Ridekick Power Trailer

Ridekick Power Trailer is one of the newest sponsors to support BikeCommuters.com. Their product is this really cool trailer that can push a rider up to 19mph. Plus, it has a unique storage compartment that allows you to store just about anything that would fit in there.
Ridekick Power TRailer

Here’s a video that best describes what the Ridekick Power Trailer is.

I’ll be meeting with a Ridekick Power Trailer Associate in the near future to test out one of their units. They also need our votes so their business can be considered for a $250K grant that is sponsored by Chase Bank and LivingSocial. They need at least 175 more votes by the end of June to be considered. In order to vote, you must have a Facebook account. It takes about 30 seconds to vote for Ridekick.

Here’s how to vote:

You MUST HAVE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT then:
1) Go to www.missionsmallbusiness.com
2) Scroll down and click “Log In and Support”
3) Login (using your Facebook login and password)
4) Search business name: Ridekick International
5) Vote
6) Post on your Facebook wall to help spread the word!

10 reasons Congress must save bike/ped funding

The following came from a press release issued by the League of American Bicyclists…entitled “Top 10 Reasons Congress Must Preserve Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs”:

“For the past 20 years, local elected officials have had access to state transportation funds through a handful of federal programs for bicycling and walking initiatives: Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails. They account for just 1.5 percent of the overall federal transportation bill and have all been heavily over-subscribed since their creation.

Despite the overwhelming success and popularity of these programs, House Republican leadership and a handful of influential Senators have waged an unexplained and inexplicable vendetta against these programs — not to save the government any money, just to prevent state or local governments spending their money on these specific programs and activities, removing any vestige of local control over transportation investments.

Here are our top ten reasons why members of Congress must reject these small-minded and vindictive attacks.

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To read the list (including a couple of “surprises”…the U.S. Military supports Safe Routes to School? Wow!), please visit the LAB blog by clicking here.

Commuter Profile: Jed Reynolds

This week’s commuter profile comes from Jed Reynolds, longtime reader of our humble site. Jed’s got lots of stuff to share, so let’s get started!

Name: Jed Reynolds

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

I took bicycling casually about 15 years ago while in college–I got around using a mountain bike and transit. I eventually took being a software contractor pretty seriously, bought a car, and lost the bike. Eight years ago, I moved to Bellingham, and I bought a bike to get to my first job here, but I still occasionally drove to work. In the last three years I have “figured it out”…my knees don’t bug me, and I thoroughly got bit by the cycling bug. I’ve been a full time bike commuter for approaching two years and I’m busy cycling through my second winter in the pacific northwest!

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

Not wanting to own a car was while I was in college was a start. Now it’s about getting exercise and avoiding buying gas are why I started biking to work. Once my office relocated closer to home to about six miles–that seemed much less daunting to me. My health has changed and getting regular exercise has become a necessity. I’ve gotten get used to biking about thirteen miles a day, or more if I have time to expand the route.

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How does bicycle commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I can’t claim to be the most frugal cyclist, but this year I did downgrade from two cars to one. If it weren’t so fun to upgrade my bikes, I’d actually save money. Using my cargo bike, I can go for about five weeks without touching the van. (My van is still very useful for family trips.) All my typical shopping I can fit in plastic storage boxes on my cargo bike. I also deliver my kids to school by bike, using a trailer or on the cargo bike. I haven’t calculated my savings, but the money wasn’t as important to me as the fun riding and the righteous feeling of minimizing my car use.

I’m feeling healthy and am now in better shape than when I was in high school! I realized recently that I really did need an hour or more of exercise a day. I didn’t lose 40lbs from just from cycling, however. The truth really is too serious: type II diabetes. I control my health with medication, diet and exercise. I have no excuse to live a sedate lifestyle now. Rather, I feel a responsibility to model an active lifestyle. (There are a million new cases of type II diabetes every year. Please take diet and exercise seriously. [Footnote: 1.6 million people in the United States aged 20 years or older are diagnosed with diabetes every year – http://www.dagc.org/diastatsus.asp ])

People from my past will find a new Jed. Previously I was a sloth-like asocial computer geek–never a fan of exercise and derisive of organized sports and loathed “jocks.” I’ve dropped all that attitude. Now I’m eager take my kids on bike tips in any weather, and I’m planning a summer of bike picnics and eventually bike camping.

