And Biking, nowadays.
AND – I totally rocked a sample bar/bri m/c exam, getting 100%! So there! And even if it was only 5 questions long, it still was a sample exam, and I feel pretty damn overconfident based on it. No need to study now. Yeah.
But back to Biking - I just finished up a new beater bike to have as a lender. I need a few hours hand-work time each day during bar study lest I go mad. (No jokes here Scott). So I built up a $25 Raleigh Record into a single speed freewheeler using spare parts.
Things I don’t like:
She’s less twitchy than the Lotus.
The narrow 70s drop handlebars mean I can’t climb with the same power (although there’s free/fixed clipped/unclipped problem confusing that).
The brakes, as is, are more, em. . .suggestive than authoritative, limiting downhill speed.
The rear axle is just whacked in that the skewer slips under high stress, pulling the tire sideways into the frame and acting as a break – means I can’t push from a dead stop across an intersection to beat traffic since I could unexpectedly brake in front of it. (I’m running at 53x16 rig).
But most of these can be repaired with little effort.
Things I like:
The narrow 70s drop handlebars mean that I’m able thread through tighter spaces between cars.
There’s a lot of chrome going on.
I go downhill very fast.
She’s not quite theft worthy, although she is cool and well, probably actually expensive now.
I now have a guest bike that does not require special skill to operate.
As to Jay’s bike commuting to GW/shoes comment below:
1 [facetiousness] Well, the ladies, they love the spandex, ya know what I'm sayin? [/facetiousness] Personally, I just don’t really care; so someone gets offended that I commute by bike and dress for it – big deal. However, in the interest of civility and not wishing to inflict any kind of emotional distress upon even the unknown phobic, I often bring (or wear, depending on the heat) a very light set of nylon knee length hiking shorts, plus a light wool sweater (super breathable) for the cold cold lecture rooms. Both roll up into very light compact bundles I can easily fit in a daybag or my larger courier bag. Add to that a light cap to deal with helmet-hair and you’re all set for yet another scintillating Real Property lecture.
I don't really have to change, even in this humid heat, because the spandex dries so quickly while riding. A spandex shirt (loose options are available) and bike shorts will be dry within a few minutes unless you trap perspiration under something like a backpack or a cotton shirt/over-shorts.
Most commuters have a bagable (and waterproof) system that has 1) far-end clothing, 2) tools, 3) personal essentials, 4) extra space for trip-specific stuff. There’s a lot of advice out there: panniers, courier bags, backpacks, change, no change, etc. Basically the thing to do is just experiment with different configurations and see what works for you.
For general bicycle commuting tips I totally recommend browsing through this guy’s blog.
As to shoes/pedals, you have several options.
1 - get "mountain bike" "clipless" spd shoes. The main difference is less flex, perhaps a tad warmer (though you can get well vented shoes) *and* regular rubber treads that surround the cleat, enabling you to walk normally enough in the shoe. You can even get SPD sandals.
2 - get a different pedal system (which you may need to anyway if you were considering shifting to MTB SPD shoes).
2a - clips and no-clips flat pedals in one: Performance Bikes has a nice "campus" pedal - spd clip on one side, flat pedal on the other.
2b - flat pedals and "power grips" : ride regular pedals, your fav shoe (or sandal, sometimes, depending) and use the power grip to secure your foot in place. I like power grips – they give you some ‘lifting’ stroke and keep your feet in place during any maneuvers, like hopping the bike. Only big problem is the dangle factor – when dangling they can snag stuff. This is different from:
2c – toe-clips and straps: I hate toe clips. Sorta. You have to have the right pedals, toe clips, straps, and shoes (easy to slide out) to make them work without being kinda dangerous because of a) difficult foot extraction and b) the aforementioned dangle. Of all these options, I like them least.
2d – Dimension makes an odd thing – a kind of toe-clip adapter you can put on clipless pedals to wear your regular shoes with. NO idea how it works, and no desire to try it.
2e – flat pedals. Nothing keeping your feet on, but you can wear any shoe that grips, including most athletic shoes. Watch out for wide heeled sneakers (some running shoes) scraping the cranks. It’ll act like a mini brake.