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-   -   Newbie Needs Advice (http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=586)

firemaplegirl 10-31-2006 10:45 PM

Newbie Needs Advice
Hi Everyone,

I'd like to make the transition to bicycle commuting. I'd thought I'd start by riding the ~1.5 miles to the park and ride on the days that I go downtown. It's a fully paved route with a few small inclines. Eventually I'd like to work up to riding the 8 miles to Beaverton that I currently do by car. I'm extremely out of shape, so I'm sure this will take some time.

I have an mountain bike from the 90s that I pulled out to start with. The tires are completely shot. The back brake has some issues. I worked some WD-40 into it and adjusted the cable. It's better, but still rather stiff.

First, am I crazy for trying to do this, especially at this time of year?

If I'm not bonkers,
  • What kind of tires should I look at? What can I expect as far as cost?
  • Where should I go to buy them? I have a lot to learn, and I'd like to work with a local shop that's willing to educate it's customers. I'd prefer not to be eschewed or condesended to because I'm a N00b.
  • How concerned should I be about the back brake? The front brake works very smoothly.
  • I routinely carry 15-20 lbs. Will I be okay for the short distance just using my backpack?

Any other tips/advice is also welcome.

Thanks for your help!


monsieurcris 11-01-2006 07:14 AM

First off, no I do not think you are nuts for trying this now. Itll be more difficult to get motivated in the morning, but that is all. Especially if you can make the short milage this winter and work into more miles this spring.

Tires: get some good commuting tires. Theyll be more or less the same width as your tires now but without knobbys on them. Theyll make your ride smoother and easier. Price- at least 20 dollars each, if not more depending on what you get. If youre planning on using them a while then some that are more expensive are worth it in my opinion because theyll last longer and provide more flat protection. It seems like a lot but theyll last a while and compared to filling your car with gas...

Try out a lot of shops, see who you like. There is a thread on here (dig around- its a little older) titled something like "City Bikes" in which people talk about which shops they like and dislike. Right off the bat though RiverCity in Portland is big, friendly, and will have a variety of everything you need so you wont have to search in a bunch of different shops. Stop a biker at the store near where you live and ask them where they go- theyll probably know local places.

Brakes- Get them looked over. Most likely its an easy fix for relatively cheap, but when youre not the most confident on a bike having brakes that function correctly will put you more at ease.

Weight- Get a rack put on the back of your bike and a pannier to put your stuff in (if you have the money). Itll be more comfy. otherwise its up you you whether you want to carry all that weight on your back. Try it out and see how you feel. If your shoulders and back get tired youll know what you need to do.

GET A LOCK as well. Nothing will discourage you more than getting your bike stolen.

Good luck and welcome!

Climber 11-01-2006 05:51 PM

Yeah, you're crazy... wild and crazy. Six months from now you'll be sporting that insanely ecstatic grin that's the Portland Winter Bike Commuters' Badge of Honor. You'll be Fit Fantastic Fire Maple Girl. You'll enjoy the Freedom of the Road, and be a mentor to Noobs.

Seriously, you are making a good choice. MonsieurCris is right, the toughest times will be in the dark cold mornings. Don't let that defeat you. There are many others of us out there, and we're even crazier than you!

I would echo all MonsieurCris's advice and add: get good lights, front and rear. And rain riding apparel.

Don't get discouraged if you're sore at first. You'll find yourself getting stronger over time, with more endurance than you ever thought you had. Be patient, listen to your body, but also occasionally challenge yourself.

As for bike shops, I'm partial to Bike Gallery (Hollywood). Their technicians are knowledgeable and friendly. River City is also good. Both shops will help you learn how to fix a flat.

Please post again after you've started riding to work.



Rixtir 11-01-2006 05:59 PM

I've had good experiences at both Bike Gallery and River City. But by far the best service I've had has been at Bike Central.

mizake 11-02-2006 10:31 AM

Bike Central
I second the nomination for Bike Central. That's where I went to get geared up when I first moved to Portland. They're on 113 SW Naito Pkwy. Jen will help you find the gear you'll need, and Dean is the best mechanic in town.

worldsafari 11-02-2006 08:39 PM

good times...
I'm also new to the commuiting thing. I've been doing it 6 miles round trip, 5 days a week for the last two months. I think your going to be super happy about your choice to commute by bike. I havent really been concerned about riding this winter, but at the same time will be really proud of myself to get through the winter on the bike. I'm hoping by next spring that I'll not be so winded on some of the inclines on the ride home. I would agree with the above mentioned and recommend lights for sure. Maybe even one for your helmet as well. I dont have one yet, although I noticed the other day while driving my car at how well they work up there for the cyclist. Especially for cars that are at intersections with cars parked on the side of the streets, it just makes you more visible since the car driver doesnt have the oppurtunity to see your bike light by the car obstruction. Man thats was winded, I should have said to just try and cross Stark @30th Street. Anyways I think you should go for it, and you too can have a huge smile on your face like I did today while riding in the rain. Ciao

CapnSnarls 11-03-2006 08:34 AM


Originally Posted by Climber (Post 2386)
Yeah, you're crazy... wild and crazy. Six months from now you'll be sporting that insanely ecstatic grin that's the Portland Winter Bike Commuters' Badge of Honor.

That's right, once you get the right gear you'll be very happy about the decision to bike commute. This morning on my ride in it suddenly started to rain pretty hard and I soon found myself grinning from ear to ear. You won't be able to help but feel invincible!

I've had very good experiences with River City, City Bikes, and the Bike Gallery on Woodstock. If you find yourself talking to an elitist or grumpy bike shop person just walk away, there are plenty of great people waiting to answer your questions and convert you into a full-time bike commuter.

It has taken me many months to work up to riding 5 days a week. At first I'd ride 2 or 3 days in a row then my muscles would start feeling like they needed a break so I listened to my body and took the bus or drove for a day or two.

In addition to local bike shops make full use of this forum, as well as bikeforums.net

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