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Bike to Work Week 2012: The highs and lows and everything in between

Bike to Work Week 2012: The highs and lows and everything in between

Kristin is all smiles after almost a week of biking and rain!

It’s Bike to Work Week this week! And we’ve asked intrepid TransLink staffer and HUB blogger Kristin Lillyman to share her experiences of the week through the Buzzer blog. This is Kristin’s second Buzzer post. Check out what Kristin wrote earlier this week!

For the Fall Bike to Work Week (BTWW) this year, I challenged myself to bike every day. I love a challenge, but when I saw the weather forecast, I’ll be honest, I got a bit nervous. I would say I regularly bike five days a week in the summer, but when the fall comes and the rain hits, I definitely bike less. Normally, if the forecast is calling for substantial amounts of rain (like Wednesdays forecast for 50 – 70mm’s), I take transit instead. But this week, I put on my game face and was determined to bike through whatever Mother Nature threw at me. This week challenged me, and I definitely had some highs and lows, but I have learned a lot more about biking to work and about myself.

The highs:

I love the commuter stations that are scattered throughout the region for BTWW. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, there is still one more day to stop in at a station and get some treats. On my way home on Tuesday, I arrived at a commuter station at Dunsmuir and Richards just before 6pm. It was pouring rain, I was soaked, but there were several smiling, happy volunteers handing out free goodies, and one even sang to me. It was such a nice positive break, so thank you volunteers!

I tested out a lot of different types of clothing this week, a rain poncho, a rain jacket, rain booties, my Hunter rain boots, etc. I also saw diverse ‘rain gear’ on other commuters, from full on gortex to regular work clothes with a simple rain jacket. It was fun to observe how people handle biking in the rain. I even saw a man wearing a really nice suit biking over the Dunsmuir Viaduct holding an umbrella. I was impressed! I don’t think I am coordinated enough to pull that off, but it was awesome.

Another highlight was on my way home on Tuesday night. There was a fellow commuter biking close to me for a good part of my commute. She eventually caught up to me at a stop light and exclaimed that she had been trying to keep up with me the whole way home and had shaved 15 minutes off of her commute time. She told me that it was her best commute home ever! I normally don’t go super fast and hate being a ‘competitive commuter cyclist’ but this was awesome. I was so glad I made her commute a good one and she made mine better with her nice friendly chat.

The lows:

Last night I biked home with a colleague in light rain, and was having a great ride. I had rain pants with me in my pannier, but decided I didn’t need to wear them. Then with about 5-6 kilometers left in my commute, the rain picked up and it became an absolute torrential downpour. I have rarely even seen rain in Vancouver that heavy and it was like I was biking through rivers. Now, this may have been a ‘low’ but I had to just laugh. Within minutes my shoes were soaked through and my gloves had puddles in them. I was going to be wet, I just had to accept it and smile through it.

Another BTWW hiccup took place on my commute into work this morning. When I was switching gears, my chain fell off and I had a little spill in front of people near Patterson SkyTrain Station. Luckily, I know how to fix this, and quickly put my chain back on and carried on with my ride.  It is definitely a good idea to know how to fix your chain if it falls off, and it’s really simple! The incident was slightly embarrassing and not the best way to start the morning, but the fresh air afterwards made it much better.

My least favorite part of my daily commute is when I feel unsafe on certain routes, or have close encounters with cars. This scares me and can cause my heart to jump out of my chest when all I’m trying to do is get home safely. Even a honk from a car (not normally directed at me by the way!), can be quite alarming when you’re on your bike, and sometimes makes me jump out of my seat. I always plan my route ahead of time and try to stay on designated bike lanes and avoid areas with a lot of traffic.

Five Things I learned this week:

1)  Hunter rain boots aren’t actually so bad to bike in.


2)  After about 10km’s of riding in the rain, ‘water resistant’ translates to water dripping down hands, arms and legs, and shoes filling up with water.


3)  A rain cape actually does keep you pretty dry even though I feel a little silly in it.


4)  The weather can change drastically during your commute, and sometimes you just need to laugh when caught in a torrential downpour.


5)  That I will most likely remain a ‘fair-weather’ cyclist in the end.  A little rain doesn’t scare me off, but because I am close to transit, I will continue to use that option when there is heavy rain in the forecast.


There is still one more day to participate in Bike to Work Week and the weather isn’t looking so bad, so sign up and ride on. Happy cycling everyone!


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