How does bike commuting relate to our Sprinter DIY project?
Bike commuting is what brought us here. We moved from Michigan to a university town in Oregon. We down sized from two vehicles to one. We lived less than 2 miles from my work and less than 3 miles from our kids school. There was a paved bike path and bike racks everywhere.
With that being said, I may have never successfully converted to a full time bike commuter if not for the fact that I was too cheap to buy a parking pass at work and I wanted to leave the car available for my husband and kids. My first day of work was the first day of winter term. There was an ice storm and campus was closed. I went in anyway, since it was my first day and I wasn’t sure what the policies were. My father in law dropped me off; I walked home a few hours later. That was day one of commuting without a car.
Day two went much better, I think. Although, I don’t specifically remember. In any case, I started bike commuting in the winter in Oregon. It rained. My bike had a back fender and my pannier was waterproof. I watched other people and tried some of the tricks. There were shower caps on bike seats, helmet covers, big brimmed helmet covers, all kinds of ponchos, shoes covers, rain pants, and the list goes on.
For Christmas that year CD had given me booties to go over my shoes. They looked ridiculous and I made fun of him. In fairness, he spent the summer of 1999 biking from New Hampshire to San Francisco. Apparently, he learned the value of dry, warm feet.
I bike commuted to and from work each day of winter term. The first four weeks were annoying. I fumbled with my helmet while struggling to get my lock around my bike the proper way. I failed to fully close my pannier and my clothes and lunch got wet. I dropped all kinds of things in puddles while trying to navigate the bike rack. The covered part of the bike rack was almost always at capacity.
I jumped fully on board with the rain gear. The booties were life savers. My feet were dry and felt amazing. My bike shoes and clips made the ride smooth and effortless. I only fell over twice. Both times I stopped fast and failed to release my left shoe. My left leg has always been slower at this. Thankfully, only my pride was hurt.
I stock piled clothes at work and even got out my dry bag to use inside my pannier on the rainiest days. By the time April rolled around I felt great! My only complaint at that point was that the commute was too short. I took a longer way home some days.
CD and the kids were bike commuting also. Sometimes it would be two weeks between driving our minivan. HB asked my why there were so many cars at the grocery store. I credited CD with this parenting success.
It has been four years. I still bike commute everyday. We moved and I am now just about a mile from work. By being one mile closer, I became too lazy to wear my bike shoes or booties. I just throw on my rain boots in the winter and sandals in the summer. I aspire to go back to my clips as I feel it was more efficient and way more fun. I also got lazy about wearing rain pants. I wear a pair of Kuhl hiking pants. Sometimes they get soaked through. On those days, I just throw them over a chair in front of an electric heater. I keep a couple of pairs of work pants in the cupboard by my desk and carry my work clothes back and forth each day. I stopped struggling to get my lock through both the tire and frame. Plenty of bikes get stolen around us but not from the rack in front of my office; I just take that gamble and just lock the frame.
I tried a front fender but it kept clicking and getting bumped off center. I found it more annoying than walking into work with mud on my face. I try to remember to check the mirror before I settle into work for they day. So far, I have hardly had anyone tell me that I have mud on my face. I assume that means that I typically don’t.
I consider myself a bike commuter now. I would miss it if I moved to a town where I couldn’t bike everywhere. It just makes sense and feels good.
Even though I don’t currently use all of these products everyday, here are my favorites. I have tried and personally endorse each one.
I didn’t get these gloves until 2018. I use them everyday, even in the spring and fall. They are warm but not too warm. They are dry. Be aware that they tend to run small. I ordered the medium first and they were too tight. I could get them on fine but pulling them on and off when they were wet or when my hands were sweaty was too hard. I kept them for my seven year old son and ended up getting the large for myself.
I have the slightly older model of this light. I use it everyday and hardly ever need to charge it. It is quick to release from its bracket and I typically just remove it and stick it in my pocket when I walk into work each day.
I should wear this but I don’t wear it often anymore. It is comfortable, easy to use, fit over any clothes. Recommended.
These are really great if you use them. When I used them, I loved them. My co-workers use them regularly. I started wearing my rain boot but hope to go back to clipping in and using these.
KIDS BIKE TRAILERS:
Now a quick word on kids bike trailers. We love them. We used them and still do at times. Our all time favorite is the Chariot. We had a Chariot before it was owned by Thule. We have used all of the accessories: Skis; Jogging wheels; Swivel Wheels; Bike trailer. We have had the single and the double. We still have both, though we hardly use either. Even if our kids aren’t using them, you may see me loading up my groceries at the store.
I could go on and on about the years we have spent with the Chariot. Please comment or ask if you have questions at all. We welcome any opportunity to talk about it!
Please note that our Chariot was made prior to being owned by Thule. I continue to hear good things about the product but cannot speak to it directly.
Next, in a different category, is the Weehoo. We got this for the trails in the forest. We used it there once. In fact, we hardly used it for the first year or so we had it. We really embraced it last summer when Grace broke her arm and couldn’t ride her bike; the Weehoo saved the day! She still likes to use it occasionally and it is great for last minute commutes on a tight timeline. The biggest “con” is storage. It is long and awkward.
As a side note, we had debated about the double Weehoo and have overwhelmingly agreed that the double Weehoo would have been a mistake.
CD hung our Weehoo from the ceiling of the garage. Without that I don’t know that I could have tolerated storing it. It hangs from the ceiling perfectly and is there in such a way that it is easy to get down. Thank you CD!