Commuting Tips for Jason

Hey Jason….I met Glen yesterday (again) and we were chatting and he said he saw the blog, which I thought was some random occurence or I had gotten a link somewhere on another blog but then we realized it’s because I met the guy you bought your bike from. Nice dude too by the way and good work buying a bike from a bike mechanic. Can’t go wrong there…..which leads me to todays (well, really tomorrow but all my posts on breaks at work are three sentences long and don’t contain links….still working on the Iphone app download) post. Here is some tips you probably already know but maybe someone else could use….hope they help!

1. Pick the right bike!

You have already done this but people need to know the right bike frame and set-up is more important than anything else. This is your car now and I don’t drive a pinto. Finding the bike that works can be hard but for some people it’s the style, others the functionality. I’m a functionality guy and I think people should look past the same new car envy crap they go through when seeing that perfect head of broccoli at Kroger or the Death-U-V on the lot they always dreamed of and make an informed purchase. You did. Nice thing is the frame you chose can do a million things like here, here and here and here and here. Point is people can read up and figure out whats out there and pick a bike that suits their needs for commuting but also fills the gap on the enjoyment factor….we’ve never met but I bet you’ve got your Cross-Check set up for the type of riding you like to do recreationally as well as to commute.

2. Learn to Wrench/ Know a mechanic/ Pick your favorite bike shop

This is your car now, but the difference is if your bike breaks down you can probably fix it on the side of the road with the tools you have with you whereas your car requires another car to come get it and you and blah blah pain in the ass. Aside from the regular tools you should have (10mm wrench, allen keys, etc) Here are some links to a couple of others that every cyclist should have at home if you’re a serious commuter. Dropping all that cash at the shop will make them happy but rubbing your greasy palms all over your wife’s cream colored couch after rebuilding a hub is priceless.

Cone Wrenches (rebuild your hubs)

Tire Levers (nothing sucks like trying to get a tire off a rim that doesn’t want to)

This thing to remove your cassette (they go bad, and shifting gets sucky)

a nice cutting pliers (not really bike specific but a good pair is essential)

I’ll take a crank puller too (maybe most people don’t need one but it helps)

Oh and a chain breaker (yeah need that)

Spoke wrench for sheezy (learn to true those wheels…not for Lance but good enough to keep the rims from rubbing the brake pads)

A couple of things you should have but need to add if you don’t:

Floor Pump(Schrader and presta Valve-your friends will thank you)

Patch Kit

3. Make Friends

We have a lot of cyclists here in RVA but commuter culture is only just beginning to take off (or I’m only just getting old enough to hang out with people who aren’t on a BMX), where is the bike culture? Well, sadly like anything good it rarely comes served to you on a silver platter so you gotta make it from scratch like biscuits from Hardee’s.  Mornings are pretty quiet for me but I made convo’s with a lady who had a flat tire, a dude with a sweet 29’er MTB near the buttermilk, and your buddy Glen all in one ride home yesterday afternoon. Patience friend, you too will meet the commuters in your regular riding area and you all will discuss bike parts like no two bike nerds ever has before…..Sheldon will thank you from his grave and the love will be spread. Before long we’ll all be meeting up like this.
4. Gear up!

This is where you get to throw away the money you made in months of work on small highly desireable items that you have scoured the internet for months to find. Bike parts are great but there is a whole world of gear that goes hand in hand with your new commuting lifestyle. Some of it will make you happier to ride in the adverse conditions we face and some of it will make a normally difficult aspect of commuting easier than before. Some things you need to get now before you need them. This includes a rain jacket ( I like this one I have), gloves (not necessary now but oh you wait for fall), I wear gaiters sometimes, lighting accessories (heres my setup), and all kinds of sweet gear you can use for more than just your bike ride….point is when you buy shoes for work next time check out this post on the Timberlands that are waterproof. You can cross purchase like this and achieve two things at once.

