Louisville Wheelmen Newsletter -- March-April 1995

The Day's a Beaut -- Commute!

by Don Williams


OK, so I only got in 20 days of bicycle commuting in 1994, and two of those days were during that great weather after Christmas. It was necessary, after all, to try out the possible routes from the new homestead and they are fabulous!

I'm here to tell you, anyone can commute. There are few tricks to learn, it's great fun and a great stress buster.

The League of American Bicyclists has a handy Bike to Work guide with all the inside scoop. (I have copies). It's common sense stuff. If you ride hard enough during your commute, business wear should be at the office or rolled in your panniers or messenger bag for the journey. If showers aren't available, generous doses of rubbing alcohol makes for an acceptable substitute. Applied to key areas, alcohol kills odor causing bacteria, (WOW! that spot was a little tender). Regardless, it's a good idea to allow time for cool down before getting fully dressed.

Personally, I try to leave several shirts and a pair of shoes at my desk during prime commuting weather, (spring and fall) and the dirty laundry comes home once a week when it's necessary to drive.

Until my commute quadrupled in length, I was able to get along on alkaline powered lighting for the evening ride home, but now that has changed. Rechargeable is the way to go and it doesn't have to cost a bundle.

Starting at $99 bucks, a complete lighting system can give front light equal to a motorcycle if necessary. I have opted for the cheaper route, however, and ride to an acceptable level of light produced by rechargeable NiCads and an inexpensive plug-in recharger from Radio Shack, an upgrade for less than 20 bucks. Added on to almost any bike light, the charge should last for up to two hours or so, and re-juices overnight. Omni-directional leg wraps and a Vistalite rear strobe are necessities to protect your rear (literally).

To provide entertainment enroute I find that digital auto dashboards are providing great pleasure for the bicycle commuter. While stopped at a traffic light, a cyclist can easily tell what radio station the motorist is enjoying, and maybe even the inside temperature of the auto. In cool weather, try shivering uncontrollably where you can be seen in the driver's mirror and see if the motorist cranks up the heater a notch or two. Or, at the risk of getting shot, if the auto's fuel gauge is low, tap on the driver's window, ask if the low level has been noticed, perhaps inquire if gasoline is still 10 cents more per gallon in Jefferson County than elsewhere, then pedal off on your merry non-polluting way to work.

On my Christmas commuting shopping list for next year, I want to see reflective gloves, palms and backs, so when hand signals are necessary, discourteous motorists will understand exactly what I'm saying. Don't get me wrong, one-finger salutes achieve nothing, especially where it's one-on-one bike to auto, but directionals, clenched fists, two hands up in panic and the like, would be more effective if clearly visible.

National Bike-to-Work Day comes up in May, guaranteed no rain, no wind, just a great day to cycle to work.

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