My name is Thomas and I commute about 3-5 times a week by bicycle in Jacksonville, NC. It’s home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (where I work) and isn’t known for it’s advanced urban or transportation planning.
My daily commute is between 10 and 11 miles (one-way) and is from the deserted urban area of Downtown Jacksonville to Camp Lejeune’s Main Side area and back. I can make the trip in about 50 minutes without too much effort. My preferred course is mostly on a paved multi-use path, but includes about two miles of on-road (sometimes with high-volumes of traffic) travel.
I ride a 2007 Trek 7.3fx that came stock with disc brakes. I’ve since switched from platform pedals to Shimano M324 combination pedals with a platform on one side and clipless on the other. I’ve also swapped out the stock handlebar/shifters/brake levers for a set of drop-bars, bar-end shifters and ergo brake levers. I use a rack with trunk and sometimes a set of cheap Schwinn panniers from Wal-Mart. I’ll get deeper into my setup in later posts, but for reference, that’s my ride.
Riding on-road in Jacksonville is…exciting at best. The majority of motorists are 18-22 year-old male Marines in sports-like cars (think Ford Mustangs) and lifted 4-wheel-drive trucks. They’re hormone-driven, multi-tasking (cell phones, iPods, shaving; I’ve seen it all) living-embodiments of death for bicyclists. The drivers that aren’t military are often older folks that don’t think bicycles are anything other than a child’s toy and definitely don’t rate to use “their roads.” I’ve had my share of run-ins with drivers and you’ll hear about those in future posts.
In addition to commuting, I work to advocate for bicycle and pedestrian access in Jacksonville. I have served on the City of Jacksonville’s Trails and Greenways Commission and the Recreation and Parks Commission. I’m currently chairman of both groups. I’m also fairly active in the local bicycle club, the Down East Cyclists, but the club does not participate in advocacy.
That’s me. In upcoming posts we’ll discuss the equipment I use, the stuff I want, how I survive in Jacksonville and how we can all make a difference through bicycle advocacy.
This guest article is by Thomas Brock. Thomas will be an on going guest writer, bringing his own commuting stories, gear reviews and other helpful tips to Commute By Bike.