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Need Inspiration for Bike to Work Day? REI's Bike-to-Work Regulars Share Their Stories

Friday is National Bike to Work Day. Will you be riding?

Lots of REI staffers routinely ride to work, so I asked around to see if anyone had stories to tell. It turns out they did:

• Brian Foley, REI headquarters, south of Seattle.

His commute: 18 miles one-way, 2-3 times a week.

Longest commute all-time: 80 miles round-trip.

Memorable commute: “My route includes a steep 12% corkscrew road. When I ride downhill I usually try and get in front of cars because I can ride down this quarter-mile of road faster than cars.

“One day I got in front of a sports car and made my way down the road pretty fast. At the stoplight near the bottom of the road, the sports car driver rolls down his window. I thought he was going to yell at me for being on the road at all, but he proceeds to say, ‘Dude, that was awesome. I’ll follow you down that road anytime!’ Definitely put a smile on my face.”

bike-work-pat-weiler

Pat Weiler zooms off at the start of his 22-mile ride home. (Photo: T.D. Wood)

• Pat Weiler, REI headquarters.

His commute: 22 miles one-way, 3-4 days a week.

Why he commutes via bike: “Love the bike, it keeps me alive, it’s good for the planet and I get to eat as much as I like.”

Best part of commuting: “Getting outside, enjoying a tailwind.”

Memorable misadventure:  "One day on the way to work I got hit by a car that passed me and suddenly turned right. The same thing happened on my way home. I was a bit scraped and bruised, but I was able to keep riding both times."

Longest commute all-time: “Years ago I commuted by bike to my summer job in April and back home in October—350 miles each way. I took 2 days for each leg.”

bike-work-dan-g

Dan Gilbert (white shirt) and a coworker prep for their commute. (Photo: T.D. Wood)

• Dan Gilbert, REI headquarters.

His commute: 18 miles one-way, 2-3 days a week.

Why he commutes via bike, despite a 12% uphill grade on the ride home: “It’s great to be able to combine a transportation need with something you love and that keeps you healthy.”

Unexpected benefit: “I have a collection of tools I have found along the road over the years: screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, and a nice Wusthof kitchen knife.”

• Michael Diffoot, commuter program manager at REI Boulder, Colo.

His commute: 20 miles one-way, from Westminster to Boulder, 4-5 days a week.

Why he commutes via bike: “I started biking as part of my rehab for an ACL surgery a couple of years ago. It began as rehab for the knee and became more of a rehab for the soul.

“My wife and I both work for REI; she is at the Westminster store. Going down to one car has been awesome for our finances and my health. The joy I get from riding was contagious enough that she has begun commuting to her store. We hope to go to no car use for commuting in the next year.”

Best part of commuting: “The views. Nothing like riding towards the Rockies every day. It’s pretty hard to beat.”

Commuting stats: “I track the number of trips and total mileage by each coworker at Boulder. As a store, from Jan. 1 through April 30 this year, we have covered 283 round-trips and 2,938.4 miles. That is the equivalent of .43 of a lap around the moon. We have also kept 149.93 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere."

Memorable commute: “On National Bike to Work Day our store has a tradition of meeting in Boulder and biking to breakfast stations around town. Last year I biked 22 miles to meet coworkers. Then we biked about 5-10 miles around town getting grub, eventually going to work for our shifts that afternoon. Then I finally biked the 20 miles home. All in all, a 50-mile day with good people. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

bike-work-trio

Afternoon rush hour on the REI campus. (Photo: T.D. Wood)

• Doug Peterson, REI headquarters.

His commute: 6 miles one-way (“I’m a lightweight,” he says), 5 days a week. Now, I know Doug, and trust me, he’s no lightweight. He'd commute in a typhoon. That’s him in the photo to the left. “There are basically 2 reasons why I don’t ride,” he says. “If it’s snowing I take the bus.  When I’m getting ready for a backpacking trip, I walk.”

How often he rides: “If you count commuting as 10 rides, I probably average 14 rides a week. I run many of my errands by bike: grocery shopping, hardware store runs, or grabbing a take-out dinner. I’ve ridden to a lot of my kids' school events, and I especially like to ride when I go to a party or out to a nightclub.”

