Becoming A Bike Commuter

I've been talking about it for a while....about riding my bike to the train station as part of my daily work commute.  As we're a one vehicle household, my wife JL and I coordinate our schedules so I can be dropped off at the train station to head into Manhattan before she heads off to work herself.  Not terrible, but during the morning "rush" in our area, it's just a hassle.  And, c'mon, it's just the smart thing to do.  I walk to the train when I can (it's only a 15 minute walk) so why not save some time, and fuel, in the process?

I was in no way going to ride my road bike to the station.  Nor was I going to ride my TT racing rig (that would just look stupid!)  As I was in the basement trying to figure out how to build a commuter bike by cannibalizing an old mountain bike and a slightly used hybrid bike I stumbled on my very first road bike.  An aluminum frame Trek with a triple crank-set in front and base / entry level components.  Wow, I actually used to ride this thing?  Not to be all snooty, but damn. 

Okay, I'm off my carbon fiber soap-box.

What a perfect bike to become a commuter rig.  The triple crank-set would make the hills to and from the train station easy to deal with (without breaking out into a sweat) and a few additional accessories will ensure that my work clothes don't get wet / dirty / greasy.  I made a quick trip to my bike shop and picked up a few things:
  • Non-folding, cheap, 700 x 25C tires - thick, puncture resistant, with a bit more traction than 23C tires.
  • Snap on fender kit.
  • Dual sided flat / spd pedals.
  • Fresh handlebar tape.
I washed the hell out of the bike - really had to work on the drivetrain a bit - and got it back into a functional state.  New tires went on, fender kit was attached, and loud and obnoxious candy apple red handlebar tape finished things off.

I replaced the black road saddle that was currently on the bike with the stock saddle that came with my TT rig. (It was promptly replaced by a far superior ISM Saddle.) This was a good option as it's white on top and I wouldn't have to worry about my pants potentially getting black marks on them.  I resisted the urge to 'pimp my ride' by adding a mustache, or bull-horn handlebar to the mix.  Although as I type that I think I may need to do that this weekend.

A quick spin around the block and everything seemed in order.  The next day was it's maiden voyage to the train station.

Truth be told, I think the trip time was cut in half compared to driving.  While I did stop at all the traffic lights (rush hour is no time to blast through a red light) I was able to, on the right shoulder, zip past numerous cars queued up at each intersection and traffic signal.  The fenders dealt with bits of gravel and small puddles very well.

Arriving at the train station I circled around to the side with the bike racks and had to find some open space to lock up the bike.  There were tons of bikes and scooters already filling up the area.  With the bike locked, I couldn't believe how little time this took.   Going home took a few extra minutes that evening, as it's more uphill on the reverse route.  But that's fine - who cares?  No more coordinating schedules or taking cabs - at least until the winter.