5. Ride for fun as well as commuting.

So Important!!! Mario Andretti probably would hate to race cars if he sat in a UPS truck in commuter traffic all day. You too will get bored from the monotony of riding to work each day…it just is gonna happen but it will still be better than driving so you gotta get out and do some recreational riding too. I recommend the VA Bike route 1, Forest Hill park Trails, or check out RABA (although I never have but they seem to do ton’s of rides). Not your thing? DC Randonneurs holds events not that far away..or if track bikes are your thing do some racing at southside speedway….point is make sure to have fun on your new bike too….hell, you are a writer, find somewhere cool, write about it and be a guest columnist for  RVA BIKE COMMUTER! Sounds appealing I know but it is a good excuse for a bike ride….see you on the streets.

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3 thoughts on “Commuting Tips for Jason

  1. So cool! Thanks for the tips! The random coincidences that led to this post are absolutely crazy. I randomly heard about your blog from a guy in PA whom I randomly found here. Then, I happen to tell my friend Glenn about your blog 2 days ago, and he randomly runs into you yesterday, and you two somehow make the “Jason who bought the Cross Check from Jeff in PA” connection. Crazy.

    My wife and I have been a one-car family since I totaled mine in September 2007, and I’ve been splitting my commute between bike and GRTC ever since. However, we just moved from The Fan to the Southside. My commute has doubled, I now have the option of commuting off-road (!), the store is a lot farther away, GRTC south of the river has been an unreliable pain in the ass, and the Langster just ain’t cutting it anymore — enter the Cross Check!

    The timing of your advice couldn’t be better. I’ve never been much of a tinkerer/mechanic, and I’ve pretty much just ridden stock bikes thus far without thinking too much about it, but I’m LOVING my new commute (not to mention the bike), so I’m having to step it up real quick. I spend hours on Sheldon’s website, bikeforums, bike blogs, Velo Orange, Rivendell, etc. reading about gear, tips, and all things bike every day until it’s time to get back onto my bike. And I’ve already started thinking about what I can sell to fund my gear (just picked up fenders yesterday!).

    By the way, I’ve enjoyed catching up on this blog ever since Jeff told me about it. While I appreciate the guest columnist thing, I’m a graphic designer not a writer! In any case, I’d love to help out where I can!

    Thanks again for the personalized post! It was a nice surprise this morning. Richmond bike commuters just got a little more informed. I hope to run into you soon!

    1. Jason,

      yeah the whole thing makes the world feel like a tiny place. When I was in the one random bike shop in Harrisburg where the guy sold you the cross-check I was like “oh really somebody in Richmond bought it?” and now it’s all coming together. The wrench thing is essential and I have been trying to hone my wheel skills recently. I changed a freehub bodyand had to redish a wheel so that was some good practice.
      Southside is where I “stay” at as well as they say so I am sure our paths will cross…let me know what time you head to work and maybe we can commute in one day. Later

      1. Man, I’d love to ride in to work with you sometime. I stay on Westower, close to where it meets Forest Hill. My usual route is Devonshire (or Forest Hill, if it’s not crazy) to the park, then I hop back on Forest Hill to Bainbridge, and take Bainbridge all the way to Manchester. Then the Mayo Bridge over to my office at 13th & Main.

        HOWEVER, Glenn just showed me a much more pleasant route along Reedy Creek to Belle Isle to the Canal Walk that I’m sure you’re aware of. It’s a nice change of pace. I do the occasional Riverside Dr. to the Manchester Br. as well, but that bridge can be a little nuts.

        It’s great having so many routes to choose from. When I lived at Rowland & Main in the Fan, I had basically one choice — straight down Cary.

        I leave the house around 8:30 in the AM, and leave work around 5:15. What’s your normal route?

        P.S. I know nothing about cone wrenches — I even had to ask Sheldon what they are. Same with a crank puller. Admittedly, I have a lot to learn about bike maintenance, but with as much time as I spend on my bike these days, I figure it’ll be pretty much trial by fire. Stuff is bound to break, and I’ll have to fix it — simple as that. (It was nice having Re-Cycles about 5 blocks from my old place — I leaned on those guys quite a bit).

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