Strangest occurrence: “I broke up a purse snatching. Two women were on the shoulder of the road, both pulling on a purse. The shorter woman shouted, ‘Help me,’ so I stopped. They both claimed it was their purse, so I grabbed it, too. I said, ‘Let’s look in the wallet and see whose picture is on the driver’s license.’ The taller woman let go, tried to punch the shorter woman, and took off. The shorter woman called the cops. I later learned the taller women got caught. “

• Isaac Pattis, REI headquarters.

His commute: 27 miles one-way, 3 times a week.

Why he commutes via bike: “Cross-training for mountain biking.” That's Isaac in the photo to the right, catching a little air on his MTB.

Best/worst part of commuting “Best: the friendships. Worst: IT bands, the thin, finicky muscles that run down the outside of your quadriceps. They’re the first to act up when a body is fatigued.”

Strangest occurrence: “I hit a duck in a puddle in the dark. I just glanced it, and it was fine. It was in the middle of a sidewalk bridge. What a silly duck, sitting in a puddle on a bridge.”

• Steve Gluckman, Director of Design and Development for Novara Bikes, REI HQ.

His commute: 20 miles one-way, 5 days a week; in winter’s darkest months he rides in but catches a vanpool home in the afternoon.

Why he commutes via bike: ”I started bike commuting in 1974, except back then we just called it riding to school. I had so much fun I never stopped.”

Why he keeps riding: “Like a metronome, pedaling a bike every day synchronizes my mind, body and spirit.”

• Towe Royal, REI Bloomington, Minn.

Her commute: Just under 1 mile, usually 5 days a week.

Why she commutes via bike: “It takes me about 3 minutes to bike to work and 7 to drive my car there. I know it is a short ride but my carbon footprint matters to me.”

Memorable commute: “A great thing about a short commute is I can ride in cold weather really bundled up without overheating. Did I mention I live in Minnesota? Once we had so much snow I had to stable my bike and strap on skis. Next year I may have to invest in a Surly Pugsley." (Note: REI carries fat-tire winter bikes such as the Pugsley in season.)

• Kristen Lloyd, REI headquarters.

Her commute: 30 miles one-way, 3-4 days a week. That's her in the photo to the right.

Why she commutes via bike: “It’s a great way to keep my legs, heart and lungs in shape, and it just makes me feel good.”

Longest commute all-time: 30 miles one-way. “Thirty miles is enough.”

Best part of commuting: “Waterfront rides in the morning."

• Jamie Gaskill-Fox, REI Fort Collins, Colo.

Her commute: 5 miles one-way, 2-3 days a week when the weather is good. She tips her helmet to hardy commuting coworker Corwin Sheahan. "My best-ever commute was riding through 6” of snow in a blizzard,” he says.

Memorable commute: "I was riding to work at 5:30 a.m. thinking about how cool it would be to see some wildlife on the paved bike trail that morning. I came around a corner and nearly ran into a bear! Fires were burning just outside of town at that time, and the bear came into town trying to get away."

bike-work-john-beck

John Beck pauses during an ascent of Colorado's Pike Peak.

• John Beck, REI Colorado Springs.

His commute: “Dodging deer, rabbits and cars, it's 11 miles of fun from my home to our store in Colorado Springs.”

Years as a bike commuter: 24.

Why he commutes via bike: “Spinning the pedals clears my mind and energizes me for the day ahead. The changing views of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods Park are priceless.”      

• Kevin Myette, REI HQ.

His commute: 23 miles in, 25 miles home, 5 days a week (2-3 in winter). That's Kev in the photo to the right.

Best part of commuting: “Time to solve a complex problem while deep in thought. My ride is often the best part of my day, plus I get to eat a big fat breakfast burrito at least once a week.”

Memorable misadventure: “Hit by a car while riding an REI prototype bicycle. Somersault over hood. I survived. Bicycle didn't.”

