Collins Family Bike to Work Day

Hey peeps!  I’m very pleased to present to you a guest post by the lovely Melanie!
Hi Everyone! I’m so excited that Reuben is letting me share my experience from COLLINS FAMILY BIKE TO WORK DAY!
What is COLLINS FAMILY BIKE TO WORK DAY!, you ask? Well, now that summer is here, I decided its time for me to do a little more riding, so Reuben decided we would start COLLINS FAMILY BIKE TO WORK DAY! as a way to encourage me to actually get out there and do it. 
I thought I’d share some thoughts and ideas that will hopefully inspire you to think about setting up your own bike to work day. A little text up first, and then pictures to follow! 
First up: PLAN YOUR ROUTE
I work out in the suburbs- its about a 12 mile car drive if I take highways the entire way. I have biked to work a few times in the past, so I already knew more or less how to get there by bike. Just for fun I checked out Google’s bike planning maps.  It gave 3 options- first it suggested a route that was entirely on bicycle trails (a total of 15.5 miles), the other two options were about half on bicycle trails and half on street riding, and both were about 13 miles. I opted for a route close to the first option, but I took a street for the last mile and shortened it down to a 14.5 mile ride. Remember that just because a route is shorter it might not be faster– depending on stop lights and how slow you have to ride with traffic. If trails are an option for you I totally recommend increasing your distance a little to take advantage of them. If you aren’t sure about the routes shown on the maps, I think its a great idea to try a dry run in the evening sometime when you aren’t stressed about trying to get there by a certain time and you’ll enjoy your ride so much more if you aren’t worried about getting lost. 
WHAT TO WEAR: “Beware of any enterprise which requires new clothes” – Henry Thorough

Here’s the best picture I have of me in my “biking clothes.” You can pretty much bike in anything thats comfortable. I wore a tank top that I usually wear at the gym, some sweat pant capris, and a light pair of sneakers. I like capris because pants are too long and can get stuck in your chain and shorts always seem to ride up on me and get bunched up in my crotch. As you can see from the man behind me, spandex is always an option too! 
WHAT TO BRING:

I carried my stuff in a pannier bag that hooks on the rack on back of my bike. Reuben uses a backpack, so really anything works. I brought:

  •  my work clothes (luckily I get to wear casual, so no worries about wrinkles for me! Reuben has to wear a little more formal and he folds his clothes around this little plastic board we have that keeps them from getting too wadded up.
  • Shower items- towel, shampoo, etc. If you think ahead you could leave this at your office on a non-biking day so you don’t have to bring it with you. My office has a little shower area with hair dryers so thats pretty convenient for me to use. 
  • Lock- important unless you want to store your bike in your cube all day- not really an option for me. 
  • iPod- yes, I listen to music while I ride. I recommend it if you aren’t on busy streets. 
  • Other things you might want: Water bottle, map 

OK- now on to the PICTURES! (Reuben should have warned you I’m an awful photographer, but I tried!)
Reuben went out of his normal route to ride the first half with me. Here we are getting on the trail:

The Greenway is an awesome trail! Seriously, if you live in Minneapolis and haven’t been there yet- get with it!
Reuben and I rode the first 7.5 miles together and then he waved goodbye and I was on my own.

When I first rode to work 3 or 4 years ago, this is the spot where I got totally turned around and ended up riding back to the city. Seriously- if you don’t do a dry run- bring maps with you!

Shortly after Reuben took off, the trail turns to gravel. No big deal, its finely crushed and well compacted, so it’s still easy to ride on:

This is actually one of my favorite segments of the ride. Not too many other riders were out, pretty well shaded by trees, and you get to go past a couple of pretty spots, like Shady Oak Lake: 
One thing that cracks me up though- these two benches- one facing the trees and one facing the trail. I guess I don’t really get why they didn’t at least put them where you could see the lake…
Before I knew it I was at the end of the trail and ready for the “road” segment of my ride. The road actually had a sidewalk/trail right along side of it, so I tried to ride that for awhile.

Yep, it could use a little maintenance. And then out of the blue, it just stopped. This happens sometimes, but I don’t know why. Any thoughts?

So back to the road I went. About 5 minutes later, after I turned a corner, I noticed it started again- kind of strange, huh?  
Thats about it, I turned the corner and pulled into work. One picture I forgot to take was my bike locked to a handrail at the office. Remember when Reuben was bemoaning the bike rack at his office? Well, at least he has one. I had to make due with locking to a little used handrail on the side of the building. Maybe someday enough people will ride, they’ll get with the program.

That about it, I just did the reverse on the way home- easy peasy! I’m thinking maybe every Friday should be COLLINS FAMILY BIKE TO WORK DAY! Well, at least a few more times this summer anyway.

Oh! One last tip- you should probably check the weather report and see if the rainstorm of the year will be hitting right when you’re planning on riding home. If it is, you may want to schedule your BIKE TO WORK DAY for another day, or at least bring a plastic bag for your phone and iPod…

Well, there you have it. If I can do it- YOU CAN DO IT! For those of you who bike commute regularly, any other tips for us fair weather riders? Anyone feeling up to the challenge? Let us know how it goes!

9 comments to Collins Family Bike to Work Day

  • Great tour. It looks like your office may be near mine in Eden Prairie near Valley View & Baker. That's a smooth route for biking. I can get home faster biking than driving during the peak rush hours.

  • Thanks for the tour Melanie! It sounds like you have got the commuting thing down. I can't think of any other tips. Luckily, my commute is only 3.5 miles so I don't need to shower when I get there and I can wear my work clothes while biking.

  • Hooray for guest-posts!!! Mel, I think you're awesome for riding your bike. These are some great tips!

    @Ed – YES. I can cycle home from my office in Golden Valley faster than I can drive during the PM rush hour.

  • Thanks for reading everyone!

    @Ed- Yep, Eden Prairie, just off Shady Oak Road and 212

    @Julie- I'm totally jealous. Someday I hope to be close enough to wear my work clothes on the bike. Thats the best!

  • Ren

    Love your cycling posts.

    Just one question, why don't you two wear helmets?

  • @Ren – good question. I think this question deserves a post of its own. So stay tuned. I'll try to get a post up this week about bike helmets.

  • Ren

    Reuben, Just realized that may have sounded preachy and/or bitchy – neither of which I want to be. You don't owe me an explanation on your personal safety habits.

  • No worries. I already thought you were bitchy, so no harm done.

    HA. just kidding. I interpreted it more as a "playful scolding." Like yelling, but with a smile.

  • Yeah Melanie! I love your post esp the pictures of Reuben waving goodbye and the two benches. I tried riding to school in Minneapolis, but would definitly have to shower once I got there if I was going to do that on a regular basis. I could ride my bike to work right now by waking up, going and sitting on my bike for 5 mins, and then going back inside. Although I can't have a bike commute right now, I soon hope to bike to places that are close by like the library. Good for you, I hope you keep it up and would love to hear how it goes.

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