A day in the life of a bike commuter, looking at cars that take over the bike/bus only lanes. I'm an advocate of the "Share the Road" program and would like to see police enforcement of the cars illegally driving in the bike/bus lanes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Packing my bags! Road Bike Recommendations?

Last week I was offered a job with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning as a Regional Land Use Planner. Obviously, I don't know exactly how it will work out for me, but if I were to describe my (realistic) dream job it would almost perfectly match the job description for this one. CMAP is the agency that was formed when Chicago Area Transportation Study (Chicago's MPO) and Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) were merged. NIPC developed the 2040 Regional Framework Plan with "specific strategies to guide future growth in northeastern Illinois. The plan provides a vision for meeting land-use challenges in the most efficient, coordinated and sustainable manner." They won the APA's 2006 National Plan of the Year award. I'm honored to be joining this agency!

And I will be buying a commuter bike as soon as I get to Chicago! Any suggestions? My commute will be 3.5 miles (another short one!) but I will do longer weekend rides and after-work jaunts. I loved my Jamis Coda Sport, but am interested in Bianchi bikes and would also consider a bike that would function as a touring bike (with minor adjustments).

Then I will continue the blog with a Chicago focus. Sorry to all my DC readers!

Please leave comments about bike recommendations! Thanks!


Anonymous Tom Garritano said...

Lindsay, congrats on your new job. I'm the communications director for CMAP and get a Google news alert email whenever a blog (or more often, newspaper) mentions the agency. So it was nice to read your post and see how excited you are about joining CMAP. Things keep getting better and better since the merger, and you'll be part of something exciting. The Burnham Plan of Chicago's centennial is 2009, which is about the time we'll be wrapping up the region's first comprehensive plan for transportation and land use. We hope to capitalize on the interest and momentum that the centennial will generate.

Good luck with your move, and I look forward to meeting you in person.

(tgarritano at cmap.illinois etc)

Wednesday, 18 April, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations and good luck!

As for a commuter bike, any bike you love to ride is a good bike. That said, I'd stay away from mountain bikes -- unnecessary suspension, higher weight and smaller wheels. (If you want a little vibration relief, get 25c tires and inflate them only to about 90 psi.) I'd also suggest that whatever bike you buy, that it would accept full fenders. No, they're not cool looking, but they really keep the grit off of the bike during rainy rides and so increase your bike's longevity. They also keep your back from getting that nice grey stripe!

It's a buyer's market for bikes and I'm sure you'll have a lot to choose from. Maybe try roadbikereview.com. Someone there must have started a thread about commuter bikes.

Good luck, again. And thanks for posting my story about running into a whacko on the CCT.

Wednesday, 18 April, 2007

Blogger Lindsay said...

Thanks, Tom. Thanks, David.

I just test-rode a couple of Specialized women's road bikes (a Dolce Elite and a Dolce). And they told me a little bit about the Cyclocross bikes, which sounded like a good option for me.

I loved how light and fast the two Specialized bikes were, but it didn't look like it had much room for fenders, and definitely not bigger tires (in case I was doing a tour or non-pavement ride).

Anyone use a cyclocross bike?

Thursday, 19 April, 2007

Anonymous Michael S said...

I'd look at the Soma Smoothie ES and the Surly Pacer. They both have room for fenders and eyelets for racks, which any practical bike should have. They sell them both at Silver Cycles on Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring if you're still in DC. Linda owns the shop and is really helpful and nice.

Thursday, 19 April, 2007

Blogger lee.watkins said...

You want to go touring, better get a decent touring bike then. I recommend Koga-Miyata’s GlobeTraveller.

Just make sure to raise the handlebars to the correct position.

Friday, 20 April, 2007

Blogger lee.watkins said...

If you are actually going to do real touring I'd highly recommend putting Tubus racks on your bike, they are about the only widely available racks with 10mm steel rails.

Generally all other rack have 8mm Aluminum rails, which will fail under loaded touring conditions.
They are usually rated to 40ibs at best. By camparison, the tubus racks have 10mm steel rails, and are frequently used to carry adult passengers on the back in daily life, in the Netherlands for example.

