Tuesday, July 31, 2007

August Commuter Profile: Alan Badia

Alan has been commuting via bicycle to work for 2 years. Recently, the corporate headquarters of his workplace moved across the bay into Pinellas county. He has not found a safe route there yet, but he is working on it. He is the Creative Coordinator and Webmaster of Suncoast Roofers Supply, Inc. His job consists of creating various marketing materials (print and Internet) including magazine production, publication advertisements, promotional materials, logo creation, website creation and administration, search engine optimization, video production, graphic illustration, etc. The Suncoast Roofers Supply, Inc. headquarters used to be located in Tampa, which was really convenient for bike commuting where he would start from his front door in Old Seminole Heights through downtown/Bayshore Blvd. to Reo Street, near Tampa International Airport. The new corporate headquarters is now located on Ulmerton Road, near 49th street. He hasn't found a safe route to this new location yet, but he is working on that -- don't tell his wife though.
Alan started commuting for a few reasons:
#1 Mileage
. I am on a racing team and to be able to compete in bicycle races you need to put in 300-400 miles per week to really be able to have a chance at placing in the Top 10. Riding to work and back is about 22 miles, which doesn't sound like much but if you add that every day you've got 100 miles alone in the commute. I usually train on the way home from work on the bike, and there lies the benefit for me. I don't have to travel in the car to train. It's built into the commute! That worked out very well.
#2 Lack of stress. Sure cycling on the streets through Tampa is stressful, but not as stressful as being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Talk about a waste of time! With my busy schedule I don't have time to waste sitting in traffic. I can make it home faster on my bike than in the car! Of course, you've got to be super-alert when cycling on Tampa's streets. But I've noticed it really hones your alertness. I have averted many automobile crashes due to lighting fast reactions I've been able to make with drivers that either don't see me, misjudge the distance, or are on the phone not paying attention. Oh, don't get me started on cell phones and drivers. I almost got run over by a driver on a cell phone recently. Just make sure you are very visible using everything you can to stand out and be seen. I wear a rear helmet light, rear bike light, very bright front light, DOT flame orange vest, ankle reflectors, flame orange shorts and jersey, flame green backpack (with reflective material) and a rear light attached to that. You cannot be too safe.#3 Fitness. If you ride to work, you WILL get in shape. All those extra calories you're burning to and from work really add up. It's a great way to lose some weight, maintain weight and improve your fitness. After all, you have to get to work anyway. Why not ride there and benefit at the same time?

#4 Relaxation. I typically use Bayshore Blvd. as one of the routes to and from work. If you've never seen the Bayshore at sunrise you are missing out. It is beautiful. It's also calm and tranquil at that time of day -- much different than the rest of the day when it's busy with cars and pedestrians every where. Sometimes I just stop there and watch the sun come up, taking in the reflection of it off the mirrored buildings of our downtown skyline. It truly is a great way to start my day!

#5 Money I save on gasoline. It's such a good feeling to get in the car on the weekend and the gas gauge has hardly moved. With today's gas prices, you save some serious coin by bike commuting to work.

"My training/everyday bike is a carbon GIANT TCR Advanced Team Healthnet that was used by the Professional Racing Team in 2005 season. It's a treat to train on this bike. It weighs 14.5 lbs., which is very light for a training bike. My road racing bike has the same exact geometry. It is a carbon GIANT TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team bike. The same bike the T-Mobile squad used last year in the Tour de France. I have this bike setup with compact carbon cranks and superlight wheels, along with lots of weight-saving components and parts. It weighs 12.3 lbs. Racing on this bike is like driving a Ferrari. I use it in the mountains and have maxed out at 59 mph. And it's stable at that speed too. I also have a custom painted hot yellow P2K time trial bike. I have raced this bike in triathlons and time trials for 6 years. The bike to this day still looks brand new. I just had my fastest 15K time trial this month on this bike averaging 26.78 mph for 9 miles. It is a super-fast bike and one of a kind color. Unfortunately my work does not promote workplace cycling, but I am working on that. I try ride at least 300 miles per week. The more the better.

I learned the hard way by almost getting run over a few times due to not having a front light that was bright enough. For a cyclist, one of the most dangerous scenarios is you're going down the road and you're approaching a car on a side street that has his left blinker on. And the car also has dark tinted windows. You don't know if the driver sees you or not as you cross in front of him. If he doesn't see you, he could run you over and kill you instantly. I had many close calls in those early morning low-light commutes to work going down North Boulevard. Cars would pull out in front of me causing me to take evasive maneuvers to avoid hitting them. I determined that my front light must not be bright enough. So I purchased a very expensive front light and I haven't had the same incident since (knocking on wood). Expensive is actually relative here though. You cannot put a price on your life, so I say buy the brightest light you can find for your own good and peace of mind.

Most people think I'm insane when I tell them I bike to work in Tampa. And I can understand there feeling there. Tampa can be a very challenging bike commute. But I'm living proof that it can be done. Like they say, where there's a will there's a way. Most people have curious questions like how many miles do you ride a week or ever been hit by a car? Some people say they'd like to try it.

Get the brightest front light and brightest flashing rear light you can find. Load yourself up with visibility aids to make yourself as visible as possible. Most drivers that hit cyclists say they never saw the cyclist. If someone hits me, the first words out of my mouth are going to be 'Don't tell me you didn't see me'. High visibililty is one way to avoid problems. And always ride predictably. Drivers will respect you if you obey the laws and show them respect. And always carry a cell phone, some cash, extra tube, air, tire levers and wear a Road ID.

If you are a beginner, Alan suggests joining a bicycle club for beginners. It's a great way to learn to ride, while enjoying the company of other riders. Then, as you work your way up, join on on the local group rides. We have some of the best local group rides around. Many of them have local pros that you can benefit from as they drive the pace very high. You can benefit greatly from high-paced group rides. Or if you want to just ride, get your bike there and just experience life on a bike. It's great to just get out there and tool around on a bike.


Adam said...

Great story. I like the helmet.

Shanna said...

We need more bicycle commuters here in Tampa. When driver's see bicyclists frequently, they may begin to accept that we have the same rights to the road as they do. And we are helping them by lessening traffic congestion.

Greg said...

We need some type of mapping service for bicycle commuting. We could all contribute to the routing.

Joseph said...

Bicycle commuters are helping everyone. We are using sustainable transportation.

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