Bike Commute to Work (Aug 30, 2019)

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ebike_commute_coverConditions: road cycling
Gear: commuter ebike
Map: n/a
Area: Mill Creek, Bothell, Woodinville, Redmond, WA
Reference: n/a
Stats: 34.54mi, 1198' gain (round trip)

I've been looking at ways to make the commute to work less stressful. I've been in the area now for exactly 23 years now and the pace of population growth (and the resultimg traffic congestion) has really accelerated in the last 5 years or so. A few years ago I got the car I'd always dreamed about getting because it can get me to just about any hiking trailhead I want. But it's a big car and I'm stuck in traffic 5 days a week. So looking to try to reduce my carbon footprint one of the tips is to use transit or ditch the gas car for a hybrid. But...I'm still going to be stuck in traffic. It dawned on me that I can consider an ebike that is not only environmentally friendly but it gets me off the roads and out of traffic. Hmmm...

I've been looking at a couple of ebike. I discounted the Rad ebikes pretty quickly because they seemed to be a kludge of various imported parts. Checking with some bike shops they also don't have the best record for reliability. They are however on the entry end of affordability so I can't fault someone for going that route. My goal is to ride to work 3 days a week and I knew I'd put close to 35 miles on the bike each day so I wanted something reliable and easy to clean and maintain (with the ability to upgrade components if needed). I had my eye on a Specialized Turbo Como and took that on a couple of ride. I was impressed but not enough to buy one...yet. I've been stashing some $ away the past several months and last weekend had some time so I went down to Gregg's at Green Lake to check the bikes out again. I had done a bit more research and changed my focus to the Specialized Turbo Vado. The Como was definitely more of a touring bike with what I call a Peewee Herman riding posture. The Vado seemed to be about half way between the Como and my Specialized Roubaix Sport (my skinny tire road bike). So I headed down to Gregg's with the goal of checking the Vado out.

I got to Gregg's and they were really helpful. They set me up with a 2018 Vado 5.0 to take on a test ride. It happened that as I was asking some details on the bike that they checked the price and it was incorrectly priced. The sales guy checked and it was in fact marked down further than the sales tag price. It was on sale for $1000 off the MSRP. Time to take it out for a ride...

I loved the Vado. The riding posture was a nice hyprid between a touring bike and my road bike. Super comfortable and it handled really well. The only significant difference between the 2018 Vado and the current 2019 was the 2019 has front shocks. Now that isn't something I need, especially if I could save $1000 by going with the 2018 bike. I thought about it, I did want to run this bike by I put a $20 deposit down on the 2018 bike. I talked to Steve that evening and he said go for it. So I headed back to Gregg's the next day and bought that bike along with a set of waterproof paniers and a good Kryptonite u-lock. I spent the next week fiddling with the settings and getting comfortable riding it around the neighborhood. I also used that test riding time to check out some safe ways to get from my house to the North Creek Trail in Canyon Park.

The week of test riding the bike around the neighborhood was a stressful week at work. Friday would be a good day to ride the bike to work. It would be likely lighter traffic (lots of people already heading out for the holiday weekend) and it's normally a slightly shorter day for me due to my compressed work schedule.

I set my alarm for the normal time but instead of waking and getting ready for work, I woke...hopped on the bike...and started cranking away. It's a little wierd being on a bike in the dark that early in the morning so I made sure the bike was lit up like a Christmas tree. I found a reasonable route that got me as far south on 527 as possible because I hate that road (people speed, there is lots of debris in the bike lanes, and there are several major intersections to get through). I picked up the North Creek Trail which is mostly good. It's a bit of a convoluted route on that trail and there is a stretch that is not paved and it's narrow (hard packed gravel) but the fat tires on the Vado did fine. I likely can bypass this section of the trail completely. On the edge of the UW campus in Bothell the North Creek Trail meets up with the Samammish River Trail and from there the route is wider, more direct, and failrly isolated from road crossings.

My commute time heading into work by car is about 35 minutes. By ebike it took me about an hour. I can probably shave some time off this as I get more familar with the route. The reverse commute home by ebike took about the same hour. So as I suspected as I set out on this project of mine...riding home by ebike takes about the same time as driving home by car ('s all due to rush hour traffic in the afternoon).

My impressions... I really like the Vado. I'm glad I went with this bike instead of the Como. Ebikes are heavy. The dead weight of my Vado is around 55 lbs. With lunch, a change of clothes, etc...the bike must be pushing 70 lbs. I have one very short steepish hill right near work and I was standing up on the peddles trying to get up the hill (even with the assist level set to the max).
ebike Commute to Work Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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