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-   -   Musings about commuting on a slow Sunday afternoon. (https://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/795369-musings-about-commuting-slow-sunday-afternoon.html)

SuncoastChad 01-29-12 04:44 PM

Musings about commuting on a slow Sunday afternoon.
 
First: I am not trying to get a fight going.
Second: I am a "new" member but old of age and commuting experience.

1. I live in a great area to commute on a bicycle. However, few white collar folks do. I work about 6 mile from home. I have bike lanes on the major roads near home and a great cross county feeder to a new north-south trail currently under construction. Nearly everyone I meet is either walking the dog or it's "Fred". "Fred" is of course the rider "we" look down on for wearing jeans and sneaker and riding a Walmart $79 special on his way to/from his 1st/2nd/3rd minimum wage job. That attitude has to stop before "we" can have any sane discussion. WTF does the quality of a dude's ride have to do with riding to/from work?

2. Businesses in this area (mine included) suck when it comes to providing amenities for bicycle (or walking) commuters. My office does have a locker room and shower. But, the ENTIRE business park has zero (0), zip, nada, bicycle parking. I got puked on last week for "parking" my bike behind the potted plants in the lobby of my building. I guess it's better to lock it to a directional sign outside.

3. I love discussions about supporting the local bike shop (LBS). I'd love to but mine all suck. Attitude, attitude, attitude! I thought I found one to support. I needed a bearing for my son's BMX bike. I got it for $9 and a "good luck" as I went out the door. A week later I stopped by to ask that a "pro" change the bearing as I didn't have the tools or vice to get the lock ring loose. Well, I got LBS Attitude to the max. Seems the bike was not worth the time. The bearings were now $35, etc. You get the picture. WTF? Last week it was $9 and a "good luck". Today it's don't soil our shop with a BMXer?

So, I'll admit I ride with attitude. I say howdy to "Fred". I have my own tools and I'll buy from Bikes Direct, thank you very much. I'll go to the LBS when I absolutely have to and expect no help. Make you want to cry now and then.

In a perfect world I'd have a bike locker or at least a covered bike rack at work. I'd stop buy the LBS for tubes and talk about scheduling a "tune up" next weekend without getting attitude about my simple cheap ride. I'd see lots of "suits" on the way to and from work, going to the ball park (I pass a really nice Phillie's farm team park on the way to work ON THE TRAIL!!!), shopping, etc.

Is it going to get "big"? No. Probably not in my life time. But, it is better than it used to be. Pinellas County has trails and plans for more. Now, if I can just find a LBS!! :D

chefisaac 01-29-12 05:23 PM

I understand a lot of what you are saying for sure.

We have one bike area to lock the bikes up and it is exposed to an area where smokers love to sit on bikes. Nope... not for me. So...... I found a supply room I can keep it in. I did find that if that didnt work, I would have talked with my boss. Our company strives to be "green" so I am sure I could figure out a way. Do you have an office area?

You can also buy a locker for your clothes if that is an issue. I have seen them at Ikea before.

chefisaac 01-29-12 05:24 PM

I do see a few people on the road when I am riding to work. I couldnt care less what they ride in or what they ride on. I always say hello because, to be frank, it is awesome they are out riding, especially in winter time!

Hydrate 01-29-12 05:27 PM

Your first statement has a big generalization. We do not all look down on people who ride to work out of necessity. Though I know some here do, I say high to everyone from full kitted roadie to the kid on his BMX. As my moniker says 2 wheels are >4, including motorcycles yes I wave to them as well, and ride one to. Of course I also will ride in a full team kit that my son gave me as a Christmas present for the team he rides on though I do not race. I to ride my 1988 Schwinn with work boots on when I commute in the winter. Sometimes I wear Jeans as well so depending on what day someone sees me riding I fall into both the categories you mentioned and all in between. But I am glad to see you would be saying howdy either way which I believe is your point.
I agree on lack of parking for Bicycles this would go along way to keep people from complaining. You try the best you can to park it securely and out of the way, yet always seems to be in someone’s way or at least gives complainers something to complain about.
Sorry to hear about your LBS because having a good one or in my case a Very Good LBS is truly a wonderful thing. My LBS is more than willing to work on any bike, give advice and answer questions when you want to do the repairs yourself, and even offer up ideas that I am sure would be frowned upon at some “Boutique” type shops. I have even brought in parts I have bought off CL and he has installed them for me without jacking up the price. Like I said I am very fortunate when it comes to LBS.
Have Fun Ride Safe

chefisaac 01-29-12 06:18 PM

I often have the thought that it should be mandatory for shops to have places to store bikes. But that is just my opinion.

erg79 01-29-12 07:16 PM

Might be worth checking with your local or county transportation agency. They may have a bike rack installation program or request form.


