My goal this year was to commute to work at least 200 times. It took until today to hit that milestone, but I made it. Looking back over my riding log, it looks like my tactic of not making any excuses for not riding largely worked. Far and away the largest categories of missed “work day” rides were days I was out of town for business travel or vacation. I also missed 3 days for sickness and a number of days when I was doing in-town speaking. But it’s not like it took a lot of effort for me to swing my leg over the bike – I almost always looked forward to my daily rides, and got itchy for them when travel caused me to miss a few days in a row. And as I always like to point out, my bike is the quickest way for me to get to and from work – a fact that eliminates a major source of potential excuses for not riding.
2010 was also blessed by only a few run-ins with hotheaded motorists and clueless pedestrians, no injury-related misses (unlike 2009, when I missed 6 weeks of riding thanks to a broken foot) and only one missed day for weather: Seattle’s pre-Thanksgiving “SNOMG!” when the roads were reduced to sheets of ice.
I’ll probably get two more commutes in before the calendar rolls over to 2011, where my goal will be another 200 commutes, with 100 extra (weekend, evening) rides thrown on. I only did about two dozen of those this year, and would like to get out more for errand running and longer road rides. Hmmm – sounds like a good reason to add another bike to the stable . . .
One of the side effects of the heavy rains we’ve been getting lately is an even greater number of potholes in our already-shaky streets. Here’s a few examples of why I rarely take my hands off the bars to signal:
These aren’t on the side of the road or anything; these are right down the middle two-thirds I ride in. The City of Seattle has a pothole repair line – I’m guessing they’re pretty busy about now.
It’s been raining a lot this last week, even by Seattle-in-December standards. We’re talking 100-year-torrent, flood-your-basement kind of rain. Rain that makes you ride without glasses because you can’t see through the water flowing over the lenses. So people look at me like I’m some kind of crazy for continuing to ride my bike to work every day.
But what’s crazy is sitting on a bus or in a car trying to crawl out of downtown on a rainy holiday season evening. Traffic may be backed up in every street, but on my bike it’s always the same 18-20 minutes home. I’ve got good raingear, and with 300+ vertical feet to climb in the first two miles of my three-mile commute, getting cold isn’t a worry.
This might be a different story – OK, it would be a different story – if my commute was a lot longer. But for short commutes like mine? Fear no rain.
(photo by Auro)
Spent an evening in Northern Colorado at the end of last week, and what should I spot when walking to dinner in downtown Greeley, CO but this classic little fixed gear setup:
I was never one of those kids in the 70’s who took to BMX – I was too big, too ungainly and couldn’t grow my hair long enough. But I’ve found that the world of BMX offers some great gear for bike commuting, particularly when it comes to pedals.
For those of us who wear street clothes when riding (or something reasonably non-technical, like Chrome’s excellent shoes), the world of clipless pedals is irrelevant. The problem is that many basic bike pedals don’t really cut it, either. In rainy conditions, it can be hard to keep your feet on standard platform pedals. Plus, many pedals aren’t very sturdy. The set that came on my rain bike broke the first time I rode it – apparently they weren’t designed with a 220-lb rider pedaling single speed uphill in mind.
But BMX pedals . . . freed from the road cycling world’s obsession with minimizing weight, BMX pedals are beefy and solid, designed to provide maximum contact between shoe and pedal. I’ve now upgraded my rain bike to this setup:
Those are Diamondback Bigfoot pedals. They weigh something like a pound for the pair. But they’re indestructible, and with that width and a series of fixed-height pins, there’s little risk of foot slippage. I’ve also added a set of Burro pedal straps for added security and fixed-gear riding.