Author Topic: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)  (Read 7378 times)

cosmie

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Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« on: February 24, 2012, 10:24:44 PM »
I'd like to get into biking, but I have a problem: I haven't touched a bike in years, literally about 8-10 years.

A little background:
I'm a full time student, as well as employed almost full time (30 hrs/week) by the university I go to. That same university rents out commuter bicycles for $20/semester (this model, specifically). I rented one this semester to ride around campus, as the campus is spread across 1 nautical mile (2.5 miles if you take into account elevation changes on the ground route), and taking 45 minutes - an hour to walk from one end of campus (where I work) to the exact opposite (where classes are) 3 or 4 times a day became unacceptable. I currently leave this bike locked up in the building I work at, as I can't fit it in my car to bring home; the brakes don't allow enough clearance to take the front tire off unless you completely release the brake cable with a hex tool.

Taking major roads, I live 11 miles from where I go to school/work. Taking a slightly more bike-friendly route, that becomes 13 miles. By next school year, I'd like to be to the point where I can bike this. Right now though, I don't think I could do it, physically (at least not make the commute and last through the day).
I also live 3-4 miles from a public bus route that would take me directly to campus. An unlimited-ride bus pass would cost $50/semester, which has free (and often empty) bus racks. So I could commute with the bike and bus for $70/semester, or $18/month. A vehicle's parking permit alone runs $80/semester, so without even taking into account gas, I'd be breaking even just on parking. Both routes would take about the same time: 45 - 60 min bike ride, or 15 minute bike ride + 35 minute bus ride.

I've pretty much decided on the combined biking/public transport route to begin with, but have several questions related to starting out biking.

1. Once a week, I take my rented bike back to the recreation center I rent it from, where they perform maintenance on it for free. Oiling the chain, adjusting brakes, etc. I haven't blown a tire or anything, but I do know they charge out for expendables if you bring it in for that type of thing. I'd like to begin doing all the maintenance and stuff myself, so that I can learn all of that before i purchase my own bike. Where should I start with this?

2. I live in Knoxville, TN, right outside of the Smoky Mountains. The terrain here is terribly hilly. As well, we're a melting pot for a bunch of atmospheric phenomena (thanks, mountains!), and have extremely unpredictable weather. Sunny and 80F when you wake up, 40F, windy, and raining by the time you finish getting dressed for the day. How do I prepare myself for this? What special considerations should I make regarding bike decisions (choosing a bike, bike features, where/when/how to ride, etc)? Building the stamina to ride 13 miles in at least 50% hills is going to take a while, and I want to be sure that when I start taking longer rides I'm prepared for the steep hills, sudden slick pavement, etc.

3. Although part of my route takes me on "greenways" and off of main roads, I have to drive on very major roads roughly 25% of the route (either the one to the bus stop, or the full route to campus). The idea of doing this in fine weather makes me weary, the thought of doing it in less-than-perfect conditions makes me want to hyperventilate. I barely feel safe around Tennessee drivers in a car; I don't know how well they'd adapt to bicycle commuters (biking isn't common off of the campus). A lot of people say to "think like a biker", and adjust your route to avoid these major throughfares. The problem with that here is that these roads are generally the only flat areas; for every mile of these roads you avoid, you had .75 miles of hills. What do you guys suggest regarding this?

4. What is the best way to transport the bike between home and school, on the days I can ride it? Even when I drive to school (bad weather, etc), I'd like to have my bike with me to have around campus in case it clears up during the day. My fiance and I currently have two cars; both 2007 Mazda's, one a Mazda3 and one a CX-7 (neither one we paid for, and I only have to cover insurance on one, so the getting-rid-of-a-car stance doesn't matter much at the moment). Neither vehicle is set up with a hitch or a roof rack. Neither have trunks, the Mazda3 is a hatchback and the CX-7 is a crossover (big hatchback). What would be the best/most economical method for transporting the bike? Originally I planned on removing the front tire and stashing the bike in the back, as I'd seen a few people do it. But with my rental, even though the front tire is quick-release, the tires that are on the bike are very wide road slicks and don't clear the brakes. Because of that, I haven't been able to really take the bike away from campus to learn the best bike routes around my neighborhood.

