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getting into bicycling

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  • vurt456
    Thanks everyone for their input on the folding bikes. The Bike Fridays look great, especially the one for petite women! But, since this is just my first bike,
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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      Thanks everyone for their input on the folding bikes. The Bike Fridays
      look great, especially the one for petite women! But, since this is
      just my first bike, I want to spend less at first. So I think I will
      go with one of the Dahons.

      Now, before I take the plunge, a couple of questions:

      1) Can I bike in the snow?

      2) Can I bike in the rain?

      3) What else will I need besides a helmet?

      4) What traffic laws/safety issues do I need to know about?

      5) What kind of bike maintenance do I need to know about?

      And anything else I should consider before getting into it?

      Thank you!
      Michelle
    • jdsingleton
      Hi, Michelle. I have a full-size Dahon that has held up well, so it s not a bad choice. ... Define snow. If there are several inches of wet snow on the
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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        Hi, Michelle.

        I have a full-size Dahon that has held up well, so it's not a bad choice.

        >1) Can I bike in the snow?

        Define "snow." If there are several inches of wet snow on the ground and you need to bike through it, probably not. (It tends to build up on fenders and brakes.) When it is snowing? Probably. I find I can normally bike on the roads when it is still snowing and as long as the roads are salted, so there is no ice. Dry snow is much less of a problem. Anyway, I find ice to be more of a problem than snow.

        >2) Can I bike in the rain?

        Sure. I do it all the time. (Well, all the time when it rains.) Make sure to dry the bike off afterwards. A rain suit is a must when it's cold, but a light jacket usually suffices in the summer. (Stuffing wet shoes with old newspaper dries them out quicker.)

        >3) What else will I need besides a helmet?

        If you're biking at night, you should have lights and a reflective vest of some sort. I'd add a rack and some sort of panniers, unless you prefer carrying stuff in a backpack. A spare tube and pump, to fix a flat.

        >4) What traffic laws/safety issues do I need to know about?

        The main thing is that -- normally -- when you are on the road, the same laws apply to you that apply to other vehicles.

        >5) What kind of bike maintenance do I need to know about?

        It depends on how much you want to do yourself. (I do less than I can, since my local bike shop is a ten minute walk away and I want to see him stay in business.) At a minimum, I would say you should know how to fix a flat (replace the tube and even how to patch one) and lube the chain. You'll find yourself picking more and more things up as you go along.

        >And anything else I should consider before getting into it?

        Just do it!

        Jim
      • vurt456
        Thanks Jim! Now, the snow thing....it snows a lot here (at least I think so!). So, what do you do when the snow makes it impossible to bike? Do you take a
        Message 3 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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          Thanks Jim!

          Now, the snow thing....it snows a lot here (at least I think so!). So,
          what do you do when the snow makes it impossible to bike? Do you take
          a bus, or walk?

          Also, the main thing that concerns me about getting into bicycling is
          personal safety. As a pedestrian, most of the time I am separated from
          the road (except at crossings), which makes me feel relatively safe.
          But with bicycling, I am kind of terrified of getting on the road with
          people who are texting while driving, eating, drinking coffee, and are
          otherwise oblivious. Am I being overly cautious? I don't want to die! :-)

          Thank so much for your help!

          Michelle
        • fred_dot_u
          Michelle, my car-free driving is done in a fully-enclosed velomobile, mostly in the Florida sun, so I m happy that someone else answered about the snow and ice
          Message 4 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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            Michelle, my car-free driving is done in a fully-enclosed velomobile,
            mostly in the Florida sun, so I'm happy that someone else answered about
            the snow and ice part! I know from trips to the Northeast that ice on a
            bike is particularly dangerous. Luckily for my wife and I, our recumbent
            tandem was low to the ground and the fall didn't hurt as much as it
            could have.

            Jim's advice is particularly good, especially the part about a
            reflective vest. I gave one to a friend and he said that drivers were
            "more respectful" after he wore it. I'm not sure what that means
            specifically, but a bright yellow vest is very visible and improves the
            likelihood that others will see you. There is a Vehicular Cyclist I
            know who uses a headlight on her bike, during the day, because it means
            more people see you and fewer pull out in front of you. My velomobile
            has dual headlights flashing for day use and a taillight that's on
            always for the increased visibility it provides.

