Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not your typical commute - it's Midnight Madness!

Last year when a friend of mine asked if I were going to Midnight Madness, I had to ask what it was. Essentially, Midnight Madness is the annual opportunity for San Diego cyclists to come out and ride bikes in the streets, wear costumes, and generally be silly. It's like this ride was MADE for me.

So, here's a little recap of my fun midnight "commute."

Similar to last year, I got all dressed up for the midnight ride in my business suit and pumps. I figure if I go to the office in bike clothes most every day, it's only natural for me to go to the bike ride in office clothes.

And while I don't recommend these cycling shoes for your daily commute, I found the pumps with the Crank Brothers cleats to be really easy to get in and out of. Depending on which foot you put which cleat on, you can determine the ease with which you clip out.

For carrying stuff on my commute, I recently got this really cool Timbuk2 messenger bag that carries everything I need. You can design them yourself in whatever colors you like. I used mine for the Midnight Madness ride to carry a spare set of proper cycling shoes, in case the pumps got to be too painful.

Another thing that makes your commute easier is a good light. I prefer Light and Motion for a number of reasons. Most all of their lights are compatible with most all their chargers, so the charger you have from 6 years ago will still work with a new light if you get one (the plugs don't change from year to year), and the lights and connectors are really robust.

The HID lights are great for mountain biking, since they throw a really wide spot, and the LED lights are usually better for road commuters since they are so incredibly bright and battery charge lasts for up to 40 hours (yes, forty). Check them out at bikelights.com, and shoot me an email if you have any questions. Between my husband and me, we have 3 of their lights.

Another part of my commute equipment is the repair kit. You never know when you're going to get a flat tire, and you should be prepared to make the repairs.

As it happened, my friend Alison got a flat about 2 miles out. She had a slow leak from a thorn puncture. While we could have patched the tube and re-inflated the tire, in the interest of time, we chose to replace the tube with a spare and use CO2 to inflate the tire.

In the interest of efficiency and multi-tasking, you could include your child in both "Bike to Work Day" and "Take Your Child to Work Day," all at one time! I think this is one of the greatest photos I took all night.

Hopefully the start of your commute won't look like this...

And finally, when I can pull it off, I bring along my mechanic, dressed up as Cookie Monster. There are few things that will make you feel secure like a good mechanic riding with you, and few things to cheer you up on a cloudy day like Cookie Monster.

Armed with this knowledge of the gear and equipment you need, you are ready to tackle the midnight commute!

Steve (Cookie Monster) admiring my fancy cleated pumps.

(for the full Midnight Madness report with all the pictures, please see my other blog)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ducking the Right Hook

"An accident so common it has a name..."

Another great commute to work this morning; clear weather, strong legs and no headwind. Unfortunately, my happy Monday morning mood was broken by a somnolent lady in a battleship-grey RAV4 who made a right turn into a driveway.

Directly toward me.

I've developed a paranoid, look-over-my-left-shoulder twitch that has kept me safe from quite a few situations like this. Due to my quick right turn (to parallel Ms. RAV4's direction of travel) and her slamming on the brakes, we both avoided an unpleasant discussion.

In today's traffic adventure, I was nowhere near an intersection. But the "Right Hook" seems to be most common at green lights. Portland, Washington has recognized this problem and taken action. My strategy at traffic lights is to get as far out in front as possible to make myself visible. And to get a head start on crossing in front of the impatient right-turners.

Be safe and friendly out there, ya'll.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Amateurs talk tactics, professionals study logistics

Any successful bicycle commuter has to carefully plan out his supply lines and sustainment plan. Like a sherpa working toward the summit, he has to establish a base camp, intermediate camps, and supply caches along the way, without overloading himself during the uphill climbs. He can't just pile stuff in the trunk of his car, so he needs to carefully think out in advance what items must be carried on the daily commute, what items can be stored at work, and how to adjust for unplanned contingencies. Since I work in the logistics field, I thought that I would share some of my success factors:
  • Like the proprietress of Girl Cycling, I'm a big proponent of my camelbak. Hydration and cargo, all in one convenient, retroreflective package. Yay.
  • I'm fortunate to live in sunny Southern California so that my clothing requirements are simple; no raingear, and minimal outerwear, even during the winter months.
  • I stage multiple sets of work clothing at the office, and store extra underwear, socks etc. in my locker. Gotta have fresh undies.
  • Cycling clothing gets aired out during the workday so that I have a comfortable, mostly dry ride home.
  • I never carry a laptop back and forth to work. I'm fortunate enough to be able to synch my important data to a thumb drive.
  • Finally, I rely on a solid, repeatable routine. Same stuff goes in the same pockets of the camelback. Same route to work so that I know when to leave and how long it will take. Same sequence of storing bike, helmet, shoes, gloves. Same files and folders synched to the thumb drive so that I can take work home.

I sure love commuting on the skinny tires, and I'm not the only one. I love the multi-tasking feeling of having gotten 17 miles of exercise before my work day starts, without a time-consuming side trip to the gym. But it does take some planning.


Here goes my first ever post on Sunny Rides.

I'm a 3-times-a-week commuter to beautiful Point Loma. When I'm not pedaling my road bike, I'm usually astride a Suzuki SV-650.

So, I've got a relatively unique viewpoint of traffic and commuting in San Diego, different from the claustrophobic view behind your average tinted windshield. Every day I see dazzling beauty as well as bland ugliness. I drive past sublime landscapes and pedestrian strip malls. I see young and old, rich and poor, fast and slowpoke.

