Name: Mona Raza
Location: Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Started bike commuting: A little over a year ago
Commute distance (one way): Usually drive 7 miles, bus 30 miles, bike 2 miles; Occasionally bike the first 7 miles too.
Describe your commute: I work in another town and hate driving on the interstate. Luckily, we have a commuter bus with bike racks that takes me most of the way. The bike part of my commute takes place on a busy industrial street. The only other cyclists I ever see are fellows who have lost their driver’s license and occasional tourists traveling across country. The drivers seem to have gotten used to me and seem a lot less hostile now. Once in a while when I don’t have to get my kids off to school or daycare, I’ll bike the seven miles to the park and ride from home, and that is a pleasant ride on rolling country roads.
Describe your bike and accessories: I started commuting on a Trek Pilot 2.1, but crushed the chainstay in an incident involving a clamp-on kickstand and pothole. The Trek then served as an organ donor for a new Soma Buena Vista frame that my bike shop built up with all the salvaged components, including a Shimano 105 drivetrain. I hope to replace some of the uglier Bongager bits later on. I did switch to 28c Conti city tires, though. I carry all my stuff in a large Rivendell Sackville Saddlesack, which is like having a trunk on your bike. It even fits legal files. All in all my commuter makes me happy.
What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Go on beginner group rides or take a traffic 101 class if you are nervous about driving in traffic. Plan out your route, drive it and then do a test ride on the weekend. Remain calm and ride often. The drivers will get used to seeing you and begin to give you more room.