Chip Martens — The simple joy of riding a bike

Back in April of 2017, I made a weird decision; I decided I wanted to try commuting to work by bike.

My history of bikes

A lot of the best childhood memories took place on two wheels. Country gravel rides with my dad on a quest to see who could tackle the biggest puddle. The feeling of freedom to explore the city and visit my friends whenever I wanted. Custom building my first BMX bike. Touring Western Canada with 14 other teenagers stuffed into a van.

After a big accident, I realized that this might not be something I could do for the long-term. I hung up my BMX and picked up a road bike. Though I enjoyed the feeling of the open road and going fast, it wasn’t for me. I swapped my road bike in for a murdered out beach cruiser and never looked back.

The beach cruiser is so simple to maintain with next to nothing that can go wrong. My wife was donated a similar cruiser from my grandma, and they’ve treated us great.

Spring commute

I can’t recall what sparked my desire to take my bike to work, as it was still early in spring with snow on the grounds, but I decided to mount my bike and make my short 15-minute commute. The cold air hitting my lungs felt amazing, even though it was a little uncomfortable, but the sunrises were beautiful and worth it. Soon, the days became longer and the rides were more and more enjoyable.

Gearing up

One thing I forgot about biking was how windy it gets in Manitoba. My single speed beach cruiser just wasn’t cutting it anymore for the long open stretches of road. I needed some gears to make the commute a little easier and keep me a little less sweaty when wearing my work attire.

Coming from a BMX background, I wanted something I could hop curbs, bomb down hills and abuse a little bit; something that could take a little abuse. I called up a few bike shops and connected with a few acquaintances through Instagram and they all pointed me to a good “starter bike”.

Pro Tip — Get a bike with rack & fender mounts for commuting. The rainy season hit and having a wet back sucks. It’s amazing how much fenders help fight off the water.

Winter Commuting

It’s something I didn’t think about when I started commuting by bike, but winter is here. I can’t guarantee that I’m going to stick through the winter riding my bike, but I think I’m going to give it a try, or at least ride as long as possible.

After some encouragement from other local riders, I decided to swap out my bikes slicks and replace them with some Schwalbe Marathon Winter (700 x 2.00″) studded tires. I also ordered up a bright headlight and taillight to keep me visible for the days the sidewalk isn’t cleared and to light up the bike path on the days that it is.

Check back in Spring for the results!