A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cycle Commute Update

It's been a couple of weeks since I began bicycle commuting. I'm biking to work about 80% of the time now. The other 20% finds me on call. Because of the emergency nature of being on call, I elect not to bike it to work those days. I take call at two separate hospitals, and the distance between is close to fifteen miles of urban traffic.

When biking it, I leave home about a quarter hour earlier, not because it takes more time to get to work, but because I do not want any complaints if I am late. I lock my commuter bike up in the stairwell of the parking garage while it is still dark outside, and cross the skywalk into the hospital. My bike gives me one of the best parking places there. I shower off the sweat and road grime in the locker room prior to donning my scrubs.

Pedaling home through some of the congested downtown area, it is difficult to avoid riding on the sidewalk against traffic. The streets are no longer clear in the afternoon. Automobiles are parked on both sides ready to door me unexpectedly, squeeze me in between each other, or turn in front of me without warning. On some of these old narrow streets, taking a lane is simply not an option. Automobiles have problems getting through. Mixing with traffic where the other guys are already having fender benders is a recipe for disaster. I go slow when I ride the sidewalk, no faster than a pedestrian, but I still feel like I need a bell on my handlebars, and I still feel guilty for doing it.

Louisiana is in the middle of Summer and approaching huricaine season, so the humidity and heat is a challenge. I refuse to buy biker shorts, let alone a jersey, prefering a pair of cotton gym shorts and a T-shirt. Thus far, this choice has worked well. As it gets colder, I will switch to sweats.

I stuck a Copenhagnen Cycle Chic "Style Over Speed" sticker on my top tube. It makes me smile. This bike and my riding it to work is the antithesis of style. It's an out of date, discarded and rebuilt mountain bike, about as stylish as Smith & Wesson Model 10 at a Heckler & Koch Convention. Still, I guess it has a style in it's own way, like an upraised finger towards the attempts by the bike industry to cash in on the increase in bike commuting.

Which brings up another issue........ It's strange that not one bicyle manufacturer has marketed a bike specifically for the US commuter. It makes me wonder just what that bike would look like if it appeared on the market. Would it be a bomb proof single speed? Geared? Similar to a road bike, or more like a mountain bike? Personally, I think that the commuter bike I built is about perfect for my needs.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still feel like I need a bell on my handlebars

that's because you do. given that bikers get closer up to pedestrians than cars do no matter where or how we ride, and given that bikes can sneak up on pedestrians much more easily than noisy cars, bikes need bells far more often than cars need horns.

if you'd feel weird about driving a car without a horn, you should feel doubly weird about riding a bike without a bell. get one.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

about commuters... looking at Breezer Bikes' website makes me wish i had a dealer nearby so i could get my hands on their wares. some of their "town bikes" line comes fairly close to my ideal commuter bike, by the looks of the ad copy. of course, i can carry my bike into the office and leave it right next to my cubicle, so no theft risk.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Sevesteen said...

It would be aluminum, with curved tubing, internal 7 speed hub, racks and fenders front and rear. 3 sizes. Special "commuter pedals" (Wellgo BMX, but painted to match the bike). Built-in lighting system, using a special proprietary handlebar with integrated switches and cycle computer. Matching panniers available as an accessory.

...and it would cost $700.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I refused to buy cycling shorts for a long time, and finally got a pair on sale for 15 bucks. I don't wear them all the time, but man, when its really hot out they are fantastic, and I probably don't even get the full benefit, since I wear them under other shorts.

Also, I dunno about no bikes being marketed to the commuter... Just to name one, the Trek Portland is exactly that. Not that it necessarily meets everyone's commuting demands/ideals, but it is marketed as such.

5:58 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Breezer has "Range Bikes"?

No doubt the rack has straps fitted for a standard ammo can, and the bike has a rifle scabbard.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Mulliga said...

Neat post, Xavier. I've foud that cyclocommuting is kinda tough if your destination doesn't have a shower - I usually show up to school all sweaty from just a 15-minute ride.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


There's a guy who has a pretty decent blog about commuting by bike, who lives just north of me. Been reading him for awhile, thought you might dig his work.



9:03 PM  
Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

"...about as stylish as Smith & Wesson Model 10 at a Heckler & Koch Convention."

And I'd gather that, should you find yourself at an H&K convention, you'd sport that Smith with a grin;)


6:06 AM  
Blogger zeeke42 said...

Kona markets the Smoke as an urban commuter. It actually comes from the factory with fenders and a bell. I almost bought one, but there wasn't a dealer near me and I decided I wanted an aluminum frame.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Keith Walker said...

Maybe you've already posted about this and I have missed it. But when you ride to work dressed as you are, what and where do you carry?

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Terry said...

I'm curious. I assume you ride armed. What type of holster/handgun rig are you using? I've thought about bike commuting several times, but one thing that makes me pause is a fear that the IWB holster I wear daily, which has never dumped my gun, would do exactly that, with me bent over and my hips moving with the pedaling. I assume I'd need to find one with more positive retention, but that increases bulk and decreases concealability. I've also noticed that when I bend way over, the butt tends to print, so I'm assuming that it would be pretty obvious while bent over pedaling. I'm curious what your results have been so far. Maybe it might make a good separate post, Gun/Holster combos for the shorts-wearing bicycle commuter?

12:43 PM  
Anonymous affe said...

"Still, I guess it has a style in it's own way, like an upraised finger towards the attempts by the bike industry to cash in on the increase in bike commuting."

Yeah, big bike, like big gun, is right up there with big oil. Sheesh. I'm GLAD they find a trend to latch onto once a decade. Otherwise you'd be left with nothing but poorly assembled Walmart specials and boutique builders of $5K frames.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

On what I wear and carry, I am still adjusting towards an optimal system. I wear a t-shirt and cotton gym shorts. I change into scrubs at work. I carry other stuff in a gym bag in the basket.

On carry, I am still trying different systems. I am leaning towards a belly band with a poymer piece that will have a hard chromed slide. The KelTec P32 will likely have it's slide hard chromed soon for this purpose. I am also considering pocket carry with a zippered pocket. Not ideal i know, but better than nothing.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Terry said...

I agree with your comment on "Not ideal, but better than nothing". A .32 in the hand is always better than the 1911 back in the gun safe. I've considered trying to rig some sort of small holster hidden inside a bag in the frame of the bike, but I don't like having the gun off my body (too easy to forget it's there and walk off with the gun still on the bike). I'd be interested in the different carry options you've tried, and what you thought were their pros and cons. I really do think it'd make a good future post.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just purchased one of these. Have read some great reviews on them



12:43 PM  

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