22 March 2005

Preparing to Bicycle to Work

With some motivation from listening to a coworker in Las Vegas, I’ve decided to start bicycling the last few miles to work instead of catching a bus or the monorail. Apparently some parts of the government are getting worked up about the general lack of exercise people get nowadays. The exercise will supposedly help with midday fatigue, as well as the obvious weight benefits from burning the calories.

Taking your bicycle into the city is a different sort of adventure than my usual mountain biking back in the sticks or on country roads within reach of our home. Getting the bicycle into the city has to be dealt with, that old U-lock just can’t be trusted to keep a bike in one place in the city nowadays, and having knobby tires isn’t a lot of use on city streets. So here’s a quick run through things I’ve had to find to make this all happen…

Roof Rack

A trip to the Seattle REI took care of the bicycle rack part. My old Cannondale mountain bike frame has a pretty hefty center tube that normal wheels-on claw type bike racks just can’t seem to cope with. I can recall more than one occasion driving down the freeway with the bike up top and hearing a loud clunk as the old claw rack lost its grip and the bike fell sideways hanging over the side of the car. That didn’t exactly do wonders for the wheels it was hanging from at that point either. Wheels-off racks won’t work either, the hydraulic caliper brakes make wheel changes a real fiasco. They do however make braking on muddy, wet, or otherwise slippery rims real easy.

Street Tires

I have a pair of slick street tires that I had purchased for the purpose of riding around town when I was in college. There are some bicycle messengers on the web that recommend mountain bikes with click tires to people getting started doing that work. So hopefully I’ll be set along those lines.

Bike Lock

The trip to REI also included getting a more serious way to attach the bike to fixed objects so it doesn’t just wander away when I’m not around to pay attention. Luckily Seattle isn’t quite New York in terms of bicycle theft, but I’m still not going to trust the old Kryptonite U-lock I have which is vulnerable to the cold spray trick, the Bic pen trick, the crowbar trick, and heaven only knows what else. To solve this problem, I’ve got a new Kryptonite chain which is made with squarish links that apparently are not friendly to bolt-cutters and a padlock with a guard around the shackle to keep it from getting cut. They have some product information about it online.


I already had this, but it probably bears mentioning. Bicycling around downtown Seattle without a helmet would be insane, not to mention illegal. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had some idiot in a car or truck nearly run me down when I was walking across a crosswalk or even just walking on the sidewalk. Being attentive while driving apparently isn’t a requirement nowadays, so it’s best to have some protection for my valuable intellectual property.

We’ll see how this adventure goes and I’ll probably say more about it at some point in the future.

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