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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In regards to your flat prevention question - after the Specialized All-Condition S-Works (700x23) i had on my rear wheel kept flatting way too often for my commute, I put on an Armadillo Elite and have not had a flat since, but it has only been about a month. In addition to spare tubes, this may be obvious advice, but just in case - you'll also need tire levers and a small hand pump to at least fill your spare enough to ride to where you can fully inflate it. And as you mentioned, that Langster has bolt-on wheels, so you're gonna need a wrench to get them off to change a flat. I carry a smallish crescent wrench with me all the time.

As for locking. Your office building doesn't have any indoor bike parking in a basement or anything? That's always the best option. If you're going to be riding your bike to work daily and locking it up outside, you should probably come to terms with the fact that at some point your bike (or a part of it) is going to get stolen. That said, when I first moved to Chicago a couple years ago, I carried around 2 U-locks and a cable, to secure the frame, both wheels and the saddle. Now I just carry one u-lock to lock the downtube/front wheel. I have yet to lose a rear wheel or saddle (knock on wood). If I don't want to take my bike down to the basement of my office building, I lock my bike to a rack right on the street in the middle of the loop. Foot traffic during normal business hours is enough to deter any thief from stealing a reasonably well locked bike. At least I'd like to think that a passerby would say something if they saw someone going to work on a U-lock with a cordless angle grinder in the middle of the day. But after work when everyone starts clearing out is another matter.

Ben H. said:
...I'd like to think that a passerby would say something if they saw someone going to work on a U-lock with a cordless angle grinder in the middle of the day...
Ok, so after watching the video, I'm going to purchase 14 u-locks and a guard dog.
Hey all, we do have some commuting resources here: http://www.activetrans.org/commute/tricks-tips

We are planning on opening registration for Bike to Work Week (June 12-18) next week and will have to move this link around.

Please take a look now and we'll keep you posted on registration and where all the resources will be housed.

Bryan, congrats on giving up the scooter and jumping on the bike!

Thanks,
Ethan, with Active Trans
I flatted once in about 2400 miles on a set of Vittoria Randonneurs, but haven't flatted yet on my Armadillos, for what it's worth.

Also, I don't like the Randonneurs on the metal bridges--don't know if it's the combo of my particular bike geometry plus panniers carried too far behind the rear axle plus the tires or if it's just the tires, but the ride is super squirrelly if there's any moisture on the bridge. You can see me fishtailing.

Kevin Conway said:
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?
Bryan D said:
Are you guys fans of hand signals when turning?

Rabid fan. We as cyclists want motor vehicles to use their turn signals. We should use them in return, especially when turning left across oncoming traffic.
Congrats on riding to work, I also live in Logan Square and have been commuting from there since February. I do not know how early you leave, but with the daylight savings time it is quite dark in the morning. Be sure to have plenty of lights so drivers know your are there especially for taxis :( . I normally take Milwaukee to Desplaines and over to Washington since the bridge is concrete. The trip is relatively free of giant potholes except for a large crack just past Milwaukee and Odgen heading southbound. Good luck amd hopefully you will continue commuting through the winter !
FYI - If you want to attend Jim's class make sure to RSVP to him at - jimmyk22@aol.com. He can only take up to 25 people.

Julie Hochstadter said:
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
No worries about riding in the dark (at least in the morning). I leave around 7 and the sun is bright and shining by then.

That said, I am swinging by the lbs to grab some lights, and maybe some new tires on my way home this evening.

Next suggestions: rain gear?
Yes, there is a "thrill ride" aspect to these tires on slick bridge grating, but I upped the width to 700 x 32 and the squirrels have gotten much smaller.

Natalie said:
I flatted once in about 2400 miles on a set of Vittoria Randonneurs, but haven't flatted yet on my Armadillos, for what it's worth.

Also, I don't like the Randonneurs on the metal bridges--don't know if it's the combo of my particular bike geometry plus panniers carried too far behind the rear axle plus the tires or if it's just the tires, but the ride is super squirrelly if there's any moisture on the bridge. You can see me fishtailing.

Kevin Conway said:
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?
For rain, get a waterproof bag and bring a change of clothes in it.

Its just easier.

Bryan D said:
No worries about riding in the dark (at least in the morning). I leave around 7 and the sun is bright and shining by then.

That said, I am swinging by the lbs to grab some lights, and maybe some new tires on my way home this evening.

Next suggestions: rain gear?
Don't be afraid to take the lane, and you definitely should take it if that's the only way to stay clear of the door zone. You are much much much likelier to get doored than you are to get hit by someone coming from behind you (that's really very rare, especially if you're riding in the day on city streets).

Always have lights and spare batteries; much more important than a helmet. You never know when some nasty storm is going to kick up.

Randonneurs, Gatorskins and Armadillios are all very good, very reliable. I'd go with whatever's cheapest.

This site is really useful at laying out the truly common kinds of accidents people get into and how to avoid them.

On left hand turns, just position yourself in the turn lane like a car but a bit to the right of anyone turning ahead of you. This might annoy drivers at times, but problems are a lot likelier to come from them not seeing you than from then being annoyed by you.

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