All posts by BCBiker

A Few Words on Authority

I have been watching the site statistics over the limited lifespan of this blog and have been pleasantly surprised about how many page views my posts have accumulated.  In the spirit of not coming off as a complete narcissist, I would like to provide some “credentials” for why I think that I have earned (or at least am in the process of earning) the title of BCBiker.

In my opinion, a blog is only as useful as the expertise that the author can provide. I browse upon many personal finance websites written by bloggers who have only recently had their ‘financial awakening’ and are very excited about the concept of personal finance. Their impetus to start a blog is their genuine excitement and they often will release some very enthusiastic posts which are generally good.

Unfortunately, this zeal quickly fades, and because they essentially know nothing about personal finance, they run out of things to write about and the post frequency rapidly declines.  The demise of these blogs become inevitable.

As a more advanced blog reader, I tend to favor blogs with authors who have established their expertise. For example, Mr. Money Mustache, one of the more famous bloggers nowadays, started his personal finance blog after he and his family had already achieved retirement at a young age.

Some other personal finance blogs I follow include:

– White Coat Investor, who is an Emergency Department physician with advanced knowledge in all things finance and has accumulated more than $1 million at a relatively young age by using the strategies he writes about, which is a blog by a husband and wife who are almost at financial independence after leading basically normal lives but saved 1/2 of their income for 15 years

Mad FIentist is a guy who earned an advanced degree at Dartmouth for free and provides advanced information on topics such as travel hacking, slow travel, utilization of tax-advantaged accounts, etc.

I consider all of these blog authors to be ‘experts’ on the subjects they write about.  Now my task is to convince you, my readers, that I am experienced enough in bicycle commuting to justify this blog’s existence.

I will start with a brief history of my interactions with bicycles over my life:

My introduction to bicycles was probably somewhat typical, having had the training wheels pulled off at the appropriate age. I then utilized bikes for the typical kid stuff such as getting to sports practices and the swimming pool.

Around the age of 14, my shimmery black Huffy was retired to the shed out back.  My  transportation needs that the mountain bike formerly supplied were now provided by rides from older siblings and friends with driver’s  licenses.

At the age of 19 I finally came to the realization as a poor college student that driving my 4 mile commute in a 4-wheel-drive SUV was a tremendous drag on my wallet.  I also wanted to circumvent the $700 per year parking tags required to park anywhere close to my university classes.

For basically the remainder of my college career, my primary  transportation needs were provided by 2 bicycles. I rode that crappy old Huffy until the crank broke in half (approximately 3,000 miles).

I then replaced the Huffy with a fancy aluminum frame Specialized hybrid.  It was after updating to the Specialized (and concurrently moving about 8 miles away from campus) that I discovered the capabilities of a bicycle.  I  rode over 4000 miles per year during my last two years of college.

In professional school, I basically put my bike away again.  I lived just 6 blocks from the main school in a major US city.  Every other location I needed to go to was more readily accessible by subway or other public transit.  (If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have found a place to live further away from everything just for the privilege of bicycle commuting.)

After graduating I moved to my current city, which lacks adequate public transportation for my purposes. I was basically a broke graduate. My old SUV had long ago died.  I could certainly not afford a new car and the last thing I wanted to do was borrow additional money on top of my student loans just so I could drive.  I had fond memories of all of the bike rides I enjoyed in college and I was determined that I just didn’t need a car.

I am now three years into my career; I have now decided to permanently forgo the purchase of my next car.  I have found that despite living 14 miles away from my primary work, I can make it to work every day on my bicycle, regardless of outdoor conditions and my work schedule.

I have always lived in a temperate climate so I have learned to adapt to riding in temperatures in excess of 105 F and as low as -10 F.   I have bicycled my current 28 mile commute in every weather condition imaginable: the Great Colorado Flood of 2013 (a day when over 12 inches of rain fell across the entire area I commute), days in unplowed wet snow in excess of 1 foot,  hail,  ice as slick as a freshly Zamboni-ed ice rink, and monsoon like winds.

Basically, I have found that with the right attitude and proper preparation, weather should not play a significant role as to whether you bike to work or not…

Bicycle commuting is about more than just dealing with weather.  The sheer number of miles (I estimate about 29,000 miles so far in my life and that number is increasing at about 6-7 thousand miles per year) has led to every imaginable situation.  I have been struck by cars; I have had my pedal snap off in the middle of an intersection; I have MacGyvered my way out of  mechanical malfunctions.  I plan to pass these lessons on to you and to offer simple solutions to avoid the mistakes I have made.

A not uncommon reaction when I tell people about my biking adventures is:  “You must be a major Badass to do what you do on a daily basis!” I take pleasure in such complements, but I am certain that almost anyone with functional legs can do what I do…

All that is required for you to enjoy all the benefits of BCBiking [including frequently being called a Badass 🙂 ] is the willingness to persevere under somewhat uncomfortable conditions.  Also, some encouragement and good advice from someone  (me) who has been in your shoes will be helpful.