            I lost track of the part of the country in which you are located, but
            you would find it to be a great benefit to research Vehicular Cycling
            practices and also to look up your state's statutes with respect to
            bicycle regulations and vehicle regulations. Jim is spot-on about
            obeying traffic laws as a motor vehicle would. Making yourself
            predictable to other drivers makes you safer. Following Vehicular
            Cycling practices also makes you safer, but some states have regulations
            which contradict those practices.

            Florida has a pretty well-written set of statutes regarding Vehicular
            Cycling, even though it's not mentioned specifically by that phrase in
            the statutes. I can legally enjoy the entire width of a roadway in most
            of my travels, especially on the multi-lane roadways with 45-55 mph
            speed limits.

            Jim suggests learning how to fix a flat tire and I agree. I don't want
            to jinx myself here, but since I ride in the roadway, the amount of
            debris I encounter is nearly zero, as the motor vehicles with the fat
            wide chunks of rubber on their wheels tend to clear it away. If you can
            learn the "no-tools" method of tire changing, it will be of great
            benefit to avoid pinch flats while putting the tire back on the wheel.

            Welcome back to bicycling, Michelle. I wish you the most fun possible!


            --- In CarFree@yahoogroups.com, jdsingleton <jdsingleton@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi, Michelle.
            >
            > I have a full-size Dahon that has held up well, so it's not a bad
            choice.
            >
            > >1) Can I bike in the snow?
            >
            > Define "snow." If there are several inches of wet snow on the ground
            and you need to bike through it, probably not. (It tends to build up on
            fenders and brakes.) When it is snowing? Probably. I find I can normally
            bike on the roads when it is still snowing and as long as the roads are
            salted, so there is no ice. Dry snow is much less of a problem. Anyway,
            I find ice to be more of a problem than snow.
            >
            > >2) Can I bike in the rain?
            >
            > Sure. I do it all the time. (Well, all the time when it rains.) Make
            sure to dry the bike off afterwards. A rain suit is a must when it's
            cold, but a light jacket usually suffices in the summer. (Stuffing wet
            shoes with old newspaper dries them out quicker.)
            >
            > >3) What else will I need besides a helmet?
            >
            > If you're biking at night, you should have lights and a reflective
            vest of some sort. I'd add a rack and some sort of panniers, unless you
            prefer carrying stuff in a backpack. A spare tube and pump, to fix a
            flat.
            >
            > >4) What traffic laws/safety issues do I need to know about?
            >
            > The main thing is that -- normally -- when you are on the road, the
            same laws apply to you that apply to other vehicles.
            >
            > >5) What kind of bike maintenance do I need to know about?
            >
            > It depends on how much you want to do yourself. (I do less than I can,
            since my local bike shop is a ten minute walk away and I want to see him
            stay in business.) At a minimum, I would say you should know how to fix
            a flat (replace the tube and even how to patch one) and lube the chain.
            You'll find yourself picking more and more things up as you go along.
            >
            > >And anything else I should consider before getting into it?
            >
            > Just do it!
            >
            > Jim
            >
          • jdsingleton
            ... When I can t bike due to snow/ice, I walk/take public transportation. ... You left out using a cell phone. Actually, I think you just get used to it. I
            Message 5 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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              >Now, the snow thing....it snows a lot here (at least I think so!). So,
              >what do you do when the snow makes it impossible to bike? Do you take
              >a bus, or walk?

              When I can't bike due to snow/ice, I walk/take public transportation.

              >But with bicycling, I am kind of terrified of getting on the road with
              >people who are texting while driving, eating, drinking coffee, and are
              >otherwise oblivious. Am I being overly cautious? I don't want to die! :-)

              You left out using a cell phone. Actually, I think you just get used to it. I don't really think about it and most of my cycling is in traffic. (Part of my commute is on a trail.)
            • Robert J. Matter
              ... I rarely encounter unpassable roads but have on occasion had to walk my bike part of the way home from the train station because it was too snowy or too
              Message 6 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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                vurt456 wrote:

                > Thanks Jim!
                >
                > Now, the snow thing....it snows a lot here (at least I think so!). So,
                > what do you do when the snow makes it impossible to bike? Do you take
                > a bus, or walk?

                I rarely encounter unpassable roads but have on occasion had to walk my
                bike part of the way home from the train station because it was too
                snowy or too icy. Transit here in NW Indiana is poor, one hour headways
                and no evening or Sunday service. A couple times with my folder I
                accepted rides home from the train from other passengers who drove when
                there was a raging blizzard and ice storm. Once I make it to Chicago
                transit is much better so if the weather is real bad I will take the
                bus/train. Even that has been a fairly rare occurrence. You can get
                studded 20" tires now to improve your traction on icy patches.