"Fred" is of course the rider "we" look down on for wearing jeans and sneaker and riding a Walmart $79 special on his way to/from his 1st/2nd/3rd minimum wage job.
Was interested when you wrote that--my understanding has been that a Fred is someone without a lot of serious bike skills who nonetheless goes out and spends thousands of dollars on a bike--the weekend Madone rider.

Then I looked on Wikipedia and found that both usages are correct, plus a third usage...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_(bicycling)

Basically, "Fred" is anyone who you look down on!

DJ Shaun 01-29-12 07:28 PM


Originally Posted by SuncoastChad (Post 13783565)
2. Businesses in this area (mine included) suck when it comes to providing amenities for bicycle (or walking) commuters. My office does have a locker room and shower. But, the ENTIRE business park has zero (0), zip, nada, bicycle parking. I got puked on last week for "parking" my bike behind the potted plants in the lobby of my building. I guess it's better to lock it to a directional sign outside.

There's very few racks in the commercial/industrial area I work in so I know I'm lucky to have shower facilities and plenty of bike racks at work.

DJ Shaun 01-29-12 07:48 PM

I've tried quite a few LBS in my town over the years. I don't trust most of them either. They would treat me like I'm a complete amateur even though I've commuted 16 of the last 20 years (2 of those I was walking to work) and I'm now a 4 season commuter. I think if I lost 75lbs and came in wearing spandex team kit and a $1000+ racing machine or a fully customized MTB they'd give me the time of day. They would just replace my broken parts with more overpriced low end components. Frustrating when the replacement parts would brake after only 2-3 months of use. :notamused:

But despite my negative experiences I did find a couple shops that treat me fairly and understand my needs. One of them is conveniently 2 blocks from work which is handy for emergency repairs and/or spare parts. The other one is far from work or home. So I go there when I need good upgrades or bigger repairs done. :)

bluegoatwoods 02-05-12 08:22 PM

I agree with most of the op's thoughts, but I do have a different definition of a "fred". I don't think that freds are those who ride because they have no other choice. Those poor folks are not hard to recognize; if you see someone riding on under-inflated tires, seat set too low and with nothing in the way of clothing or accessories that is bicycle or outdoor oriented, then you're seeing someone who is riding because they have no choice. You can't see it, of course, but you can bet that their derailleur is so badly out of adjustment that they have two or three usable gears or, perhaps, it's frozen solid leaving only one usable gear. These poor guys don't know and don't care to learn how to fix these things.

A fred, on the other hand, is someone who believes in bicycles as practical transport. His bike has cargo racks and mirrors and other aerodynamically incorrect attachments. Some 'roadies' look down on us for this. And we look down on them for their adherence to form over substance. But a fred is a true bicyclist in any case, as opposed to the 'no choicers'.

As for local bike shops most only stay in business on what they can sell to teenagers and twenty-somethings. Old goats like us just don't pay the bills. Are they foolish for treating us like they don't want our business? Of course. But you'll find similar foolishness in all walks of life. The minority who love all bikes and riders are kindred spirits to us. They are jewels who should be cherished by those lucky enough to be nearby. But we don't actually need them; anyone who can keep a bicycle up-and-running in the real world can live without a bike shop. Though there is a price to pay and that is that we must give up on the high-end bikes, parts and accessories and get along with generic stuff.

But it's much easier than it sounds. The bargain-basement stuff is just fine. This is coming from someone who has experienced both. I've had better bikes. One, in particular, was getting into the "pretty impressive" range amongst the crowd I was in at the time (bike messengers). It was a nice bike, a real pleasure to ride and it lasted me a long time. But it was annoying to find that replacement parts were no longer in production and that I had to make do with what my mechanic could make work.

These days I ride a Roadmaster from Wal-Mart. Doesn't sound too impressive, does it? But I've been riding this one (more days on than off) for nearly five years now. It's endlessly adaptable and adjustable. I have frames and parts to last me a lifetime. I haven't payed for any of it. I pick 'em up off the curbs in my neighborhood. (Trash, not theft, by the way) And I don't need a bike shop to do any of the work needed.

