or Let Me Introduce You to Jin
By John Ray
Yeah, that’s right, I name my bikes. And this is Jin. She is maintained by the everyday magicians at The Bike Route, fits me like a glove and does just about everything but make me coffee. So what makes her so special? Let me count the ways.
- The Bike: Jin is a Cannondale CAAD X with Ultegra components and disc brakes. It’s a cyclocross rig, which makes it nimble. It’s more upright as compared to a traditional road bike so there is better visibility. The carbon fork and seat post add comfort while the aluminum frame makes it super durable. Disc brakes are a must for all weather riding in diverse conditions, especially if you are carrying a load. All in all it’s a really nice commuter rig, especially for longer distances.
- Fenders. Not sexy and slows you down? Yes. Keeps you from walking into work with a rooster trail of muddy wetness up your back? Worth it. Face it, a dirty streak from your butt to the back of your head makes no one more sexy. Also, even in a light rain they will keep you from being soaked through.
- Rack. Even more weight, but if fenders keep you from getting a wet stripe up your back, not carrying all your stuff in a backpack keeps you from soaking your entire back through with sweat. Really, it’s crazy how much your back will sweat with a backpack on, even in cold weather. Having a bike rack allows you strap your gear behind you, or, as I do, carry weather-proof panniers. While they obviously add weight, not having a soaked through back and having the freedom to carry more stuff is well worth it.
- Lights. Using a bike for commuting guarantees coming into contact with traffic. Visibility is crucial. Plus, if your bike is your main form of transportation, it gives you flexibility to ride in low light situations. You only need to get caught once riding on a really dark night without lights to realize they are well worth the investment. I have a set of Sparse lights that fit under my bars. I got them by investing in a Kickstarter campaign and like that they are fixed onto the bike.
- Bell. Yeah, I know. You read this and think, “Why not just add streamers to the handles and and a wicker basket on front as well?” I get it, but if being seen is essential, being heard is equally as important. With all the headphone wearing, texting/talking while walking, child wrangling, occasionally clueless inhabitants on the Greenway, you have to be able to make yourself heard before being seen. For everyone’s sake, don’t neglect this.
- Car Rack. Having a convenient way of transporting your bike on your vehicle is an often overlooked component to successful long-term commuting. Reality is there are going to be many times you need to get your bike somewhere you can’t ride it. If it’s a consistent pain-in-the-ass to load and unload your rig, you will be much less likely to ride.
By investing in your bike you are both adding incentive to ride and removing obstacles to making it your first option. Each of these components removes another reason not to ride, to take the “easy” option and jump back in the car to get where you are going. All this can add up really quickly, but the price is more a mental thing. Once you make the mental “switch” to using your bike as an elemental part of your commute, the price of things makes much more sense (we’ll talk more about cost in the future). So do your research, head to your local bike shop and start pimping out that sweet ride. Grace and peace, y’all.
John, I enjoy reading your posts here on OCA. If you’ve not heard of Bicycle Quarterly check it out. They are very much into the French Rando bikes. The reason is their low “trail” – important for front loaded bikes (handlebar and fork mounted bags). Typically, these bikes are used for brevets, that said they could be a great commuting option also. I only put out this comment as I think you would find the info interesting. Plus, they test many products and bikes in the most objective way I’ve seen. Some of their tire testing is very good, but I digress.
Hope you find it interesting. Have a good day. I look forward to your next writeup.
Thanks so much! Look forward to checking out the info.
Grace and peace,
Oh the bell. You mention the bell. I walk, run and bike on the greenway. Yes, there are folks out there who walk on the wrong side, stand in the middle and talk, walk the dog off leash or with one of those 20 foot jobs. But for heavens sake why can’t ALL the folks on bikes ether ring a bell or say “on your left”? And ring it or say it before they are on your left shoulder? I hate to say this but I find that the worst offenders on the greenway are us cyclists. For our safety and the safety of everyone, please let walkers and runners know that you are coming.
Um, yeah. As much as I hate to admit it, we cyclist are the most egregious violators. In a way, that is unavoidable (how many times have you been passed on your bike by a walker? Bikers are almost always the ones doing the passing), but the real issue, MY issue, is I vastly overestimate my skills. No doubt we are paying more “attention” to the situation than the casual jogger with headphones on, but there is no way we can anticipate everything, or react quickly enough to avoid the erratic pedestrian. So ring that bell y’all. Ring it often and ring it loudly.
@John – You’d need a bull horn to make sure some people hear you…
One thing I’d like to point out, in addition to this (and NOT as a counter point) is that tons of walkers can’t even hear if we are coming because their headphones.
I call out my position to every single person I pass, but it feels pointless sometimes if someone can’t even hear me.
Lastly, a few weeks ago I had someone yell at me for politely calling out my intentions – they felt like I was being rude, somehow. I slowed down, talked to them, and explained that I just wanted to make sure they knew I was coming and it’s better to call out my intentions than to pass them unannounced. They took it as a “Get out of the way, ya bum!!”
Anyways – I kinda feel like this goes back to the lack of education on how to appropriately use the Greenway. There are rules, but there’s little good way of knowing what they are because I’ve never seen them posted on The Greenway. I guess we could go to some website and read them, but 99.999% of Greenway users are not going to do that!
Maybe John Ray can do a post about “What the rules should be on the Greenway.”
Also, someone get rid of those silly, useless Specialized Real Estate signs! “Slow Down” and “Have Fun” aren’t really good advice.
What? Huh? I can’t hear you with these headphones on. Can you please just anticipate all my erratic movements and stay out of my way?
Thanks for sharing, John. I can’t see quite how your pannier rack fits on the seat stays on your bike. I have a CAAD8 and it doesn’t have eyelets near to the rear dropouts to screw in my pannier posts. Is your CAAD X engineered differently?