Commuter Profile: Heath Miller

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I started biking for exercise and health reasons. I used to work out a lot, weightlifting mostly, and I realized that riding a bike actually loosens my muscles and keeps me more limber.

My Brooks seat gives the bike a little touch of authenticity. I also enjoy my mustache handlebars which were too low for me but you guys fixed that. Tanner at the Bicycle Habitat Chelsea location took care of me.

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Riding in the morning is much more enjoyable than at night. I ride down the westside highway and it’s nice, much more cleansing. It doesn’t feel like I’m going to work; I feel like I’m out for the day. Especially riding by the river, you feel like you’re at the beach or right next to the ocean. It feels like a little mini vacation for 30 minutes on the way to the office.

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I love boating. I live up on 104th and I break free from Riverside Park right above the 79th Street boat basin. It just opens up and it is just beautiful – the light is amazing, you can see and hear the boats rocking. I feel it has a great Montauk vibe, which I love. And on my commute back I can stop at the boat basin cafe and get a beer if I want.

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My wife takes the subway and I find I am faster on this than she is on the subway. And it’s cheaper!

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Heath Miller is founder and Brand Strategist for C H A L K 242, an experiential branding and creative firm in Chelsea, NYC. Heath has been making companies matter for over 17 years as Creative Director for brands like Express, Chicos, and Brooks Brothers before going out on his own. Heath lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Sarah-Mai, and commutes to the office where he loves bringing some of the best brands to life across all mediums, every day.

Photography by Eric LaCour.

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Ask Charlie: Commuter Checks

I receive about 50 emails a week with questions about all aspects of my business and cycling. Periodically I will answer on the blog.

My employers has a bicycle incentive program through Commuter Benefits where they take $20 pre-tax out of our paycheck and give us paper vouchers (called “Commuter Checks”) to use at NYC bike shops. I heard one of my co-workers used some of these vouchers at your shop. I just want to confirm that you accept them. If so, I’ll come on in. 

Most riders do not know about this great pretax benefit available to commuter cyclists. You can ask your participating employer to set aside up to $20 a month in pre-tax dollars to offset your bicycle commuter costs. Use it for a quick repair, new fall/winter gear, a winter tune, or save up to buy a new daily ride. As in most transit situations cyclists are the poor cousins – If you ride the rails, you can set aside $130 a month, and if you drive, you can set aside $250. Given the growing global warming crisis and all the benefits cycling provides to society and to our individual health, I would expect the benefits to be reversed, with cars getting the short end of the straw and cycling getting incentivized and encouraged.

Back in 2001, I was part of a group of cycling advocates urging Congress to add commuter cycling to the transit check benefit. We have NY’s Senator Schumer to thank for introducing and pushing the legislation in the Senate and most of the New York City house delegation for co-sponsoring the bill in the House. We had to revisit the issue when we lobbied Congress again in 2002, and this time the bill made it to the floor with success.

If your employer does not offer transit check, here’s a link to learn more and help you and them get started:  www.mycommutercheck.com

-Charlie

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Me and My Turbo: a note from Charlie about the bike that changed everything

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Me and my Turbo. All smiles.

I purchased my first bike, a three-speed Raleigh, when I was 20. I lived in Brooklyn and went to a commuter college, and the bike radically changed my life. From age 20 to 46, the bike miles piled up. I didn’t ride with a bike computer back then, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I logged over 130,000 miles (and way too many good memories to count).

At 46, the arthritis, which plagues my family’s genetics, took its toll. A hip replacement, a knee replacement, years of dealing with an infected prosthetic knee, and another knee replacement later, riding became problematic. At best, I would pedal only 700-800 painful miles in a year. Some years I logged as few as 200.

Last year, Specialized gave me the pedal assist Turbo to try.  My Turbo love affair accelerated quickly. I went from an old guy who drove to work too often to a rocket on two wheels. I have ridden over 1500 miles since June, and I am re-experiencing all the great things about riding. I now ride my Turbo at least six days a week, and I even took it on vacation to the North Shore.

Tphoto (4)he Turbo is a pedal assist electric bike. There is no throttle, so if you are not pedaling it is not moving. It has four settings: full assist, eco assist, no assist, and recharge mode. I mostly use eco assist, as it still gives me a pretty good workout without irritating my lower joints. I often find myself slipping into high when climbing the Prospect Park hill – especially when I spot a friend on a road bike.

I can honestly say the Specialized Turbo has changed my life. I have lost a few pounds, and I have picked up a few degrees of bend in my artificial knee. I am more flexible, I walk better, my brain is clearer, and I feel like I’m 30 when I’m on my Turbo. Most of all, I appreciate the serenity I feel when I ride. This may seem strange, as my regular commute is from Flatbush to SoHo, but cutting through Prospect Park and zipping down Vanderbilt on a bike beats sitting in traffic any day.

