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  1. #1
    Senior Member stuartjeff's Avatar
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    Trying to go car free...

    First a bit of background. I started riding last May. Before that I hadn't ridden in almost 20 years. I found out that I loved it so much that I decided to sign up for a triathlon. A lot of my cycling training was done by commuting to work but its taken me a while to be able to handle my 20 mile round trip commute day after day. My big race is next Saturday and with it all excuses to avoid riding because I was "resting" are out the window. I've finally got the fitness now that I can easily handle my commute every day and still have energy for other exercise. I'm planning to continue doing tris but from this point on I want to always be able to ride to work every day. I'd like to take the plunge and live car free fulltime. The trouble is that there are a few things I need to figure out before I do so.

    First off, what do I need? My wife has been living car free for seven years now but she takes a lot of public transit and gets me to drive her around from time to time. She is also a pretty serious minimalist and will do anything in her power to avoid owning stuff. She rides to work when it is nice but takes the bus otherwise. Her commute is around three miles so she is anti cycling clothes and has been known to ride regularly in heels. On the other hand I am a gear *****. I am tempted by every little gadget known to man and pride myself on having the tools to handle any situation. Here is where you guys come in. First off, I need to figure out what I actually need to cycle year-round in a four seasons city. I've got summer taken care of but its starting to get chilly and I really don't know what to do with winter and/or rain.

    Second, I've got a dog. Not just any dog but a dog that likes to run A LOT especially in the woods. I run him in a local park that I walk to on normal work days but I like to drive him out to the country and get him a good long run on the weekends. I'd be a little too worried to leash him to the bike and ride through traffic out to the country so I don't really know how to get him out there. I was thinking about one of those kid trailers but I feel a little silly hauling a dog around in a trailer behind my bike. Thoughts?

    Third, what do you do when something comes up at work and you need to run an errand? I like my nice light weight road bike and really don't want to strap a huge rack to the back but what can I do when I need to haul something home? Should I get some sort of trailer and leave it in my office for those days or is there a better way?

    Also, I went car free for three years before but I was living in NYC. Its easy to go free there and a lot of the stuff I was able to do there just doesn't apply here. I'm hoping you guys can shed some light.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Biscuit Boy Cosmoline's Avatar
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    I'd be a little too worried to leash him to the bike and ride through traffic out to the country so I don't really know how to get him out there.
    As far as this goes, I found it was pretty easy to simply hold a lead in my left hand and train the dog not to cross in front of me. That way I have a good idea what the dog is doing and can control him. I don't have much faith in the aftermarket dog leash holders you can supposedly attach to the back of your bike. If he starts to limp or gets hurt I'd be afraid of making it worse.

    Third, what do you do when something comes up at work and you need to run an errand? I like my nice light weight road bike and really don't want to strap a huge rack to the back but what can I do when I need to haul something home? Should I get some sort of trailer and leave it in my office for those days or is there a better way?
    I like the topeak back racks that have the rails system. For larger loads I'm LOVING the BOB I recently picked up. Sweet carrier. Good for close to a C note. Bewteen that and a day pack I can carry as much or more than I ever could in the car. Plus parking is much less trouble.

    First off, I need to figure out what I actually need to cycle year-round in a four seasons city. I've got summer taken care of but its starting to get chilly and I really don't know what to do with winter and/or rain
    I started winter cycling in Los Anchorage last year and the best advice I got in response to my "what to do" question was to simply RIDE. If it's raining, ride. If it's snowing, ride. If the snow is too deep, walk it. It's just weather. Extra lights for the bike and reflectors for darker months are a good idea. If you have ice, studs are useful. Otherwise, just keep on going. A good bicycle will not have a problem with four seasons. They're extremely well engineered devices.
    Last edited by Cosmoline; 09-20-07 at 04:05 PM.
    ''On a bicycle you're not insulated. You're in contact with the landscape and all manner of people you'd never meet if you were in a car. A fat man on a bicycle is nobody's enemy.''

    Tom Vernon.

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    A solution for the dogs.....

    http://www.burley.com/products/tailwagon.html
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  4. #4
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    In the begining of making the decision to commute for an entire year I suggest get excited about wearing a new outfit for each change in the weather, i.e. if it is going to rain get excited about trying out your new rain gear, snow, snow outfits, etc. It worked for me.

    Gas, the price of a can of beans

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuartjeff View Post
    First off, what do I need?
    On a commute that length I think you can justify cycling specific clothes, I reccomend wool for all but the warmest days. Decent rain gear will be a plus and double as a wind layer on really cold days.

    Second, I've got a dog. Not just any dog but a dog that likes to run A LOT especially in the woods
    Trailer...I have seen dogs in baskets, riding on platforms on racks and in trailers.

    Third, what do you do when something comes up at work and you need to run an errand? I like my nice light weight road bike and really don't want to strap a huge rack to the back but what can I do when I need to haul something home? Should I get some sort of trailer and leave it in my office for those days or is there a better way?
    Several options...messenger bag, Tubus makes some nice decent looking racks that you could attach a rack top bag or small pannier to. Ortleib makes some really nice hard shell cases that will lock into a rack.

    Good Luck and let us know how you make out. I commuted shorter distances for years on a Raleigh 3 speed in street clothes and survived

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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  6. #6
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I would never walk a dog alongside the bike. I did in an earlier decade till my dog looked back only to see a dog pack behind it, and then proceeded to run right under my bike. If your dog will fit in a dog trailer, that's what I would vote for.

    You probably want to get yourself a utility bike. It could be an old MTB, modified for the street with slick tires, fenders, a rack and lights. Or and old 10 speed or even a comfort bike. Or you could get fancier and add an Xtracycle rear end. You want a bike that will be serviceable in all weather, and one that is not likely to attract the attention of thieves.

    You also need to get some winter clothing. Check the Winter Riding forum for good ideas. Seems like everyone needs something different.

    You can do it. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    To find out what you need, start riding. Each region has its own specific geographic, cultural and climate changes. You start riding and you'll soon discover something you need or should probably have and you'll discover things you don't need.

    There are just a few basics you should have when you start. Make sure you have a bright headlight and a good flashing tail light. You can get both for well under $100. I'd also suggest you get a construction worker's safety vest for $25 or so. This will make you quite visible, especially when it gets dark. If your winters are wet or if you get a lot of slushy snow, get fenders for your bike.

    For clothing, get down to a good outdoors shop in your city and tell them what you're going to do. They'll be able to get you clothing that will keep you warm without having you overheated. They will also know your specific climatic needs and the types of clothing that will work best for you. Take special care to make sure your head, hands and feet are warm. For your head, a toque or knit cap can be worn under a cheap helmet. Take the pads out of the helmet and it should fit nicely over the toque. Wool mittens will keep your hands warm well below freezing. But if you're dealing with wet weather, you may need to find another solution. (Mittens, by the way, tend to be much warmer than gloves.) Likewise, wool socks are quite warm. However, wool socks are bulky and don't fit well in cycling shoes. You may want to use a bike with platform pedals in winter, in order to allow you to wear the footwear that works for you.

    If you're in an area where cool and rainy weather is the rule, your regular bike will do fine in winter. However, if you're in an area where you get a lot of snow and where the city salts or sands the streets, I'd suggest getting a winter beater and saving your good bike for the other seasons of the year.
    Life is good.

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