I can basically guarantee that anyone who tries to bike to work everyday, sticks with it, and follows the rules; will enjoy every moment of their everyday ride no matter what happens on your way.  How many people can say that about their car commute?

I, by the way, am not claiming to be the first or the best person to commute by bicycle to work.   On the day of the flood, a day when only the hardiest of riders were out, I talked to a gentleman  who has been bicycle commuting for the last 25 years about 10 miles per day!  There are literally thousands of these folks across the world riding every day.

The main reason for this blog is that I have found a paucity in the blogosphere of good information on bicycle commuting.  Most of the information is geared at selling the latest and greatest bicycle equipment which is generally not helpful and largely counterproductive (Stay tuned for the Silver Rule of Business Casual Biking).  As far as I know, there is no blog like this out there.

This is by far the longest post of this blog. I hope that at least a few people have made it until the end. Please share your comments, including your Badass bicycle commuting stories. Also, stay tuned! There is much more fun information to follow!



The Golden Rule: My Bicycle Commute Shall Inconvenience No One

My bicycle commute shall inconvenience no one.  

This is a fundamental principle that all Business Casual Bikers should hold close to their incredibly healthy hearts.  Remember that you as an everyday bicycle commuter are rolling in the benefits of your bicycle nirvana.  You are getting valuable fresh air to breath every morning and afternoon; you are getting obligatory, stress reducing exercise everyday; you are never waiting in seemingly endless bumper to bumper traffic jams; you are not blowing any smog out of your tailpipe; you are not needlessly spending your hard-earned money on fuel and car maintenance.  I could go on forever (and I plan to on this blog).  Because you are reaping all of these benefits every day, you are in a perfect position to tolerate a small amount of inconvenience.  Thus, I strongly recommend that you do not pass any inconvenience on to anybody else.

The possibilities of the inconvenience factor may creep in when, for example, something unexpected happens.  Let us say you have a flat tire and you are 10 miles into you 14 mile jaunt home from the office.  Your options include:


OPTION 1. Walk

OPTION 2. Take the bus (if you live in a city with this option)

OPTION 3. Call your significant other, family member, co-worker, etc. to pick you up


Note: There will be a future in-depth post on this blog to describe how to NEVER-EVER get a flat tire but I felt like releasing this post is a prerequisite for basically everything else.

Anyway, to abide by the Golden rule, OPTION 3 (call for a ride) is not generally an acceptable way to handle this situation.

OPTION 2, Take the bus: Remember, that as a BCB you have much more patience from all of your mostly stress free commutes and your laid back nature builds up over time so a minor, infrequent inconvenience can be handled with a shrug of the shoulders.  I recommend that all BCB’s have at least a vague idea of which buses go where and approximately how often.  If you happen to carry a cellular telephone with data features, you can use Google Maps and choose the public transit option that will give you the most efficient transit route home.

OPTION 1, walk: If you live in a city without a bus anywhere near you or if you are me, you would just walk home.  A four mile walk is a light stroll that gives you a form of exercise that you might not otherwise undertake.  But more importantly, you get the opportunity to observe the route that you normally ride from a different perspective. This can be a surprisingly valuable experience if you take the same route every day.  You might find a shorter way than what you normally take.  If time permits, just walk.

OPTION 3:  The caveat to OPTION 1 is of course if you violate the Golden Rule (My bicycle commute shall inconvenience no one) taking too long to get home.  Let’s say that your spouse has made dinner or is expecting you to make dinner.  If I know this is the case I might allow for someone to pick me up.  On one such instance, I actually hailed a cab (which was really lucky for the area I was in) and made it home approximately on schedule.

The Golden Rule should have an influence on basically all actions one takes while bicycle commuting so feel free to apply the rule broadly.  Consider your interactions with cars: Some bicycle riders assume that they are entitled to as much of the road as a car would take.  I DO NOT like this attitude and I hope that as the calm, cool, collective BCB that you are, you will agree with me that we can ride as far to the edge of the road as possible and even consider pulling over to allow cars to go by if the road is too narrow for the car to safely pass.  There is no reason to further stress out the already stressed-out folks behind the steering wheel stalking your back side.

I don’t think that all bikes need to stop at all STOP signs all the time.  This is more of a Silver Rule kind of issue (I hate to keep saying this but stay tuned), but the Golden Rule of course applies in all areas of the BCB life so if a car-driver really thinks its his or her turn to go, give them the Business Casual Bikers go-ahead wave.

As one of the inaugural posts of the Business Casual Biker website, I hope that this article sets the tone for the rest of the website.  Thank you very much for choosing to read what I write and feel free to leave any comments below.  I am particularly interested in other ways others have applied the Golden Rule in their commute.