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Atypical Commuters?

Old 11-14-05, 07:00 PM
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Atypical Commuters?

I am trying to start commuting to work by bicycle, but it seems most of the commuting advice on this forum is geared towards those who have office jobs. I am a carpenter and would like to hear from others who commute to work in a non "typical" work environment, or who have other special circumstances they overcome to commute.
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Old 11-14-05, 07:18 PM
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Do you go to job sites, or to work and then from there to job sites? You could get a small trailer for your tools, I suppose. Do you do finish work? I think we need some more info here.
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Old 11-14-05, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Expatriate
Do you go to job sites, or to work and then from there to job sites? You could get a small trailer for your tools, I suppose. Do you do finish work? I think we need some more info here.
Or an Xtracycle!
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Old 11-14-05, 07:51 PM
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I work as a motorcycle technician. The main thing that means as far as commuting is that I don't have to worry about being sweaty when I get to work (I would be shortly thereafter anyway), and don't have to worry about nice clothes... I ride in the clothes I work in.
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Old 11-14-05, 08:01 PM
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I work with families in crisis. (i.e. Social Work kind of setting) I hardly work at all in my office. I get up and commute into work, and then (unfortunately) I check out an agency vehicle and spend a great deal of the rest of my day driving to client's homes. What makes me different than an office worker? Not much I suppose. I hope to one day be able to do my visits on bicycle but realistically I would have to work 60 hour weeks.

What kind of problems do you have with your work that aren't addressed in these other posts?
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Old 11-14-05, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by knobbymojo
I am trying to start commuting to work by bicycle, but it seems most of the commuting advice on this forum is geared towards those who have office jobs. I am a carpenter and would like to hear from others who commute to work in a non "typical" work environment, or who have other special circumstances they overcome to commute.
I have a friend who is a builder and commutes to building sites on his bike.
My brother is a boat mechanic, and he commutes most days.

I think they just ride in what they work in.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:31 PM
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I am a finish carpenter. I am lucky in the respect that my business partner tows our tool trailer most of the time. We usually work at the same spot for 3-5 days, then go to the next job. My main obstacle to taking the bike to work all the time is that there are days when I may need to be able to take tools across town, and I dont necessarily know before I ride to work.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:33 PM
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Clothing isnt much of an issue, since no one cares what I look like when I get to work. I do get some stares when I wear my cycling clothes, so I refrain from doing that without work clothes over them.

I do like the extra cycle idea. It would make hauling some tools possible.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:49 PM
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A friend of mine repairs exercise equipment for health clubs and the like. He used to carry 60 pound worth of tools and parts 30 -35 miles a day. He used a jumbo timbuktu bike bag.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:55 PM
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Maybe I am just a big wuss.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:58 PM
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A Burley Nomad or Flatbed or BOB trailer or similar might do a good job of carrying tools around. A search on bike trailers would probably yield some reviews.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by slagjumper
A friend of mine repairs exercise equipment for health clubs and the like. He used to carry 60 pound worth of tools and parts 30 -35 miles a day. He used a jumbo timbuktu bike bag.

That sounds both hardcore and painful
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Old 11-14-05, 10:07 PM
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One of my major concerns is appearing as a nut to the customers. Being a small buisiness owner I worry about stuff like that. Come to think of it I am probably nuts for getting into this business in the first place.

