The Commute Report

IMG_0754It’s been a cold week. I check the temperature before leaving the house, and today it said it was in the 20’s. So of course, I dressed pretty warm. The commute started off pretty comfortable, and only my ankles were cold, taking a bit of draft from lack of wind protection.

The bicycle commute has become pretty normal feeling now, and I feel pretty relaxed. I even found a new short cut this week, a steep little dirt trail that gets me directly to the intersection at HWY 50. The UHaul station on HWY 50 still hasn’t turned off its sprinklers, so they have a nice little ice skating rink on the sidewalk every morning. The trip through the park is also pleasant, since there are tons of Canadian Geese hanging out on the lawn.

In the final few blocks before I get to work, I work up a lot of body heat. It’s still below freezing out, but I start to get pretty warm. Once I get to work, I carry my bike down the basement stairs and enter the heated building. I can barely make it to my cubicle before I start stripping off all my cold weather gear. I feel like I’M ON FIRE!

Another thing I’d like to get for commuting soon is a nice backpack. I was over at my friend Brent’s house, and he was showing me his Oakley Tool Box, a cycling specific backpack. I have a couple of backpacks, but both have a few problems. My old JanSport is falling apart. It has one big chamber that must be opened all the way because the zipper is broken. When I was changing in the bathroom stall on Monday, I pulled the zipper on the backpack, and the contents spilled out onto the bathroom floor…including my lunch! Thank goodness for plastic wrap! My other backpack was a freebie I got for donating to an environmental group. It doesn’t have as much volume, but has more compartments. It’s handy for keeping things separated, but because of the small volume, the thing sticks way off my back like a huge mutant hump. If I want to encourage others to commute by bike to work, it’s important to not look like a freak. I think an Oakley is in my near future lest I become the cycling bete noire of Carson City!

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25 thoughts on “The Commute Report

  1. Why don’t you check out messenger bags instead? I think they sit better on the back for bike commuting. My son Charlie has a really slick custom, waterproof one from reload
    http://www.reloadbags.com/
    tiny company, their bags are sewn in the USA by people who get paid more than pennies- you can even send them your own graphic to put on the outside of the bag.

  2. I still think you should hook up an Xtracycle to one of your cruisers, and mount a bike tray to it to carry the lunch bike. That would be cool.

    Either way, good for you for staying out of the car.

  3. Wow. Those bags look cool. I like how wide they are for keeping your clothes tidy. Cycling Carson City needs a graphic…

    I wouldn’t be able to get an Xtracycle cruiser down the stairs and into my office! Another benefit of the feathery light SingleSpeed…

  4. One bag I love for commuting is the Topeak rack trunk, which is super fast and easy to mount and remove from the matching rack, that clamps onto the seatpost. I can move it all between multiple bikes, and it reduces the weight I have to carry on my back. With some clothes stashed in my office, I often don’t even need to carry a backpack at all.

    The other advantage is that the side pockets can be stuffed with things I can ignore until I need them: arm warmers, spare tube, tools, etc. With some efficient packing I can carry lunch, a couple pieces of clothing, a wallet, keys, etc., all in a single bag that slides right off the rack so I can carry it up to my office.

  5. jeff, i’ve got the perfect bag for you. it has a several compartments to keep things separated and decent side pockets for an extra water bottle or sparks malt liquor.

  6. Thanks, Dan. I will take you up on that!

    Xd – May I refer you to THIS?

    Sandie – That’s my water for the whole day! No fancy bottled water at work, and the water from the pipes tastes a bit odd…

  7. i have to agree on the messenger bag idea. if you can get them dialed in correctly you can barely feel that you have it on.

    the weight is distributed perfectly.

    i’m all about the timbuk2 bags. we must have like 5 or 6 laying around that we trade off on.

    super comfy.

  8. I have a Chrome m-bag and am pretty happy with the function and the form.
    Little pricey but you can find them used too on eBay.
    20’s? I thought it was warm there in the winter.
    Guess I may have to change my retirement plans and move farther south! :^)

  9. Warm here in the winter? This ain’t Vegas! We’re up at around 4,700 feet above sea level here in Carson. It doesn’t warm up until you get to the southern tip of the State…Death Valley, Beatty, Las Vegas, etc.

  10. Couple things…

    I work for Oakley and I’m paid slightly more than pennies. The Tool Box backpack is manufactured in Canada if I am not mistaken… I’ll look into it. It’s comfy and versatile. I have been using mine on long MTB rides (it has a hydration bag pocket) as well as on my 13+ mile commute. It’s a quality bag. I am not trying to talk you into it, Jeff, but I felt the need to defend the company I work for…

    Northern Nevada is a desert… a HIGH desert. It gets cold here in the winter but for the most part is totally ridable year round. Great place to retire for the active individual. Plus it is beautiful! I’m not trying to talk you (or anyone) into it, Brian, but I felt the need to defend my home…

    K, I feel better now.

  11. I have to say Jeff, as an owner of many, many bags, including a bunch of Timbuk2s, if you’re looking to carry a laptop on your back, go for the Laptop Messenger over the Laptop commute.
    The Messenger fits a lot better on your back while riding.
    I’ve got a couple of buddies who work there, great company.

    Oakley stuff is great too. Brent are you outside for them?

  12. James- I work at the X-Metal factory here in Nevada. We manufacture the titanium eye wear in that facility. All other eye wear comes out of the Foothill Ranch facility in SoCal.

  13. I am being sarcastic about winter. I would move to Carson City in a hot minute if I didn’t have a daughter in 11th grade and a house I may never be able to sell in MI.
    I am jealous of all you Northern Nevada-ites and hope to get out there this year to sample those awesome trails.

  14. Brent-
    That’s cool, I didn’t realize they had a facility around here. I know a couple of guys down south, they work in the electronics division as enginerds.
    Hence I have a ton of Oakley stuff…:)
    I work at Veltec Sports, Sidi, Colnago, etc…

  15. Jeff, I’ll throw this in for the messenger bags. I’ve got a cordura and a waxed canvas version from Timbuk2, and while the waxed canvas might be less durable, it’s a much more pleasant feeling material.

    Carson City sounds like a nice place to live, but I keep thinking if I go anywhere it’ll be Portland. One day I’ll swing by to visit you guys for a poker run or something.

  16. Smudge: I love Portland and have considered it too. Have a buddy from here who move out there some years ago and he will never come back (I don’t blame him; MI will be a ghost town soon!).
    Jeff: Thank your lovely wife for the nice note with the check. You guys are the greatest!
    And we are still digging the Mojo. I hope to take it out for a cross-ride on the 8th if I can get to Holland to race!

  17. I like the back pack and the messenger bags both, but the messenger bag seems to make more sense for office stuff…lap top and clothes. I was thinking of this stuff this morning as I bunnyhopped a curb, and my backpack bounced and hit me in the back of the head….

    I started thinking of Portland before moving back to Carson. After reading all the stories about long bicycle commutes that included trains and buses, I kind of lost my taste…too big! And even though there is a big bike culture there, they still have problems with road rage and car / bicycle accidents. Carson is a small city with lots of bicycle potential. I think we can create the things we like about Portland here!

  18. James- I dropped off a resume at Veltec a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to get in there building bikes… got any pull? I’m tired of the long commute. It would be nice to work closer to home.

  19. Brent-
    Really? Who did you give your resume to? I’m actually the Colnago brand manager, so I was running the bike build program. We hired a builder, but there might be some other stuff coming available. Shoot me an email or something.

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