I no longer talk only about computers–I can strike up a conversation about bicycling with almost anyone, and it actually feels much better. (Other people don’t like to talk about computers? Wow.). I’ve made friends in my neighborhood by offering bike tune ups. Just drawing a bicycle on my name tag at gathering invites conversations.

My inner childhood mechanic loves geeky DIY bike culture. I’ve been cutting up scraps of this and that to fashion light brackets and fender extensions. For my cargo bike I made a bright yellow rain tarp using reclaimed inner-tube as tie-downs. I’ve gone on my second tweed ride with my sons! (Tweed rides are almost as geeky as attending a Renassance Fair or being a larper [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=LARP].)

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My family relationships have been enriched in other ways. I have a brother in law who’s a professional bike mechanic and my sister has a 26 mile daily bike commute…so we always have something to talk about. As you can tell…I’m still waiting for this bicyclist thing to improve my relationships.

What do you do for a living and where do you live?

I’ve been a web application programmer and Linux system administrator for over a decade. Occasionally I hear that computer programmers tend to like bicycles, but it still seems uncommon. Conversely, Bellingham is very bike friendly and there’s a local software company that not only has its own bike shop, it keeps winning a pile of the bike to work month challenges. [http://blog.logos.com/archives/2009/05/bike_to_work_day.html] Editor’s note: we featured Logos and their bike commuter incentives back in 2009. Take a look at our original article by clicking here.

Bellingham has been recognized as a bike friendly town [http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/bfc_bellingham.php] [http://www.bicyclepaper.com/articles/2010/8/league_of_american_bicyclists_2010_state_and_community_rankings]

What kind(s) of bike(s) do you have?

I have three bikes that I love to ride: a Trek 7200 that I installed fenders and trekking bars on, and a 58cm Novara Expresso XC I turned turned Xtracycle. I’ve also started learning to ride a recumbent and now I have a Rans Tailwind. I also pull a Burley Bee trailer for shopping and lugging kids in…sometimes I tow it behind my Xtracycle.

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I recently sold a Trek 3900 that I hybridized–taped the fenders up with yellow tape, and extended the fenders with milk jug panels, added toe clips and a rack. Good bike. I also sold a Trek 820 that I also made a rain commuter with yellow fenders. Now I just have one more Trek 820 to outfit with some yellow fenders on and sell.

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Any funny/interesting commuting story you’d like to share?

My route takes me up Northwest Avenue and under Interstate 5. That area until just recently has been a snarl with bad left turn traffic and then construction to redevelop the intersection with a roundabout. Going home months ago on my mountain bike, I was passing through this underpass and a contractors pickup rumbles by and I hear the tinkle of nails in his truck. Suddenly I cannot pedal and I’m skidding right into the middle off the offramp merge lane! Luckily, I land on my feet and still full of adrenaline I don’t skip a beat to drag my bike to the shoulder. The bike will not coast. I drug it to the sidewalk, unhooked the panniers, dug out my toolkit, and what did I discover but a five inch nickel-plated nail slammed through both sidewalls of the tire! The nail was wedged against the rear brake pads which explains my sudden skid. I had just taken the read wheel off when I look up to see on of my neighbors parked right next to me with his trunk open! “Need a ride?” I love living in a small city.

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What do people say when you’re a bike commuter?

While its common in Bellingham to compare bike commutes, I’ve met a variety of reactions. Generally-impressed is almost as common a reaction as nodding-approval. People in line at the grocery often ask how far I ride, and then they seem quite reflective and wish that I stay safe on the road. I enjoyed talking to a grocery bagger who was astounded that anyone could bike from Bellingham to Ferndale.

