Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

Today we continue with our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week we asked Aaron, one of our copywriters and a regular commuter (the guy rides over 20 miles each way), to share some of his thoughts about commuting by bike. Tell us your story below & you could win a $24 Performance gift card – details at the bottom of the post!

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Aaron at his locker at our home office with his Osprey Momentum 24 commuter bag

This morning, like every morning, I crept around the house smiling in at sleeping kids and trying not to get the dogs all worked up. I skip the top step because it creaks really badly. I do the morning ritual…French press, whatever piece of fruit or bread is lying around, trying to resist picking at the pie on the counter…and failing. I pack my bag for work and walk out to the garage.

I open the garage door and there’s my ride—like every day I fall in love all over again. My ride is an old race bike and although it’s already 84° and the humidity is 95%, I can’t wait to hit it. I check the quick releases, top off the tires, clip in, and go.

I spin out across the lake whose fingers span for miles between my home and my office and contemplate the steely reflection of haze on the water. I lock into the tightrope that is the edge of the road and let my mind wander. This is my commute and I love it. No news radio, no pressure to make the next light. I mentally prepare for the giant hill that leaves me winded every time, but I am fully into it.

But why would someone want to ride a bike 10 miles each way on a little pinstripe-sized shoulder, smelling road kill, and being passed by cars and big diesel trucks when he has a perfectly good car at home? Why indeed.

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View from Aaron’s commute

Remember those commercials for the US Army that proudly touted the mantra, We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day? It produced this awe-inspiring vision of people who accept any challenge, tackle any obstacle, and aren’t afraid of getting a little icky.

This is why I commute. Because it makes me feel empowered—like I’m treating my mind and body to the reverie and exertion that they need to function best. When I get to work, I feel lucid, fit, and guiltless—it’s amazing.

It occurs to me…I just burned 900 calories and could totally eat that doughnut if I wanted to. Wow.

To be sure, my reasons aren’t the only reasons to commute. I also save a bunch of money which is good. I’m not contributing to the sickening amount of pollution jettisoned into oblivion every morning by droves of gridlocked drivers. Plus, I really love the joy of gliding on a bike—it’s fun.

So whatever there is between your home and your work, chances are that the possibility of a rewarding bike commute exists. If you work right in the neighborhood, you could enjoy a quick jaunt on your beach cruiser. If you live in the city, you can jet across town on a city bike and get there in half the time it would take you sitting in traffic, marinating in your own impatience. If you live in the suburbs, swap out the highway for a greenway on your hybrid bike. You’ll find what’s waiting for you at work has somehow gotten smaller, more manageable…better.

The jump from driving to riding can seem fraught with barriers. Finding the right bike, taking the right safety precautions, dealing with weather, knowing how to deal with bike trouble, these are all issues worthy of consideration.

Since we’re a cycling community with a wealth of insight and knowledge, let’s try to spread the commuting bug with our tips, advice, experiences, and most importantly, our stories and images that illustrate the rewards and joys of getting empowered, ditching that car, and being awesome.

Post your bike commuting thoughts below by Sunday 8/11/13 for a chance to win a $24 Performance gift card - we’ll pick our 5 favorite comments on Monday 8/12/13 and notify the commenters below!

Bike to Work Day: Portraits from our Home Office

We love to ride, so we’re pretty serious about National Bike to Work Day. Check out the collage below for just a few of the folks who pedaled in to work today at our home office here in North Carolina!

Gaynor’s Bike To Work Week Wisdom

Our Head Spin Doctor (and all-around motivator) Gaynor has been busy reminding, encouraging and cajoling everyone here at our home office to participate in National Bike to Work Week, and especially on National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 18th). His big goal is fulfilling our “Empty Parking Lot Challenge” on Friday – an ambitious target, but we’re certainly going to give it a try! Since Gaynor is so effective at rallying the bike commuting efforts here at our home office, we thought we’d share some of the bike to work wisdom he’s used to motivate us. Hopefully you can use some of Gaynor’s wise counsel to encourage friends or coworkers to give bike commuting a try!

Reason #1: According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.”

Most of us know this but how do we find the time to exercise? It’s easy – commute by bike! By cycling to work, you are scheduling 2 exercise periods each day you ride. The ride in provides a quiet time to plan your day before the confusing onslaught of details and demands. The ride home gives you time to reflect, decompress and let the tension go. You’ll be healthier, happier and more productive.