You may think the Turbo is an old guy’s bike, but quite the opposite is true. Most of the Turbos we have sold have gone to 30-somethings who want to commute with style and speed. While E-bikes are still a rarity here, they are becoming more commonplace in European cities and a great option for the medium distance commute.

So if you see an older guy passing you on an uphill and smiling from ear to ear, it’s me on my Turbo. Try to catch me.

-Charlie (I’m usually in the Soho store, so stop by any time for a chat and a test ride!)

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Me and my Turbo with the rest of the Habitat gang in Grand Army Plaza on our way to Coney Island.

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NYC Century: Your Questions Answered

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When? Friday, August 1 – Saturday, September 6 (the day before the ride), during shop hours. (Tip: Pick up your bibs early to avoid lines — 7000 riders will be picking up bibs this month!)

Where? Your local Bicycle Habitat (Chelsea, Soho, or Park Slope).

Can I register in-store? Sure! And if you spend $10 or more at Bicycle Habitat, you’ll receive $10 off the price of registration.

What do I need to bring with me? Your ID, or a copy (print or email) of your registration. (If you register online, please allow at least 24 hours for our registration list to update.)

Any special TA deals? All registered riders will receive $5 off any purchase of $20 or more while picking up their bibs. The first 500 pick-ups will receive an additional $5 off coupon.

More questions? See our website.

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Making it happen: How to prep for the Rapha Women’s 100

Last summer, over 4,000 women participated in 100km rides all around the world. This year’s Rapha Women’s 100, the second annual ride, takes place on July 20.

Here’s some advice from local coach Tara Parsons on preparing for the ride:

  • Set goals: Make a plan on paper. Whether you share it with others or keep it for yourself, having your plan written down helps make it real.
  • Visualize it: Envision the route and how you will ride it so it is less of a mystery — go pre-ride the course ahead of time if possible.
  • Be positive and think of yourself as a winner: Create a mantra for yourself to get over your fears. Tara used to hate fast descents, so she consistently told herself that she loved the downhills to finally conquer and embrace them. (This is a strategy that is handy on Saturday morning race days before the sun is up: “I love waking up at 4am to go race! Getting dressed in the dark and leaving the house while the rest of the world is asleep is the best!”)
  • Have a support system: Ride with a buddy! Don’t have a riding buddy? Join a group training ride and make a new buddy! Habitat’s women’s Friday morning rides start up again in April. And the women of the Rapha Cycle Club are hosting Sunday morning rides all spring and summer to prepare for the big event. It’s much easier to get to the top of a tough climb if you know that you’re in good company. If you’re interested in getting more into road racing and want to meet more female racers, check out the CRCA Women’s Clinic in April.
  • Make it happen: Gradually ramp up to the distance. Start doing intervals and increasing your distance, and before you know it, you’ll be ready.
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Coach Tara Parsons’ presentation at the Rapha Women’s 100 party on March 20

The Rapha Women’s 100 welcomes all women who love to ride — whether you regularly ride long distances or you just got a road bike and are looking to set longer goals for yourself. If you’re looking to connect with more women in NYC who love to bike, and to challenge yourself along the way, come join the ride!

-Karen Chin

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Charlie on the Lafayette Street Bike Lane Upgrades

Bicycle Habitat staff and customers turned out in force last night at Community Board 2’s (CB2) Transportation committee to support a remodeled Lafayette Street bike path. The upgraded lane will feature a parking-separated bike lane from Prince to 14th St, which will make it more accommodating for cyclists and easier for pedestrians crossing the street. As cars, bikes, and pedestrians are blended safer and more seamlessly, Lafayette will become more people friendly.

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I’d like to thank all those who showed up. The world is run by those who show up. It was by far the friendliest bicycle-related CB2 meeting I have ever attended, and attendees — business owners and neighbors, pedestrians and cyclists — were overwhelmingly supportive of the upgraded lane. The committee resolved unanimously to support the street changes.

Lafayette is scheduled for repaving at the end of April (ouch for my business but hooray for our wheels) and the new lane structure may happen shortly after that. I spoke briefly at the meeting in support of the project and advocated for the inclusion of the portion of Lafayette between Prince and Spring (currently the planned improvements start at Prince Street). Our shop, which has been on the block for 36 years, generates over 60,000 cycling trips a year to and from the store, making it arguably one of the busier blocks on Lafayette. The addition of Citibike docks on Spring and also south of Houston have made it even busier in the last year. I also raised the question of when a south bound protected lane might be possible.

If you missed the meeting, you can take a look at the whole proposal on Streetsblog. All in all a good night for cycling.

-Charlie

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Help us get ready for spring. Join us at the Warehouse Sale!

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It’s time to get ready for spring! To make way for new product, we are emptying our basements.

  • up to 50% off of city bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, and frames
  • sales on clothing, parts, and accessories
  • door busters including Bern helmets, half price tubes, Shimano wheel sets, and kryptonite locks

If you’ve ever been curious about what treasures a New York City bike basement holds, this is your chance to see! Join us at 182 Lafayette St, just two blocks down from our Soho shop.

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