5. Another concern I have, which is secondary to being able to commute: I'm a student in the business school, and quite often I'm required to wear more formal attire (business casual to business formal). I also carry my fairly large laptop (17 inches) everywhere, and have a student's amount of books/notebooks with me. One of my work positions at the university is as a teacher's assistant, so I also have to carry around a classes' worth of graded assignments irregularly. What would be the best equipment to invest in to carry all of this, keeping in mind the hilly terrain and unpredictable weather. I've seen hybrid backpacks, that converted between being a backpack and panniers, and thought they were interesting. But I've never seen anyone use them so don't know how viable they truly are.


Thanks for any advice you can give! As a statistics major focusing on optimization, I physically cringe at the wasted possibilities here, mostly due to my ignorance of bicycling.

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2012, 01:10:54 AM »
I'm a student that bikes to school as well, and I've also had to find a way to carry my laptop and books and my bike. I quickly found that panniers are expensive, and decided to on top of a pannier rack. It works well so far, but because I don't have a rear fender anything I put in the basket gets a little muddy.

Pics of my bike:
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-TopCitT_Iz0/TvZpmQovnoI/AAAAAAAAAH0/cdMbcg6nVPc/s633/2011-12-24+16.05.21.jpg
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-n3kuRHF13c8/TvZowBo8RfI/AAAAAAAAARU/YqjXoekFwig/s633/2011-12-24+16.04.26.jpg

Around Vancouver here, it rains a lot but the weather forecast in the morning is usually pretty reliable. If it says that it'll rain in the afternoon, I pack a pair of rain pants and a rain jacket with me. That keeps my clothes underneath dry. I also strap my rain pants around my right ankle to prevent them from getting caught in the chain. Fenders are also great to have.

Mike Key

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2012, 05:55:03 AM »
My advice, move closer to campus.

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2012, 09:22:30 AM »
My advice, move closer to campus.

It likely costs more to live closer to campus.  But it's something to look in to.
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onehappypanda

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2012, 09:26:14 AM »
I'm a fairly amateur biker but also a student and here are my suggestions:

First of all, is it at all possible for you to move? Because, to be honest, it sounds like you're not in the greatest place for biking. Moving within 5 miles of campus would make your life significantly easier, so if there's any housing in that area I would seriously consider moving to it when you can. Even if it costs more, you could save money in gas, not to mention save yourself a whole lot of time. That said, here are my tips regardless of whether it's possible:

1) Is there a bike co-op or a bike group in town where you can ask questions and get information on fixing your own bike? I live in a not-so-bike-friendly city and the local bike co-op has been a huge help in showing me how to fix my own bike (and letting me use their tools). You could also buddy up with some folks at local bike shops, sometimes they'll show you how to do really basic stuff for free. Maybe the people who tune up your bike weekly would be willing to show you a few things. Alternatively, check your local library or used book store for books on basic bike maintenance.

2) When I bike, I look at the weather report to decide what I should wear. A water-resistant lightweight windbreaker is indispensible- it'll block wind, repel water, and not be too hot. Ideally, get one that you can layer over a coat when it's too cold for just the windbreaker. When in doubt, I always carry mine with me. I also carry gloves like 3/4ths of the year, as I have hands that get freakishly cold. But I'll be honest, I think as you start biking you'll catch on to what you want to wear for what weather conditions pretty quickly. Don't overthink this, you'll learn as you go. As far as the bike goes, if you live in a hilly area you'll want at least a few gears so you can adjust for the hills. Something not too heavy would probably be good. Someone here can probably advise better on tires than I can- I just know that super skinny tires are faster but may not handle slick roads as well, so you might want something in between. Anyone else want to chime in on that?

Also, consider visibility. Lights for both the front and the back are important, so get good ones. Consider reflectors on both your bike and your clothing as well, since you'll be on the roads. Consider the color of your clothes and how easily you'll be seen with them on. Those flourescent vests they sell aren't the cutest, but in your situation it sounds like it might be a good idea, particularly if you'll be biking in low light.

3) What kind of major road are we talking? Biking on a freeway might not even be legal. Biking on a large highway might not be a good choice. A country highway could work, but you'd just want to be cautious- be visible, keep an eye and an ear out for cars. You can learn to adjust to hills over time though, so that may not be a bad choice.

4) See if the people who tune up your bike have suggestions for transport. There has to be a way to get that tire off so it'll fit in the smaller car. Have you tried just folding down the seats and squeezing it in that way? I swear I've seen someone fit a whole bike into a Mazda3 hatchback before.

