Clearing the Cache

Biking Q&A

I recently participated in a virtual panel about biking with my coworkers for the Bike More Challenge. I suggested the idea to host a panel to encourage people to bike for fitness and for transportation.

The panel was fun talking shop with fellow bikers, but it didn’t really attract people who didn’t bike into the discussion.

Here were the discussion questions and my answers.

When did you start riding? How did you get into it?

I started riding after we received a used bike from a friend who no longer rode. It was great to get back on saddle with no upfront investment. When I was considering moving, I didn’t want to get a second car, so I purchased a bike to plan for a hybrid commute with a bike and MAX.

I started slowly by riding to work once a week at first, then twice, then it became daily once we got to the bike challenge last year. I’ve managed to bike through all seasons, acquiring gear as I discovered needs.

What do you like about riding bikes?

I enjoyed biking as a teenager and found biking was a great balance of distance and speed. You can explore an area more deeply because you’re not going as fast as a car and you can go further than hiking or walking.

Do you have any crazy or funny stories from riding?

Jenni and I visited the Sunriver condo for our anniversary and took the two mountain bikes out for a long nine mile ride. Both of the bikes had issues, mine had a flat we had to fix at the local shop and Jenni’s pedals would hiccup on occasion. It was only after we got back from our long ride that we found a note that we shouldn’t use the mountain bikes and they’re not safe.

What advice do you have for beginners?

  • Keep it simple. When beginning a new hobby, do short rides around your neighborhood to get started.
  • I would recommend getting acquainted with the rules of the road for safety.
  • Bike with a buddy. It’s great to learn something new with someone else to compare notes.

Where did you get your bike? How much did it cost? What else do you need?

I tried getting into biking a few years ago, by using an old mountain bike from my teenage years. It was during a bike tune-up that a fellow Vernier employee said that the bike was too old to recommend using since the parts were antiquated. I couldn’t fathom spending $500 for a bike though. So I left it at that for a few years.

As I considered bike and MAX to work, I chose to invest in a bike that would be low-maintenance so that I would have low barriers to riding. Since it would need to be reliable, I splurged around $1,000 on a commuter bike with a belt-drive (no grease, less noise, lower maintenance), continuous gears (shifting while stopped), fenders (rain and road debris protection), and integrated lights (no charging necessary).

    Some other items I found invaluable:

  • Double-kickstand: I don’t have to remember which side to flip the stand down to park my bike. And it doesn’t block the pedals from rotating backwards.
  • Bell: To warn pedestrians that I’m coming up on their left.
  • Reflective vest: To be more visible on the road when I rode at 5:45am in the winter.
  • Rear rack and panniers: Thanks to Josh Ence, this makes it easier to haul stuff without a backpack.
  • Bike gloves: I have a basic pair for wind and a winter pair to keep my hands warm.
  • Left-side mirror: I’m not good at looking over my shoulder without turning my handlebars, so this mirror lets me keep an eye on cars behind me without turning my head. I went through several mirrors before I found one that works.

I got most of my gear recommendations from the Wirecutter.