KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Closing 2012

I've been spending a lot of time on the bicycle commuting the last couple of years. Since my recent job change my commute has gone from 3 miles to 11 miles each way. I found a great trail that gives me some traffic-free time. In Washington, DC such a trail is quite a boon. I read that we're one of the 2 or 3 worst areas for traffic in the US. There are lots of narrow one-way streets with cars parked on both sides. During rush-hour there are lots of delivery trucks double-parked and many buses plying the roadways. We have had some very notorious traffic accidents between buses and pedestrians. It's dangerous out there.

At the new job I am a contractor for a large government agency. I don't have my own office or even a desk of my own. I share a desk and a phone. I have found a place to park the bike in basement garage. I found a nice place to shower, but I have to keep clothes and shower materials at my desk.

For about a month I rode both ways 4 days a week. Since then that schedule has tapered quite a bit. I now ride round-trip 1 day a week. For a while I was taking the bike on the metro and riding home with some frequency. They allow bicycles on the metro prior to 7am.

I'm a little wary of the bike trail. It's near the metro and Amtrak tracks but isolated from the world at large. My bike shop scared me with stories of muggings of some of their employees. I haven't experienced that but it is certainly a possibility. There is one super steep hill on Hawaii Avenue. Shortly after that I get on the Metropolitan Branch trail. The trail is about 5 miles long. It ends about 10 blocks from my office.

I have finally built up two really good commuting machines: I'm satisfied with my Surly Long Haul Trucker now. I also have a Surly Troll which is just about right. The LHT has drop handlebars, 24 speeds, a steel porteur rack, and big fat 700 X 52 tires with fenders. The frame is a little small. It is 56cm and I'd rather have 58. I've worked around it with a long stem and an adjustable seatpost that adjustable forward and aft. I just put 175mm crankset on it and it is perfectly comfortable now.

The Troll I've set up with Big Apple tires/fenders, Rohloff 14 speed hub gears, a front SON dynamo wheel. Both bikes have hub dynamos, LED lights that run on the generator, very large saddlebags, a brooks saddle and a front rack. The only thing I want to change at this point is the handlebars on the Troll. Currently it has Avenir Brahma bars that are probably 20 years old and curve up like mountain bike barends but in all one piece. The problem is I can't get my Rohloff shifter around the curve so I have to change my hand position away from the brakes to shift.