5) As a grad student, I carry my laptop and notebooks to class every day in a regular messenger bag. I also have a 17-inch laptop, so it took some work to find a laptop messenger bag that would fit it, but it can be done. I carry my lunch in a bag that I hook over the handlebars. Panniers might be a good idea for the extra stuff. Also consider the possibility of digitalizing more of your work so you won't have a bajillion notebooks. Can you take notes on your computer instead of in notebooks? Can your students turn their things in online? MS Word allows you to send feedback digitally now, and most schools will let you set up an online dropbox for students to turn in work. This can easily eliminate most of the paper materials you have to carry (bonus: good for the environment). You can get pretty cheap panniers via Amazon if all else fails though, and a rear rack shouldn't cost too much either. But if you do that, consider getting a bike with a back fender so your tires don't spray as much mud on your stuff.

Hope some of that is helpful.

onehappypanda

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2012, 09:33:17 AM »

cosmie

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2012, 11:12:28 AM »
I'm a student that bikes to school as well, and I've also had to find a way to carry my laptop and books and my bike. I quickly found that panniers are expensive, and decided to on top of a pannier rack. It works well so far, but because I don't have a rear fender anything I put in the basket gets a little muddy.

Pics of my bike:
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-TopCitT_Iz0/TvZpmQovnoI/AAAAAAAAAH0/cdMbcg6nVPc/s633/2011-12-24+16.05.21.jpg
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-n3kuRHF13c8/TvZowBo8RfI/AAAAAAAAARU/YqjXoekFwig/s633/2011-12-24+16.04.26.jpg

Around Vancouver here, it rains a lot but the weather forecast in the morning is usually pretty reliable. If it says that it'll rain in the afternoon, I pack a pair of rain pants and a rain jacket with me. That keeps my clothes underneath dry. I also strap my rain pants around my right ankle to prevent them from getting caught in the chain. Fenders are also great to have.

I didn't even think of throwing my backpack into a basket on the rack. Thanks!
As for fenders, the bike that I've rented comes with fenders, so that's less of a worry for me (right now).


My advice, move closer to campus.
It likely costs more to live closer to campus.  But it's something to look in to.
I was actually willing to pay more, but most places weren't willing to acknowledge a good portion of my income. $13,000 of my take-home income is in the form of excess financial aid disbursements, and most places won't consider that as income when determining your financial eligibility (even if I've gotten it several years in a row). I also have the ability to fall back on student loans (I never have, but the option is there) if I ever failed to make ends meet, but they wouldn't accept that either.
Location was more of a deciding factor. East of campus is downtown, and east of downtown is a river. That river also wraps around the south side of campus. In order to get across the river, I'd have to bike through downtown and over an extremely high trafficked bridge (read: the only bridge outside of downtown in the east or south direction). A bridge closer to campus (which had a bike lane) has been shut down for the next 3-4 years to be rebuilt. This detour makes the minimum trip length the same as my current place. And both of these locations are less-than-desirable (I'd be lucky to make it home on a $600+ bike in East Knoxville). North of campus was one option, as there's a good bit of housing in that direction. But most of it is oriented to regular students (meant to be temporary living, so you're packed in like sardines, shitty quality construction, massive noise problems, constant parties, and crime). I have a 4-month old daughter, and plan to live here long-term, so I refuse to live in this area. It's also super overpriced there: $700 for a ~450 sq ft one bedroom apartment, vs the $800 I'm paying for a 1,400 sq ft two-bedroom condo with a garage. Going far enough north to get away from the student bullshit and into nicer areas gets into the 8+ mile range. So I looked west. The first ~8 miles in the west direction is commercial property, with few residential areas. I actually applied at two apartment complexes relatively close to campus (5 miles), but was turned down.

So my location was systematically chosen to be as close to campus as possible, without sacrificing what I deem important (e.g. my daughter not being woken up by drunk students in the parking lot 2 times a night Wed-Sun).

1) Is there a bike co-op or a bike group in town where you can ask questions and get information on fixing your own bike? I live in a not-so-bike-friendly city and the local bike co-op has been a huge help in showing me how to fix my own bike (and letting me use their tools). You could also buddy up with some folks at local bike shops, sometimes they'll show you how to do really basic stuff for free. Maybe the people who tune up your bike weekly would be willing to show you a few things. Alternatively, check your local library or used book store for books on basic bike maintenance.
I've actually tried to learn a few things from the guys that tune the bike up, but they're pretty unfriendly with explanations. The answer for why they do something is "because it's done that way". The one guy that's friendly works out front and not in the shop area. Even though he's really knowledgeable, he's usually too busy to chat.

