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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 12-01-00, 07:53 AM   #1
RainmanP
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Well, fellow commuters, I am beginning to feel like I have really started the initiation process toward full-fledged membership, having achieved two of the required experiences.
INITIATION PHASE THE FIRST:
About three weeks ago, I achieved the first -- a spectactular, highly visible, but, luckily, not too damaging crash. First day on my new bike. On the way home. Just two or three blocks from work. Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. A crowd of high school kids waiting for the bus as spectators. Drizzly. Crossing a street car track at a safe angle, which I had done countless times before, the front tire slipped a little on the wet metal track. Hit the brakes slightly. Got over that track groove OK, but wobbled a little and caught the other track, or rather the other track caught me. Went down in a great spreadeagle slide, left leg trailing, right leg atop the bike leading. Needless to say, the high school kids were highly entertained. There was nothing I could do but take a deep bow to acknowledge there appreciation and support. Oh, I did bow towards them, lest there be any misunderstanding.
Damage:
1. A very bad scrape on left foot where sliding on the concrete wore through my shoe. Took until just a few days ago to stop hurting.
2. Strained ligaments and muscles up and down the left leg. Cleared up in a few days.
3. Front derailleur bent, presumably by right leg crashing down on it.
I was able to straighten the derailleur enough to ride to the bike shop. Advance planner that I am, I bought the bike from a shop right on the way home. The mechanic was able to straighten and adjust the derailleur and true up the front wheel which had gotten warped just a touch. If I had had to replace the derailleur, it would not have broken my heart. For, after all, what is a repair/replacement if not an opportunity to upgrade a component or two. Am I right?
INITIATION PHASE THE SECOND:
Yesterday on the way home I had my first flat while commuting. Better on the way home with some light left than on the to work in the dark. Rear wheel, naturally. Thank goodness for quick release wheels. This is my first bike to have them. Luckily, the weather was mild and I actually did have a spare tube, tool kit, and pump. By the way, I have a little Blackburn Shorty Mammoth, SMP-1, which I got on Campmor.com's bicycle Hot Deals page for $14.97. I just checked; they still have them for this price. If you need a new pump, you might want to consider this one. Fits Schrader or Presta. This little cutie is only 8 inches long, but will, theoretically, pump up to 90 psi. I got up to 60 (my street tires go 85) and figured that would get me the four miles home to my big pump.
So how many phases are there to this intitiation process, anyway?
Regards,
Raymond
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Old 12-01-00, 10:03 AM   #2
Cambronne
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Initiation...

It appears that you are well on your way to becoming a sprockethead.

Next, you'll get lost... in the dark. Take a sub-zero (F) ride to work... crash and have to fabricate your own repairs (with a handy rock)... and finally, grille and eat roadkill to stave off a bonk.

We won't even talk about having to run from goats, moose, or wild pigs, or inadvertently swallowing a bee while breathing hard on a climb!

Nonetheless, for me, a frightful ride on two wheels is far better than a cozy trip in a car.

As for your flat tire situation... Slime, available at any bike shop, is inexpensive, (and reusable) easy to apply, and very effective. I had to modify my various bikes' rims to accept schrader valves, though, as Slime tends to stick prestas shut.
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Old 12-01-00, 10:26 AM   #3
RainmanP
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Slime

Cambronne,
Thanks for the note on Slime. I have seen it, but was not sure if it was a good idea or not. Changing a tube is not that big a deal, but avoiding it means one less thing to worry about.
Regards,
Raymond
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Old 12-02-00, 10:50 PM   #4
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Re: Initiation...

Quote:
Originally posted by Cambronne
We won't even talk about having to run from goats, moose, or wild pigs, or inadvertently swallowing a bee while breathing hard on a climb!
Im so glad im not the only one who has swallowed bees and have been chased by goats! Man, i have even been chased by a gaggle (?!) of peacocks!
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Old 12-05-00, 10:49 AM   #5
mike
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The next important part of being a full-fledged bicycle commuter is learning how to do the repairs yourself.

While fantastic crashes like you wrote about need not be common, the need for frequent bike maintanance IS common. Unlike the pleasure rider, the commuter bicycle takes a lot more wear and tear. The brakes are used more frequently, you tires and rims are exposed to more road hazards (like your railroad tracks), and you are mixing with traffic.

Also, unlike the pleasure rider, the committed bicycle commuter rides in ALL weather. Not only is this tougher on you bike, it demands that your bike is in "Spot-On" condition.

You can't sacrifice your safety by some bike part needing repairs. By the same token, you can't afford to be late due to a flat or broken chain, or other problem.

You should be able to take your bike completely apart, put all the parts in a big bag, shake them up, spread the parts on the floor, and reassemble the whole bike perfectly.

Unlike almost any other machine. you and your bike are connected. Your bike cannot move without your energy. When your bike is cold, you are cold. When it is wet, you are wet. When it gets damaged in an accident, you are usually also damaged.

When you get the flu, your bike gets the flu.

Know your bike like you know yourself. When your bike is "sick", take care of it right away.

Thanks for your commitment to bicycle commuting. Every time you choose the bicycle for transportation, you help make the world a cleaner, safer, more beautiful place.

Mike
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Old 12-07-00, 03:13 AM   #6
claude
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I've been off my bike for 2 weeks due to a knee injury.... (back on saddle on Monday!!!!) It's wiered but on my way to work by car (veeeeeery horrible feeling) I pass by the sites where I fell, had flats, was chased, broke down and get this heartwarming feeling that it won't be long now before I'll be 'out there' again.....can't wait

P.S. What's this that when we fall it always happens to be in front of a school, bus stop full of children who are only to happy to cheer ?????



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