Category Archives: Commuting by Bike
We know Rachel isn’t the only one to commute to work by bike on the team, but she’s going to be the second one to write about it! From time to time, she’ll share her commuting stories. You’d be surprised of what can happen in a 6 mile round trip commute.
When I moved to Colorado 2.5 years ago, I had to sell my beloved Litespeed, Bella, who I commuted 32 miles round trip to work in Tennessee. I also traded my city fixie, a sweet 80′s Schwinn, for a couch so I’d have something to sit on once I got to Colorado (I no longer own the couch BTW). Though I missed my commuters, I still had a road, mtn, cx and TT bike to keep me busy. But life just wasn’t the same. It felt like Sophie’s Choice (great movie for all those young ones on the team!)
But….flash forward two years later….
After moving my life and career to Boulder, I decided to buy myself a celebratory present–my very own, tricked out Raleigh commuter bike! Complete with an internal 8-speed hub, that I pretend is a power tap, my new gal is the latest addition to the fleet of 20 bicycles at our household. She’s also worth as much as my car (my car isn’t very expensive and is for some reason always missing doorhandles). Though I loved her stock, I’ve since added an SKS rear fender, reflective dots and tape, Krieg cycling bag, massive U-lock, an “I <3 my bike” bell, Niterider light, and three blinky red taillights. She’s quite sexy all dressed up.
So now that I’ve been commuting the last three months, I’ve only filled up my gas tank twice (instead of every week when commuting to my old gig), saving nearly $500 (which is greater than the cost of the bike). Also, since taking this leap of two wheels faith, my car insurance company has a device that plugs into my car to track my usage. Got a 6% reduction in my rates-taking that to the bank! Beyond the cash benefits, mentally it helps me wind down and reflect for the evening or prepare for my day on the way in.
Only one episode of epicness ensued since my commuting adventures have taken place. Jeff and I decided to ride our commuters up to NCAR and then hike Bear Peak, he on a single speed and me with my 8 gears, struggling to get to the top of the hill and start of our hike. While we both know better, neither of us wanted to carry a bag of extra clothes. Strike number one.
After hiking nearly 4 miles, snowflakes started to fall and the wind picked up. While this happens often in CO, we both had summit fever, decided to shrug it off, and we powered to the top. Strike two.
My arms were so numb from the cold that I could hardly pull myself up the rocks to the peak. So without any additional layers and getting colder by the second, we turned right back around and booked it to the trailhead. Luckily, I brought a banana. But was too cold to eat it. Strike three.
Finally, we made it back to the bikes, close to 4 hours after our journey started, with only one bottle of water between us and one banana. We started back towards home but had to descend down NCAR. Snow was blowing so hard and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. Somehow we both managed to get back safely, albeit 80% frozen and 100% exhausted. We both fell asleep before 7 pm.
While epic adventures gone awry make for great stories, most of my commuting experiences go without a hitch. Occasionally, I’ll forget my work shoes, or it will be sunny in the morning and snow a foot by the afternoon, but those things make me laugh more so than seem an inconvenience. I wouldn’t trade my 3 mile stroll for a petrol-guzzling car ride any day of the week. And god-forbid waste any amount of water washing my car (clearly a pet peeve). Plus it takes me longer to drive, park my car and then walk to work than riding my bike to the front door of the office.
In fact, many of my coworkers feel the same way. We participated in Boulder’s Winter Bike to Work Day together a few weeks ago and had a great time. More communities should offer and encourage these things. Check out the video below.
Look for another blog post in the spring regarding my daily commutes. I’m already excited to ride my bike without a puffy coat, gloves, hat and night lights. However, I’m sure come spring, I’ll be trading the 20 degree temps for 50 mph winds so we’ll see how that goes! Either way, it’s always guaranteed to be an adventure.
“Cranksgiving is a charity bike ride that began in 1999, organized by New York City bike messengers. Food is collected at grocery store checkpoints and then after being collected at the end of the race, will be donated to a local food bank. All kinds of cyclists are welcome! There is no set course, and you can ride at your own pace. Cranksgiving – Boulder is an effort by Boulder Cycle Sport to give back to those in need during the holidays. Furthermore, this event is to bring community awareness to support locally and independently owned business.”
11 Naked members/friends/kids participated as a team in the 2012 Cranksgiving in Boulder on Sunday. The event might appear to be a family friendly ride collecting can goods for a local food bank but was actually something a bit more hard core. It is more like a UFC cage match + roller derby + super market sweep + bumper cars. Yeah, like I said… hard core.
It would be impossible to give a play by play of this massacre, I mean madness, woops woops how about blood bath but here are a few tidbits from Team Naked…
“I don’t know what happened.. they said go and it was mass chaos..turkeys and burleys and bikes everywhere..I was scared”
“Oh my god she just flipped her baby burly trailer over when she hopped that curb”
“Man down man down…I tried to go in the sliding exit door but my arm, my poor arm didn’t make it”
“Where is $^#*@&% neutral wheel support..this tube change is killing our time”
“Don’t worry if the tuna isn’t dolphin free just grab it and go”
“Crits have nothing on Cranksgiving”
“Run through the store Tami don’t walk, get your head in the game”
“ooooo free samples!”