The local bike collective recently got a space for a bike co-op, which I've wanted to go to. My problem with that is getting the bike there (it's even further than the distance from home to work, at about 15 miles).

Quote
2) When I bike, I look at the weather report to decide what I should wear. A water-resistant lightweight windbreaker is indispensible- it'll block wind, repel water, and not be too hot. Ideally, get one that you can layer over a coat when it's too cold for just the windbreaker. When in doubt, I always carry mine with me. I also carry gloves like 3/4ths of the year, as I have hands that get freakishly cold. But I'll be honest, I think as you start biking you'll catch on to what you want to wear for what weather conditions pretty quickly. Don't overthink this, you'll learn as you go. As far as the bike goes, if you live in a hilly area you'll want at least a few gears so you can adjust for the hills. Something not too heavy would probably be good. Someone here can probably advise better on tires than I can- I just know that super skinny tires are faster but may not handle slick roads as well, so you might want something in between. Anyone else want to chime in on that?
Ha, over thinking it is probably my problem. xD

Quote
Also, consider visibility. Lights for both the front and the back are important, so get good ones. Consider reflectors on both your bike and your clothing as well, since you'll be on the roads. Consider the color of your clothes and how easily you'll be seen with them on. Those flourescent vests they sell aren't the cutest, but in your situation it sounds like it might be a good idea, particularly if you'll be biking in low light.
I definitely planned on this once I started using the bike for more than on-campus commuting.

Quote
3) What kind of major road are we talking? Biking on a freeway might not even be legal. Biking on a large highway might not be a good choice. A country highway could work, but you'd just want to be cautious- be visible, keep an eye and an ear out for cars. You can learn to adjust to hills over time though, so that may not be a bad choice.

It's neither a freeway nor a highway. It's a surface street that parallels the interstate, one of only two surface roads that do. Most other roads lead into these two roads, as they're the only ones with bridges over all of the small creeks and meandering rivers. Two lanes on each side, concrete median in the center, with a turning lane forming at stop lights (every ~1.5 miles). The problem is that it's considered an alternative route to the interstate for commuting, but people still treat it like the interstate. So people will fly 60+ mph on the road, even though the speed limit is 45 mph. And there are no shoulders on most of the road, so it's very lightly policed.

Quote
4) See if the people who tune up your bike have suggestions for transport. There has to be a way to get that tire off so it'll fit in the smaller car. Have you tried just folding down the seats and squeezing it in that way? I swear I've seen someone fit a whole bike into a Mazda3 hatchback before.
I did ask them. They got livid that I would even attempt to do something like that, lest my ill-skilled abilities fuck up the bike. They told me to just lock it up somewhere on campus and not bother with taking it home...
 Folding down the seat would work every now and then, but there's usually a car seat base (or the car seat itself), or a stroller, or something like that in the back seat, which makes folding down the seat a pain.

Quote
5) As a grad student, I carry my laptop and notebooks to class every day in a regular messenger bag. I also have a 17-inch laptop, so it took some work to find a laptop messenger bag that would fit it, but it can be done. I carry my lunch in a bag that I hook over the handlebars. Panniers might be a good idea for the extra stuff. Also consider the possibility of digitalizing more of your work so you won't have a bajillion notebooks. Can you take notes on your computer instead of in notebooks? Can your students turn their things in online? MS Word allows you to send feedback digitally now, and most schools will let you set up an online dropbox for students to turn in work. This can easily eliminate most of the paper materials you have to carry (bonus: good for the environment). You can get pretty cheap panniers via Amazon if all else fails though, and a rear rack shouldn't cost too much either. But if you do that, consider getting a bike with a back fender so your tires don't spray as much mud on your stuff.
Most of my class material is digitized via OneNote and ebooks, only one or two a semester require a hardbook and paper. One of my positions on campus is managing online advertising campaigns for various departments. The papers I carry are usually related to this; meeting materials/reports showing the performance of their various campaigns, papers that need signed off on to approve the advertising expenses, etc. As for the class I'm a TA for, most of the homework is done online via WileyPlus. The paper assignments are generally related to "pop" assignments the professor randomly decides to give students in class, and didn't set up any infrastructure online for it beforehand.

