The Emergence of a Bike Commuter

My classification as a person who rides a bike “part-time” has changed. I have recently left my job in Baltimore, Maryland which required my to use Capital Bikeshare to get to Union Station to catch a commuter train for the 45 minute trip into our neighboring Charm City. In the afternoon, I would stir and repeat this commuting ballet in reverse. This situation was less than ideal for many reasons.

I have recently started a new job which will allow for a 7 mile bike commute from my front door in Adams Morgan to my new desk in downtown Silver Spring. While this distance is short, it is in excess of my possible enjoyment of Capital Bikeshare. While I don’t mind the bikes for what they are, they are just too heavy and slow for a hilly 7 mile ride.

Part of my new bike commute along 3rd Street NW. Photo by the author

Part of my new bike commute along 3rd Street NW. Photo by The DCyclist’s GoPro

This means I have become a “real” bike commuter with “real” bike commuter problems like leaving my pants behind in the morning, getting rained on, getting a flat on the way to work, and additional honks of “encouragement” from my fellow motorists. On the other hand, I am really looking forward to this metamorphosis into a bike commuter. Why? First, because its cool and random. Second, I get to ride my bike twice every day. Lastly, I will get exercise on weekdays which has been difficult given my train/short bike ride commuting schedule to Baltimore over the last 3 years.

This is as good as bike parking gets. Photo by author

This is as good as bike parking gets. Photo by The DCyclist

There have been a few hiccups along the way so far. The logistics of daily bike commuting are very different from weekend rides. Questions like: Do I need an extra shirt? What office shoes do I need? Can I ride in these clothes and get away with wearing it in the office? Do I smell bad? These problems simply don’t come up on weekend rides where water and food take priority.

Getting used to carrying a messenger bag in the low riding position my cross bike promotes has also been difficult. Every bump makes the bag slowly start to rotate toward the front. Couple this with the logistical issues of fitting everything needed for a day at the office and a large heavy messenger bag results.

Sooner or later, I will accidentally end up wearing lycra in the office for the day because I forgot to pack pants. Maybe I should hitch a trailer to my carbon fiber cross bike so I can carry the kitchen sink to work with me. In all seriousness, the members of #bikedc have been very helpful in sharing their logistical commuting secrets. Plus, @sharrows Twitter feed reminds me of what not to do, it seems like on a weekly basis he leaves behind something important. This week, it was a rain jacket. Thanks for the inadvertant tips Brian.

My office will soon be changing their transit benefits to include a bike benefit. When this happens I plan to take advantage. Plus, my new office has a shower (the building was built in the 1960s and it has a shower!!!! How cool is that?) In the near future, I plan to add a commuter bike with rack and fender mounts to my stable to make carrying things easier and more comfortable. Then, the full-time bike commuter will be hatched and a new me will emerge like Superman rising from the Fortress of Solitude. Riding my bike is faster, better exercise, and cheaper in the long run than utilizing public transit. Did I mention I get to ride my bike twice a day?!?!?

See you on the streets of #bikedc my fellow bike commuters!!!!!


2 thoughts on “The Emergence of a Bike Commuter

  1. so exciting! i’m going to start my own bike commute next week, of nearly 6 miles each way. san jose to cupertino and back. it’s almost perfectly flat, and the weather issues will be rather different (i hope the summers aren’t THAT hot here, if anything, the humidity should be much more bearable). but it’s going to be interesting to be biking more than a mile a day!

  2. Congrats on joining the herd. Some advice: if/when you get panniers, I highly recommend Ortlieb roll top panniers. They are really waterproof. Easy to get on and off. And take a ton of punishment.
    Keep a set of clothes at the office as a back up. They don’t have to be super nice, just better than lycra.
    And the best bike commuting advice I’ve heard (from @coffeeneur) assume you are invisible.
    And when you get this thing down to a science, you can start a chapter of Friday Coffee Club in Silver Spring!

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