True confessions of a bike commuter

As many of you may know, I ride my bike to work (almost) every day.  Lately I’ve become interested in hearing stories and comparing notes with other bike commuters.  Therefore, I’m kicking off a new series today called True Confessions of a Bike Commuter.  It’s an opportunity for us to meet and greet with my fellow commuters, and find out what makes us get in the saddle every morning.

Me first?  Well, if you insist.

Spring-ish, 2011 and adjusting to the new commute from our fixer-upper in Portage Park (yes, we had mirrors in our living room).

Where do you live? Chicago

How long is your commute? I work two part time jobs during the day and travel to both by bike.  The daily commute from home to work to work to home is about 15-20 miles.

What kind of bike do you ride?  A Trek hybrid

Do you wear work clothes on your bike, or wear bike clothes and change at work? I’m lucky that both of my jobs have locker rooms, so I wear bike clothes and can change and shower if necessary.  Padded shorts are non-negotiable.

How do you carry your stuff? Paniers? Messenger bag? Milk Crate? I’ve tried all three, but these days I’ve got a trunk bag that has attached paniers.  It has a huge capacity (key since I commute between jobs, bring a change of clothes, and pack my lunch), and I like not having to carry anything on my back.  Downside: it’s heavy.  I’ll add, too, that the homeless people who like to steal bikes noticed me a LOT less when I was rocking the orange milk crate.

laying laundry out to dry in the office

Fair-weather rider? For the most part, I ride every day.  I’ll ride in the rain, snow, hot, cold, or wind.  The only thing I refuse toride in is sleet and ice.  The only downside to this is that my co-workers often have to pass by my underwear drying in the office…

Scariest moment on the bike: I’ve been “doored” about 5 times but the scariest by far was when I went over the top of a car door and landed in the middle of a busy road.  I was fine, except for some nasty road rash and a cut on my eye.  The driver said he was sorry, and then when I asked if my face was bleeding (it was) he said “No, No… you look great!”

Tips for new riders: Spend the money to invest in good shorts, a helmet, lights, and a reflective jersey.  You’ll look goofy, but it makes for a more comfortable and safe ride.  Learn hand signals and use them, especially when you’re among a big bunch of riders (other riders can be just as dangerous as cars).  I also think it’s important to be a defensive rider, especially in a big city.  That doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk – just be sure to appear confident on the bike.

Why you ride: We have one car in our household, but I only use it on the weekends.  I get really frustrated with the cost of public transit and the time it takes to get where I need to go.  This month, I’ve spent four dollars and fifty cents total on transportation costs.  I commute by bike in 45 minutes a distance takes me 70 minutes on bus.  Plus, I like the fresh air and built-in exercise.  I’ve had some of my best creative moments on my bike… for me it’s a way to escape from my hectic schedule.  After you commute by bike for awhile, you can’t really imagine doing it any other way.

If you are a bike commuter and would like to be featured in this series, please send an email to for consideration.  Thanks!