Quote

Hope some of that is helpful.
A lot of it did, thanks! xD

Also, some websites I refer to from time-to-time:
http://www.considerbiking.org/
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/home.html
http://lifehacker.com/5847276/properly-lock-your-bicycle-by-knowing-which-parts-are-easy-to-remove  (<-- actually a video but worth watching)
I've seen the LifeHacker video, but hadn't seen the other two sites. Thanks for the links! :)

Mike Key

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2012, 11:18:14 AM »

My advice, move closer to campus.
It likely costs more to live closer to campus.  But it's something to look in to.
I was actually willing to pay more, but most places weren't willing to acknowledge a good portion of my income. $13,000 of my take-home income is in the form of excess financial aid disbursements, and most places won't consider that as income when determining your financial eligibility (even if I've gotten it several years in a row). I also have the ability to fall back on student loans (I never have, but the option is there) if I ever failed to make ends meet, but they wouldn't accept that either.
Location was more of a deciding factor. East of campus is downtown, and east of downtown is a river. That river also wraps around the south side of campus. In order to get across the river, I'd have to bike through downtown and over an extremely high trafficked bridge (read: the only bridge outside of downtown in the east or south direction). A bridge closer to campus (which had a bike lane) has been shut down for the next 3-4 years to be rebuilt. This detour makes the minimum trip length the same as my current place. And both of these locations are less-than-desirable (I'd be lucky to make it home on a $600+ bike in East Knoxville). North of campus was one option, as there's a good bit of housing in that direction. But most of it is oriented to regular students (meant to be temporary living, so you're packed in like sardines, shitty quality construction, massive noise problems, constant parties, and crime). I have a 4-month old daughter, and plan to live here long-term, so I refuse to live in this area. It's also super overpriced there: $700 for a ~450 sq ft one bedroom apartment, vs the $800 I'm paying for a 1,400 sq ft two-bedroom condo with a garage. Going far enough north to get away from the student bullshit and into nicer areas gets into the 8+ mile range. So I looked west. The first ~8 miles in the west direction is commercial property, with few residential areas. I actually applied at two apartment complexes relatively close to campus (5 miles), but was turned down.

So my location was systematically chosen to be as close to campus as possible, without sacrificing what I deem important (e.g. my daughter not being woken up by drunk students in the parking lot 2 times a night Wed-Sun).



I'm assuming your daughter lives with you, thus preventing you from being a room mate or renting with a room mate?

cosmie

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 11:52:05 AM »
My daughter and fiance both live with me, yes. And moving really isn't an option in the near future, as I just resigned a year lease. And breaking my lease would end any chance of getting a lease elsewhere due to my limited rental history.

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2012, 01:16:30 PM »
Hi.  I've been bike commuting since 7th grade, so almost 20 years now.  I also worked as a bike messenger, and a mechanic in a shop that focused specifically on commuters (offered free valet parking).  I have helped many people who were brand new to biking.


-1)Brakes come off w/o tools. That bike has direct pull brakes, which are the easiest of all kinds to remove w/o tools. The noodle just pulls out of the bracket.  Skip ahead to 30 seconds into this video: http://www.ehow.com/video_2363045_loosen-bicycle-brake.html or ask a cyclist or mechanic to show you how (just maybe not the ones who were already offended by the question).  It is easier to get a bike into a hatchback than a trunk anyway.

0)13 miles is easier than you think.  Seriously.  Try it.  Give yourself an hour and a half the first time, or try it on a day off.  I bet you anything it is easier than you imagine.

1)ask mechanics if they will let you watch.  or a library book or website on basic bike maintenance.  lubing a chain and tightening brake cable tension take a few seconds, and don't need tools.

2)Windproof vest, cycling sleeves, light water-resistant jacket.  All pack into a backpack (or even big pockets) for when its warm, are enough for moderate cold when you are exercising (i.e. riding up hills)

5)Lots of very bright lights.  I like the Planet Bike 1watt Superflash rear flasher and 2watt Blaze front flasher, which I stack with the laser beam bikelane: http://dx.com/rechargeable-7-mode-red-5-led-safety-bike-tail-light-with-7-mode-2-red-laser-beam-35mw-90117
and a 900-lumen headlight: http://dx.com/ha-iii-ssc-p7-c-sxo-3-mode-900-lumen-led-bike-light-set-25149
plus reflective vest (mine is both reflective and windproof, double duty) and plenty of reflective tape on the bike and helmet.  Run the flashing lights in daytime if it is rainy or even overcast. 
Plus a LOUD noise maker, like an airhorn.  I use the same electronic horn that bike cops use. 
Then see if your school or local bike coalition know of any bike road safety classes you can enroll in.  Or at least read this: http://bicyclesafe.com/
And just be aware that getting clipped from behind - while it is the thing most new riders fear most - is one of the least common type of bike accident.

