Recommendations Requested

 

As you my faithful readers are acutely aware, I’m looking to acquire a different commuter bike.

I’ve oscillated between both ends of the spectrum – from “I HATE THIS BIKE!” to “Maybe I’m coming at it all wrong! The bike is fine, it’s just my attitude and perception!” And there is truth to both statements – the bike is a solid bike but is not built to be ridden the way I have been riding it. It’s for cruising bike paths. That’s what I bought the bike for too – to ride with my kids.

Then I developed a fever and the only prescription was MORE RIDING.

Photo credit: kgradiner (Flikr)

The bike has been a little over 790 miles in the past 16 months. She thankfully has tires with a bead that comes off easily so flat repair has been relatively quick. And she’s heavy so I feel pretty stable with my fully loaded pannier. But that heaviness is a killer on the uphill commute home – even with a triple.

I’ve been looking all over for a new ride to add to my stable – the primary use would be commuting and group riding whenever I didn’t feel like taking my carbon road ride out. I’m looking for relatively cheap (i.e., USED) but sturdy; takes fenders and a rack and wider tires for the few miles of off-road travel on the commute. Nothing flashy though – I will be taking her to downtown Philly regularly. Thinking a touring bike may be best?

(I won’t lie – the current bike is AWESOME on those dirt/gravel areas with her wide tires and heft.)

Everything I’ve seen that I think “wow, that’s cute!” ends up being just as heavy as I’m riding now. Let’s be clear – I’m not looking for an ultra-light bike! I want to be able to commute and not kill myself physically every time. Being able to pick it up and get it onto a train easily from a low platform, should I need to, is a bonus.

What would you recommend as a solid commuter bike for a hilly 15-16mi commute?

(You can also tell me I’m just a whiny person and to suck it up but that’s not very productive. I’m going to keep riding my current bike until a suitable replacement is found.)

 

Commuting

This past week I decided to ride my bike to work not once but three consecutive days. This doesn’t seem like much until it’s considered that I generally do not ride on consecutive days based on my other obligations. Next week is my century ride and this seemed like an easy way to keep my miles up without spending my weekends away from the family.

I have to say I love commuting by bike in the morning. At this time of year, the sun is just barely peeking over the horizon, the air is fresh and cool. And the ride is predominately downhill (save for the hills getting out of my neighborhood). The ride in is just a really awesome way to start the day.

The ride home, while still nice, is predominately uphill and therefore more challenging. I look forward mostly to riding with my commuting buddy, not the hills that await us. The conversation is always good.

The first two days this week I rode on my Specialized; the third day I rode on my Felt. Ordinarily I wouldn’t take my most favored bike into downtown without explicit plans to have it with me the entire time, but by the end of Day Two my quads were feeling a little sore and I wanted to have an easier ride. I slept over 12 hours last night. A product of staying up late catching up on season two of Walking Dead this week or sheer consecutive day exertion? Not sure. But I know if I continue to ride on consecutive days, I will get stronger.

I learned that my 17 pound bike felt too light to be riding with gear – but I shouldn’t have a ride that is more than 25 pounds or so because my gear adds another 10 pounds to the ride (Matt, you were right and I was totally wrong). I need some heft to manage my gear and still feel nimble and confident. The search for a replacement ride continues.

I also noticed I make consistently healthier food choices when I’m riding regularly. Skipping soda pop in favor of water and unsweetened tea; spinach salads with lean protein, veggies, and moderate dressing; fresh fruit or nuts as snacks.

I’m sad that my bike commuting will be significantly decreased in the next week or so. With school starting, I want to make sure the kids get the right start in the morning and attend as many evening school events as possible. Hoping to be back to bike commuting two or three times a week by mid-September and as long as the weather holds out.

* * * * *

One of the topics that come up this week was relationships, particularly how to balance between Cyclist and Non-Cyclist. Not everyone feels the same joy on a bicycle as we do – and that’s OK! It comes down to how we manage the times when the non-cyclist thinks we’ve been spending too much time on the bike, too much money on gear, and not enough on them or our other priorities. How does this factor in with the things that are important to them (which may cause friction because you feel similarly that they spend too much time/money/effort on their hobby)?

As much as I want my husband to have a bike so we can ride as a family, I don’t want him to be a cyclist too. It’s not his gig for one. And two, I feel like I spend a lot on cycling now, I can’t imagine doubling it to keep both of us happy. He can keep his gaming habit; I’ll keep my bike.
See you on the road!

 

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