REI Bike Commuting Classes

REI will be offering bike commuting classes at their Berkeley, CA store on November 2 and February 22, from 8:45 am to 3 pm. Cost for the classes is $55 for members and $75 for non-members. Class size is limited, so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up in advance.

Course description:

Join our REI Outdoor School instructors as they teach you what you need to know to get the most out of using your bike for transportation. We’ll discuss proper clothing, techniques, and best practices for carrying your gear with you — plus there will be plenty of time for questions. This interactive class will teach you what you need to know to get out there on your bike!

If you’re not in the SF Bay Area, check the listings below for schools in your area.

More Information

WSJ on Bike Commuting

Here’s a nice piece on bike commuting from the Wall Street Journal.

Pashley at L’Eroica

Photo © Pashley

David and Bryce completed the L’Eroica retro cycling event on 3-speed Pashley Guv’nors. The bikes were completely stock except for minor changes for fit and pedal preference.

L’Eroica is an event to celebrate the true heroes of cycling. Set in the Tuscan countryside, largely on the famous white gravel roads, the race takes you back to the early days of cycling. Each rider can choose from four course lengths, 38, 75, 135, or 205km. For the latter two you can start any time after 5:00 am and you receive a special award (a bottle of Chianti) if you manage to finish by 7:30 pm. It’s a gruelling test of physical and mental strength but with a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork to get you through to the end.

Read the story
View the video
Pashley Guv’nor

Bacchetta on Seat Height

Photo © Bacchetta

There’s an interesting article on the Bacchetta website that discusses published versus actual recumbent seat heights. [Note: We’re talking recumbent seats as opposed to traditional saddles as on upright bikes. —ed.] For the uninitiated, an important factor in determining whether a recumbent fits a person is seat height measured from the ground. This is not to be confused with saddle height which is the distance from the saddle to the pedals on an upright bike, or seat position which is the distance from the seat to the pedals on a recumbent, both of which determine leg extension while pedaling.

Seat height on a recumbent is critical because it determines whether a person can reach the ground with their feet while seated. Unlike riders on upright bikes, who dismount the saddle while stopped, recumbent riders remain seated while stopped, and must be able to touch the ground to keep from tipping over. If a rider is unable to firmly plant a foot while stopped, they’ll often feel less than fully confident on the bike, particularly in heavy, stop-and-go traffic.

The gist of the Bacchetta article is that there is no one industry standard method of measuring seat height and published seat height numbers are ballpark figures, at best, so it’s important to test ride a recumbent before making a purchase. I couldn’t agree more. Seat height is a critical factor that a person coming from uprights to recumbents might not consider until after the purchase. I can personally attest to the fact that not paying close attention to whether you can comfortably touch the ground, particularly if the bike is to be used for utilitarian riding of any sort, may eventually lead to dissatisfaction with the bike; I have a pile of receipts to prove it. :-)

A lot of this is old news to seasoned recumbent riders, but for ‘bent newbies this is a critical point to remember, particularly if the bike is to be used for utilitarian transportation, a style of riding which invariably involves lots of stops and starts, load carrying, and tight maneuvering.

Bacchetta Article


Laura Domela is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. Her book project Fietsen is a collection of photographs of bike commuters in Amsterdam. For five days in September of 2005, she spent one hour a day photographing cyclists as they rode past her second-story apartment window. She ended up photographing over 1600 cyclists, 118 of which were selected for her book. Take a look at the sample slideshow; it’s clever how she paired up the photos based upon characteristics such as color, contrast, activity, etc.

About Fietsen
View the slideshow

Capitol Corridor

The Capitol Corridor (CC) commuter train makes daily runs between Auburn, east of Sacramento, to the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose. The CC is operated by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), a partnership among six local transportation agencies to share in the management of the CC. The CCJPA partners with Amtrak to provide service to 17 stations along a 170-mile rail corridor. The CC is quite popular, with ridership currently running at nearly 1.5 million per year. July of this year saw 161,000 passengers on the CC; a new record and a 33% increase from last year.

I’m fortunate enough to live within 5 miles of a CC station and I take full advantage by riding the train to work 4 days a week. My current routine is to ride my bike 5 miles to the train station, store my bike in a City bike locker, take the train into downtown Sacramento, then walk the 5 blocks to my office on the other end.

Most of the CC train cars have a bike rack that holds 3 bikes, and often (but not always) the last car is a baggage car. The baggage car can accommodate approximately 12 bikes. With such a dramatic increase in ridership this year, there were days when every rack on the train was full and bikes were overflowing into the passenger areas. I’m guessing on those days there were at least 25-30 bikes on the train.

The above photo is of the baggage/bike area. Eight bikes can be stored on the racks in the photo, with 3 more racks behind and out of view of the camera. As you can see, bike ridership was light today. This will be my first winter riding the CC; it will be interesting to see if bike ridership drops off as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter.

In my experience, the conductors on the CC have been very accommodating to cyclists. I’ve seen them go out of their way to help recumbent riders store their bikes, and I’ve even had a conductor—who happens to be a Brompton rider—show me all of the places to stash a folded Brompton on the train.

I feel fortunate to have access to the Capitol Corridor; it’s relatively fast and efficient, and it’s far more comfortable and accommodating to cyclists than the commuter bus alternatives in the area.

Capitol Corridor Website

Picnic Ride

Parked at the deli, picking up lunch for a picnic ride on a gorgeous fall afternoon

Ride Stats
Temp: 75F
Sky: Blue
Clouds: Billowy
Breeze: Cool
Speed: Slow and easy
Distance: Far Enough
Lunch: Yummy
Company: Priceless

© 2011 EcoVelo™