4)see answer -1.

5)I have a big hybrid backpack / pannier, and its great for touring, but I have never tried the smaller kind that you might need.  Sounds like a perfect option for your situation though.  Alternatively, for less money you could probably just put a backpack into a large pannier.


And last but not least, I wrote a blog post on buying used bikes, specifically geared toward someone with little to no bike experience:
http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/01/buying-bikes-from-craigslist.html

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2012, 01:42:45 PM »
If you have not already go to Tennessee Valley Bicycles on magnolia near the old city.  It is a commuter focused store with knowledgeable people.   

I am guessing you live on the west side of town?  It does indeed suck to bike around west knoxville, and I would really try to move closer to downtown, maybe north knoxville, oakwood/happy hollow area.

If you let me know more about where exactly you live then I could suggest some routes. 

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2012, 02:55:47 PM »
I currently leave this bike locked up in the building I work at, as I can't fit it in my car to bring home; the brakes don't allow enough clearance to take the front tire off unless you completely release the brake cable with a hex tool.

It looks like that bike has V-brakes.  Here's a video on how to disconnect them without using tools. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWfPU_Dq09k

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2012, 06:21:06 PM »
Bakari, thanks! That was exactly the kind of response I was asking for. :)

If you have not already go to Tennessee Valley Bicycles on magnolia near the old city.  It is a commuter focused store with knowledgeable people.   
Thanks for the advice! I'll be sure and go there when I start looking around for gear and more specific advice on the Knoxville area.

I am guessing you live on the west side of town?  It does indeed suck to bike around west knoxville, and I would really try to move closer to downtown, maybe north knoxville, oakwood/happy hollow area.

If you let me know more about where exactly you live then I could suggest some routes.
You're quite correct, West Town. I currently live off Gleason by West Town Mall. As is, I live close enough to the mall that I simply walk to the mall to catch the KAT bus. However, when we moved here we weren't expecting a daughter. So are lease is up soon, and the only place we could find in our price range that my other half liked is close to Cedar Bluff, here. Another reason for moving here is because a friend of ours that will be watching my daughter lives just a few minutes away, and Lauren will be going to Pellissippi in the fall. So, even though it's not really close to UT, it's one of the more strategic areas we could move.

I'm wanting to find two routes. The first being to the Walmart/Walker Springs area, to catch the KAT bus there. I also want to find a route to UT. I figured the final leg of the trip would be using the Bearden Village/Third Creek greenway. Haven't figured out the best way to make it there though. FYI, Middlebrook Pike is the road that I referenced above as being absurdly dangerous; I can't figure out a route that doesn't involve it though.

It looks like that bike has V-brakes.  Here's a video on how to disconnect them without using tools. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWfPU_Dq09k
Thanks! I had actually tried something like that. I felt like I was going to break something though, so I stopped pursuing that route. With that knowledge, it'll definitely be easier to take care of it.

Bakari

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2012, 08:50:17 PM »
np, happy to help.
feel free to ask more questions as they come up.
I may not be consistent about checking the forums though, so you can send me a PM if I don't respond (try here first though, so other people stumbling upon the post in the future can see)

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2012, 09:31:57 AM »
Anyone have any tips for how to keep sweat out of my eyeballs when I'm cycling?

zoltani

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2012, 08:57:10 PM »
You're quite correct, West Town. I currently live off Gleason by West Town Mall. As is, I live close enough to the mall that I simply walk to the mall to catch the KAT bus. However, when we moved here we weren't expecting a daughter. So are lease is up soon, and the only place we could find in our price range that my other half liked is close to Cedar Bluff, here. Another reason for moving here is because a friend of ours that will be watching my daughter lives just a few minutes away, and Lauren will be going to Pellissippi in the fall. So, even though it's not really close to UT, it's one of the more strategic areas we could move.

