10 Tips From Hard-Core Bike Commuters

Written by

There are some hardy bike commuters in Colorado. These people are committed to riding their bikes in all kinds of extreme weather. I see them on the roads and a couple of them show up for my Sunday group rides.

More: Bike Commuting Tips

I wanted to know more about serious commuting, so I asked two of the local hard-core, everyday riders some questions. At the end of this column they offer good, experienced recommendations for those who want make bike commuting a regular part of their daily life.

Before diving into the questions, let's meet the commuters:

Ron Kennedy
Age: 48
Married: Linda
Children: Brooke (8), Michelle (14)
Job: VLSI Designer (Electrical Engineer), Avago Technologies, Inc.
City: Ft. Collins, Colorado

Chris Johnson
Age: 32
Married: Ananda
Children: One son (10)
Job: AV Specialist at a healthcare organization in Loveland
City: Ft. Collins, Colorado

How far do you commute to work, i.e. ride distance each way?

Ron: When I started out, the commute was about eight miles each way. Over time I've modified my route to keep me off the major roads as much as possible, and lately to keep me from crossing the Kathy Fromme Prairie after dark (there have been several mountain lion sightings). So the current route is 10 miles to work and 11 miles home.

Chris: I live in Fort Collins and work in Loveland. The door to door trip is 11.5 miles. I commute all year, full time.

More: Bike to Work

Chris Johnson commuting to his own wedding.
Photo: Mike Johnson

What are the coldest and hottest temperatures you've ridden in?

Ron: I think the coldest is about minus 5 degrees F. The hottest I don't really pay too much attention to, but it's probably about 100 F. On the coldest days my water bottle will freeze almost solid during the commute to work.

Chris: I grew up and learned to ride in Las Vegas, so I'm pretty comfortable in the heat. I'm sure I've commuted in upwards of 105-degree heat. The coldest was actually a cold Monday this past December, 2008. I believe I heard it was minus 18 F when I was on the road.

More: Bike in the Cold

How many years have you been commuting?

Ron: I started commuting seriously in the summer of 2000. I was previously working in Loveland, and I'd commute one or two times per week during the summer months. When I transferred to a group in Fort Collins I was inspired by a couple of engineers in my group who commuted year round.

During the first few years, Fort Collins was running a "Smart Ride" program which would pay you in "drive less dollars" for commuting by bike or other alternate transportation. The payout would cap at $5/month (I think) which I would usually spend at Walrus buying ice cream for the family!

Chris: About eight years now.

More: Your First Commute

How many of those years would you consider yourself a hard-core commuter?

Ron: The last six years or more I've been certifiable. A couple of years ago I commuted every day for a year, never driving. Since then I've decided that there are some conditions under which it's probably better not to ride; but the bar is set pretty high. I usually end up driving maybe one day per year.

More: Freedom From the Grind