Name: Mitch Berg
Commuter since: 2007
Home: Saint Paul
Workplace: A financial service company in downtown Saint Paul. Also, on the weekends, AM1280 The Patriot in Eagan, where I am a fire-breathing conservative talk show host.
Bike shop: Express Bike Shop, Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.
How many bikes? One.
The commuter bike: 1984 Fuji Monterey with a 27” frame. It’s tall. I bought it in college, and used to ride it obsessively until I got married. Over the years, I’ve replaced the crank, both derailleurs, the brakes…pretty much everything but the frame and the seat. Knock wood.
Equipage: Backpack, usually, and a handlebar bag for a spare tube, tools, and to put my wallet and cell phone.
Essentials: Water bottle! Also, I keep my MetroPass in my wallet, in case I need a lift, which has only happened once this year (again, knock wood).
Luxuries: None! Thinking about installing one of those mud-guard/pannier racks in back for some longer-distance riding, but that’s a ways off. Also thinking about a Camel-Bak, and maybe one of those handlebar travel-mug holders.
Clothes: T-shirt, basketball shorts, sneakers. My employer provides a locker room, so I avoid the whole “reeking like a bear” thing. I could not do the whole “ride in my work clothes” thing, because I just can not ride slowly; my natural pace is just plain fast. I usually carry a change of office casual clothes to work in the backpack or, if I happen downtown over the weekend, store a couple of changes at the office. I keep a change at work anyway, just to be safe.
Typical route: I have two routes to work. One – to Summit via a few backstreets - is safe (mostly bike lanes), beautiful, and fun (especially the home stretch, swooshing down John Ireland Boulevard as fast as I can pedal), and about six miles/25 minutes. The other – down Minnehaha and Como to the Capitol area – is dangerous, the roads are like a goat path, it runs through Frogtown, and it’s about 4.5 miles/under 20 minutes. It can make for a tough choice. See TCBike map.
On Saturdays, I ride to the radio station; usually, I usually go down East River Road to Ford Parkway, then take the trail down Hiawatha/Minnehaha to Fort Snelling. From there, I go across the Mendota Bridge to Highway 13 (or, if the legs aren’t there, I take the train from the fort to the mall, and catch the bus the rest of the way).
What got you started? I biked constantly, well into my twenties. I loved it, and missed it after I stopped. Last year, I finally had a job in St. Paul after years of driving to the western ‘burbs. The kids were older and able to do mornings without me being all over ‘em, and I needed to get in shape, so I figured the time was right.
How often? My goal was to start at the beginning of April; the weather postponed me to about the 15th. But it’s been five days a week since then, and six a week since mid-May, when I started biking to the station; I think I’ve missed maybe three days.
What makes it work for you? Working in Saint Paul, and my kids being older and a little more self-sufficient.
The Best: As a conservative (and talk show host), pulling up next to a Prius plastered with “Obama” and “Wellstone” stickers and yelling “You should be ashamed of yourself, you gas-guzzling planet-killer”, and watching the cognitive dissonance as they notice my “NRA” T-shirt.
The Worst: Never had one (knock wood again!).
The Weirdest: Getting into my first bike traffic jam, going up Cathedral Hill one night after work. Too many bikes backed up at the light, couldn’t get ‘em going!
The Funniest: Reading Charlie Quimby’s note about recumbents usually having overweight middle-aged owners. I’ve broken out laughing every time I pass a recumbent lately. I’m sorry, guys.
Favorite stop/sight: Stopping at the middle of the Mendota Bridge and looking out over the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers on a gorgeous, clear morning. Spectacular.
Advice: Ignore everyone (that isn’t headed toward your intersection in a car). Do what works. But just do it.