I live on the North Side of Richmond and work downtown at MCV, so I take Brook Road. It has two lanes, and the right lane is a parking lane wide enought to accomodate me even when passing parked cars. Two moderately formidable hills made it a decent albeit short workout. I currently commute on a 2001 K2 Newport. The bike sports a rear rack with "grocery bag" panniers, Speedplay Frog pedals, Specialized Bodygeometry saddle, bar ends, a SigmaSport battery powered lighting sytem, and soon will be upgraded to a Shimano Deore XL crank since I am destroying its original Shimano 201. I tend to be pro-active in my traffic riding style, using signalling and positioning to manage and educate the traffic. I try to treat the drivers with respect and avoid being adversarial, though I sometimes fail on the hot days and with unbelievably infantile behavior. I ride in all weather and at all temperatures - mountain bike clothes in hot weather, Street clothes in moderate weather, and an Xalt rainsuit for wet and cold weather. I sometimes carry my clothes in, but keep a pair of work shoes in my office.
After an unfortunate 15 year hiatus (see "tale of woe" below), I am back in the saddle. A 42 year old computer programmer who codes mostly in Java and Perl these days, I am married to my wife Lynn, who bike commutes to work also.
At the end of the main road of my route, at the top of the least trivial hill, I pass by the infamous Gilpin Court projects (known for drug murders). So far I haven't had any trouble except for the obligatory menacing glares from adolescents. Once I waved to a kid on a bike there and he started yelling "I'm gonna kill you" repeatedly. I generally assume a certain bond with all other bicycle riders, so this surprised me more than scared me. Near the end of my bohemian days I lived for three years in downtown Baltimore, so I take this kind of youthful attempt at intimidation with a grain of salt.
WHY I RIDE - My attraction to cycling springs from many compatible motivations. Cycling appeals to me technologically/philosophically, morally/ecologically, and viscerally. On a bicycle I am using an appropriate level of technology and energy. There is a small-is-beautiful elegance and a high degree of man-machine symbiosis which I find pleasing. I am minimizing my contribution to global warming and wars over oil. And most importantly, I get a lot of entertainment and satisfaction from working on and riding bikes. TALE OF WOE - When I was in my twenties I used the bike exclusively for transportation. In my mid-twenties I thought I had ruined my knee, because every time I rode the bike I would get crippling pain in my right kneecap. I am in my early forties now, and having abandoned my former bohemian lifestyle, have a health plan and went to an orthopaedic surgeon last November. We tried to reproduce the pain but couldn't. He recommended riding a byke in order to re-locate the pain, and since my old bike (a Campy Nuevo Record upgraded AD Inter10) needed considerable overhauling, I bought a new moderately priced hybrid, a K2 Newport. I found out after fifteen years that my problem had been tendonitis caused by angular misadjustment of my then-new Look pedals. It appears that what seemed a comfortable and natural angle (heels in) was disrupting my knee. I found this out by riding the Newport and a borrowed road bike with speedplay pedals. Once I got my leg stretched out, I realized that I could stop any pain by straightening out my foot. Suddenly not having any knee problems has given my a whole new lease on life. I really missed cycling, and am overjoyed to be back in the game.