If you want to see why and how I use my hybrid bike, let's look at my route. As I stated in the last post, the hybrid bike is very nice on hills.
If you click on the first chart here, you can get a close up of the the route that I bike. The chart is a elevation vs distance route.
The total trip to work and back is 25 miles long.
Getting these types of charts is easier than it might seem: I put my GPS on my bike, ride the route, then download the data to my PC at home.
If you go to mile 12.9 and draw a line in the middle of the chart, you will notice that the two sides are almost mirror images. This is because I ride to work on one route, then I ride back on the exact same route. The two halves aren't perfectly matched, since the bike is in the office for 12 hours, and during that time the barometric pressure changed, making the return route look a little higher. However, it is close enough for you to understand the general principle.
Each slice in the hill chart represents 50 ft. As you can see, our house is at roughly 460 ft above sea level. I climb for 5.5 miles up to almost 1000 feet. Now, going from 460 to 1000 feet isn't much in a car, but it is a lot on a bike. It is roughly equivalent to walking up a 50 story building. Not a lot of people want to climb 50 set of stairs first thing in the morning.
With my hybrid bike, I can cruise up the hills at about 15 MPH on average per my GPS.
However, this is not the biggest advantage. In general, I find that the motor makes me much more safe. Here is a picture of my commute:
(If you click on the picture, you can get a close up of the map. )
At the bottom of the picture is my house. The red line is the route that I take into work. At the top of the chart is my work, roughly 12.9 miles away from my home via my bike.
If I drive, then the trip is roughly 11.6 miles. By bike it is a bit longer, 12.9 miles or so. Actually, I take a slightly longer route than is even necessary.
Why is that? Because I can.
When I got hit on my bike in San Jose, I was late at night. I had been working hard, and I just wanted to get home. I was tired, and I didn't feel like taking the backroads. So, I took the main roads, which had a nice bike lane but was very busy.
Frankly, biking is a law of averages. The way that I figure it, the more cars that you have the more chances that somebody will drift over a line an hit you. The more intersection that you have, the more chances that somebody will pull out in front of you or turn into a side street or entrance in front of you.
In San Jose, I was on a very busy street with a lot of side turns.
On the fateful night that I was hit, I had been passing a bus back and forth on the trip. On a particular section of the road, the bus had to pick up passengers so it wasn't going that fast. I thought the bus driver had been tracking me, and I was paralleling the bus as we came up to a corner. The bus turned without his blinker, as I was going straight. I crashed into the side of the bus, and an angel must have pulled me out of the wheels, since my bike got completely run over.
Now, on my route into work, I have a couple of very busy sections with a lot of cross streets. However, these busy sections are the fastest way of getting into work. I'll repeat the picture above, I've highlighted a couple of faster segments in green on the same map. If I was riding without my motor, I would be tempted to take these green sections.
However, since I have the extra power of the motor, I simple punch the button and take a slightly slower route than is marked in red. The motor allows me to take safer routes because I figure that I'm getting a bit of a break anyways. The second green section on the map is up a hill. Without the motor, I know that I really wouldn't want to take the route because not only is it longer, but there is a hill that would scrub another 5 minutes onto my overall time. However, with the motor it is more like a minute or so.
So, here you have it: my bike commuting story and how a motor can make you safer. I can't think of a better use for my time. I get to save money. I get to work out.
And I can do it all at a relaxed pace, and for 5 cent of electricity.
It's a good system.