Perhaps I'm in the minority on this (?), but above all a bicycle should cost next to nothing to maintain. That's one of the charms of bicycles. One of the more major charms, I'd say.

EdgewaterDude 02-05-12 09:20 PM

I feel really bad for those of you without a good LBS. I've got them in spades around here.

DX-MAN 02-05-12 09:52 PM


Originally Posted by SuncoastChad (Post 13783565)
First: I am not trying to get a fight going.
Second: I am a "new" member but old of age and commuting experience.

1. I live in a great area to commute on a bicycle. However, few white collar folks do. I work about 6 mile from home. I have bike lanes on the major roads near home and a great cross county feeder to a new north-south trail currently under construction. Nearly everyone I meet is either walking the dog or it's "Fred". "Fred" is of course the rider "we" look down on for wearing jeans and sneaker and riding a Walmart $79 special on his way to/from his 1st/2nd/3rd minimum wage job. That attitude has to stop before "we" can have any sane discussion. WTF does the quality of a dude's ride have to do with riding to/from work?

2. Businesses in this area (mine included) suck when it comes to providing amenities for bicycle (or walking) commuters. My office does have a locker room and shower. But, the ENTIRE business park has zero (0), zip, nada, bicycle parking. I got puked on last week for "parking" my bike behind the potted plants in the lobby of my building. I guess it's better to lock it to a directional sign outside.

3. I love discussions about supporting the local bike shop (LBS). I'd love to but mine all suck. Attitude, attitude, attitude!....

So, I'll admit I ride with attitude. I say howdy to "Fred". I have my own tools and I'll buy from Bikes Direct, thank you very much. I'll go to the LBS when I absolutely have to and expect no help. Make you want to cry now and then.

In a perfect world I'd have a bike locker or at least a covered bike rack at work. I'd stop buy the LBS for tubes and talk about scheduling a "tune up" next weekend without getting attitude about my simple cheap ride. I'd see lots of "suits" on the way to and from work, going to the ball park (I pass a really nice Phillie's farm team park on the way to work ON THE TRAIL!!!), shopping, etc.

No fight, Chad, I get it.

1. I see the type of 'Fred' you describe almost daily, and the only issue I have with them is when they don't return my greet. (NOTE: the quality of the ride only matters when the guy is 6'6", and riding a $79 BMX poser -- LOL! Seen that, too!)

2. My town has, over the last couple years, gotten a LOT better about bike racks outside stores; before then, it was a hit/miss about taking the bike inside, or having a street sign to lock to.

3. 5 bike shops in town, done business with 2, would go back to 1, but my needs from them are small. I buy frames and parts, and build up my own, so what can they do for me?

I guess SOMEbody has to buy from BD; I made that mistake once.....

My world, bike-wise, is pretty close to perfect; my bike goes in the building with me when I ride to work, with management's blessing. Suits on bikes? Not here.....

buzzman 02-05-12 10:46 PM

I hope this isn't construed as fighting but I'd say this is "much ado about nothing".

I can hardly make sense of your complaints. You say you live in a great place to bike, you have bike lanes and a cross county feeder to a north south bike trail being built. You have a six mile commute to your work place where you have showers and a locker room.

You're in Clearwater, FL where you don't have to deal with snow, ice and freezing temperatures for 5 months of the year like many of us. ( and I'm not complaining about it- it's just a fact).

Sorry, but if it's sympathy you're looking for I'm having trouble getting bummed about anything you're griping about.

My suggestion: Get over it and count your blessings.

tjspiel 02-05-12 11:40 PM

Here's my take on the LBS thing. A lot of bike mechanics are a bit lacking when it comes to retail skills. They'd rather be working on bikes than dealing with the public. I've also found that many of them will warm up to regulars eventually. There are plenty of exceptions so don't give up on them completely.

The majority of commuters I see wear jeans or other type of street clothes and probably don't pay too much attention to what other people ride. There's also not a lot of waving and greetings amongst the commuters. I consider this a good thing actually. It's not that I'm against being friendly but it's really not a big deal to see somebody else on a bike.

I might strike up a conversation with another cyclist stopped at an intersection but probably not, - and that is OK too. I don't often strike up conversations when I'm standing on a street corner with one or more other people while waiting for a light to change. Why should I feel compelled to do that if I'm on a bike?