But don’t trust me! Here again from the Mayo Clinic: “Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike [or a bike ride] can contribute to this same feeling.

Reason #2: Biking to work saves bucks. The average American commutes 33 miles each day. The average American car gets 22 miles per gallon. Regular gas costs $3.85/gallon. Average Joe spends $29/week, $115/month and $1500/year for gas.

If you only live an easy 5 mile commute to work, you’ll still save $8.75/week (the cost a six pack of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale), $35/month and $455/year.

Reason #3: Add some adventure to your day. Shake up your routine, try something different, spice up your life. Why settle for the same-old, same-old? Become the hardy, intrepid person you really are.  Commute to work!

Reason #4: Show the doubters. Think of all the times that someone told you that you could not do it. That you were too old, too young; too big, too small; too dumb, too smart; too thin, too stout; too loud, too quiet; too brash, too timid. You’re a girl; you’re a boy! It’s too long, it’s too steep; it’s high, it’s too deep; it’s too fast. It’s too slow. Ride to work! Show ‘em you won’t be stopped!

Reason #5: Join a gang. By riding to work you are joining a select group of mostly well-adjusted, fun, happy and pleasant bike commuters.

Reason #6: Save the planet. Each year, the average passenger car on an average commute of 33 miles produces 77.1 lbs of hydrocarbons, 575 lbs of carbon monoxide, and 11,450 lbs of carbon dioxide. Aside from a little methane from too much roughage, commuting by bike produces zero pollution!

Reason #7: If you ride to work you won’t get pulled over for speeding. Ride a bike = no tickets. Drive a car = tickets.

Reason #8: Beer Pressure. Cycling dramatically improves the taste of beer, especially good beer. Ride for beer but drink responsibly.

Reason #9: Peer Pressure. Your coworkers and friends will be cycling to work. What’s your excuse when others less fit but spunkier are riding? Ride and have no excuses!

And finally…

Reason #10: Because it’s fun! When you commute by bike you have another reason to ride your bike, and what’s not to like about that?

Product Profile – Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer

Since today is National Bike to Work Day, the culmination of Bike to Work Week, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for a product profile of the new Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer.  If you’ve been commuting by bike this month, you have probably already tried hauling your gear with a set of panniers, or in a backpack or a classic messenger bag. While those are all good commuting options, the Travoy bike trailer is a great alternative to transport just about anything – from a week’s worth of groceries, to a change of clothes for the office, or up to 60lbs of cargo!

Here David demonstrates how the Travoy Trailer hitches effortlessly to your seatpost and travels at a 45° angle, redistributing the load’s weight for easier riding and offering better stability than standard panniers or backpacks.

Setup is quick and easy, as all you need to do to get up and running is to clamp the trailer quick release bracket to your seatpost, and then mount or remove the trailer itself by pulling a little spring-loaded arm out of the way of the hitch pin.

And did we mention that the Travoy trailer can carry up to 60lbs! You can carry some serious loads in the included tote bag:

The tote bag has a nice wide opening and sturdy construction, but you can also upgrade to a waterproof Burley Dry Bag if the forecast calls for heavy downpours.

And when you’re done with your commute, just twist the 2 grips and fold the Travoy down into a convenient size for storage (you can even store the folded Travoy in its own tote bag). The whole setup weighs less than 10lbs, so you can easily just bring it inside with you when you get where you’re going.

Check out the Travoy in action in this video by Burley:

If you’re serious about commuting by bike, take a look at the Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer - it’s a great option to haul your gear in comfort and style.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Tony DeRubeis

Here’s our last Bike to Work Week Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ. They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Tony DeRubeis .

What do you do at Performance?

Spin Doctor Pro Bike Build Coordinator.

How often do you ride to work?

1-2 times per week.

How far do you ride?

42 miles round trip.

What bike do you ride?

I ride a Scattante XRL cross frame with a Frankenbike parts kit.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

It’s a good workout, plus it’s more enjoyable than driving, it saves money and it’s better for the environment!

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Any distance commuting by bike is better than driving – driving half of your commute and biking half is better than driving the whole thing.  And commuting by bike is like stealing time – if your 30 minute drive takes 60 minutes to ride, you get a 60 minute workout while only taking 30 minutes out of your day.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Chris Danz

Here’s another Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ, in honor of Bike to Work Week (May 16-20).  They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Christopher Danz.

What do you do at Performance?

