Category Archives: Tips

Waterproof your bag for less than 7 cents [Video]

I hate riding to work in the rain. One of the biggest challenges is just keeping your backpack ( and more importantly, the contents inside) dry. I have a trick that I use whenever it looks like it’ll rain – watch the video below to see how I waterproof my backpack for less than 7 cents.

 

Also related to riding in the rain, learn the secret to drying out your wet shoes.

 


Looking for some waterproof pants for that soggy ride?

Try these on for size!

baby wipes

2 Essential Items for Biking to Work

One thing that often prevents people from biking to work is the idea of sweat. No, not the fact that they would have to put some effort into getting to work. But what to do about staying fresh and clean around your coworkers. Nobody likes BO.

I’ve found two items absolutely essential for my daily commute – baby wipes and deodorant.

baby wipes

Being the father of two beautiful children (ages 1 and 2) I find myself in plentiful supply of baby wipes. And they are perfect for wiping yourself down after you get to work. Just take a stack of baby wipes and put them in a quart-sized zip lock baggie. When you get to work, take out a baby wipe or two, scrub down all the necessary areas (you know which ones), then apply some deodorant and you’ll be fresh as a daisy. Money back guarantee.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own dedicated restroom where you work, you’re probably looking for a good (private) place to do this cleansing. I suggest the handicapped stall in a restroom. It’s usually bigger and (if you’re lucky like me) it’ll have its own sink.

How do you stay clean after your commute? Let me know in the comments!

 

Google Maps Biking Directions

Biking Directions in Google Maps

If you live or work in a large city, choosing the right path to take on your commute can be the difference in enjoying your daily ride and getting run over by a car. While there are some streets that are wide enough and maybe even have bike lanes, there are others that are narrow with no shoulders or have parked cars lining the curb. Trying to figure out the quickest, and safest path to work can be difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with the labyrinth of city streets, alleys, bike paths, rail trails, etc.

So how do you choose your route? If you’re in Pittsburgh, you’re lucky – you can download and print the Pittsburgh Bike Map from Bike Pittsburgh. For everyone else who’s not so lucky to live in the new Portland, you can use the biking directions feature of Google Maps.

“Google Maps has biking directions?” Not an uncommon question. The answer is yes. You can go to Google Maps, click on Get Directions, type in your starting and ending points and get driving directions. You probably already knew that. But have you noticed the little biker icon that you can click on? (See below)

Google Maps Biking Directions

Clicking on that biker dude will bring up directions geared for pedaling. They’ve been available since March 2010, but have recently been updated and improved. As of last week, a new legend feature provides better understanding of what the different colors on the bike maps symbolize.

  • Dark green is for dedicated trails and paths
  • Light green is for roads with dedicated lanes
  • Dotted green is for roads that are friendly for cyclists

Now when choosing your route to work (or wherever you’re going) it’s easier to see which roads are more cycling-friendly. That way, you can live to bike another day.

Your Turn

What resources do you use to plan your routes? Are there some great local organizations in your city that provide bike maps or something similar? Let me know in the comments!

underwear

Don’t forget your underwear

underwearI was debating whether or not to post this, because I don’t want to make any co-workers who may be reading this uncomfortable. But I have an obligation to all hopeful bike-commuters to give any and all tips that can be helpful. And this tip, like many things that are common sense, needs to be said out loud because sometimes the obvious things are the first we forget about.

Don’t forget your underwear.

If you wear biking clothes on  your commute and pack your work clothes to change into (like I do) this should go without saying. But if you went to bed late, got a bad night’s sleep (two kids under 3 years old will do that) and woke up late, you may be in a rush when you’re packing your clothes in the morning. That’s exactly what happened to me last week. Yeah, I forgot my underwear.

Granted, there are worse things in life than free-ballin’ it, but I’d rather keep everything snug, if you know what I mean. I now have an acronym that I use EVERY SINGLE MORNING to make sure I have at least the bare essentials:

PS – SUB

It stands for Pants. Shirt. Socks. Underwear. Belt.

Emphasis on the U.

 

How to dry out your wet shoes

Inevitably, you will be caught in the rain. Your pants, coat, helmet, gloves and shoes will be thoroughly soaked at some point. Although it does make bike commuting miserable at times, it’s important to remember to take the good with the bad. And more importantly, when you do get drenched, how will you dry out your gear overnight so your morning commute doesn’t start with soggy feet?

Here’s a little tip I’m putting to use tonight – how to dry out your shoes. It’s simple, really. Just take a newspaper, crumple up a page and stuff it into your shoe. Do this until the shoe is full, then place your shoes in front of a dehumidifier.

This trick has worked even when my shoes have been saturated and dripping, so I know it will work for you too.

I rode my bike today

I don’t know everything, but…

I rode my bike today

Image by BikePortland.org

I don’t know everything there is to know about bike commuting. Far from it – there’s a lot that I’m still finding out everyday (and sharing with you here!). Learning things the hard way isn’t always fun, like the time I forgot to check the radar before heading home when an impending storm was moving in. Now, if there’s even a small chance of rain, I’ll look out the window and check weather.com before leaving.

I much prefer to learn things the easy way. Fortunately, this interwebz thing makes it easy to learn from other people’s mistakes and experiences. As I find some good intel, I’ll be sure to share it here.

The first thing I’d like to share with you is Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips. This is a well written, entertaining summary of the top things to consider to make bike commuting easier for you. He covers topics like choosing a bike, choosing a route, parking and locks, bike maintenance, safety and more. He also has a blog that, although it hasn’t been updated in a couple months, does have some interesting material.

It’s Your Turn

I’d love to hear your tips – that’s what the comments are for! Let everyone know your top tip on bike commuting and we can all learn from each other.

Pittsburgh bridge and skyline

Pittsburgh skyline from two wheels

We don’t get too many sunny days in Pittsburgh (especially in the winter) so the view from today’s ride was a Kodak moment worth stopping for. Here’s what I see everyone morning, at least when the sun’s shining:

 Pittsburgh bridge and skyline

Bridge over the Ohio River in Pittsburgh

View of Pittsburgh Skyline from the west end

I took these pictures with my iPhone 3GS, which, by the way, is hard to do if you don’t have the special gloves that work on touch screens. Here’s a tip: if you push the main button twice, you can go straight to the camera without having to swipe the bar across. Just touch the camera icon with your nose, then use the volume button to take the picture. That way you don’t have to take off your gloves just to take a picture.

iPhone 3GS nose swipe

Tip #1: Warm Water

As I got ready to ride to work this morning (another sub-20 degree day) I did as I normally do. Packed my lunch, grabbed a water bottle out of the fridge and suited up.

About half way to work when I tried to take a drink I realized the mistake I made that would be a good tip here: put warm to hot water in your bottle before heading out on those sub-20 days. Otherwise, you’ll be trying to suck ice cubes through your water bottle.

On days when thetemperature is less than 20 degrees, put warm water in your bottle. Less than 10 degrees – try hot water.

In other news, since I didn’t have a fancy face mask, I tried wearing a plain old scarf. It wasn’t the best solution out there, but for the next couple days it’ll work.