But what I don't see is angry or rude drivers. In fact, I would guess that 80% of San Diego drivers are downright polite and patient. I think that we're blessed with a relaxed, take-it-as-it-comes culture that makes the daily commute much more bearable.

Even outside San Diego, the American roadway is relatively benign and welcoming. Compare Boston to Naples, or Cleveland to Cartagena.

So get out there and count your blessings. Here's hoping that you're not stuck behind a line of traffic, but even if you are, just remember that it could a LOT worse.

Friday, August 8, 2008

WOW! There's lots going on this month!

If you are looking for motivation to get on your bike, well here it is. August in San Diego is a great month to pump up the tires and go for a ride. Here are some of the events that are happening around town:

8/9/08 - Sat - Girls Road Ride
Meet at
8:15am, Spanish Landing, San Diego
Join the San Diego Team LUNA Chix on a road ride! We will be following the San Diego International Triathlon route up to Cabrillo Monument.

8/9/08 - Sat - Pirates and Ninjas on the trail in OC
No, really. Check out SoCalTrailRiders and scroll to the bottom of the page for ride listings.

8/10/08 - Sun - Free Bike Swap Meet, North County
8am -12pm, El Camino Bike Shop rear parking lot (Trader Joe’s Shopping Center, Corner of Encinitas Blvd. and El Camino Real).
Swamis & Encinitas Grand Prix will be providing kids' bike and helmet safety checks FREE of charge from 10am to 12pm
Come to buy or sell previously owned bikes and related bike parts at great prices! Sponsored by Swami's Cycling Club, Encinitas Grand Prix, El Camino Bike Shop

8/16/08 - Sat - Coached mountain bike ride
Meet at
8:00am, UC Cyclery, La Jolla (8715 Villa La Jolla Dr, 92037)
Join the San Diego Team LUNA Chix for a coached mountain bike ride! We will meet at UC Cyclery and ride over to the UCSD Campus. From beginner to intermediate, there will be something for everyone!

8/16/08 - Sat - Tri Newbies wanted!
Meet at
8:00 am, Panera Bread Cafe, Solana Beach (667 San Rodolfo Drive)
INITIAL MEETING: San Diego Team LUNA Chix and San Diego Velo Bellas have teamed up to put together a group of women who will train for and compete in the Women's Only Triathlon Series at Mission Bay on October 19th. All women

8/16/08 - Sat - MIDNIGHT MADNESS!!
Meet by 10pm, Admin Building near the H
Midnight Madness is a fun night of cycling (20-mile fun ride), contests, prizes, and entertainment to support community youth programs. The start/finish staging area will be at the San Diego County Administration Building 1600 Pacific Highway San Diego 92101. The ride starts at midnight, but be sure to arrive by 10 pm if you want to participate in the Light the Bike and Costume Contest for your chance to win many fantastic prizes!

8/23/08 - Sat - Dancing the Night Away fund raiser

6pm - 11pm at the home of Tony & Sue Farrow in Carlsbad.
Please contact me or Rhonda for tickets and information.

Team LUNA CHix San Diego presents Dancing the Night Away '4', a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Fund. 100% of the evening’s proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Fund, fighting preventable causes of breast cancer which affects thousands of women and their loved ones each year. All donations to the Breast Cancer Fund and the auction are tax deductible.
Please join us and spread the word!

"Tour Around the World" cuisine provided by Papa C's Fresh Mexican Food
Salsa dancing by San Diego dance instructors David Vasquez and Ingrid Valdna of Start Dancin' San Diego.
Classic rock and R&B music provided by Coastal Eddy Band.
And the Silent Auction is back again by popular demand!

There are other rides and events going on that I simply don't know about. If you are looking for adventure, there are plenty of places to find it.

Now get outside and play!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I swoop into the bike shop where I work part time and make a bee-line for my mechanic and good buddy Steve.

"Steve! Have I told you about my new business?" I ask excitedly.

"Um, no?" he timorously responds, hardly looking up from the tire he is changing.

"OK! So, it's called Sunny Rides, LLC, and the division I'm focusing on right now is Sunny Safe Commute. It's a bicycle commuter consultant and coaching business."

"Mmm-hmm," he says as he pops the tire onto the rim.

"So! If you don't have a bike,
but want one for commuting," I pause just long enough to take a quick breath, "I'll help you choose your bike and make sure it does all the things you want to do with it besides commute. I'll teach you how to ride and make sure you're good with the shifting and everything. If you already have a bike, I can help you map out your route and teach you to change a flat tire. Oh, and I can also do all the homework that people hate to do, like locate bike lockers, or safe places to lock your bike, or find a gym that offers just a shower pass."

I pause, awaiting praise at my brilliance or, more realistically, some kind of grunt in the affirmative that tells me he's still listening.

"Uh-HUH," he says. I take this as my cue to continue.

"Yes! And I'll have a Ride with Confidence Class for people who want to feel safer on the bike, and also a Fix-a-Flat class. What do you think?"

He stands up from his work and looks at me, his face void of expression. He pauses and smiles a tight-lipped smile and says, "You need a website, and a commercial."

"What do you mean a commercial?" I ask.

"Exactly what you just did from the time you walked in. That needs to be your commercial," he says.

My eyes grow wide and I bounce just slightly on my toes, "Cool! So you think I can launch this business on my enthusiasm alone?"

He takes a deep breath and nods, "Yeah. That's exactly what I mean."

Well, it will be a while till I get the commercial, but in the mean time, I'm working on the website. We hope to be up and running soon.

Big shout out to the people who have brought me to this point, encouraged me to start my own business, and continue to inspire me to great heights.

-Laura (Sunny) Drexler