Longest commute all-time: “Seattle to Portland, 200 miles in a day, for meetings on sustainability. I’ve done it twice. I just did the last one a few weeks ago on Earth Day. I think I am done.”

bike-work-francisco-avallana

Francisco Avellana riding for fun in the Front Range high country near Frisco, Colo.

• Francisco Avellana, REI Denver.

His commute: 4 miles one-way, usually 5 days a week. “It's not the longest commute, but I enjoy it every day. I miss it when I don’t ride for a couple of days.”

Why he commutes via bike: “Well…

  • I get to prepare for work.
  • I get to decompress after work
  • I get to get my adrenaline pumping riding my 700x23 tires on snow-packed roads.
  • I get to get my adrenaline pumping riding my 700x23 tires on traffic-filled, pothole-laden roads.
  • I get to work on my tan.
  • I get to smell fresh cut grass, barbeques and lilac.
  • I get to buy lemonade from neighborhood kids.
  • I get to smile when crossing over a highway with 3 lanes of stop-and-go traffic.
  • I get to see great sunrises and sunsets.
  • I get to appreciate the nuances of different neighborhood streets.
  • I get to smell rain approaching.
  • I get to hear the quiet city after a late spring snow storm.
  • I get to ride home under the light of a full moon.
  • I get to stop for ice cream on the way home.
  • I get to answer the question “Did you ride in today?” when it snows or rains.
  • I never have to worry about a parking space.
  • I am doing my part to make the world more eco-friendly.
  • I get to wave to families with kids on bikes as I go past.
  • It just makes me feel damn good.

Posted on at 10:30 AM

Tagged: Bike Commuting & Touring, Bike to Work Day and Cycling

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Tolbert

I wish you listed their gear on each rider's story. I am interested in a road/touring bike and currently have a mountain bike.

My commute would be 18 miles one-way and half of it around the DFW access road. I'm in Texas so when summer really rolls in a bike commute can be brutal.

Great article!

Thanks,
Tolbert Pitman

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dpdpdp Staff Member

My name is Doug Peterson and I am one of the commuters that were profiled in this piece. Here is my basic gear list:

Panniers – I prefer panniers over a backpack so I can avoid having a sweaty back in the summer. In addition, panniers keep the weight of carried gear low on my bike which increases stability. I use Ortlieb Backroller panniers.

2 plastic tire levers

Spare tube – I use Slime tubes because if I get a small puncture, my tire will usually stay somewhat inflated until I get home and it’s always easier to fix a flat at home.

Patch kit – I have had days with multiple flats.

Pump

Lock – I always carry a lock in case I need to stop at a store on the way home. I use a Kryptonite U lock.

Headlight – I run a high output rechargeable headlight at night and use the flash mode for daytime visibility. I use a Cygolite ExpiliOn 600. I also keep a small blinky light on my handle bars as a “to be seen” light in case I forget to charge my primary light.

Taillights – I run 2 rechargeable taillights, one on my seat post and one on my rear rack. In the long run, rechargeables are much less expensive than lights that use disposable batteries. I use the Cygolite Hotshot and the Serfas Thunderbolt.

Side light – From personal experience and comments from other commuters, I believe the most common way a commuter gets hit by a car is by getting broadsided, so now I put a light in my spokes. I use the Nite Ize SpokeLit.

Shoe covers – Nothing makes me feel more miserable on a commute than cold wet feet. I use the Sugoi Resistor Bike Booties. They’re not waterproof, but they are very water resistant.

Gloves – I always carry a spare pair so I can start each commute with dry gloves. Cold wet hands are almost bad as cold wet feet.

Eye protection – When I look at how dirty my glasses are after a ride, I am so glad I protected them. I use Native Eyewear Dash with interchangeable lenses. They are designed with vents so that they don’t fog up. I use clear lenses in the dark and dark lenses when it’s sunny.

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T.D. Wood Staff Member

Great reply by Doug. Nice job.


Tolbert, you might also find these 2 items helpful:


REI's bike commuting checklist:


http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/cycling-commuting-checklist.html


REI's Expert Advice article on How to Choose Commuter Bike Gear:


http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/commuter-bike-gear.html


Enjoy the ride.

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