Should I do it?

Todd

Should I do it?I’m contemplating starting to ride a bicycle to work. I live about 1.4 miles from my office.  There is an infrequently used shower at my office. I’m stupidly out of shape. I can’t afford a Vespa. I just spent $50 filling up my car. I sometimes find myself caring about the environment.

Those realities have come together to shape my thoughts about this subject. Unfortunately, I’m completely ignorant of the bicycle world. A brief investigation has opened my eyes to the numerous options available to me. Road bikes. Mountain bikes. Comfort bikes. Used bikes. New bikes.

So I’m turning to you blog-friends. I need your help.

  • How much should I spend? I don’t want a huge investment as I might ultimately hate riding a bike to work.
  • What type of bike should I be looking at?
  • Is this a stupid idea? Either because it’s dangerous or too cumbersome with my job or some other reason I’ve never thought of.
  • Anything else I should be considering?

Thanks in advance for the help!
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Photo by Bern@t.

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18 Comments

  1. July 14, 2008 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    Awesome! I started riding to work (my commute is just a little shorter than yours) a couple of weeks ago.

    With that distance, you’re probably not going to save much money because you’re not really spending that much on your commute. However, I still save money because I’m no longer taking lunch trips to eat at restaurants and to bookstores, etc.

    As for the bike, to a certain point, the more you spend, the better you get. You might not need better, though. You don’t need super light weight or clipless pedals. I wouldn’t get a road bike; the tires are too narrow. They make street grates dangerous and are more likely to get flats. A city bike or mountain bike with smooth tires is a lot better. Go to a bike store and tell them what you want to do. They’ll have opinions, too.

    It’s not a stupid idea. Even though I’m not really saving money, I’m getting a little exercise. I’m riding my bike now other than just going to work.

    For that short a distance, you might not need to take a shower if you don’t push it too hard when you ride. Get yourself a little fan so you can cool off quickly at work instead of sweating like a pig.

    Get yourself a helmet. The new ones are much more comfortable than those of just a few years ago.

    Is it dangerous? Yeah, a little. Any idiot driver bending over to pick up a CD off the car floor can cream you off the face of the earth. I wouldn’t ride my bike to work if I had to go any significant distance on busy roads without bike lanes. Grumpy drivers (most of them when commuting to work…) won’t give you the room you need. Busy roads with good bike lanes don’t bother me at all. Don’t be a road bike weinie who rides in the road instead of the bike lane because you’re afraid of getting a flat riding over a little gravel. That’s why I recommended the city bike or mountain bike.

    I write a little about my biking on my exercise blog at http://exerslog.blogspot.com. Maybe you’ll find something of use there, too.

    I say go for it!

  2. Austin Conscience
    July 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm — Reply

    What happened to the “I only fill up once a month” comment from two days ago? Also, we have a garage full of bikes — pink, purple, blue. They also have the above-mentioned skinny tires.

  3. ME
    July 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm — Reply

    Good for you wallet, good for you body, good for the earth.

    You can buy a good hybid bike for about $300. Look for a used bike; like cars, the newness of a bike is all status.

    Don’t buy it at K-Mart. Most bike shops sell low-end intro bikes and they’ll give lots of good advice about tune-ups, accessories, etc.

  4. Carl Cravens
    July 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm — Reply

    My boss rides a bike to work, partially on dirt roads… ten miles. He doesn’t take a shower when he gets here and I’ve never noticed a problem. He’s about in the same shape you are.

    I’ve been thinking about getting a new bike just for exercise… unfortunately, I’ve got a 35-mile commute, so biking to work just isn’t going to happen.

    I’ve got a Wal-mart bike… I’ll echo the sentiment, guy a nice bike. Bicycle X-Change has a lot of good, used bikes. The east Central store is more used bikes, while the Delano Douglas store is more new. I just bought my son a Trek, and I’d gladly buy myself a used Trek if I decide to get a new bike.

  5. July 14, 2008 at 4:02 pm — Reply

    pick up a Kona Ute

    I am in the process of picking up a scooter, I was going to go the bike route but it’s just too dang hot here.

  6. July 14, 2008 at 4:03 pm — Reply

    I would worry about being sweaty. In fact, that is the very reason I never ride my bike. If there was a shower at school or work for me, I would be in amazing shape. But currently, I would rather smell good than look it.

  7. July 14, 2008 at 4:15 pm — Reply

    I bought an ’07 Gary Fisher Opie for about $350. It’s a great off-road bike (for all of the huge mountains in Florida) but also works fine on the road/sidewalk.

