Name: Tom Limon
Company/Workplace: IBM/Biketropolis (biketropolis.com)
Occupation/Position: IT Support/Tour Guide
Bike: Cannondale Bad Boy 2
Tom Limon was never a stranger to bicycles, but he used to be strictly a mountain biker. He would ride for fun on the weekends, then take public transit to his job in IT support at IBM. But four years ago, he had a change of heart. “I felt waiting for the bus or train, and being crammed in like sardines was not the greatest feeling in the world to start your day off,” he recalls. “So I decided to bike commute.”
His original commute was 8 miles (12.9 km) each way, then he moved, and his commute became 14 miles (22.5 km) each way. Then he moved again, and it’s now a staggering 25 miles (40 km) each way.
“I probably won’t be biking every day with my new distance,” he admits, “But any chance I get I will be on my bike. For instance, this past week I did the commute 3 times.”
You would think I would be tired by the bike I arrive to work but I am actually energized and happier when I arrive to work and feel more productive.”
Like any new bicycle commuter, Tom had to do some learning and adjusting along the way to figure out the best way to bike to work in different conditions. “I felt a little out of my element at first,” he says. “But it didn’t take too long for me to get the hang of it and I’m still learning something new every day. I am always looking for ways to improve my route and mindset.”
What amazed him at first was how much faster it is to bike than to drive around the inner city. “I once saw a road racer in full kit biking on a bike share bike (Divvy in Chicago) carrying his high-end road bike that obviously must have had a mechanical issue to a bike shop for a repair,” he recalls.
Fast forward to the present day, and Tom has taken his love of bike commuting to the next level. He now curates and organizes guided bicycle tours of Chicago under the name Biketropolis, in addition to his desk job at IBM. He takes both visitors and locals on thoughtfully curated rides to explore the city’s architecture, history, and scenery. While his leisure-time hobbies include basketball, camping, live music, and craft beer, now he has another way to spend his down time as well. “On the weekends I’m either testing Biketropolis cycling tour routes, or leading the tours in Chicago.”
PACK IT UP, PACK IT IN
When he first started bike commuting, Tom was carrying all of his gear in a regular backpack. “This is a very bad idea,” he says, especially for somebody with a long commute. So he ended up going for the Pannier Backpack.
“I feel more comfortable now that I have a backpack that snaps on my rear rack, and I love it because if I am walking around at an event I can still carry it on my back like a traditional backpack.”
Over time, he became adept at testing out different packing methods to make the most out of his bike’s storage capacity. “My rear rack has lowered tubular rails and the slider rails on top so when I need more storage, I can have panniers and a slider trunk.” And his advice for new bike commuters? “Packing the night before is a big one for me. And I’m always experimenting with different ways to fold my clothes tight and their arrangement in my bag, you would be surprised what you can fit in a bag with some creativity.”
Tom has even been modifying his older model 2WG backpack to suit his specific needs. “I am adding a little Velcro strap about a couple inches above the mesh water bottle pocket to help secure a bike pump perhaps on both sides so I can select what side to store it on. I am also adding removable netting on the front of the bag to secure a helmet while I am walking around.”
This is why, among other reasons, Tom is such an exciting addition to our ambassador team, as our customer’s feedback is what keeps us motivated and improving with each new line.
GOOD ADVICE FOR NEW BIKE COMMUTERS
Tom remembers back to the early days of bike commuting, when he was held back by similar hesitations that many people face: “Trying to figure out what clothing to wear, how to deal with automobile traffic, and how to prepare for imperfect or unpredictable weather days.”
But over time, he’s realized that it doesn’t need to be as complicated as many people think it is, and advises new bike commuters to start slowly. “Test your route to work on a day and time with less traffic and try out various routes until you find one that you enjoy,” he advises. “You don’t have to bike in rain and snow but most people I know who started biking to work on nice days slowly learned how to layer up, or what to pack, and started biking on the days that were not perfect weather days.”
Now his impressive 25 mile route takes him through varied scenery on the way to work each day. “I get to enjoy several types of riding on my way to work: shared roads, bike lanes, bike paths, and trails. You would think I would be tired by the bike I arrive to work but I am actually energized and happier when I arrive to work and feel more productive.”
We are extremely happy to welcome Tom to the Two Wheel Gear ambassador team, and grateful for his feedback on the Pannier Backpack Convertible. If you find yourself in Chicago, you can join Tom on one his tours through Biketropolis!