Trek Women
May 8, 2008

Commuting connections...

Trek_rider_047_2 Bike commuting and I go way back. I guess you could say I’ve been a go-by-bike gal off and on since I was 7 years old and did my first ride to Hinsbrook Elementary School. By the time I was 17, I was bike commuting on a red 10-speed to my job as a lifeguard 5 miles or so from our house. The 10-speed didn’t survive my undergrad days; then again, neither did my waistline.

I got chunky and stayed chunky until I lost weight while I was getting my Masters. My graduation present to myself was that old Trek 930 in 1994. My first job was at a public television station and bike commuting--RT 25 miles--was cheaper than riding the bus. Then, I got a new job where I met Russ (who would later become my boss). And then I got chunky again; bought a cheap, used VW and hid the 930 in a storage closet until 2005.

When I started riding again, I decided to go back to my bike commuting roots. Round-trip was about 30 miles. Sometimes, Russ would ride up to meet me and we’d do the trip back together. When I changed jobs, I tried the commute route but it was just too much. Now that I’m close to home, biking to work is actually my fastest form of transportation.

There are so many great reasons to bike commute—better for your health, your wallet and your environment—and so many valid reasons why people find it daunting. Sweat, weather, distance and traffic top my list. But, where’s there’s a wheel; there’s a way. Here are my tips:

Sweat: If it takes more than 30 minutes, I wear cycling gear and carry my clothes and wash-up kit in a backpack. Luckily, I belong to a gym with locations all over DC and can shower up. A lot of office buildings have facilities now for commuters as well. Also check your local cycling organization because it might have deals with area gyms so that you can shower there too.

Weather: I confess, I don’t ride in bad weather. But, there’s all kinds of gear if you don’t mind it.

Distance: Do a trial run first. Maybe you start by parking and riding half the route. In most cities, there are racks on the front of buses for bikes and in DC, you can take them on the metro. Or, do like the Dutch and get an old bike that you keep on one end of the commute (i.e. train station to office).

Traffic: Safety is #1! I try out different streets to find the best ones and to maximize my time in bike lanes. I avoid major bus routes. I use hand signals and obey traffic lights. I don’t weave. I have lights if it gets dark.

Again, contact local bike organizations for more helpful info. You can find yours using this link from the League of American Bicyclists. Your regional transportation authority might have some good stuff too.

Next week is National Bike-to-Work Week and Friday, May 16 is Bike-to-Work Day and events are happening nationwide. If you can, why not give it a try. I ask you… what could be better than starting and ending your day with a bike ride?

PS> Here’s a neat web site, www.commutebybike.com. Check out the gas savings calculator, the Simple Guide to Bike Commuting and the Slackers Guide to Bike Commuting.

PPS> Hey bike commuters out there… post a comment and share your tips!

Comments

I enjoy your blog. As another Capitol Hill resident, mom, and bike commuter when I don't have to drive a kid around, I like hearing about others riding. I ride from Capitol Hill to Virginia ( a great reverse commute) and began getting tired of being passed - so I asked my husband for a new bike for mother's day/my birthday. He found a trek for me, my first one. I just hope it fits and that I can then ride it to the Nationals game this afternoon.

Posted by: Barbara | May 11, 2008 8:34:16 AM

Hi Barbara, thanks for your comment! Hope you didn't get sogged out at the game yesterday.

What's your favorite way across the river?? Do you go over the bridge by the Jefferson Memorial?

Looks like tomorrow and Wednesday, will be the good bike commuting days. I hope the Bike-to-Work Day event doesn't get rained out on Friday. That was a blast down on Freedom Plaza last year.

Anyway, see you around the Hill!!!
Laura

Posted by: Laura | May 12, 2008 8:23:49 AM

Excellent post Laura! Wouldn't it be great if you had Polaroid shots or portraits of all the famous bikes in your life to show your connection to that bike and that time period? I look forward to Going By Bike in the near future! For now I Go By Touareg Always.

Posted by: Julie | May 12, 2008 11:09:13 AM

Go by Toureg - hahahaha! Actually, if this rains keeps up, I'm going to be going by canoe shortly.

I like your idea about my bike history -- hmmm, I'll have to see if my Mom still has photos somewhere. Neat! I was playing around on Trek's Project One site the other day, so I know what my future bike "The Lola" might look like. :)

Posted by: Laura | May 12, 2008 12:43:30 PM

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