                > Also, the main thing that concerns me about getting into bicycling is
                > personal safety. As a pedestrian, most of the time I am separated from
                > the road (except at crossings), which makes me feel relatively safe.
                > But with bicycling, I am kind of terrified of getting on the road with
                > people who are texting while driving, eating, drinking coffee, and are
                > otherwise oblivious. Am I being overly cautious? I don't want to die! :-)

                Besides the helmet, lights, and reflective vest mentioned in earlier
                posts, I consider a good rear view mirror an essential piece of safety
                equipment. You will feel much more confident when you can monitor
                approaching cagers and know what is coming and when and always be
                prepared to take evasive action. I highly recommend the Take-A-Look
                http://www.rei.com/product/752285. I wear prescription glasses with
                flat/square arms so the Take-A-Look clips on snugly. I think an adhesive
                plastic base is included to attach the mirror to your helmet if you do
                not wear prescription glasses or if your glasses have round arms. At
                least there was years ago when I bought mine.

                They are not necessarily essential safety equipment but I also like to
                wear cycling gloves. When you fall, and you will eventually, it's nice
                to have padded gloves on so you don't tear up your hands on the pavement
                with gravel and broken glass. That burns! They will also keep your hands
                from getting blisters/callouses and increase your comfort while riding
                somewhat.

                I also like to have a simple "ping" bell to alert peds who are engaged
                with their cell phones and crackberries who are about to step off the
                curb in front of me, or to alert walkers/joggers when I am about to pass
                them on a multi-use path.

                -Bob Matter
                Hammond, IN
              • Robert J. Matter
                P.S. Another accessory that will make your cycling life more pleasant is a good waterproof bag/pack like those from Ortlieb, Chrome, or Timbuk2.
                Message 7 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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                  P.S. Another accessory that will make your cycling life more pleasant is
                  a good waterproof bag/pack like those from Ortlieb, Chrome, or Timbuk2.
                • Justice McPherson
                  ... When the snow makes it impossible to bike, I stay home - I wouldn t have been remotely safe making the trip in a car, either. With carbide studded tires, I
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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                    --- In CarFree@yahoogroups.com, "vurt456" <mcgiansante@...> wrote:

                    > Now, the snow thing....it snows a lot here (at least I think so!). So,
                    > what do you do when the snow makes it impossible to bike? Do you take
                    > a bus, or walk?

                    When the snow makes it impossible to bike, I stay home - I wouldn't
                    have been remotely safe making the trip in a car, either. With carbide
                    studded tires, I can ride on ice and snow that is downright hazardous
                    for a car without issues. Two inches of fresh powder over ice is doable.
                    Without studs? I don't know what I'd do. They're pretty much
                    mandatory; they're in 26" and 700c sizes, and I think there's a 20"
                    studded tire (though it looked sold out last time I checked, and I
                    don't think the studs are carbide).

                    > But with bicycling, I am kind of terrified of getting on the road with
                    > people who are texting while driving, eating, drinking coffee, and are
                    > otherwise oblivious. Am I being overly cautious? I don't want to
                    die! :-)

                    You're not much safer being on the road with those people in a CAR,
                    really. If someone is texting with a soda in their hand and blows
                    through an intersection with you in it, the difference between you in
                    a car and you on a bicycle is measured in how much crumpled and torn
                    metal the paramedics are going to need to cut away to get to you. In a
                    car, you'll have lots of speed of your own - plenty of rope to hang
                    yourself with if your path is redirected into something immobile by an
                    impact or veering away from an obstacle.
                    You're actually safer on a bicycle on the road than on a car on the
                    road. Cars are very dangerous.
                  • Robert J. Matter
                    Oh one more thing. If you are going with a folder, your combined weight with cargo generally shouldn t exceed 230 lbs. Otherwise your frame will likely fail
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jul 8, 2008
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                      Oh one more thing. If you are going with a folder, your combined weight
                      with cargo generally shouldn't exceed 230 lbs. Otherwise your frame will
                      likely fail after a year of daily use. That's my pet peeve about folder
                      manufacturers. They're just not realistic about the weight of adult
                      American commuters and their gear.

                      Bike Friday offers a heavy gauge tubing option on their custom built
                      models that they claim will support 350 lbs. I think the tubing is made
                      out of 24 kt. gold.

                      I do have an older steel frame Dahon Stowaway that the frame held up on.
                      Unfortunately I broke about everything else on the bike.

                      -Bob Matter
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