Sunday, July 22, 2007

Daily Commute - Test Run

So I decided a few days ago that I'd like to start commuting to work a few days of the week on the bike. Several decisions had to be made:

1. Which bike?
2. Which route?
3. Can I go all day without a shower?
4. Bike parking?

Initial Answers:
1. Rebuilt my Fuji Newest thinking that would be a good choice for a commuter. I picked up some 700x28 Conti Gator Skins for the extra durability and flat prevention.
2. From my home in Chesapeake, I can take Bainbridge all the way to the Berkley Bridge and be downtown. Straight shot if you're in a car and don't have to have 18-wheelers on your tail trying to squeeze by you on a no-shoulder two lane road. So I managed to find some nice neighborhood streets in S. Norfolk that will take me off of Bainbridge but still need to be on it for 1.5 miles around the industrial area. The total route from my house to the financial district in downtown is 10 miles.
3. Luckily (for my office mates), there's a Y in Dominion Towers across the street that I can use. Otherwise it's an unscented baby wipes bath in the morning.
4. My building has a card key garage under the building and two rows of bike racks (unused except for 2 other commuters - how sad). Security cameras and guards - it's a bank ya know.

I took a few days and drove the planned commute route and made these observations. The crater sized potholes on Bainbridge will swallow a BMX bike. The gravel and debris around the industrial area is scattered on the non-shouldered road.

This changes answer #1. Switch from the road bike to the cross bike. I ordered some Schwable Marathon Plus tires in 32. These are the rave for commuters. No flats due to its design. The tradeoff is the weight penalty - 800+ grams per tire. Once I get rolling, I may not be able to stop and the climb on the bridge will be a good workout. That maybe overkill and may opt for the cheapo Performance city slicks and some Mr. Tuffy liners.

Now to the test run. I asked Mike D if he wanted to ride to Norfolk sunday morning. My legs were a bit tired from the 60-mile Chesapeake Road Race on Saturday morning. (OK, it wasn't exactly an official USCF race and was worth no BAR points but it still felt like a race as we had fun with attacks, counter attacks and people dropping like flies). We headed out at 730 on our cross bikes and did the route. No surprises except the lack of cars. We could have claimed a lane on Bainbridge the entire distance to the Berkley Bridge but stuck to the planned route. We made it to my office in about 35 minutes with a slight headwind. Headed over to Starbucks for a triple soy latte and a scone.
Headed back home the same route with the aid of a nice tailwind and cut the time by 5 minutes. There was a little more traffic but still not rush hour type traffic.

So now I'm waiting for my Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger bag to arrive since I have to lug around my "work leash" Dell all the time. If I'm going to ride a bike in the city, I may as well look the part (sans the fixie part and the rolled up pant legs). I should have my bag this week.

I'll post after my first commute.


chris d said...

Bainbridge is cake. I run down to Chesapeake on my road bike on that road. Just don't run over the nastiness and you won't flat.

Welcome to the bike commute club.

Marco said...

As you've already learned, baby wipes work like a champ if there are no showers available.

Albe said...

With a 2 year old, I have baby wipes in every room, car, garage and at work. Luckily there is the Y across the street in Dominion Towers with towels and soap.

Day 2 and enjoying the new commute.

Marco said...

My kids are almost old enough to stop using baby wipes but I'll always have a pack in my riding bag, my desk at work, my car, etc.

There are a hundred and one uses for them!

Amos said...

Good post. The traffic on Bainbridge is not that bad; I used to ride it on my way into the shipyard.

If you are going to look the part of a bike messenger, you need to get some killer tats.