Name: Doug Peterson
Location: Seattle, WA
Started bike commuting: 2005
Commute distance (one way): 6 miles.
Describe your commute: I ride through urban Seattle, a city of hills, bridges, and beautiful boulevards. I start on one hill in the neighborhood of Wallingford, ride on busy arterials down to the Ship Canal, which I cross on the University Bridge (a double-leaf bascule bridge built in 1919), and then immediately begin climbing up Capitol Hill. I usually ride through Interlaken Park, a lovely green belt designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers in 1903. I then ride along a signed bike route through the quiet residential neighborhoods on Capitol Hill.
Describe your bike and accessories: I ride a 1984 Schwinn Voyageur touring bike. I’m pretty sure it was built by Panasonic in Japan. I have set it up as a Porteur-style urban bike: Nitto Promenade handlebars coupled with a large front rack built by Lane at CETMA (the daily load goes in a saddle bag, saving the rack for unexpected loads). Many of the parts are from an early 90s Shimon Deore group. I run what I call “country gearing” — 46-34 front rings and an 11-32 in the back. I use the 46 85% of the time and switch to the 34 for long climbs. This simplifies shifting, and is lighter and narrower than a triple while maintaining a similar gear range. I firmly believe that the only time you need a chainring bigger than 46 is when you’re racing.
I find this to be the ideal urban bike: it is capable of hauling surprisingly huge loads (40 pounds of groceries, chairs, just about anything!), is comfortable, and is very ridable! I’ve ridden it fifty miles comfortably, something I can’t say for any of the other utility bikes I’ve ridden!
What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: May sure your bike is comfortable and reliable! A little bit of mechanical knowledge goes a long way. Also, don’t use a backpack or messenger bag: haul your gear on the bike somehow.