Name: Mark Potts
Location: Arlington, VA
Started bike commuting: 2007
Commute distance (one way): 18 miles
Describe your commute: I ride from our home in Arlington, VA over the Potomac river and through the District of Columbia up to the Maryland suburbs just outside of the beltway. Most of my ride is on bike paths or on city streets with bike lanes, but once I get to Maryland, I am sort of stuck on bike unfriendly streets. I have a few hills to climb along the way, but I really enjoy riding through the District and seeing all the other cyclists and pedestrians out and about. DC has really become a biking city in the last several years with many new bike lanes and the new bike sharing system (CABI) now in place. It is fun to see more and more people out and about on bikes these days.
Describe your bike and accessories: I have three bikes that serve different purposes for me. My main commuter is a Miyata One Twelve that I picked up from craigslist for $50 a couple of years ago. Initially, I had planned for it to be just a beater bike I could lock up outside in the rain, but I quickly realized how smooth the was on the triple butted frame. As a result, I have since upgraded just about everything on it. It now sports new Tektro dual pivot brakes with cyclocross interrupter levers (highly recommended), a Brooks honey colored B-17 saddle and Velo-Orange leather bar tape, chrome crankset, fenders, and front Rando rack. While my main commute is about 18 miles, I am fortunate that I can also work from a local office which is only about 1 km from my house. On days when the weather is awful or when I need a break from riding, I take my Breezer Uptown 8/xtracycle to work. The xtracycle also serves to haul my two boys (ages 3 and 5) around the neighborhood to various activities and is generally an excellent conversation starter at the park or soccer field. In addition to adding the xtracycle free radical kit, I have also added Nashbar mustache handlebars with Tektro direct pull brake levers and the J-Tek bar end shifter for the Shimano Nexus-8 hub. The new handlebar set up is a HUGE improvement from the original bars in my opinion, and I love the J-Tek shifter compared to the clunky twist shift provided by Shimano. My final bike is a Dahon Speed 7 which I take with me when I travel to Palo Alto about 4 times a year. It is more or less stock, though I did replace the straight handlebar with the old Breezer handlebar, which has made it a little easier on longer rides. I just love the fact that I can pack that bike into a regulation Samsonite suitcase and take it with me when I travel. Very cool.
What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Have fun! I started commuting to work in order to get some exercise after my first son was born, but I quickly became hooked on the sheer joy of riding to work. People often look at me like I am crazy when I tell them how far I ride to work, but I simply would not have it any other way. Riding to work (or anywhere, really) is just fun! There will be days when the weather is terrible or you don’t feel that great though, so just work from home or drive to work on those days.