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the long way home

September 20, 2010

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On most days my commute has a purpose; to get as efficiently and quickly from point A to B. But every once in a while, I feel less rushed and I can take my time and really enjoy the benefits of traveling by bike. Last Friday was one of those days – I put in my time on campus, met a friend for coffee, and then was free to meander on home in a leisurely manner because it was officially the weekend. No rush, no hurry.


In fact, I could even take a little detour to take some pictures and to collect some wildflowers from a field near my house. And voilà – from the bike basket to the kitchen table…

Not a bad way to start the weekend. Do you ever take the long way home? What tempts you away from your route when you get the chance to stray?

Happy riding!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda B permalink
    September 20, 2010 15:27

    I am amazed by your ability to ride bike in a straight skirt! I have tried once or twice and ended up walking my bike for any part of the path that took me by people. Do you have trouble dismounting or pedaling?

    • September 20, 2010 15:38

      Not speaking for S., but just simply giving some experience from my wife, I think a step-thru frame helps a lot, so you can just slide forward off the seat when stopping and don’t have to swing your leg over the back or worry about getting hung up on the top bar of the bike.

      • Amanda B permalink
        September 20, 2010 16:07

        Dave – I have an Electra Amsterdam so the step-through frame and lower profile are helpful. But I find myself sitting further back on the seat (otherwise I feel like I’m sliding forward/off) and the straight skirt seems to be awkward with the narrow part of the saddle.

        Speaking of which, any advice (from Dave or S.) on where exactly on the saddle one should situate and how to adjust forward/backward to avoid sliding? Should my “sitting bones” (to use a yoga term) be toward the back, almost off the edge, or more centrally located?

        I recently switched from a mountain/commuter hybrid to a dutch-style bike with an upright seating position so have been trying to figure this out.

      • September 20, 2010 16:18

        To be honest, I think the big, wide seat on the Amsterdam might be part of the problem – I would recommend thinking about replacing it with a ladies model Brooks saddle, which will be more narrow, and also probably have a shorter protrusion on the front. We used to have Amsterdams, and after getting the Raleighs, even though the seat on my wife’s is quite worn and water damaged, she still finds it more comfortable than the one on the Amsterdam. Maybe just go test-ride a similar bike with a Brooks saddle on if you can, and see what you think.

        Personally, I usually sit so my “sit bones” are just forward of the back of the saddle by an inch or so (not that I measure it, but that just seems to be about where the comfortable spot is).

  2. September 20, 2010 15:45

    For myself, I always try to take several different routes to and from work and switch between them periodically – they all take about the same amount of time (give or take a few minutes) and they all have different scenery and terrain, so I can just pick depending on what I’m up for that day. For instance, if it’s really hot, I might take the one that’s more shaded, or if it’s a clear fall morning, I’ll take the one that’s most open so I can see the sunrise, etc.

    One thing I love about the way Portland is laid out, is it’s not that hard to just kind of meander in the general direction you’re going without following an exact route all the time.

  3. September 20, 2010 16:20

    Dave- that sounds so nice! I really should do that more, I get stuck in a rut and ride the same route daily because it’s the most efficient one (quickest while still avoiding main roads that don’t have bikelanes). I should really switch it up more and enjoy more of the campus scenery that way.

    Amanda – I’m not sure what to say about the position on the saddle and where your sitbones should be. I will pay attention to that while riding home today and will return to this question.

    As for straight skirts – all the ones I’ve used while cycling have a bit of elasticity to them. That is why they work, because they’re not rigidly straight but give a little due to the elasticity in the fabric. I think that makes a huge difference. And I’ve actually come to like riding in them over fuller skirts more because they don’t billow out and ‘blow open’. But if you’re aren’t a bit elastic, they may make it tough to sit and pedal, even with a step-through frame.

  4. Mark L. permalink
    September 20, 2010 16:21

    I definitely don’t take the long way home enough. I thought about your new Raleighs the other day: on my commute home I was laying the hammer down – as truckers are want to say – in my 21st gear through the park and wished I had road bike gearing. I was thinking that I would probably have a whole different approach to the time on the bike if my gearing wouldn’t quite allow for too much speed. I sometimes walk the 5 miles roundtrip and really enjoy the slow (though I find the same sort of hetzing take place on foot too) meditative pace.

    • September 20, 2010 16:25

      Mark – a slow bike is definitely the way to go ;) But I’m with you – while I can bike slowly, when it comes to walking, I find myself power-stepping it the whole way home as if it’s some sort of race. I think because cycling is already so much quicker than walking, I can pedal slower without feeling like I’m taking all that long to get from A to B.

      • September 20, 2010 16:27

        On a bike too, I’ve experimented with my route to work in the morning, and ridden it as hard and fast as I can, and then another day just ridden it calmly and casually. The time difference? Less than 5 minutes over a 30 minute commute. I may never feel motivated to hurry anywhere on a bike ever again :)

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