It’s been a while since I had an honest to goodness bike commute. Working at home has its perks for sure, but I have missed getting out regularly on the bike to crank my way to work. Recently my long term contract came to an end and I was on the hunt for more work. I got a lead on a short term contract up by the airport that had the potential to expand into 2014.
When I evaluated the opportunity one of the things that came to mind was that it looked like it would be a pretty nice bike commute. I live very close to the Galloping Goose Trail and it connects to the Lochside Trail which runs north up the Saanich Peninsula between Victoria and Sidney. That meant a flat mostly car-free ride 25kms or so each way through some pretty countryside. Even better the route consists of paved sections and well as hard packed dirt and gravel. I like a bit of variety.
Having sold all my performance road bikes the most appropriate rig I own is my Surly LHT. It has fenders and can carry some gear easily. I installed a B&M dyno light and Shimano dynohub to provide considerate 24/7 lighting without thinking about charging batteries.
For my initial commutes I left the Schwalbe 26 x 2.15″ Big Apple tires on the LHT. They are very comfy and surefooted on the various surfaces I have to cover [pavement, gravel, dirt/mud and wooden bridges], but they are not fast tires. Eventually I decided it was worthwhile investing in some performance rubber and scored a set of Grand Bois 26 x 1.75″ tires from The Fairfield Bicycle Shop.
My fastest commute on the Big Apples was 67mins and with the Grand Bois I got my time down to 59mins without feeling that I had to work as hard. A 12% speed increase overnight was nice and mentally a sub-1hr commute seems like it is far easier to fit into my day. Although the 1.75″ tires aren’t as comfortable on the roughest surfaces as the Big Apples for the most part they provide a really pleasant ride with lots of traction.
The September weather has been lovely this year. For the most part we’ve had lots of sun and warm temperatures. The end of the month saw some rain and cooler temperatures, but I got to ride most of the days I wanted to. My weekly schedule has been to ride my bicycle to work 2 days, ride my motorcycle 2 days and work at home 1 day. That gives me 4 hours and 100kms of commuter biking per week with enough flexibility to pick the best days to ride.
As we get into winter here on Vancouver Island I will have to adapt my clothing to deal with wetter and cooler weather. I’m not stoked to ride in persistent rain, but I don’t mind being a little damp. I also don’t mind taking some chances – particularly when the rain will be on my ride home. With a warm shower, some dry clothes and a hot cup of tea waiting for me – getting soaked isn’t such a big deal then as it is on the way to work in the morning. I’m putting all my wool rando clothing to good use!
The days I ride my bike I am a bit short on free time due to the 2hrs on the bike, but it’s time well spent. I feel better and I thoroughly enjoy that part of my day so I’m happy to give up something else. I’m not sure how long this contract will run for, but while it does I’m going relish each bike commute. 🙂
BTW – I’m too busy time-trialling into work in the morning to get good photos so all, but one of the Lochside Trail photos are from other rides.