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Commuter Stories

Fast Dogs, agressive drivers, blizzards or awesome rides to work.

We want to hear about it.

Email us your commuter stories.

The History of the Balaclava

    Last week we were hit with another round of blizzards in Kalamazoo.  On Wednesday night they closed some of the interstate and automobiles littered the ditch and shoulder like discarded match box cars.

     I pedaled on, except on icy hills where I was required to hike-a-bike.  I definitely do not advocate riding when the roads are treacherous but I braved the storm to prove a point.  There are no good excuses for not riding your bike.

    The real reason I rode to and from school was the discovery of my long lost balaclava, not to be mistaken for a Baklava, the sweet pastry.  A Balaclava serves as winter head gear that covers your neck, ears and mouth if you so desire.

    The balaclava was originated in the town of Balaklava Crimea where the cotton masks were knitted to protect the British Troops from cold weather.



Surviving Zero

The weather channel calls for 12 inches of snow, school is closed and there is no point in shoveling until it stops.

What are you going to do?

Watch Sports Center? Watch your favorite You Tube Videos?  Visit Team  After surfing the web and couch get out and ride.

The key to surviving below zero wind chill is layers.  Here are some tips:

  • Wicking layers touching your skin.  Patagonia makes some great wool that stays dry and stink free
  • Thermal and a shell.  One to keep you warm, the other to block the wind
  • Socks, sandwich baggy, more socks, shoes, then booties.  Numb Toes are the biggest complaint of outdoor winter riders.
  • The same tip goes for your fingers.  I have seen gigantic mittens and multiple glove layers.  Do what it takes to stay comfortable for your frigid ride.
  • Eye protection, lip balm and bright colors.  No explanation needed here.

Beware of Black Ice

This past week threw some interesting weather patterns at bicycle commuters across West Michigan. 

From a 60 degree sock soaking thunderstorms



To below freezing ice covered black top 

Even with the weather patterns short daylight hours i am still logging my miles.  Some low cost suggestions to make life easier when it is below zero include sandwich baggies under your socks, neoprene glove liners and motivating music on your IPOD.  Punk, Country, Metal, Classic Rock, whatever keeps the pedals turning over even though your toes are frozen. 

I know leave you with some bike rack fashion. 







Take care and stay safe 


Name: Dan Frayer

Location: Kalamazoo MI

Miles Commuted per week: 90

Winter Commuting Essentials: Full Fenders, Single Speed Bike, Wool Socks, flashing head and tailights.

Mother nature graced us with the dreaded white flakes that fall from the sky today.  Winter's burden is here to stay and I won't let that stop my commute.  I enjoy it too much.  I took full advantage of the wet cold weather and rode my bike to school.  I commute year round because it saves gas, saves money, helps the environment and is an easy way to get in a workout before and after work or school.

Brian's Six Day Tour Across Michigan

August 13-18, 2007, a kind of mini-Lake tour around Lake Michigan.
Day 1: South Haven-Grand Haven
Day 2: Grand Haven-Montague
Day 3: Montague-Ludington, then across to Manitowoc on the ferry
Day 4: Manitowoc to Milwaukee
Day 5: Milwaukee to Zion, IL
Day 6: Zion to Chicago

The weather was nearly perfect for the entire trip, with most days in the low 80's and clear. The adventure took me on a nice mix of country roads, bike paths, rail trails, and bike lanes and was mostly flat. I had the good fortune of meeting many wonderful people, such as Tom in Grand Haven, Mike in Racine, and Steve in Zion. I did the trip entirely on my own, averaging about 65 miles a day and around 13-14 miles per hour on my fully loaded bike. Traveling on a solo bicycle trip allows a person exceptional freedom of everything, including schedule and pace. I could spend as much or as little time in the scenic villages around the lake as I wanted, and could ride at whatever pace my legs would allow (which sometimes wasn't so fast!) I've learned that bicycle touring is a great lesson in patience. One learns to move at a much slower pace and enjoy it, as well as take the time to enjoy the sites, sounds, and smells of life. The general public, and driving public, is generally very courteous and kind, as well as very curious. I always feel safer riding a fully loaded bike than I do on a "naked" bike in my hometown, as drivers generally (but not always) give you a wider berth. Folks in the towns and at campgrounds are usually very curious and often amazed. They watch you roll in, and realize that something is quite different when, 15 minutes later, your entire campsite is constructed and you're already in the showers!

To me there's no better way to travel. While I'm still a relative rookie (only 3 trips), I've been bitten severely by the bike touring bug and am already scheming what I might be able to do next year. With proper training and equipment it's a great vacation, and you see much more than you do if you're traveling in a car.



Happy Trails!

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ~ Albert Einstein

Brian C. Clissold, Music Director
Battle Creek Girls' Chorus
Battle Creek Community Chorus


$3.43 per gallon

What is your excuse for driving now?