In January 2004, I was running through the Mexico City Airport, trying to
catch a flight and I was struggling. I was gasping for air, and struggling
to keep my legs going. I only had to go half a mile or so, but I could
barely do it. When I got on the plane, I was privately ashamed of my poor
physical condition, so I decided to do something about it. When I got home,
I sold my truck and started riding my bike to work.
That is how I got started.
My ride to work is seven miles long. It takes me 25 to 30 minutes to get to
work on my bike, only 10 minutes more than it takes in a car. I love riding
my bike to work, but it can be scary. I ride down a 2 lane road with a 45
mph speed limit, and plenty of traffic. Some people are assholes and will
pass me going 60+ mph only inches away, but most people are ok.
I discovered that I enjoy riding in the rain. I should be miserable, but I
like it. It makes me feel alive. I ride to work all year round. I even ride
to work if it is snowing (it doesn’t snow too much in central NC). When it
is really cold, I line my bike shoes with plastic bags and wear my wool
socks. This winter I will be going to work before sunrise, and riding home
around 4pm before sunset. I won’t ride after dark, because it is too
dangerous on my route to work, but the early morning is ok since there is
less traffic. My ride makes me feel good. Driving to work never made me feel
I ride a 97 Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike. It had already survived
years of off road abuse when I started riding it to work. I put slick tires
on it, a rack, fenders, and lights. I had to mount the front fender to the
suspension fork with zip ties and some hose clamps. It is kind of ugly, but
lots better than wearing the contents of every mud puddle I pass. I
use 1.5″slick tires. I highly recommend the fatter slicks. I rode on
tires for a while, but got sick of the constant flats, and being afraid of
every little bit of gravel on the road, now I can ride over just about
anything. I use some Nashbar waterproof panniers. I like that they are big
and waterproof, but it would be nice if they had some compartmentalization.
They have never leaked, no matter how hard it was raining. They are so big,
that I usually only need one.
My Commuting Tips:
1. Never get Angry. EVER. It’s not worth it. You ride back and forth
on the same road every day with the same people. They can kill you if they
2. If you only buy two accessories, get lights and fenders. Lights
will keep you alive, and fenders make the difference between a wet ride, and
a wet, dirty miserable ride.
3. Get a rack and panniers. It is so much better than wearing a back
4. You can bring a dress shirt and dress pants to work without getting
them wrinkled. Just fold them carefully, and loosely.
5. You can ride your bike to work even if there is no shower. Give
yourself 15 minutes when you get to work to cool off before you change and
wash your face, neck, hands, and arms and you will be ok. This works for my
6. Bring a spare tube and pump, you will eventually get a flat.