I'm wanting to find two routes. The first being to the Walmart/Walker Springs area, to catch the KAT bus there. I also want to find a route to UT. I figured the final leg of the trip would be using the Bearden Village/Third Creek greenway. Haven't figured out the best way to make it there though. FYI, Middlebrook Pike is the road that I referenced above as being absurdly dangerous; I can't figure out a route that doesn't involve it though.

Man, I feel for you.  West Knoxville really is horrible for walking and biking, though I understand why you chose the location.  Google bike directions pretty much guessed the route I would take from your place to the walmart or mall, though I would eventually start to modify it by exploring some of the neighborhood roads that connect some of the more major roads, something like this http://g.co/maps/7k8nx though I cannot verify the route. 

Honestly most of my riding was around downtown, fort sanders, north knoxville, south knoxville, and east knoxville.   My mom does live off of middlebrook near the walmart, so I have biked from there downtown.  I've also ridden on middlebrook, and it isn't as bad as you would think, but I never did it at rush hour.  The lanes are wide and there is at least a lane for the cars to pass you.  I'll admit that I have a tolerance for traffic and just going for it.  Kingston pike is not that bad either, as it usually has a shoulder and the lanes are also really wide.  During rush hour on kingston I would often split lanes passing all of the people sitting in their cars at a standstill, yeah I know that isn't the safest. 

It really looks like you have no option other than riding on chert pit and middlebrook, but the neighborhood street are definitely worth a look at.  The route to downtown would be the same, except you would cut through west hills, then get on kingston pike for a bit before turning left to hit the sutherland bike path to the third creek bike path.  Make sure to have some good lights as the third creek path is not lit at night.  Often suggested routes take you on dean hill drive to try and get you off kingston for less than a mile, but it is not worth it to me, and i will just continue on kingston from west hills. 

Feel free to PM me if you want more specific info or have other questions.  I am glad to know that some people in knoxville are trying to bike their commute!  Try to have a thick skin, as people are still somewhat intolerant of cyclists, just remember, smile and wave, smile and wave.  That said, there is a decent bike scene, and if you like to get out and ride with fun people having fun it's out there. Talk to the guys at TVB and have a pint at the public house next door!


If you don't already know it, here is a link to bicycle resources in knoxville.
http://www.knoxtrans.org/plans/bikeprog/resource.htm


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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2012, 09:21:32 PM »
Anyone have any tips for how to keep sweat out of my eyeballs when I'm cycling?

Rag around the forehead. Bonus points for looking super badass.

Also I try to keep wet wipes and handkerchiefs on me in the summer so I can wipe sweat with something other than grimy hands, but that's less badass looking.

zoltani

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2012, 09:50:11 PM »
I'd say that if you really want to look badass you get some wrist sweatbands.

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2012, 10:45:40 PM »
There are a ton of blogs specifically devoted to bike commuting, full of good advice on types of bikes, what to wear, what accessories you really need and which you can skip, and how to learn to ride in traffic. 

Google bike commuting and pick one.

I've been using my bike as primary transportation since I was about 8 years old.  Several cars have come and gone, but I keep coming back to bikes.

My primary ride these days is an old steel frame 21 speed cyclocross Bianchi with flat handlebars, dual full coverage fenders, a rear rack with waterproof panniers, and a couple of blinky lights.  Combined with the right clothes, it is serviceable year round where I live.

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #19 on: February 29, 2012, 08:48:49 AM »
I won't double up on the outstanding advice you've already gotten, but I will offer my own story as a bit of encouragement - in July I got rid of my car, making us a one car family and making me suddenly reliant on my bike.  I didn't taper up, and I was overweight and out of shape.  My commute to work is 20 miles, so I just went 0 to holy crap I ride my bike a lot (at least what I consider to be a lot, there are a lot of dudes who ride a lot farther/faster than me.)

I got it done, but at the end of the first week I was wrecked.  My first day off I think I was awake for about three hours.  After two weeks doing it my body had adjusted, and now I have a lot more energy than before I used to ride my bike a lot.  It won't take you nearly as long to work up to the distance as you think. 

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2012, 03:50:06 PM »
Anyone have any tips for how to keep sweat out of my eyeballs when I'm cycling?

Thats why bike gloves have that terry cloth portion between the thumb and forefinger.
Some helmets and some wrap-around glasses have a pad that touches your forehead for that reason too

zoltani

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Re: Advice for a new biker (Help the noob, plzkthx)
« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2012, 04:30:36 PM »
Cycling cap helps, but may cause your head to heat up too much if it is really hot out.