I get impressed looks from people when I clarify that I’m looking forward to another winter on the bike. Snow? Yes: studded tires! Rain can’t stop me, its part of the adventure (like camping). But I admit it–wind will stop me. Sustained winds over 25mph are not safe or enjoyable, and gusts beyond 35mph have pushed me to a standstill and into traffic. On those days, I’m fortunate that I can work from home.

People are often left with the impression that I’ve been biking and athletic my whole life. That’s not the case at all–overweight nerd programmer hated exercise, never played a sport and resents sports on TV even more.

How about bicycling advocacy? Groups?

I’ve recently met many of the local biking and transit advocates in Bellingham: Mary and Linda and Karen from Whatcom SmartTrips [https://www.whatcomsmarttrips.org/] and EverybodyBIKE [http://www.everybodybike.com/]. I’ve won some transit prizes from our SmartTrips program. This summer I attended a recognition ceremony at the farmers market with my younger son. We met the mayor Dan Pike and congressman Rick Larsen. Mayor Pike does his best to ride to work…and so have a many previous Bellingham mayors.

But its not really up to my congressman to model the behavior I expect. Like Ghandi said: you must be the change you wish to see in the world. When I bike, I feel like that change. When I talk about bicycling, I also feel like that change. After bragging how much I save on gas, I often ask people if they ever considered biking to work. I invite people to tell me why their commute wouldn’t work by bicycle.
People’s comfort zone is pretty obvious, but some people have provided other instructive answers:
• people live dozens of miles away
• people work early shift and have to leave the house at 3AM to be in my 4:30AM
• people work late shift and I don’t want to bike in the dark
• people run, don’t have time to bike
• people live X miles up a 50mph windy highway lacking bike lanes or any shoulder
• afraid of traffic
• that huge hill
• “that wife” put the bike behind the couch again

Bicycling is just bicycling, of course, it’s not superior for all people. I believe that advocacy has got to be fun. Bike parades, themed rides, and multi-economic angles need to play together. I believe in keeping the conversation going around parents with kids. I think that getting groceries while taking the kids with you – on a bicycle – is how we need to break our addiction to cars.

In Bellingham, there is an inspiring project providing disadvantaged youths bicycles and group rides called The Bike Shop [http://www.thebikeshop1.org/]. Families wanting bike come in and can buy a really cheap beat up bike…but they cannot leave with it until they’ve learned to fix it up. This helps build independence and removes the concept that bikes are a disposable appliance.

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Thank you, Jed, for sharing your words and stories with us. For the rest of you who would like to be featured in a future “commuter profile“, drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.

Guest Article: My evolution as a cyclist:Thoughts of a bike commuter By Hermes Pagulayan


Beach Cruiser to Hipster to Weekend Warrior

I have been riding seriously and commuting now for about two years but before I took it seriously I was given a 15 year old Huffy beach cruiser that a friend was no longer using. It had: a dark blue frame, a wide seat, white-walled fat tires, fenders, chain-guard, and a huge handlebar that reminded me of Harley Davidson motorcycles instead of my childhood BMX bike. This Huffy, with its faded paint and rusting body would soon change my life. At first, I only used it for very quick errands like going to the grocery store to get soda. But it broke down which made me want to replace it. A year after that, I started commuting using a bicycle which led to riding with friends as a hobby. Because of this Huffy, I was introduced to experiences that only a fellow cyclist or few would ever know about.


How I got the Huffy

In the last year of college, a friend had asked me if I would like to tutor someone who lived on my street. I accepted it considering that I was still looking for a job. The tutoring sessions were about three times a week and since it was only a couple of miles away, I thought that I would just use the Huffy. A few months had passed by and I no longer was tutoring that same child when a similar opportunity came up. It was similar in distance so I thought I would use the Huffy again to commute. But a couple of weeks into it, the aging tires on the Huffy had given way to a sidewall tear puncturing the inner tube. The cost to install and replace the tire and tube was around 40 dollars so I thought, “Why not just put that towards a new bike?”. I didn’t care for bikes at the time and so I thought, “I’ll just get another one that has wheels–it’s that simple.”

