hit right at the right time, its Friday, the weekend is supposed to be nice for riding and I was able to leave at 3:30!  I was downstairs and changing at 3:25 and ready to roll, and then it hit me…  The sunglasses were upstairs at my desk!  DAMN!  To the elevator! Continue reading “Couple of minutes can mess up the commute”

Shorter Bike Commutes are Harder?

it might surprise some of you, but I don’t get paid to ride my bike.  Think about that though, wouldn’t be nice to somehow figure out a way to get paid by the mile?  It would be one helluva an incentive to hop on the bike no mater how cold and wet it is outside.  Maybe I can post something on Craigslist, “Well ride for cash!”  Hmmm

Sorry I digressed.  Since I don’t get paid by the mile, I have a job that pays me enough to be able to ride.  I work in the training department of a Northwest insurance company.  I help train the new claims folks.  One of the best parts is that I can cycle commute.  Its only 17 miles to my house from the front door.  Just a good stretch of the legs.

This week, I am learning that a much shorter commute is actually harder! Continue reading “Shorter Bike Commutes are Harder?”

Time to Start Bike Commuting?

As we all know, gas aint getting any cheaper.  Finding time to workout aint getting any easier, and our population, for the most part, aint getting any skinnier.  So, in an effort to help all three of these problems, more and more people are considering becoming bike commuters.

Now let me be up front here, I am NO expert, hell, if you read this blog even semi regularly, you know I just started las week.  However, it is going well, and I thought I’d share how I got ready to make this happen.  Plus Michelle sent me an article explaining how to become a bike commuter, but it left BIG gaps.  So here we go, feel free to use what you want and toss the rest.

Determine the best ROUTES to and from work

Notice I said routeS, meaning more than one.  I have 3 routes to my office.  They are all about the same distance.  One gives me 12 out of 16 miles on a major bike trail.  I like it for that reason.  75% of the commute has no cars.  However, last year the trail was closed for 6 months for a major overhaul, and the detours sucked butt!  Having alternate routes will allow you some variety and a contingency plan just in case.

Notice I also said find the best route home.  One, of my routes to work is a one way road south.  I honestly don’t know the northbound route for this one, but I will find out soon.

I don’t own a route finding bike GPS, I still work old school with google maps, and click the bike for bets bike directions.  I have had good luck with this!  Then there is the old standby, just sorta head toward work and see where you end up (on a day off of course, that’s how I’ve found all three of mine.

Ride the Routes

I always tell people before their first day of work, drive the route and see how long it takes you.  This will give you an idea of how long it will take you to get to the office.  Then give yourself extra time the first few times in case you have a problem.

Also, if you have never ridden during rush hour, the time may be longer.  Rush hour results in more cars, longer waits at lights, grumpier people etc.  I have found that the road crossings of my bike trail which are normally wide open, now have a steady stream of cars.

Consider Starting with one-way Trips First

Most public transit have bike racks on their buses.  You can either take the bus to work, and ride home, or the other way around.  If you haven’t used the bike racks on buses, just go to park and ride on the weekend.  There is always a bus ready to load (at least around here) and the drivers are very helpful in assisting you.  We are also lucky that our commuter train (when the tracks aren’t blocked with mudslides) also allows bikes.

I cheat.  My wife and I work at the same company, so we can carpool in, and i ride home. We get the morning carpool lanes, but she gets off work before me, so she doesn’t have to wait everyday for me.

Know Your Distance

How close is close enough to work?  Mine is 17 miles away, the perfect before and after work kind of workout.  Others want a closer commute.  Again, is public transportation an option?  Can you drive part way and bike the rest?

You don’t want the distance to be too far, or too hard a route, at least going to work.  The boss might not like you worn out and falling asleep on the job.

Where are You Going to Park the Bike

Figure this out LONG before your first ride.  We have a bike rack in the parking garage.  This means I need a decent lock, but my bike stays dry all day.  Outside racks are ok, if they are somehow monitored and secured, but it sucks getting on a wet bike to go home.

Other options, a storage room, meeting room, part of yours or a friend’s office, a corner of the work area.  I have used all of these.  Talk to the boss, or the person in charge of parking (if you have one) or other cyclist.  There are plenty of ideas!

Shower or Not?

If you ride to work, you may be sweaty, or have helmet hair!  (I don’t have much left, but I hate having my hair come out of a helmet and baseball caps aren’t dress code.  We are lucky enough to have a shower.  Barring that, is there a gym nearby?  Otherwise, it might be time for babywipes and hair goop.  Don’t forget the pit stick!

Work Clothes and How to Carry Them

Now some people bring in extra clothes at the beginning of the week and leave them at the office.  That is too organized for me.  I bring mine with me.  I have a set a panniers and a rack on the bike, so I am able to bring everything I need.  I also see many people use a backpack.  Still others bike in their work clothes.

I would recommend a way to carry what you need with you.  Remember though, you need to get things ready to go the night before.  You will be leaving earlier and getting to work will take longer than in a car.  Trying to gather everything in the morning just adds stress to what should be fun.  I pack my panniers and have the bike in the house overnight.  Makes life easy.

Lights

It may be darker than you are used to, and there will be more traffic.  White light in front, blinking red in the back, is the minimum, the more lights the better.  Reflective clothing helps a lot.  Also something other than sunglasses to help you see!  Being visible and having good visibility will help immensely.

Finally I recommend talking to the boss when you start!  Let him or her know this is happening, and that you might be a little late.  Mine was very supportive, and wanted to know the details.  We also have a deal where certain activities reduce our Medical premiums,  we are trying to add bike commuting to the list.

OK, like I said, I am new at this,  I know I have forgotten something, help me out team, what points did I leave out, or advice for newbies like me on the road to work?