Anatomy of a commute

This was a great week for tandem commuting, road rage incident notwithstanding. Tuesday was world car free day. The daylight is holding out for us in the early fall. The weather was widely varied – sun, rain, heat, humidity, still, windy, fall chill, and all the lovely smells of the outdoors that come from these conditions.

Honey and I have now been living together out in the country for three months, and only now does the 20-mile commute into town start to feel like a normal commute, and not a huge bike ride that you have to get amped up for. Heat? We’re used to it. Low light? We have lights and reflective gear. Rain? It doesn’t stop us (well, not always).

The Burley.

The Burley.

Here’s an anatomy of our tandem commute and the bike and gear that make it possible and enjoyable. First, the equipment:

The Burley Duet in all its length. Ortleib panniers that, after nine years of daily commuting and multiple self-supported bike tours, are as functional and waterproof as the day I got them. They’re stuffed with clothes and enough food to get our ravenous selves through the day. Plus we can do a little grocery shopping after work – we hauled home two pie pumpkins last night in the panniers! (Hey, hungry honkers demand fresh food, and you can’t beat fresh pumpkin for pies and soups. Celebrate the slow life – slow transport, slow food…) Note the matchy Brooks saddles. Helmets are a must. As are sunglasses with changeable lenses, because no matter the light, you need to keep debris and bugs out of your eyes.

The pilot's cockpit.

The pilot's cockpit.

My handlebar bag holds lots of necessities – wallet, phone, keys, snacks, camera – and can even accommodate small shopping items, like that pint of yogurt that didn’t quite fit in the pannier yesterday.

"Vintage" Burley rain jacket.


A well-cut, rain-proof jacket with reflective strips (alas, Burley cut this line, too) and a bright, reflective safety vest. Essential and ultra-nerdy. But at least the vest is nicely complemented here by the model’s Paperhand Puppet Intervention t-shirt.


Gotta get those PSI up for fast rolling. I love these fat slick Continental Sportcontacts for their cadillac ride on rough roads.

Rolling out.

Rolling out.

Now we’re ready for the ride to work.

We cycle along lovely country lanes…


We hit Highway 54 for a quicker way to work in the morning when time is more of an issue. There’s more exposure to cars – heavy volume, generally traveling over 55mph – but the car lane is wider than most secondary highways in NC, and there a wide paved shoulder, another rarity in this state. Just look out for road debris, which is usually gravel strewn from driveways that enter onto the road.

Highway 54.

Highway 54.

Of course, the stoker has another great view:

The view from the rear.

The view from the rear.

The end.


1 Response to “Anatomy of a commute”

  1. 1 Greg September 26, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    What a great bike! I wish Dot and I had taken it for a spin before you left Chicago.

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