Adventures in Cycling Part II

Starting with last week and continuing over the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing a weekly post on cycling. It’s fun, it’s great exercise, it’s good for the planet, and it’s a pretty darned affordable way to get around. Now that the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer, I’ll be doing even more commuting by bike. Today’s post is going to focus on the basic gear.

Not surprisingly, the first thing is, a bike! While I was looking for a bike, I admired all the cute cruisers (wide seats, upright posture, fat tires, cheap price tag) and the fancy road bikes (super light weight, fast, ultra modern looking, and waaay out of my budget), but settled on a middle of the line commuter bike, the Specialized Vita, to be exact. Fairly light weight, skinny tires, not too many gears to futz with, and toe loops to help for speed. Plus, she’s got a pretty red paint job. I call her Cherie.

Once you’ve got the wheels, some basic equipment is needed as well, beginning with a well-fitting helmet. I admit I don’t wear it when I’m running errands around my neighborhood, where the traffic is slow and there’s nice bike lanes, but when I’m out on an street without a designated lane for me or anywhere the speed limit’s over 35, the helmet goes on. One thing I just learned is that it needs to be replaced after every crash: they’re like an airbag.

A good lock is also pretty important. Since bike theft is common in my area, I use a two-lock system: a cord to go through the bike stand my front tire and around my frame, and a u-lock to connect my back wheel to the frame. It’s not as complicated as it sounds and I like knowing my main form of transportation is secure.

Next are lights, front and back, if you’re ever going to be riding during dusk or dark. Rarely do I need them to see thanks to streetlights and traffic, but they definitely make me way more visible. Mine are LED, with different settings (steady vs. flashing), cost under $20 and have lasted me over 3 years now.

Finally, for the commuter or errand runner, it’s kind of important to have something to hold your stuff. While I really admire fancy panniers or saddlebags, they start at $50 apiece, so I went with a basic rear mounted basket. The cool thing is it’s about the size and shape of a grocery basket, slides off easily and has a handle, so I can take it with me while running errands.

Next week: what to wear. I hope y’all are as excited as I am!

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