The famous rack of choice it the Tubus Cargo, however the Tubus LOCC is the most heavy-duty. If you are headed out for a long distance, heavily loaded tour, the extra capacity could be the difference between a smooth tour or a breakdown.



As far as bags go, for touring and heavy distance touring, Ortlieb is the way to go. Your stuff will stay dry!

Friday, 20 April, 2007

Blogger BikerBabe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Monday, 23 April, 2007

Anonymous Ludwig said...

Congratulations! I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be hearing from you since the bike theft.

As far as bike recommendations. Get two bikes! For commuting a single speed, cause there's really no reason to have more in the city. For touring I prefer audax bikes, have a look at St John's Street Cycles though I'm not sure if they're available in the US.


Wednesday, 25 April, 2007

Anonymous Mario said...

Hello, Lindsay - I'm sorry to see you leave DC, although I'm one to talk ... I just finished moving out of that great city 3 days ago. I was looking at getting a new bike recently, and I decided that the Specialized TriCross was the perfect all around bike. You can race on it with slick tires, and you can X-country with knobby tires. It has full rack and fender mounts. I liked everything:



On another note, there is a great book called "The Immortal Class" written by a Chicago bike messenger , Travis Hugh Culley . I think it would be great for a Chicago planning cyclist would read it.


Enjoy Chicago -- Mario

Thursday, 03 May, 2007

Blogger Lindsay said...

Thanks for all of the recommendations. I test rode a Specialized and heard the schpeal about the Cyclocross bikes. Then I test rode a Jamis Aurora. It was love at first ride. It was designed for touring, so it is a chromoly steel frame, which is slightly heavier than an aluminum frame. Here are the features from the Jamis (www.jamisbikes.com) website:

-Reynolds 520 double-butted chromoly frame rides smoother & more comfortably than comparably priced aluminum framed bikes
thanks to the natural shock damping properties of steel, with plenty of fender & rack mounts for full accessorizing
-Full cro-moly unicrown touring fork with full compliment of braze-ons for low riders, fenders and racks
-Touring specific wheelset featuring Alex double wall rims with eyelets, stainless spokes, Shimano Tiagra hubs, 36H
Shimano Tiagra/Deore drive train featuring Sram 11/32 wide range cassette to get you over those long passes
-FSA Vero forged, triple crank with PowerDrive sealed cartridge bottom bracket
-Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes and auxiliary levers for sure stopping in any hand position
-Vittoria Zaffiro 28c tires with more volume to support the added weight that loaded touring requires while maintaining legendary road holding capability and ride quality
-Selle San Marco's Ischia Plus saddle rides comfortably & efficiently, with classic Italian styling
-Ritchey Road cockpit with adjustable angle stem and BioMax II handlebars for comfort, lightweight and dependability

Monday, 21 May, 2007

Blogger Lindsay said...

Oh yeah, and at $850, the price was reasonable!

Monday, 21 May, 2007

Blogger gwadzilla said...

think of your desired positioning...

do you want riser bars or classic road bars

a cyclocross bike would be a great urban selection with the touring option

it you wan a more upright position
then a hybrid may be your best bet

I say be less focused on name
all bike shops will only carry reputable names
find your price point then ride several bikes of different styles with the level of components you seek at the price you are willing to spend

Thursday, 24 May, 2007

Blogger Jody said...

Wow, all this talk about the bike, and not yet a mention of Chicago!

Drop everything - Chicagoland Bicycle Federation - check it out! I assume that you will want a fair amount of contact with them in your new aweseome job position, too. Its only the largest bicycle advocacy group in the western hemisphere. Check out the 2015 plan, too. 'Full use streets' is a big manefesto, and we love everything bike lane. Stop by for a sticker that says "Bike Lane Hottie".

I am the coordinator for the Commuter Challenge with Bike to Work week and we are always into bike commuting. Check out these two booklets:


They are excerpts from a book written by one of our staff. I suggest reading this book cover to cover.

As far as a commuter bike, I suggest a Breezer. Might seem a tiny bit pricey, but they come with everything commuter - lightweght, chainguards, lights, racks, and a special lock on the back wheel. Super!

Chicago is a special place to be on a bike! You're in for a treat!

Saturday, 16 June, 2007


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