- On the way to work a bicycle commuter riding behind me in Old Town yelled “Excuse me!” I though that maybe I had dropped something. Instead he asked me if he could borrow my pump. He had tried to use a pump located outside a bike store a few blocks back but it did nothing but let air out of his tire. We completed the task in short order but this reminds me to remind new bike commuters that you have a list of requirements
- A bike (duh) – you can use bikeshare or buy your own
- A good lock – make you bike less easy to steal than the ones next to it. (This is kind of like the old joke: Q: How fast do you have to be to outrun a bear? A: Faster that the slowest person you are with.) Go with (at least) a beefy U lock like a Kryptonite (I have 2).
- Tire repair stuff
- a pair of tire levers (I prefer steel but you can find plastic ones at any bike shop)
- a spare tube or two (patches are time consuming)
- a pump (preferably one with a hose like the Topeak Road Morph – the hose will keep you from tearing off the valve while you are in pumping frenzy)
- A $1 bill – fold it over, cover the hole in your tire (this is called a tire boot) and then replace the tube. This keeps the tire hole from chewing a new puncture in your tube
- A multitool – to tighten loose parts and adjust ill fitting things
- a saddle bag to put this stuff in
- Lights – it’s a terrific idea to see where you are going. It’s even terrificker that drivers can see you.
- Clothing – do not bike naked. The police will ruin your whole day. Also, don’t wear old lycra bike shorts. They become translucent. And always cover your butt crack.
- Further along on my morning ride, I saw a woman on a CaBi (the local bikeshare tank) come to a stop. She peered into the trees along the river bank. As I approached she turned to me and with a huge smile on her face said “That was a bald eagle. It flew right past!” and she gestured its flight path.
- There is a man who walks on the trail each morning. He carries a big stick and wears a dark jacket with a fur lined hood. He looks like an Ewok. He hasn’t said “Yub, yub” to me yet though.
- The Mule is going into dry dock. It has gotten me through a winter (sort-of) of bike commutes. It deserves a rest. I will switch over to the Nellies for commuting over the rest of March.
The Mule at Sunset
- I have felt terrible on the bike and arthritic off of it for the last two weeks. It’s kind of interesting how this goes away when I don’t wear over-boots and rain pants. I think they slightly alter my pedaling mechanics much like long pants messed up my running gait back in the day.
- I am volunteering at the Vasa ride in DC on Sunday March 19. You should ride it. It is a rain or shine event. Since it is likely that I will be standing around a lot, I expect a tsunami on the Potomac River. It will be caused by WABA’s new secret fracking operation on Hains Point. Would I lie about a thing like that?
- There are two bike-related happy hours in Alexandria in the next two weeks. They are both on my way home from work. I’ll probably go to at least one. Sadly, unlike the Kardashians I don’t get appearance money. You can buy me a beer if you’d like. I ain’t too proud to beg.
- I rode past some work being done on the trail. A backhoe had turned some dirt up. The smell of overturned dirt made me happy. Sorry if that’s too woo woo for you but it is what it is.
- My boss rides his kids to school on a cargo bike. It’s a big bike. It’s so big it needs a masthead. Teddy says “Hi.”
6 thoughts on “BCBD – Bike Commute Brain Dump”
Sometimes I am shocked at how unprepared new cyclists are on a commute or group ride and then I pause and think about it and realize, I am old, I have suffered many slings and arrows of bike misfortune on rides (flats, disintegrating pedals, busted chains, broken derailleurs, etc) which has caused me to be prepared for most things on the bike BUT when I was new to riding I rode all the time without a pump or patch kit or spare tube let alone a multi – tool and was blissfully ignorant of the need for those items. I try and remember this when I see someone off on the side of the path/road.
Me too. On all counts.
I have the spare tube in my bike bag, but I’d be a lost cause trying to use it. I had a flat tire about a month after I bought my bike, and tried to learn from the technician that helped me change it, but I couldn’t replicate what he did if my life depended on it.
Changing tubes is just about the easiest repair you can do on a bike. Bring a bikey friend to your house, open some wine and practice changing tubes. Better at home than on the side of the road in the rain.
I’ve heard that the best way to ensure a bike thief nicks someone else’s bike is to have a decent lock on your bike, and a teddy bear on the handlebars.
Also, while I can change a flat tube I choose thick tubes and Schwalbe Marathon tyres instead. And I offer thanks to the puncture fairy each ride.
So far, (five years of intermittent commuting) doing well.
I am a big fan of Marathons. I have them on all my bikes. Although they wear out much faster I also like Panaracer Pasela tires with Tourguard (a kevlar belt).