Bicycle Commuting: Day Three

Just a small update on my third attempt at commuting to work via a bicycle.

This was the best attempt yet, making my best time (about eight minutes), and making it up Center Street Hill to Summit Avenue, where I want to turn off in the future.

The issue was that my bike would not shift down again (but luckily, it did not lose the chain this time). So I burned myself out just getting to Summit Avenue and then took the steps up to campus.

Moral of the story? I need to get my bike looked at soon.

Bicycle Commuting: The Start

I follow a number of individuals who bike to work (or just bike for recreation). I start with that statement because it becomes important later.

I have an extremely short commute to work every day. By “extremely short” I mean “not really worth mentioning”. When putting my commute into Google Maps, it ends up being 1.1 miles or 4 minutes by automobile (and truthfully, not that long).

Because of the short commute, I have had two choices for getting to work:

  1. Automobile
  2. Walking

Walking ends up being about 20 minutes to get there (and then another 20 minutes back) and driving takes gas, so there are downsides to each of them. I try to walk as often as possible for my own health and so that my car can continue to sit on the street and not eat up my money.

However, there is a third way I had not considered: the bicycle.

So I pulled out the used bicycle my father-in-law gave me and made sure that it worked and headed off to work one morning. That was Day 1.

Day 1

I decided to be an idiot and head to the hill in town that would have less traffic to try and see how far I could make up. Of course, it is the steeper of the two and takes me seven blocks out of the way, but I wanted less traffic.

I made it about 1/5 of the way up before the bike would not shift into a lower gear and went ahead and stopped for me. I then preceded to walk up the hill and then bike to campus. It took a few minutes less time to get there, but the hill killed me.

Overall, not a bad first attempt but … wow … I need to work on hills. Oh well, I’ll blame the clinically bad seat.

Day 2

Took Center Street Hill this day which meant a lot more traffic, but luckily if I leave between 7:20am and 7:40am the traffic is pretty light (even heavy traffic in New Ulm is still not heavy compared to any city of appreciable size), so I gave it a shot.

It all went well, even remembered to signal my turn on to Center Street, and then started to power up the hill. Was going great (made is 1/2 way up the hill) and then tried to shift into a lower gear to power up the rest of the hill and … my chain fell off.

So, half-way into Day 2 and … my first breakdown. Oh well. I walked the rest of the way up to work, took a couple of minutes to slip the chain back onto the gear and then biked around just a little bit to make sure everything was in working order before heading up to the office.

Overall? Not bad, but still some bugs to work out.

Thoughts

  • I need to figure out what I should be wearing to bike up to work. Right now I just go ahead and bring along the shirt I am going to wear and switch into it when I get to campus.
  • My bike needs some work. I have a seat cushion now as a temporary workaround, but my front rim is a little bent and I have an issue with shifting. Those need to get fixed.
  • I’m debating about trying out a fixed-speed bike. The one I am looking at is the Trek Earl, and the main thing is that I need to be able to ┬ámake it up the Center Street Hill with it. The bike looks really awesome, though.
  • I like biking a lot more than running.

That’s about it so far. I’ll hopefully have more to report on in the future.