Commuting BEYOND Bike-to-Work Day

bike expo commuter panelTomorrow’s Bike-to-Work Day could be the first day of a great new habit.

At this year’s Colorado Bike Expo, we had a terrific Commuting Panelpresentation comprising local cycling aficionados providing all the tricks of the trade.

Here is a recap of two of our panelists, to help you make tomorrow’s yearly event more of a regular thing in your life.

Katie Macarelli, of Feedback Sports, and Lauren Greenfield, ofPinkPedals

How did you get started commuting?

apex trailheadKatie: Started biking to school with my own kids. Then biking to work at schools to GET MORE KIDS BIKING TO SCHOOL. Sometimes this only worked once every few weeks. Sometimes it meant riding from Golden to 128th and I-25. Which was an adventure to say the least.

Lauren: I started “officially” commuting at age 11. 4.2 miles each way to school. In a neighborhood where we stuck out . . . .a friend and I ventured out one Saturday to take a challenge to see if we could do it. Ofc ourse, we took the route that we knew best in the car. Having accomplished such a feat (back in the days with no cell phones, of course), we asked our parents if we could start commuting to school. We allowed 1.5 hours for that first ride that likely took less than 40 minutes. Of course, there were a ton of stop signs, cars, lights, etc. We stuck out as two white girls riding through an ethnic neighborhood, as that’s where school was located.

snow trail jeffcoWhy commute? What is your purpose, goal, cause…

Katie: I was inspired by a Bicycle CO co-worker who told me about “No Drive Weds”. She and her husband pledged to go car-free one day a week. It blew my mind. I found biking from racing. That was it. It had never dawned on me to ride my bike as transportation–perhaps my ONLY mode of transportation until then. Since then it’s been a steady process. I’ve been steadily commuting nearly every day, year round for a year and a half at my current job.

Best day? Worst day?

Katie: Best/Worst. Spring storm commute where I was fine and dandy for first 2 miles–roads/trail was plowed. Mile 2-3 I was post-holing with my cx bike along the highway. But then I ended up pushing two vehicles out of being stuck at the intersection of 6th ave and South Johnson road by the Jeffco Courthouse/Light Rail. People can be mean sometimes. I’ve had stuff yelled at me that would make a trucker blush. Sometimes the trail or sidewalk is best. Sometimes it’s the worst. Drivers get all bent out of shape regardless of which one you pick and when it snows they get far, far too close. Like “put my hand out to brace myself on their car as we’re going about the same speed” close. That is insane. If they knew how precariously I am perched on my tires on the ice and snow and how much concentration it takes not to go under their wheels, they’d be a lot more lenient. Or maybe not. Either way. TAKE THE LANE when you need it.

dino snowy bikeWhat tips can you offer on how to get started, what to wear, how to carry things?

Katie: Practice on the weekend. I wear my racing/riding clothing. Fleece lined cx skinsuits are awesome in the winter. Less clothes to keep track of. I use a big-ass camelbak called THE HAWG. Add a Pandana for cold temps.

Lauren: I have some great bags – cute, comfortable and completely functional. Some I would recommend, some not. Just tested out the burley trailer FULL (article is coming soon on that). Carrying your crap is an art! Clothing – there are many women-specific suppliers of CUTE stuff out there – for all sizes/body types – Terry bicycles, Skirt Sports (Boulder), and She Beest who has an incredible new line (available at Bike & Hike). And Dansko shoes are the only way to go!

What are your must-have gear essentials, bike types, accessories?

Katie: I love LAKE 145 and 303 (no joke) boots. They are bullet proof for riding and hiking in the snow. I have studded cx tires that I love. A hat and scarf to warm-up with at work is nice. So are baby wipes if you can’t shower.

And how do you handle our often fickle Colorado weather?

Katie: Embrace it. Multiple layers for fickle weather. SUNSCREEN when it gets nice. And always gloves. Because falling once without them will make you cry like a baby for weeks whenever you button your pants, eat, drink, type, anything.

What other advice would you like to offer?

Katie: Give yourself grace. Set the BAR LOW. Practice silly things like going off curbs, stopping quickly, riding through sand, etc. And if you happen to have an altercation with a car, blow them a kiss, get the plate and call it in.

Lauren: Choose your route with a map – not with what you (and everyone) drives every day. Do the route on the weekend when you’re not pressed for time. Know where you will park your bike. Leave a pari of shoes (or two or three!) at the office. Be creative. ride in one day/bus home/ ride in the next. Or drive in with bike, bike home. Baby steps/baby goals make for successful goals/expectations and ultimately change behavior/lifestyle! Have fun and smile!!

Other Tips from the Bike Expo Panel:
* Invest in good tires
* You need LIGHTS! Pedal-powered running lights are terrific.
* Good grippy flat pedals are the way to go.
* Invest in a good saddle – and watch for damage to clothing if your saddle has rivets.

OTHER COMMUTING RESOURCES
Creative Commuting Tips
Bike to Work: Commuting – Getting Started
Master Commuter Kyle tips for Alternative Transportation
Commuting Tip #1: Don’t Bike your Drive
Commuting Tip #2: Don’t Race Your Ride
Bike to AFTER Work

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