We continue our trend this month of introducing you to locals who commute to work by bicycle. Meet Jeff, Andy and Danny. All three commute from our North Shore suburbs. For anyone who is considering commuting by bike, they have some great suggestions.
Jeff Kopiwoda, 40’s, Attorney, Restauranteur, Husband & Father of 2
Andy Cohen, 41, Attorney
Danny Grant, 49, Wealth Management
HG: How frequently do you commute to work?
JK: I try to ride to work a couple of days each week. Every other day I tote an extra fresh suit to the office.
AC: 2-4 days per week.
DG: I ride to work 2-4 times/month
HG: How far is your commute?
JK: About 19 miles each way, 38 miles on the day.
AC: 12.5 miles one-way
DG: About 18 miles each way.
HG: How long does it take you to make that commute?
JK: About 1:05 door to door. That’s only 5 to 10 minutes longer than commuting by train (I rarely drive) after you factor in walking from home to the Metra station, waiting for the train, riding the train, then walking from Ogilvie to the office. It’s great to be able to get 2 hours of cardio in for only an extra 15 minutes out of your day.
AC: It takes me anywhere from 37 to 55 minutes, depending on how peppy I am feeling that day and how much stuff I am carrying.
DG: It takes a little over an hour.
HG: How long does it take you to get to work when you don’t take your bike?
JK: About 55 minutes to 1 hour door to door (each way). Since Metra raised rates in February, commuting by train now costs about $8.50 each day (round trip with a 10-ride ticket). Riding 2x per week May through September translates to a $340 savings. Your savings can pay for your bike after only a couple seasons. I’m sure the savings is dramatically greater for drivers.
AC: It takes me maybe 10-15 minutes less if I drive.
DG: Approx. 50 minutes.
HG: What’s your route to get to the Loop?
JK: I take Sheridan from Kenilworth to Hollywood, then hop on the Lakefront bike trail along LSD to downtown. Here it is on MapMyRide >>
For those who prefer to avoid the roads (near Northwestern and Loyola can be dicey for newer riders), the North Shore Chanel Bike Trail offers another option, but you have to cross over to the Lakefront Trail at some point (I cross at Granville). Here it is on MapMyRide >> This route tacks on an extra 3 miles each way (about the length of the Granville stretch).
DG: I take a route that weaves through Evanston and Rogers Park before getting on the lakefront path. The route I take is somewhat well-known by bike commuters. Here it is on MapMyRide >>
Andy, describe your route north.
AC: North on Sheridan Road from downtown HP (right past Higher Gear), through Fort Sheridan. Then I get on the Green Bay trail North all the way to 176 (Rockland Road) and take the E/W branch trail over to Waukegan Road. It’s 1 mile up Waukegan to the South end of Abbott Park that is the only really traffick-y part. Sometimes I take the side streets through the local part of Lake Bluff to avoid that mile on Waukegan if the traffic is extra heavy or extra fast.
HG: What is your commuter bike?
JK: Colnago World Cup. I use the slightly more durable cross tires while commuting all summer, then swap them out for road tires a few weeks before the Wrigley Field Road Tour.
AC: When I have to carry a load (computer, lots of clothes, files, etc.), I’ll ride a cheapo Jamis Aurora touring bike I inherited from a friend because it has large bags that I can fill with stuff. I also use this setup to go grocery shopping, or I’ll pull a child trailer and fill that with groceries. On days I don’t have to carry much (other than maybe a light backpack load), I’ll ride my 2008 Specialized Tarmac that I got at Higher Gear. It’s a lot more fun than the Jamis, so I try to stash clothes at work and keep the loads light where possible so I can maximize my trips on the Tarmac versus the Jamis.
DG: I ride a sturdy crappy old cross bike, a Motobecane. It can handle the inevitable potholes and bad roads and, more importantly, no one wants to steal it!
HG: Are those your only bikes?
JK: I also have an old Specialized mountain bike that I use for cruising the neighborhood with the family.
AC: Other than the Tarmac and the Jamis Aurora, I also own a Jamis cyclocross bike that I inherited from a friend, and a really cheapo old Diamond Back mountain bike that I kick around on sometimes.
DG: I also ride a Cannondale Saeco Six road bike and an old school Specialized Stump Jumper mountain bike.
HG: What’s the lowest temperature you’ll ride in?
JK: I don’t ride when it’s below 60. I’m a fair weather rider, though I’ve been told that there’s no poor weather… only poor clothes.
AC: I’ll ride in any temperature. I have enough layers available to make almost any temperature ride-able. I stop when there’s too much snow/ice to get through safely.
DG: I’ll ride in the 20’s but only if there’s no ice on the ground.
HG: What is the most important item you bring on your commute?
JK: A zip lock plastic bag (rain or shine) for your ID, credit card and some emergency cash. Mobile telephone is a close runner-up, but that also goes in the plastic bag.
AC: Bike Computer.
DG: In the spring and fall, I won’t leave without my headlamp. During other times, I make sure that I’m well illuminated with other safety lights.
HG: Do you have any advice for people considering commuting?
JK: 1. Find a nearby gym or club with a shower and bike room that allows you to leave your bike overnight if necessary. Check with your office building – many provide these amenities free of charge. 2. Be organized. Have everything you will need to clean up and dress waiting for you at the office or gym. Forgetting a towel, cuff links or collar stays can bring down a good morning ride. 3. Check the weather before you start. Riding through a morning shower can be exhilarating but you don’t want to be riding in a lightning storm.
AC: 1. Scout your most traffic-free route in advance. 2. Stash clothes at work if possible to minimize what you have to carry. 3. Adopt a “can-do” attitude. I find that even on days that I feel tired or want to wimp out on a morning ride to work, by the time I get out there and get to work, I am always glad that I did it!
DG: First and foremost, be safe and ride defensively. There are so many ways for accidents to happen, and one needs to think ahead. Watch out for people opening car doors, watch out for pedestrians, etc. Next, make sure to prepare for the weather at both ends of your commute. Finally, remember to carefully pack your clothes. You don’t want to get to work and realize you forgot to pack your work shoes (happened to me) or underwear (also, happened to me).