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.
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)
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.