Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Commuting Update

It has been about two months since I began using my bicycle as my primary means of transportation. Here is a quick update on how it's been going.

I've encountered a number of exciting challenges as a commuter. Riding in the elements, random repairs, arriving to work sweaty, thieves, negotiating traffic, etc. While these challenges seemed inconvenient at first, I'm now finding that they are simply part of biking. Truth be told, it's actually becoming kind of fun to figure out how to deal with each new challenge as they occur.  

Simply put, I've been connecting with networks of bikers, learning about bicycle maintenance, and finding myself surprised and inspired by how efficient and healthy this mode of transport really is. It has been an extremely freeing feeling to not only power the machine that gets me where I need to be, but to also have an understanding of it's mechanics.

I used some zip-ties to attach a milk crate to my rear wheel rack. It works great for moving all kinds of stuff, Stanley included! It mostly gets used for hauling my lunch pail to and from work.

I got this mirror because I was starting to feel a little vulnerable when cars were passing me. At least now I know they're coming. Installing this turned out to be a pretty involved job. It mounts to my brake lever so I had to completely undo my front brakes and kind of retrofit the housing to get it to work. It was totally worth the effort and I feel pretty pleased with myself for figuring out how to take apart and reassemble my brake lines. Also, notice the little bell to warn people when I'm about to pass them... haha, like that happens very often :)

My family gave me these saddlebags for my birthday! Even more exciting, these saddlebags came all the way from Switchback Cyclery in Toronto!!! Switchback is associated with Sanctuary, a church located in downtown Toronto that is "becoming a welcoming community where people who are poor and excluded are particularly valued". I'm so glad to have these bags and so glad the money used to purchase them went to such a neat venture. I'm finding that saddlebags are really nice to have for making grocery trips. They clip onto the sides of my bike rack and can detach to load and unload!

Here is a basic repair kit I put together. Only thing left to get is a small transportable bike pump. This kit has everything I need to change a tire, perform preventative maintenance, and trouble shoot any issues that may arise. It amazes me how simple bikes really are once you start to look closely at them. In the past month I've learned how to change a tire, grease gears and the chain, adjust brakes, seat, handle bars etc. It feels very rewarding to understand the mechanics of my transportation.   
So that's the update on my commuting for now. As always, thanks for reading!


  1. Cool. I just got a new bike and have begun trying to commute on it regularly. It's been fun. Luckily it's not as hilly here as Dubuque.

  2. That's awesome Josh! Yah, there are lots of hills in Dubuque, ugh. How much are you riding each day? I'm kinda lucky because I'm only 1 mile from work and it's a pretty flat ride. I've been biking for a lot of other things too though and definitely getting use to the hills.

  3. It's just over 5 miles round trip, and coming back has a long, slow hill. It's a good challenge and definitely gets the legs burning. I'm trying to do that 3-4 times a week (I need the car one day for my guitar lesson).