For me, like many others, 2021 was the year of change. I moved, tripled my commute, broke my foot and created a TikTok account — a combination I never thought would dramatically change my daily life.
While recovering from my broken foot, my physical therapist suggested I get back into cycling with an e-bike. Using Portland’s bike share program, Peak TownIt was the perfect opportunity for me to use an e-bike without committing to the hefty price point of a brand new bike. At the time, bike-sharing was only recently fully electric, providing a great opportunity to try out e-bikes before you buy one. One trip and I was hooked.
With an e-bike, I can confidently get to anywhere in Portland, without worrying about how bumpy I am, what hills I might run into, or if I feel strong enough to do it. I knew I had to get one for myself to maximize my now longer commute and avoid the expense and hassle of buying a car. I put it out there and the universe responded. On a weekly bike ride to the farmers’ market (—yes, I was on a Piketown bike—) a friend told me she was selling a Gazelle Citizen and she didn’t have any buyers yet. The next weekend, I was riding a new bike away from her house.
That e-bike cut my entire long transit commute in half. From a 90-minute ordeal of walking by train/train, my commute has been reduced to a 45-minute bike ride for bike mobility training. I am completely sold on the power of e-bikes (pun intended).
Fast forward two years later, and I’m still doing the same multi-modal commute by bike/train and am able to save an incredible amount of time with an e-bike. An e-bike takes away the fear of fatigue on those long weeks when I don’t feel like riding and allows for a lot less sweat when I arrive. It has also increased my confidence in cycling in general. I have fun switching between my Gazelle e-bike, my Pure Cycles commuter and my Surly pacer for commuting to work. It really helped keep it fun and interesting while also helping me move my body in different ways.
Bike commuting gave me my time back, but it also brought me back to a place of peace and joy. I meet a friend, co-worker, or bike acquaintance on almost every commute. Sometimes we stop and talk, sometimes we ride together but for the most part, we just give a friendly ‘biker wave’. I feel more connected to my community now than ever before. Starting my day with fresh air and movement has greatly improved my mental health.
Somewhere along this journey, I started documenting my life on my bike on TikTok. Under the name JennaBikes, I’m sharing everything and anything about the car-free cyclist life I’ve developed for myself. My favorite part of making videos are the questions I get: “What are you doing in the rain?” “,” How do you close? , “Which seat would you recommend for me?” I understood everything. I love sharing the things that helped me get to where I am to help others overcome barriers they may be facing. Just to give them a little nudge.
Products that make my commute better
The most common question I get asked is: “What would you recommend to make navigation better?”
Lights, locks and carrying capacity is a must. Rechargeable lights are a must, if you are shelling out some cash, the dynamo lights are incredible and give you a great piece of mind.
For locks, I recommend Kryptonite u-locks (Opens in a new tab) As a classic chain or heavy e-bike chain. And for carrying capacity, there are two paths in my mind: floats or baskets. I love Banjo Brothers bags (Opens in a new tab) For a lower price point while still being superior in quality. And the top end, very high quality, Ortlieb bags (Opens in a new tab) These are great options. It’s also a great option if you’re switching between different bikes and bike racks because the mounting mechanism is customizable. And last but not least in the Pacific Northwest: rain. The Cleverhood Rover rain robe is a must-have. Throw it in your bag and when it’s raining throw it on whatever you’re wearing.
In general, there is no bad way to go to work by bike. Get on a bike, get out there, and as always happy riding!
#learned #commuting #bike #year