The Chainlink

Woo, so today marked the first day I biked to work. I live up in Logan Square and work down in the loop, so it's a bit of a ride (5.5 miles to be exact).

I'm an ex-scooter rider, so I've got some leftover habits from that, but riding a bike (though sometimes similar) has a lot of different habits I should be picking up.

So I'm asking you chainlinkers to give me some advice. What are some valuable tips for riding during the morning and evening commute?

I've got a 2010 Langster (just the normal one, no crazy colors or anything) and I'm loving it. I always wear a helmet, so no need to give me that tip. But I could use some advice as far as lane changes, left hand turns, best/worst streets in Chicago. And I could also use some tips for locking up the bike. Right now I've just got a u-lock through the front tire and frame locked to a bike rack. Gonna grab a second ulock with a cable to take care of the back wheel and saddle, but I don't have quick release bolts on anything, so I'm not too worried for now.

Anyway, thanks for any and all advice!

B

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Jim Kreps leads a great Bike Handling Class via Chicago Cycling Club.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Social Ride: Bike Handlings Skills Ride

START: Clock Tower at Waveland and Lake Shore Dr. (3700N)

9:30 AM

30 miles, 12 to 15 mph
Are you all rusty from the Winter Blues? Not sure how to ride in a group? Let alone ride in traffic? Has your bike riding been limited to riding on the bike path? Do you want to know the skills required to ride safely on or off the road? Are your cycling skills a little rusty after the winter? Whether you are a novice bike rider or a hard-core commuter in any weather type, this ride is for you. Join Jim 'Tech-Tip' Kreps on this educational ride and sharpen your bicycling skills. Jim will demonstrate proper bike handling techniques and best practices. Participants will have a chance to practice these skills along the way. Pace will be as slow (or fast) as the slowest rider. This is a great way to get ready for all of the riding you'll be doing this summer!

Contact Jim Kreps at (773) 862-9879
Wow that would be perfect... Unfortunately I will be out of town at a wedding that weekend, but I'll keep my eyes on the events page for anything else like this. Thanks!
Congrats on jumping into bike commuting! I am sure you are going to love it

On routes: I find routes to be a very personal thing. When I started commuting in Chicago it took me a few months to figure out which routes work best, mainly as a result of trail and error. You may want to start with a bike route that is a straight line from you home to work, and then try alternatives: side streets or bike routes that run parallel to your straight line route. The Chicago bike map is a good starting point for finding a route

On locks: That is a fancy bike you are riding. I would definitely invest in a second U-lock and use both of them consistently. Personally I always use 2 U-locks: One in the rear triangle locked to a bike rack and one locking the front wheel to the frame.

Good luck!
You should be fine with two U-locks.

I could write a book (and have in fact prepared a whole presentation I could forward you in .pdf form if you like) but I'll limit my advice to one item for maximum impact:

If you ride basically the same route every day, it's easy to get complacent and sloppy, especially when you're riding tired, or rushed, or both-- force yourself to develop the habit of =consciously= scanning every intersection, every time, before proceeding. This could mean saying the words in your head "clear left? clear right? clear left? clear right?" or whatever variation works for you.

Cyclists cultivating this habit could save more lives than helmets.
Depending how you have to dress for work, one thing to keep in mind is that as the weather gets warmer during the summer (above 80) you will probably end up sweating a bit by the end of a 5 mile ride. If you don't have access to a shower at work (I don't), remember that you can combat sweat pretty well by riding in whatever you are comforatable in and then changing into your work clothes when you get to the office (I have to wear business casual attire, so this is pretty necessary for me). Unscented and flushable baby wipes for the face and arm pits also help quite a bit with clean up to make sure you are presentable and smell okay for the rest of the day. Using baby wipes, changing at work, and then touching up with a bit of extra deodarant keeps me riding and looking okay even during the hotest days during the summer.
Active Trans Alliance (formerly known as CBF) had some great tips for this. both riding and wardrobe planning, showering, etc.

Anne - do you have the link handy ?

no need to re-invent the wheel here

Dan
1. Like arohr says, Huggies baby wipes are great. Get the "cool to the touch" kinds...good for warm summer days. Your butt will thank you.
2. Ride predictably in straight lines.
3. Carry an extra innertube. If you see someone with a flat, offer it to them.
As far as what I'm wearing, I've got some good clothes for cycling. There's a shower at work, so I don't have to worry about that (gym with a locker, so I've got clothing stuff covered).

I do need to get a spare intertube (or 9), especially since I've read that the stock Specialized Mondo tires on my bike don't hold up so well to rough city roads (granted I have a pretty straight shot down Milwaukee and that's a pretty nice road). I've heard good things both about Specialized Armadillo tires and continental gator skin tires. Any recommendations for flat prevention?

I'll have to invest in that second U-lock, and that link to Sheldon Brown's site was quite helpful (come across his stuff before).

Are you guys fans of hand signals when turning?
1. My experience is that Vittoria Randonneurs NEVER flat. Smallest size is x 28. I have them on two bikes. Wore out one set. Did I mention that they never flat?
2. Two u-locks is the way to go.
3. Ride a straight line. Act predictably. Don't scare people (cars, other cyclists, pedestrians). Use hand signals to let people know when you are going to deviate from your straight line.
4. The right of way is for suckers (and for heirs). Don't ever enter an intersection unless it is safe to do so, regardless of whether you have the right of way. The moving objects which you are most likely to collide with outweigh you by a factor greater than 10. Physics makes it more important that you avoid the collision than that you be "in the right."
5. This will be my 25th year scooting in the city. I think the experience gives you skills and perspective which translate well to cycling (See 3 & 4 above).
6. I like to make my left turns from the right side of left turning vehicles at busy intersections. They can't turn into you (because their wheels are angled away from you) and they provide you with blocking from oncoming vehicles. I'm a big fan of blocking any time I can get it.
7. There's no shame in using your brakes. The only time I'm truly scared on a bicycle is when I put myself in a position where I have to rely on someone else making a good decision to ensure my safety.
8. Eighty plus percent of car/bike accidents happen in front of you. Be aware of your surroundings, but the overwhelming odds are that the accident you're trying to avoid is in front of you.


Bryan D said:
As far as what I'm wearing, I've got some good clothes for cycling. There's a shower at work, so I don't have to worry about that (gym with a locker, so I've got clothing stuff covered).
I do need to get a spare intertube (or 9), especially since I've read that the stock Specialized Mondo tires on my bike don't hold up so well to rough city roads (granted I have a pretty straight shot down Milwaukee and that's a pretty nice road). I've heard good things both about Specialized Armadillo tires and continental gator skin tires. Any recommendations for flat prevention? I'll have to invest in that second U-lock, and that link to Sheldon Brown's site was quite helpful (come across his stuff before).
Are you guys fans of hand signals when turning?
Adding my voice to the chorus advocating 2 u-locks when locking up in the Loop. If possible, frame-wheel-rack on both ends. A poorly-locked bike is an invitation to theft. If you don't like carrying 2 u-locks, consider leaving one of them locked to the rack at work when you go home.
The following statement is based only on my own personal experience and as such should be interpreted with appropriate scrutiny. I generally avoid making any eye contact with pedestrians beyond a quick glance to acknowledge their proximity only when absolutely necessary. Otherwise they're like moths to a fire. I have no idea why this is.
I've always thought it makes more sense to carry two locks of different types. For example, a u lock and an Abus link lock is my combo. I think bike thieves stick to what they know so a strange lock like the Abus is a deterrent. It also seems less likely that a thief would have tools for two totally different locks.

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