    My reason for buying was two fold: 1) fun/exercise on the weekend 2)commute to work. It’s funny you mention the 1.4 miles, that’s my exact distance from work to home.

    I’m waiting until it cools down a bit in the fall, but really looking forward to biking to work. And if I can do it in muggy Florida, I know you can do it in Kansas.

    Good Luck!

  8. July 14, 2008 at 4:32 pm — Reply

    In response to your third question …

    No, it’s not stupid. You should do it.
    Definitely.

  9. July 14, 2008 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    Just recently made the decision to start biking for exercise with my wife. I was in the same position. I went with a bike from Target. A Schwinn comfort style for $185. I have no idea if it was a good decision, but so far it is comfortable and gets me around.

    Good luck!

  10. Bobby
    July 15, 2008 at 7:13 am — Reply

    Here are two Wichita bloggers who also follow the way of the spoke and pedal.
    http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2008/07/cycling-commuters-unite.html

    http://cyclinginwichita.blogspot.com/2008/07/cycling-in-rain-or-defying-cultural.html

    I say do it for the children!

  11. Sally
    July 15, 2008 at 9:13 am — Reply

    Ask my dad! He’s the expert! But I’ve had my fair share of bike time and races so let me just advise to go to Bicycle Exchange…basically almost new but used bikes so they’re a little better on the price. These is a big difference btw girl seats and boy seats and it wil probably hurt the first few days to sit on that thing! 🙂

  12. July 15, 2008 at 11:53 am — Reply

    Would it be “stuffy Republican” of me to say that bicycles are for children?

    Yeah, I better not say that out loud.

  13. July 15, 2008 at 8:58 pm — Reply

    Yes, Alan, and cars are for overgrown teenagers. Oops, that’s radical socialist of me.

    Todd, I’m the author of one of the links Bobby mentioned above. Biking to work is a great way to contribute to the environment, to improve one’s health, to get into a better relationship with the human and natural worlds around you. I concur with Carl and Sally’s comments about seeking out good, used bikes; you can often pick up an excellent street bike–like a Trek–used for just a few hundred dollars at reputable places like Bicycle exchange. Good luck!

  14. July 16, 2008 at 3:50 am — Reply

    Todd,

    I’m the author of the other link Bobby provided and the writer of the new blog Cycling in Wichita (linked to in my name above). Not only do I recommend that you do it, I’d like to invite your Wichita visitors to drop me a line (or two) about your experiences as bike-commuters. My sense is that at the city-government level we’ve reached, or come close to reaching, a tipping point with regard to making the city more bike-friendly, but more voices from citizens might be needed to nudge things “our” way. As one example, some members of the Council are in favor of converting the abandoned railroad right-of-way near 17th Street into a bike path, but the councilmember through whose district it runs (2) is opposed to doing it.

    All of us can (and should) use our cars less than we do. Really.

  15. jim
    July 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm — Reply

    1.4 miles? Cycle it!!!

  16. Csimon
    July 22, 2008 at 9:53 am — Reply

    Hi, I don’t know you but I’m coming to hear you speak today at Larkspur for PRSA and thought I’d check out your blog…

    I bike to work a couple times a week. Anytime it’s not raining and I don’t have a meeting outside of the office. (That’s worked out to be 1-3 days a week, mostly because of the rain.) I ride a Trek mountain bike that I got from the Bicycle Pedlar about 4 years ago. (They’re good folks there too.) I just started riding to work in May and like you was very nervous about being sweaty. So, I did a test ride on a Saturday morning, leaving the same time that I would normally leave for work. After the six mile ride (on the river trail from Twin Lakes area to downtown) I got here and was not sweaty at all. So I gave it a go. You’ll be very warm when you get to the office but will feel pretty normal after about 15-20 minutes. Mostly my back gets hot from having my back pack with my work clothes/lunch. You are lucky to have a shower at work. I’m going to get some panniers (think saddlebags) so I can ride with all my stuff without the back pack. Then maybe I can keep doing it even in the heat.

    Good luck!

  17. July 24, 2008 at 7:58 am — Reply

    For riding 1.4 miles, it won’t make too much of a difference what type of bike you have. A department store bike would do the job, but I’d recommend a decent-quality used bike from a local bike shop — it’ll be assembled and tuned up properly (things that you can’t assume from a department store bike), and it’ll likely last you a good long time. The only other required items are a helmet and probably some sort of lock, but I’d also spring for a mirror, either the kind you mount on the handlebars, or the kind that clips onto your sunglasses — it’s nice to be able to see what’s coming up behind you.

  18. July 28, 2008 at 8:42 pm — Reply

    […] they need to help Todd stop waffling and start […]

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Should I do it?