I’m a Merchandising Assistant in the Hardgoods Components division.

How often do you ride to work?

Most days.

How far do you ride?

17 miles each way.

What bike do you ride?

I usually commute on my trusty GT Peace Tour.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I love not being in a car. Cagers (people who spend half of their lives in their steel cages) are always so angry, I like not being a part of that culture. I race in endurance mountain bike events so the extra training time that I don’t have to take from my family time is also key.

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Just go for it! For me, I can’t value my waterproof panniers enough (I use Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers). I also always keep a good rain jacket in there as I never know when I’m going to be caught in an unexpected storm. Otherwise, just riding is most of my secret. The more you do it, the easier it gets as it starts to become part of your routine and your fitness increases.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Tom Vasiliauskas

Here’s another Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ, in honor of Bike to Work Week (May 16-20).  They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Tom Vasiliauskas.

What do you do at Performance?

Merchandising Manager.

How often do you ride to work?

About once a week.

How far do you ride?

22 miles round trip.

What bike do you ride?

Scattante Five-Sixty frame, from 2008 I believe (this is a popular bike for commuters here, but for 2011 it’s called the X-570).

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I ride for several reasons: to get some additional riding in during my busy day, to save gas, and because it’s always a GREAT way to wake up in the morning. I love riding with lights during sunrise.

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

I recommend using at least 2 tail lights for additional safety.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: David Wilkes

Here’s another Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ, in honor of Bike to Work Week (May 16-20).  They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

David Wilkes.

What do you do at Performance?

Web Developer.

How often do you ride to work?

Every day that ends in “Y”.

How far do you ride?

1 mile, thus the answer to the previous question. I mean does it really make sense to get in a car to go 1 mile?

What bike do you ride?

I ride my Scattante X-560 cyclocross bike (the 2011 model is the X-570).

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I live way too close to drive! Plus it’s just great to get outside and be on the bike.

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Pack extra socks especially on rainy and wet days.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: John Buleza

Since today is the first day of Bike to Work Week (May16-20), we thought it was the perfect time to start a series of Employee Profiles about a few of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ. They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

John Buleza.

What do you do at Performance?

Vice President of Direct Marketing.

How often do you ride to work?

Usually 2-3 days a week.

How far do you ride?

9 miles each way.

What bike do you ride?

Fuji Roubaix ACR 2.0 road bike.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

I ride for fitness, to do my part for the environment, and for the gas savings!

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Take a trial run on a weekend to make sure that you’re comfortable with the route and to see how long it takes you to ride. Then start one day a week and build up to riding one more day, and then another, and then another…. Also, plan ahead to make your commute easier – bring in clothing/food on “off” days when you aren’t riding to work.

Bike Commuting Tips

As Bike to Work Week is fast approaching (this year it falls on May 16-20), it’s time to refresh your commuting knowledge, or maybe just share some tips with those folks who have yet to try commuting by bike.

Bike Commuting Tips

  1. Plan your route. With a little forethought, you can avoid heavy traffic and construction zones. Use a tool such as the biking directions in Google Maps or ask other bike commuters or your local bike shop to suggest the best routes.
  2. Watch the weather. Know what to expect so you can plan ahead and dress appropriately. Always keep packable raingear in your bag, just in case.
  3. Maintain your bike. Check tire pressure often. Inspect tires for wear at least once a week. Tighten quick releases, bolts and screws regularly. Ensure that brakes are working properly prior to every ride. Keep chain, pedals and other moving parts properly lubricated. 
  4. Be prepared. Carry an extra tube or patch kit, tire levers and a pump or CO2 inflator. Pack a small multi-tool or set of basic hex wrenches for emergency repairs.
  5. Keep extra clothes and clean-up essentials at the office. Instead of toting your change of clothes and personal hygiene essentials such as towels, wipes and deodorant every time you commute, store a week’s worth of clothes and clean-up essentials at work.

But you should always be comfortable when you ride in to work. If there’s a part of your commute where you don’t feel safe riding your bike, you can always drive part of the way, park your car and then ride the rest. If there’s nowhere to change or store spare clothes at your office, just leave yourself some extra time and ride slowly so that you can wear your normal work clothes (plenty of folks around the world do just this, and manage to look quite stylish while commuting). 

With these few simple tips you can make Bike to Work Week fun and enjoyable, and hopefully part of your regular routine in the future (if it isn’t already)!

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