“I’m in my red zone.. seriously zone 5+ guys”
“I just got out sprinted by a 9 year old with a turkey on his bike”
“Did someone say free beer at the end?!?!”
Riding bikes on a gorgeous fall day with friends to help the less fortunate was one of my highlights of this cycling/racing/socializing year. We had everything from mechanicals to injuries but more than anything we had laughs. We didn’t win but who was racing right (umm just so you know you can take the racers out of the race but you cant take the race out of the racers). Overall the day was a ton o’ fun with some pretty amazing women remembering the reason for season…free beer!
With threats of the first snow on the Front Range tonight, Rachel and Vera thought this winter riding checklist would be a good one to promote. Not only do you need to give yourself at least an additional 15-20 minutes to get ready for winter time riding, you also need to give yourself an evening searching for your winter riding gear! Don’t get left out in the cold!
Winter Riding Check List
- Three top layers: wicking baselayer (no cotton, Curve Inc makes great ones!), long sleeved jersey or short with armwarmers, jacket or vest (sometimes both!).
- Bottom layers: below 40-liner plus winter tight; above 40-winter tight; above 55-shorts and knee warmers (embrocation is your friend)
- Head protection: ear warmers, hat. Make sure it fits under your helmet comfortably or you will develop a headache 15 minutes into your ride.
- More Upper-body protection: neck gator or balaclava if below 40.
- Gloves: everyone is different but wool liners under gloves can help, or always carry rubber surgical gloves for emergencies! My favorite trick and easy to pack. You can see what happens to Roberta, Rachel and Vera when one forgets their gloves and decides to race in the snow and freezing, wet temps.
- Handwarming Packs: Not just for hands-great for all body parts!
- Booties: Preferably wind stopper or water proof because snow melt will get your feet wet. If 50 or above, go for toe warmers.
- Socks: Defeet Wool socks and silk liners help keep the feet warm. If you have Shimano shoes, make sure to tape up your air hole!
- Food: Bring food that won’t freeze. Lara Bars, liquid Powerbar shots, bananas, sandwiches, waffles! Bring food that you’ll eat and that you like.
- Money: always bring cash money honey and a debit card! Keep $5-10 in your saddle bag at all times. You never know when you’ll need it.
- Flat kit: handpumps are good in the winter. I tend to get more flats in winter. Also have at least 1 tube and a patch kit or 2 tubes. A heavier set of tires might also help prevent flats.
- Hydration: Water and electrolyte-type drink. Insulated bottles (polar bottles) can keep your water from freezing.
- Time: Give yourself at least an hour to get all of this ready for the first couple of winter rides. It takes a long time to get out the door with all this stuff. Don’t be late for the group ride-it’s RUDE and in violation of Rule #87.
- Water/Snow protection: Rain jacket if you have room. Pearl Izumi or Craft make a good lighter wind/water resistant jacket that wads up to the size of a tennis ball.
- Sunglasses: your year-round riding gear! If you need goggles, you should turn around and ride inside or go skiing instead:)
- Maintenance: Make sure you’re cleaning your bike after each ride and drying it off (chain, moving parts, relubing chain). If you leave a mess on your bike, you’ll find you’ll need to replace parts much sooner than later.
- Optionals: Fenders if it’s super slushy could be a good addition to your riding gear. Also, I’ve always wanted to get my hands into a pair of bar mitts just to try.
Cycling isn’t just for racing. Our girls commute by bike too! Read up on Amanda Bye‘s “ride report” for Bike to Work Day.
Three years ago I rode my bike to work for the first time. It was Bike To Work Day and what better excuse does one need to get the bike in working order, get clothes and lunch packed for the next day and ride? I was certainly nervous. What if I get a flat? What if there is bad weather? What if I get lost? What if I am too tired to ride home? I was reassured by Kimberly Nuffer that everything would be okay and she was right. This was the beginning of my passion for cycling and would be the precursor to starting to race.
This year I decided that other people should get the opportunity to ride their bikes to work, sort of a way to give back to the community, just as Kimberly had done several years ago. I set up a Ride to Work group for anyone going to the Arapahoe Medical Office. There were two parks where people could meet. The time, location and route were preplanned and Amanda C even offered to ride sag.
We met at Wash Park to start the 10 mile ride to work. A wonderful colleague named Kristi met up with us and kept a great pace throughout the ride. Approximately 5 miles later we met up with Kuan who had been eagerly waiting to ride with the group to the office. The remainder of the ride was pleasant as we all got to know each other better and share in an activity that did not only benefit the environment but also ourselves.
The ride home went well for everyone but Kristi who ended up getting a flat tire but was able to change the tube herself and then rode the rest of the way home proud of her accomplishments. Nearly 18,000 people registered for Bike To Work Day this year in the Denver area. I am so pleased to live in a city that values biking, for co-workers and teammates who agreed to do this ride and for the free beer and company at the Cactus Bike From Work party that was held downtown. It was great seeing so many people come together for the goal of making Denver a healthier place for everyone to live.