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My Wal Mart Experience

I went online and saw plenty in my price range–which was under a hundred. I know, I know…foolish of me to think that it was going to turn out okay but I was a “noob”, all right? I bought this cool shiny chrome mountain bike. It was 79.99 plus tax and it was the last one they had. I even called several Wal-Marts to see if they had it in stock. Lucky for me, there was one close by and even had them set it aside. But as soon as I took it home, I found the sprocket slipping! So I returned it. I thought spending more would get me a better purchase so I spent a little more and got a road bike, the GMC Denali for 169.99 plus tax. It had 21 speeds with Grip Shifters installed on the drop bar (not the prettiest thing to see). That one also had a problem but I liked having a road bike so I returned it for another. Unfortunately, this one also had a problem. Frustrated, I spoke to the Wal-Mart bike mechanics (Can you call them that since they just put bikes together?) and one recommended this mountain bike called the Genesis V-something if he were to get anything. Well I got it and within a week the front hub had loose bearings! I don’t even know how that happened since I rode it on the street. At this point, I had completely lost faith in department store bikes.

Craigslist

While doing some research for a bike, I had read that Craigslist is how someone should buy a bike if they’re on a tight budget. I found a Raleigh Grand Prix with a Reynolds frame, 7-Speed 105 groupset on some beat up wheels for $200 from a reseller. I miss that bike and I wish I still owned it. It was light, fast and quite a looker. I loved that bike and didn’t want to replace it but as I rode more and more, I realized that the bike was too big for me (It was a 57 cm; I should have gotten a 55 cm or less). A couple of bikes later, I decided to try a fixed gear bike. It was great but I soon had knee problems from skid stopping and a high gear ratio. I had bought a total seven bikes purchased from Craigslist. All of them I wanted to keep but all of them had problems that were too small, large, or hurt my knees.

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Riding with friends

Because of my new found interest in commuting, a few of my friends took interest in road cycling. Having owned a few bikes, I became the “expert” amongst my friends and a year later, we had a little group that rode on the weekends with a team name and everything. It first started out as something fun to do–nothing serious. Some of my friends borrowed bikes from others while some found bikes on Craigslist for $100. The rides were about once a month but slowly it became something more serious. People bought new road bikes and along with it cycling clothing–this was something even I wasn’t prepared for. The biking I was doing at the time was more in line of a hipster not a weekend road warrior. But a friend bought me a jersey, padded shorts, shoes and pedals for Christmas and as much as I felt weird wearing the clothes, I was soon a weekend warrior myself.

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A lot has happened since I decided to accept my friend’s bike as charity. This past weekend, our group, dubbed “The Cyclers” finished a self-promoted charity ride with funds going to churches in South America. What started out as a temporary solution became a lifestyle that I can’t see myself giving up. If you had asked me that a rusty, faded, beach cruiser would do all of this, I would have laughed at the impossibility.

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Product Review: WTB Freedom Aon Saddle

Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB for short) is a respected brand among mountain bikers – particularly in the realm of tires and saddles (aka seats). They’re now bringing that experience to bear on commuter-oriented products: WTB’s Freedom line of products is geared at bikes commuters are more likely to ride and aims to provide comfortable, functional gear at a reasonable price point. I’ve been testing their Aon saddle on my (newly resurrected!) road singlespeed, and it’s time to share some impressions.


As mentioned, one of the key components is value. At $39.99, the Aon (which is available in both men’s and women’s versions) certainly does that – it’s more comfortable than many more expensive saddles I’ve tested out. It is labeled as being for road bikes, and that’s precisely how it should be used – it is more comfortable when leaning forward than it is when sitting up straighter. I don’t have to be in the drops for it to be comfortable, but I wouldn’t want it on a cruiser! For bikes with a more upright position, Freedom offers several other saddles – if they’re as comfortable as the Aon, they may be worth checking out as well. Although we don’t have any more saddles on test, WTB provided us several products in this lineup for review, so look for more commentary on some Freedom grips and tires in the future!