Giro d'Italia 2013 - Stage 19 Detailed Insights
Is Daniel right though or does anyone think stage 20 will be even better?
Let us all assume we have a friend who wants to try bike commuting to work where the route is about 6 miles one way on medium traffic roads with about 2 miles of the route having marked shared lanes. Assume this friend has no bike or cycle gear but is in reasonably good shape and does not have shower facilities at work. Also assume weather and lighting conditions typical for your location.
What is your advice about a bike, gear, and procedure?
Buy a good used bike off craigslist or from your LBS if they sell them. Before you buy, you need figure out what size you need. (More on that below) Look for a bike with a steel or aluminum frame (not carbon - this is for commuting) and an upright posture like a hybrid from a mainstream manufacturer as opposed to a big-box store brand. If you are not sure what brand, go to your LBS and make note of the brands they sell and then search for used models of those brands. Also, look for frames with mounting points for pannier racks. There is no reason to spend more than $300 for this bike, and you should be able to find a good one in the $100-$150 range. I strongly recommend the low price for this reason: wait until you know what you are doing before you put serious money into this, and if it doesn't work out, you can sell the bike on craigslist for a similar amount of money. My current commuter cost me $150 off of craigslist and I love it.
Once you have the bicycle, you should get it tuned up by your LBS which may involve new cables, brake parts and tires. Expect this to run about $80 plus parts.
I would strongly recommend getting new tires between 32 and 45 mm wide (1.25 to 1.75 inches) any narrower will not be durable or comfortable and wider will be too slow. I would also recommend putting fenders on the bike - they make a huge difference if there is any water on the road. Finally, I would recommend platform pedals. By this I mean flat pedals that do not require a special shoe to ride them. Pedals designed for cleats may indeed be faster, but for commuting you are more interested in safety and flexibility. I wear sandals to commute in the summer, and either tennis shoes or waterproof boots in the winter - but I nevfer have to change my pedals.
I would also recommend a pannier rack and bags. These are not cheap and best if you can find used, but they really allow you to carry a lot of gear with minimal effort - much more comfortably than with a backpack. You should expect to spend about $150 for the rack and bags if you buy new online. About half that if you can find used. Once you go rack, you never go back.
I know some people who commute in their work clothes. I think that's fine if your commute is very short. For distances over 3 miles, I find it easier to change at the office. Generally, less is more. The first time you ride in cold weather, you will over-dress. The winter kit I describe below is good to about 20 degrees F.
In Dallas, I can commute year round with the following clothing:
Running shorts (I don't like the cycle sausage casings, but those are fine too)
Bike jersey (the long zipper and rear pockets are incredibly useful)
Rain jacket with lots of ventilation options
Rain/wind pants (I really only use these in the winter)
Lightweight fleece vest (winter)
Wind proof gloves (winter)
Lightweight fleece balaclava that fits under my helmet (winter)
Teva sandals (summer)
Tennis shoes or waterproof boots (winter)
Small towel (microfiber shop towels from home depot work really well)
Essential gear is as follows:
HELMET (If you know enough to debate me on this, you know enough to make your own decision)
Bike lock (more on this below)
Small pump or CO2 inflator: http://goo.gl/oXdYC
Identification and extra cash
If there is ANY chance you will be riding in the dark, you also must have:
Rear light (steady state is safer than blinking at night)
Front light - not a cheap 2 AAA powered light, a real one like this http://goo.gl/1UpBU and never, under any circumstance, use a blinking mode on the front.
If you are going to bring your lunch, invest in leak-proof containers.
Leave a pair of shoes and a toiletry set at the office so you don't have to carry them in your bag. Pack your clothes for the day in your bag, along with your lunch.
Give yourself plenty of time, at least 8 minutes per mile until you have a good handle on the actual travel time. Your actual time will probably be more like 5 or 6 minutes per mile.
Take it easy. If you don't have shower facilities at work, take it slow and ride so you don't sweat too much. Your toiletry set should include a washcloth and towel so you can clean up a bit in the restroom sink. In Dallas summers, it can be 85 degrees in the mornings on my way in, and I can still get by with just a dry towel if I take it easy. Some people include wet-wipes in their toiletry kits.
Be predictable and courteous, which also means obeying traffic laws. Motorists will treat you like a vehicle when you ride like a vehicle, so ride like you are on a motorcycle. Take the entire lane so that traffic cannot try to pass you in the same lane. If you are on a road with only one lane going in your direction, YOU decide when to move to the right and allow traffic to pass you. It's safer that way.
Do NOT pay for a bike fitting. There is a time for that, and it is before your second season of racing in whatever discipline you prefer. This is because bike fitting systems are designed for optimal RACING. For a commuter, you want it to be comfortable over the long term. You want a reasonably upright posture, but not straight upright. You want a minimum of weight to rest on your hands.
I try to buy the largest frame I can find where the following conditions can be met:
The saddle should be high enough that you can sit on it with your hips level, place you heel on the pedal, and fully extent your leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke. (The saddle should be positioned in the middle of the saddle rails, so that you have the ability to adjust back and forward later). Once the saddle height is determined, you want the handlebars set at a height where the handle bar is approximately level with your saddle. Start riding. You should be able to just barely hold your hands about an inch above the handle bar grips. If your center of gravity is too far forward, so that you cannot easily hold your hands above the bar, you need a smaller frame (shorter top tube). If your center of gravity is only slightly forward, you may only need to adjust the handlebar stem height, stem length, or seat position. If your center of gravity is too far back, such that it possible to hold your hands an inch above and in front of the bars, you likely need a larger bike frame (longer top tube).
Bike theft is ALWAYS a concern. The actual risk depends on your location and how you plan to store your bike at the office. Your best option is one where you can leave a heavy duty lock and cable attached to your bike rack at work and carry a small locking cable on you bike for occasional use like at the grocery store. The heavy duty locks usually offer insurance with purchase should your bike get stolen. I like something like this: http://goo.gl/TnM5Y
For the occasional trip to the restaurant or store, I keep one of these in my pannier: http://goo.gl/UnrMQ
When locking with the U-lock, put the U lock through the back wheel and part of the frame and secure it to the bike rack. Also run the cable through the front wheel and back to the u-lock.
Good luck on your new avocation as a bike commuter, and consider joining the cabal.
Google knows what's in your pictures. I'll prove it.
Choose "Photos" from the left navigation bar. Type in any search term. Google+ will show all the pictures you've ever uploaded describable by that term.
I searched for "car," "cat," "dog," "jewelry" and many others, and in every case, Google+ showed me all the pictures of those items -- including private pictures I have never shared.
This is amazing. Try it!
If you don't like Google+ coming at you in two or three columns, you can easily switch to a single-column view.
Go to your "Home" stream, click "More" and find at bottom the "Stream Layout" toggle.
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