Hey Birdfans! A friendly reader sent me a nice comment on my post titled, Willistown United Methodist Church Members Ignore Stranded Cyclist. If you don't remember this post, I wrote about how I blew out a tire in front of this church on a Sunday morning, while church was letting out, and nobody offered me help. This happened while I was bike commuting from West Chester, PA to Philadelphia, PA, a 60-mile round trip that I do about four times a week.

Anyway, in regards to the question: the reader seemed interested in finding out more about my bike commute. Here's what he/she asked:

You commute 60 miles a day and are on track for 10,000 miles for the year. I think you're capable of handling this problem on your own. It's no one else's responsibility to help you out! You should at least have a cell phone and some money with you, if worse comes to worst. And if there were so many churchgoers pulling in and out of the lot, I'm sure you could've walked approached one of them as they were getting or out of their car, and asked for help if you really needed it. Most of them probably just saw a cyclist fixing a flat and went about their business. It's really not a two-person operation. I doubt they looked closely enough to see that your tube itself had blown out - and even if they had, what did you want them to do? Give you and your bike a ride home? In conclusion, shame on you for a) thinking you were automatically owed help - without having to ask, even, and b) leaving your trash for someone else to pick up, just because because no one stopped to rescue the whiny entitled kid.

Thanks for the question, reader! It seems that this reader was really curious in finding out more about how I accomplish my commute, so I figured I'd show you all some of the gear I use.

Think about it, I commute 60 miles, often in the dark, on a bicycle, with weather that sometimes is below 30 degrees. Let's take a look at how I do it!

1. Tire Liners -

I use these Stop Flats 2 Bicycle Tire Liner / Tube Protector to help prevent flats. After my first few weeks of commuting, I found that, even though I was using some of the toughest tires out there (Continental Gatorskin Folding Bicycle Tire), I was still getting about two flats a week. Since I started riding with the tire liners and the Gatorskins, I'll get maybe one flat every two weeks.

2. Reflective Vest

I bought this baby at my local bike shop, and it's been great. It looks like a construction worker vest, it's mesh (so it doesn't catch much wind), and it's crazy reflective at night. The reflective vest is a must for night-time riding.

3. Disarmingly adorable bike horn

Inevitably, I run into drivers or other pedestrians who find it insulting that I would dare ride a bike on their road... WHO THE HELL DO I THINK I AM!? GET OFF THE ROAD YOU MORON!

To deal with this, I started using this cute baby toad bike horn. A couple honks from this bike horn, and I have turned anyone's frown right upside down.

4. Super-powerful bike lights

Pictures cannot really do these lights justice. I have a 400 lumen head light and a 400 lumen taillight from Dinotte Lighting. You can check out the website here. These things are so bright, I can't even look directly at them. They are 100% visible during the day, and, at nighttime, they make me look like a police motorcycle. Below is a picture of the taillight, which I have mounted on my rear rack. These lights are so bright, I once had an old lady roll down her car window and tell me that the lights blinded her and made it hard to drive. Take that, old lady!

5. Rear Rack and Panniers

The rack is a solid metal frame that attaches to the bike frame, over the rear wheel of the bike, and the panniers are little bags that attach to the rack and help me carry all my crap. I got the rack from Old Man Mountain (website here). Because I am using a Cannondale road bike frame, and not a frame designed for commuting, I got the Old Man Mountain rack that attaches through the quick release on the rear wheel. I got some Jandd Panniers from Trophy Bikes in Philly, which is an awesome bike shop if you're ever in the area. I've got some pictures below that show the rack, the quick-release attachment, and the panniers.

6. Custom, duct tape windproofing on the Helmet

Basically, I covered up the vents on my helmet with duct tape to keep the cold wind out. As shown above, I had been spending so much damn money on racks, panniers, adorable toad horns, etc., that I didn't feel like spending more cash on a helmet cover. The duct tape gets the job done.

7. Tools and repair gear

I couldn't really fit it all into one picture, so I just am showing a few of the repair tools that I carry. I carry about 4 CO2 cartridges, three tubes, a spare tire, a hand pump, assorted allen wrenches, plus and minus sign screw drivers, plyers, and a few extra, random sized nuts and bolts. The picture below shows one of the pannier bags, the spare tire, and the hand pump.

In addition to all this stuff I've pictured, I'll also always carry my cell phone and my Garmin edge 605 GPS unit. I'll wear some super warm clothing on the colder days, such as a GoreTex jacket, windproof bibs tights, gloves, windproof shoe covers, etc. Most of my ride is either right next to a train line, or on a road with a Septa bus line, so if I break down, I can always catch the public transportation.

I think that's it. Do you have any suggestions for anything else I could use for the commute?

I hope I've done a good job answering that reader's question!


BShow said... @ March 14, 2011 at 1:11 PM

There is a question in that comment, but you failed to answer it.

Let me reiterate the question for you...
What did you want them to do?

Your arrogance and ignorance are contributing factors as to why cyclists are generally disliked in our society. Shame on you for calling out people with such hatred and an air of entitlement for something that you did completely on your own accord. Had you been even a little proactive, you could have 1) been prepared enough to fix it yourself or 2) received help by simply swallowing your pride and asking for assistance. Instead, you blamed bystanders, stewed in your anger and then left your trash behind on private property. You are the only one to blame here.

Maybe they passed you by because you were angrily defacing their church's property? perhaps you were pacing back and forth ranting about your busted bike? Who knows. If you were acting any bit like you post here, I would have left you stranded too.

Frey said... @ March 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

dear friend -

thanks for your continued interest in the blog and in my cycling. Since you seem so interest in learning more about me, I thought maybe you'd like to buy your very own freybird t-shirt. Here's the link:


Glad to have you on board as a fan! I trust that next time you see a cyclist out there, you'll smile, wave, and (should they need some help) offer a helping hand <--- like I do when I see a stranded motorist.

Frey said... @ March 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Also, since you seem to know so much about what it is like to be a motorist who encounters a cyclist, could you please tell me more about what that's like? We cyclists have never in our lives been behind the wheel of a car!

leo707email said... @ May 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM

i enjoy reading your blog. im very interested the name of the orange vest. i need one for saftey.or a web site that can sell me a light air breathing vest like that one.


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