This is the second in a series of posts I'm writing about the easiest way to cut back on the amount of money you spend on gasoline- don't buy it. Riding a bike has many benefits not the least of which is the low cost of getting around. Recently I wrote about hauling big stuff on a specialized bicycle. In this post I'd like to share my commuter cycle with readers- the bicycle I ride to work and back.
I started bike commuting about a year ago and I love it. Yes I burn less carbon, yes I use less oil and yes I'm in better shape. But the reason I've stuck with it is that riding to work is just so much fun. I started at my local bike shop. The owner helped me put together a great setup tailored to my commute. I ride a Trek 7.6 hybrid. As you can see in the picture above it has:
1) A Straight Bar. This means I ride in an upright position. I see cars and they see me.
2) A Headlight. Inevitably a bike commuter will be out after dark. This light helps me ride safely after the sun goes down or before it comes up.
3) A Rear Blinky Light. Apparently the space program led to great advancements in LED technology. Thanks to John Glenn and gang I have a red light on the back of my bike that blinks and can be seen up to 1 mile from my rear.
4) A Helmet. Safety first.
5) 700c Road Tires. These ain't stubby mountain bike tires. They're designed to help the bike move faster over pavement so I won't be late for dinner.
6) A Rack on the Back. This is key because if you're riding to work, you're going to need to carry stuff. My rack is compatible with my two year old daughter's bike carrier and also with the pair of saddle bags (called panniers) shown in the picture. In them I carry my lunch, a change of clothes and anything else I need for work. On the way home I can stop at the store to pick up anything we need at home.
7) A Bike Lock. It stays in the panniers. It keeps my bike safe when I'm not riding it.
8 ) A Tube Replacement Kit. This also stays in the panniers. With precautions, tube punctures can be minimized but every once in a while I have a flat. A spare tube, the tools to install it and a way to inflate the tube have me up and running again in no time.
9) Toe Clips or Clipless pedals. Using these will helps me better leverage the full power of my legs. It helps me get to work and back faster..
10) A Water Bottle Cage. This will helps me stay hydrated.
11) A Computer. OK this isn't necessary but it is nice to see how fast I'm going, how far I've ridden and to track my progress as a cyclist.
12) Bar Ends with Built-In Rear View Mirrors. These help by giving me another position for my hands and also by helping me to see what's coming up behind me.
Depending on what your particular commute looks like your needs will vary. That's why I recommend visiting your local bike shop to help get you started. If your commute is less than 40 miles round trip commuting on a bicycle is really possible. Give it a try.
"i used to fantasize about living in a healthier place, one where i could ride my bike, for example. then, one day, i started riding my bike. now, without having fled or escaped to anywhere, i live in a place where i can ride my bike." – heretic fig