It is becoming more and more frustrating to not have anyone around to discuss cycling with! My auto-centric family thinks I'm out-of-my-mind, and the neareast LBS is an hour away by bus. Even that is more of a formal business interaction. This board is very helpful, but it is hard to converse here like you would in person because you feel obligated to think up specific questions that you want direct answers to. I've had two threads in the Commuting forum that weren't, ultimately, very helpful even though the respondents meant well.
So, my question is: What do I do now?
I've been cycling for a year now with a mountain-hybrid I picked up from craigslist. It has 26 x 2.125" semi-knobby tires; a water bottle with cage; a low-power frame pump; a cyclocomputer; cantilever brakes; clipped pedals; a worn seat bag with very basic multitool, patch kit, spare tube, adj. wrench (my addition), tire levers, rag (my addition); a rack that I purchased last month to give me greater brake lever clearance; a Sunlite grocery pannier that I picked up for $15, chain lube, and cheap cable lock.
I commuted for the first time last week for five days to a local class at our workforce and business center. I will continue to do so this week and, possibly, for two-to-four more weeks after that. I'm looking for my first job right now and may be called for an interview next week. I have very little clothing--all polo shirts or sweaters and a few pairs of jeans--plus my helmet and sunglasses. My "cycling shoes" are just old, regular walking shoes with very worn (read: smooth) soles. I also have one pair of newer walking shoes.
I LOVE my pannier--it's the best money I've spent since buying my bike. It is more versatile that I imagined, allowing me to put my helmet in it when leaving the bike, carry a bundle of phone books from the mail box, haul groceries (of course), and hold pretty much anything else. The two main problems, however: 1. It's not enough cargo space for future commuting and/or big grocery visits, and 2. It has no cover what-so-ever and will be soaked in any kind of rain.
I have about $120 to use on my bike (eventually more if I'm hired). Below is a list of things that I've thought of purchasing:
- SKS P65 black fenders ($48 with shipping)
- Lone Peak RP-700 trunk bag ($57-63 with shipping [and optional shoulder strap])
- Ankle strap to (hopefully) protect my pant legs from chain oil in a certain spot ($3.95)
- Pedal axle greasing/service at the LBS (price unknown) because they "creak"
- Cycle Aware VuBar bar end mirror ($15.99)
- Mr. Tuffy brown tire liners (at least $15.99)
- New seat bag ($15-25)
- Gear/tight spaces cleaning brush (at least $5.99)
- U-Lock ($25+)
- Front and rear lights ($20+)
- SAVE my money for a quality, water-resistant briefcase pannier ($100-150)
- Whatever you suggest
- What if it rains while I'm riding? What do I do to my bike afterwards? Will it harm the pannier itself?
- What should I get to ride (and walk) in expected rain/snow/slush?
- The above fenders may be too wide for my bike despite the presence of eyelets and screw holes galore.
- The above trunk bag is wider than the rack, thus it won't sit flat on the rack with other panniers installed.
- The bar-end mirror would interfere with my left bar-end hand position--the position I would want to use on the longer straightaways where the mirror would be most useful.
- My front wheel is a little off center to the right and I don't know how to fix it.
- I don't know how to clean a bike beyond wiping it with a rag.
- I've applied chain lube once but don't necessarily know when it will need lube again.
- The bike maintainence books at the local library have only been partially useful.
- It's slow and tedious to unwrap the cable lock and re-wrap it around the bike rack, but it makes a great strap for hauling things on top of the rear rack (which I can't necessarily do with a pannier or two installed).
- Thorns are a threat for most of the year, particularly if I start riding five or more days a week.
- I have a cheap floor pump with miscalibrated gage.
- I average between 8-11 MPH. Last week's class commute was 5-6 miles RT per day. My longest trip last summer was 30 miles (after working up to it) and my pedals would now creak too much for that to be feasible.