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  1. #1
    Junior Member minglee's Avatar
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    New Biker and New Commuter

    I finally took the plunge and bought a bike to commute with. I've been waiting forever to do so. Until September, I've had to use my car to take my child to Pre-K. Now that he has started Kindergarten, and it's right down the block from my house, I can take him to school on foot and then hop on the bike to work. Only in intensely cold weather will I drive (no fair to make a 4 year old walk through the freezing cold) or when I have to take my laundry out (I can't figure out how to get 30 lbs of laundry on my bike).

    Anyway, I've commuted about 5 days out of the last 2 weeks. I only go 4 miles round trip. I see you all posting your 30+ mile commutes and I don't know how you do it! I'm so out of shape that those 4 miles hurt! In time it will get easier, I know, as I get into better shape.

    I purchased an inexpensive bike. A 26" Schwinn Ranger from Target. I just couldn't wait until I could afford a better bike (I'd be waiting forever) and I figured, let me just see how this goes and if I really get into riding, I'll invest in a better bike. I only purchased a helmt and a lock.

    Now I'm ready to buy some more supplies. A safety vest, some lights for night riding, a rear rack, some fenders.

    I haven't been able to figure out a left turn yet. As of now, I do it as a pedestrian, going across the intersection via 1 crosswalk, then making the left via the next cross walk, waiting for the pedestrian's walk signal. Many of my left turns would be from 1 two-lane road into another two-lane road. So, the cars in the right lane, I'm never sure if they're going to go left or right. And if I get inbetween the 2 lanes, how do I get back over to the right if the car on the right goes left? I'm too scared! It's only my 3rd week though.

  2. #2
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Congrats and welcome to the club! Take it easy and keep on doing the 2 point left turns until you get comfortable enough to take and change lanes. Get some mirrors, front and rear blinkies, a headlight, reflective vest and leg straps, etc.

    As for the bike, check the review thread of the GMC Denali. You have a different bike, but the adjustments and checks that are mentioned in that thread will apply to your bike too. Check and adjust the brakes if necessary, shifter cables, etc.
    HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

  3. #3
    tsl
    tsl is offline
    Plays in traffic tsl's Avatar
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    I did the same thing with left turns for a while until I became confident in traffic.

    As for getting 30 lbs of laundry to the laundromat and back, a bike trailer or an X-Tra cycle are probably the best bet. They come in handy too for shopping and taking the kids around. See the Living Car-Free forum for ideas and suggestions.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  4. #4
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    Your comfort with various traffic maneuvers will evolve with time. Do what feels comfortable and wait. I used to ride on the sidewalk because if felt safer. Now I ride on the street because it feels safer. I'm sure either way is as safe, or not safe, now as it was then, independent of my feelings about it.

    On busy streets, I used to make left turns just like cars, but now at one particular street I have started doing sort of what you do. I stay on the right edge of the street and go across the cross street. Then I stop and turn the bike to the left, and cross the street perpendicularly, thus making an effective left turn. The reason I do this is that sevaral times, when I was out in the middle of the street with my left arm out waiting for an opening in the oncoming traffic so I could turn left, people would just stop. I suppose they were trying to be polite, or they thought I had the right of way, or something, but it meant that the well-defined traffic rules are suddenly up for negotiation and we have to sit there saying, no after you, no reallly, you go first, please. One time a police officer actually stopped and asked me what I was doing out there in the middle of the intersection, stopped, with my left arm extended. Now I just try to avoid left turns.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  5. #5
    Code Warrior mwrobe1's Avatar
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    Total coolness!

    I put 1000 miles on my Schwinn Ranger over the spring and summer of this year (mine was a gift from my wife purchased from Target a year ago), mostly commuting and getting out when I could. I haven't had any major problems with it. I did break a spoke 3 weeks ago on the rear wheel and have been meaning to get it fixed. Since then the bike has been sitting in the garage. It been too dark in the mornings anyway. Since we do the time changeover tomorrow, I'm going to see if I could get in some more miles before the real winter sets in. I don't have the clothing...and admittantly, the motivation to make my 34 mile roundtrip commute in below freezing weather and/or snow just yet...the heat in my car works too damn good!

    Be aware that the brakes and the rear derailier may need adjusting after 100 or so miles...I know mine did...thats just normal break-in/cable stretch.

    I bought a rear rack and a handlebar bag for mine, along with a helmet, a couple bungies, a backpack, a cyclocomputer, 2 pairs of UnderArmour shorts and jerseys and a kevlar belted tire for the rear. Since I took this pic...I got a "less chunky" more comfortable seat for it as well.

    I intend to upgrade to a entry level road bike...or perhaps an older Schwinn Varsity/Le Tour/Traveler...when the time is right and funds are available.

    Last edited by mwrobe1; 10-28-06 at 08:36 AM.
    Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, 1/2 a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.

    Jake: Hit it.



  6. #6
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    Cool, a new convert... maybe we bicycle commuters can start our on religeon and get tax breaks!
    As far as hauling around 30lbs of clothing, you could invest in a child trailer and use it for double duty. I have one I picked up at Wal-Mart and it works great. I haul my son around in it, use it for groceries, sundrys, taking tools and things to work, etc. etc.
    And another thing, the pain goes away, or maybe you get used to it, I'm really not 100% sure. But I'm out of shape, have been since I got out of college. Hit ~350lbs at my worst and am now down below 290 and I do 20 mile commutes daily.
    Keep it up, the benefits outweigh the risks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member oilfreeandhappy's Avatar
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    WTG minglee! It's great to hear that you're doing this, and managing life with small children at the same time.
    Jim
    Make a BOLD Statement While Cycling!

  8. #8
    Junior Member minglee's Avatar
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    Laundry/Child Trailer

    Yeah, I know I could get one of those child trailers. But I just have absolutely no place to put one in my apartment. Seriously. I live with my son in a NYC apartment. I couldn't imagine where I would put that trailer in here.

    I'm not comfortable riding with my kid in that thing. I know people do it all the time, but I just can't risk it with him. I just wouldn't be able to live with myself if I put him in one of those and some idiot runs into him. I know cars are risky too, but if someone taps into us in our car at 10 MPH, it's very different from running into that trailer.

    And I need to do those chores before/after work. I couldn't imagine carrying both that bike and that trailer upstairs. And where would I park that trailer at work?

    It's just not practical sometimes.

  9. #9
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by minglee
    Now I'm ready to buy some more supplies. A safety vest, some lights for night riding, a rear rack, some fenders.
    Decent lights may set you back more than the bike.


    Quote Originally Posted by minglee
    I haven't been able to figure out a left turn yet.
    Contact one of these League cycling instructors and ask when they'll be teaching their next Bike Ed course. Great for any new or experienced cyclist.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale Supersix EVO carbon

    I thought of that while riding my bicycle -- Albert Einstein

  10. #10
    dirtbag roadie ahpook's Avatar
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    Check out John Allen's Street Smarts book, it's really great help in figuring out tricky situations while you're cycling: http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/index.htm
    follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/ahpook/

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