Last edited by knobbymojo; 11-14-05 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:17 PM
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I have an office job and drive to work with my bike on Mondays, bike commute Monday evening through Friday morning, and drive home on Friday evening. So I have my bike available during the work week if I need it. Don't know if this would work for you.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:24 PM
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My truck would get towed after 24 hours, stupid city ordinances.
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Old 11-15-05, 06:36 AM
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I am always carrying stuff, the weight of which is considerable. What you want to watch out for is over-loading the bike. Even when the weight is distributed left and right in panniers, just walking the bike out the door can lead to some back strains in the event it loses balance and you go to right it with your arm extended. Gravity takes over in a big way, as the wheels and steering want to turn. I have adopted a way to walk the bike holding the seat next to my pelvis, so that is remains upright with no sudden listing one way or the other. My rig has a briefcase bag with computer, back up drive, files and office tools. Pannier gets bike tools, locks, camera, personal belongings lunch and some inspection tools. You could do the following: locate two tough bags that are meant for tools that has a flat side to it. Get Arkel brand pannier hardware and attach it to the bags. Get rain covers while you are at it. Then, you will have the means to haul some reasonably heavy weight while you commute. Just make sure you get the stongest bike rack you can, observe the load capacity and put it on a bike that can handle the weight for safety's sake.
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Old 11-15-05, 07:24 AM
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Get a motorcycle ... best second thing for commuting lightly with a small load of tools
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Old 11-15-05, 09:37 AM
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fence installer.Commute to/from work. Drive trucks to job site.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by knobbymojo
One of my major concerns is appearing as a nut to the customers. Being a small buisiness owner I worry about stuff like that. Come to think of it I am probably nuts for getting into this business in the first place.
If image is an issue (and it is for any business owner) then take the ball and run with it. Embrace and enhance the image of yourself as a craftsman or even an artist!

Perhaps get yourself a vintage style hat like Roy Underhill on the Woodwright Shop to replace your helmet when you get to your work sites. Or choose some other item of clothing to make you stand out as unique, and give the impression that you have an old fashioned attitude and work ethic that also happens to be reflected in your choice of transportation! Ride a vintage bike to enhance the image... and keep it immaculate!

I have been a fan of companies that emphasize differences as a means of advertising... Word of mouth about the eccentric cycling carpenter will make you noticed... Just be sure to always do a great job, because it could work against you just as strongly if you do poor work.

You may also want to advertise your ecologically beneficial mode of transportation! Emphasize this by refusing to use any wood from the rain forest (or some other conservational stand you wish to make).

Don't try to appear to be just another carpenter... Make the difference work for you!
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Old 11-15-05, 10:55 AM
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If your tools will fit, I would just attach a milk crate to back rack on a bicycle. This is what I use for cargo and I can carry a surprising amount of cargo in it, particularly if you have a bunge netting stuff to hold stuff in. And if I really need extra capacity, I'll wear a backpack too.
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Old 11-15-05, 11:16 AM
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Milk crate? Heck no! I want a finish carpenter with an eye for detail and design.

Remember those beautiful wood cabinet toolboxes that used to be the final exam for woodworker's apprentices? It's time to tailor-make one into a pannier tool box that advertises your commitment to quality work wherever you go. Or even a bigger box to fit on a BOB trailer frame.
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Old 11-15-05, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by knobbymojo
Maybe I am just a big wuss.
Not if you are new to commuting by bike. Carrying heavy tools would be a challenge, especially if someone else is depending on you. Add to that you will be changing your route every time you have a different work site. Many new commuters have enough of a challenge just to map out a single route they are comfortable with in the beginning.

And weather...
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Old 11-15-05, 12:00 PM
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This is what I carried before I rigged up my panniers.


It's a $12 tool bag with a rigid bottom from Big Lot's. It holds a LOT of stuff. The bag is tall enough to zip up around three gallon milk jugs, standing upright, (I know because I did it one night ). I put an elastic cinch cord around it so that when was empty, I could flatten it down and keep it out of the way.

I set the bag on the rack, marked the bottom of the bag and then drilled holes to attach it with rubberized clamps.


It worked well until I canabalized the rack to make supports for my baskets, which are now on my other bike.
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Old 11-15-05, 03:13 PM
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I usually take the tools to the jobsite in a 14' job trailer (all my tools together weigh about 3,000 lb), and leave them at the jobsite till the job is finished. I guess I could ride on the days when I dont have to take the trailer, something to think about I guess. Im not sure how well it would work to leave the truck at the jobsite, depends on the neighborhood.

What are the pros and cons of an xtra cycle versus a bob trailer for hauling larger loads? I have no experience with either.
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Old 11-15-05, 03:20 PM
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Just a thought, check out Worksman Cycles. They focus on industrial cycles and trikes. You could turn a challenge into a promotion opportunity.

http://www.worksman.com/
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