Personally when it comes to bike commuting I really don't have a lot to complain about and I do live in one of those places where it gets cold and snowy.

FrenchFit 02-06-12 12:39 AM

I feel your pain. I really dislike all my local LBSs, all they've done is mess up any bike project I was foolish enough to give them, ..and loose my orders for parts (that I could have ordered easily on-line). Frankly, I know more than most of them about bikes, and that's a very scary realization. If you are in the market for a $6K CF bike they love you, otherwise, forgettaboutit. The national chains (like Performance) are moving in and displacing them, and no tears from me. They dug their own graves.



I commute on a 40 year old ten speed. I don't have to, I have some 10 bikes..a few lightweight wunders. I enjoy the ole skool commute bike, works great under an hour each each way. I am fortuneate that my office building loves me because I don't take up a parking place, so I have safe covered parking indoors. It does mean I don't wear a suit the office, but I've gotten creative about bike wear/office wear hybrids - and I have my own business. No helmet, no clipless shoes, no spandex...just a maverick I guess. Cycling briefs are a great invention.



I have two personal cars as well, a big sports truck and a german luxury sedan befitting my age and stature. Good for rain days, and dressy days. It's cool I rarely put gas in them and they get about 2K miles a year of my driving. They get oil changes due to time, not miles. I ride my bikes for errands and to the gym as well. My neighbors think that I'm a nut.



So, that's the reality I've created and it's been working fine for years. Yes to "Fred", probably yes to "Retro-Grouch" and "Lone Wolf", but I'm not trading my lifestyle for anyones.

Schwinnrider 02-06-12 08:07 AM

The problem I have with the "Freds"(and that's not accurate---Freds are dorky commuters, IMHO. What you're describing are DUI cyclists) is their utter refusal to obey the rules of the road. I never see someone who's wearing a helmet and riding a bike shop bike(not being snobby, I hope) salmoning into traffic while wearing black and having no light. But I see the homeless/DUI/Wal-Mart bike guys doing that all the time.

But when they get hit and killed on the road? The media reports "cyclist killed in crash".

Schwinnrider 02-06-12 08:10 AM


Originally Posted by erg79 (Post 13784203)
Might be worth checking with your local or county transportation agency. They may have a bike rack installation program or request form.



Was interested when you wrote that--my understanding has been that a Fred is someone without a lot of serious bike skills who nonetheless goes out and spends thousands of dollars on a bike--the weekend Madone rider.

Then I looked on Wikipedia and found that both usages are correct, plus a third usage...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_(bicycling)

Basically, "Fred" is anyone who you look down on!

I don't think "Fred" applies to the riders to which the OP was referring. I always assume the guys riding 'mart bikes in street clothes while smoking and riding the wrong way are guys with DUIs. In my area, which is very bike-unfriendly, the only people who ride bikes as transporation are Freds like me and guys with DUIs.

SuncoastChad 02-06-12 08:56 AM


Originally Posted by buzzman (Post 13814671)
I hope this isn't construed as fighting but I'd say this is "much ado about nothing".

I can hardly make sense of your complaints. You say you live in a great place to bike, you have bike lanes and a cross county feeder to a north south bike trail being built. You have a six mile commute to your work place where you have showers and a locker room.

You're in Clearwater, FL where you don't have to deal with snow, ice and freezing temperatures for 5 months of the year like many of us. ( and I'm not complaining about it- it's just a fact).

Sorry, but if it's sympathy you're looking for I'm having trouble getting bummed about anything you're griping about.

My suggestion: Get over it and count your blessings.

I wasn't griping, merely making some observations. Yep, I'm blessed to live in an area that I can bike or do just anything short of winter sports year round. I don't have anything to "get over". Hope you get an early thaw.

Spatchka 02-06-12 09:09 AM

Since I moved to the city from a very rural area of the Midwest, never really had a LBS closer than 100 miles or so.

Took my best attitude, smile and headed out to find a shop I could support.

Still looking.

I agree that my support won't pay their bills, being an old commuter, but what I have found is that

most younger folk just don't know how to converse with people in person.

Maybe I should have sent them a text ahead of time.

( on a side note: never have worn a helmet on a bike, but recently got one so I wouldn't look like a "D.U.I" rider. )


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