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Cycling in College(26 posts)

Cycling in CollegeAndrew G.
Aug 7, 2001 7:25 AM
I will be leaving for Cornell University (Ithaca, NY - very rural) in just a few more weeks and I was wondering what the cycling scene is like at college. Do I have to be extremely careful with my bikes? What kind of locks should I get? Should I bring both my road and mountain bike? Is it worth bringing the trainer? (I don't use it that much... should I just sell it?) Where do you store your bike? Supposedly there is an indoor facility to store bikes in my dorm, but would that be safe? or Store inside my room? Any other suggestions?

re: Cycling in Collegepulver
Aug 7, 2001 7:41 AM
Definitely bring the trainer! Ithaca and the surrounding area will make for nice riding (rolling hill terrain)through until the end of October, maybe a bit into November. But December through March the weather will be tough for any decent road riding. Even the best of winter gear won't be able to get you through the snow, sleet, freezing rain, that you will get to know over the course of your time in Central New York. Hey, there's always spring break, right?

As for the security issues, err on the side of caution, especially if you have some $ into your bikes.
bike securityak
Aug 7, 2001 7:56 AM
keep it/them in your dorm room and keep the room locked. if your roomate ever leaves it unlocked for a period of time, beat him/her. I go to a very small school in southern indiana, nobody has a clue how much my bikes are worth, but after leaving my cheaper mountain bike in the "safe storage" area for a few days I had to replace my f. der. One of the RA's knocked over a stack of heavy boxes on it and I couldn't get anyone to do anything about it because he had already left for a sesester abroad by the time they got around to asking any questions. I would have pressed the issue a little more, but he left his VCR in the same storage room, so we "traded" The moral of the story is: keep your bikes in your room and make sure your roomate respects them.
I would have beat my roommate if ...Humma Hah
Aug 7, 2001 12:15 PM
... they ever tried to bring a bike INTO our tiny dorm room. One of the primary reasons I bought the cruiser for college was I knew it could stand being outdoors. It remained locked to a bike rack for four years, except while being ridden or during vacations.

Bringing a bike into a dorm room is certainly best for the bike. I believe it is a burden on everyone else, including folks in the elevators and especially roommates. Get a beater, leave it outside, and lube it regularly.
Gotta agree with HHbianchi boy
Aug 7, 2001 12:41 PM
My bike was my only means of transportation throughout my glorious years of college at the Univ of Georgia in Athens. A great place to ride a bike, but not an expensive one. Dorms rooms just don't have enough space to store a bike, but you might be able to keep a bike inside if you rent an apartment or house off-campus.

Since you will in all probability have to leave your bike outdoors, don't ruin an expensive bike doing that. You also need a good chain to keep it locked up, and that tends to get a bike scratched up over time. A mountain bike or hybrid would probably be better than a road bike for most campuses, although they didn't even make them back when I was in college. Put a rack on it! You'll need it to haul around all those books!
When was that ...Humma Hah
Aug 7, 2001 12:53 PM
In 1971, when I went to college, there were no mountain bikes. Hence, the cruiser. By 1977, when the term mountainbike was coined, the cruiser WAS a MTB, and the commercially-built MTB's were cruiser-derived, geometric copies of Schwinn Excelsiors.

The bike served admirably, as would a modern, inexpensive MTB such as my Diamondback Sorrento, or a good, solid hybrid.
You might think about a beater, too...cory
Aug 7, 2001 8:29 AM
There are bike theft problems at every school I know of, and I don't think being rural protects you. It's easy money for anybody who wants to wheel the things away.
All the suggestions are good, especially the one about keeping your bike in the room. But it's likely to be crowded in there, and roommates aren't always understanding about having to walk around a couple of bikes to get to the fridge. I'd also lock the bike to something IN THE ROOM if you can, a radiator or bed frame or whatever's available.
Another possibility is to get a beater for everyday riding. Where I live, you can find rideable bikes for $30 to $50 at places like the Salvation Army. A tune-up and maybe new tires will make them fine for getting around campus and town. Don't overlook fenders if you're really going to use the thing for transportation--they make a big difference. Even if you take your "real" bike too, you can secure it somewhere to use on weekends and not have to worry about getting ripped off every day.
re: Cycling in Collegeralph wiggum
Aug 7, 2001 8:47 AM
I would suggest only bringing one bike and store it in your room. DO NOT lock up an expensive bike anywhere on campus as it will not be there too long. Bring the trainer, if anything you can annoy the hell out of your neighbors if you ever need to. Lastly, when you get to school, get in touch with someone from the cycling team or club and you'll find out where the best rides are and what shop is the best.
re: Cycling in CollegeRusty McNasty
Aug 7, 2001 8:51 AM
Do NOT leave ANY decent bike chained outside. College campuses (especially open campuses, like Cornell) are a magnet for professional bike thieves. Keep a copy of all the serial #'s, register them with campus security, as well as with the Ithaca police, then leave them locked up, in you closet. A k-mart bike will be all you need, or will want to risk in the outdoor bike racks.
do you know your roommate?Mabero
Aug 7, 2001 9:03 AM
If you do then keep it in your room...but if you don't then bring a beater bike or your mountain bike just till you know if you can trust him. The places where the dorms store bikes get beat on pretty bad. If your dorm has the bike racks on the top floor (smaller buildings will) then it won't be as bad then if the racks are the hallway between to buildings or floors...which happens most of the time.

Either way, don't plan on bringing that expensive beauty to school till you get acquainted...I mean you can and probably nothing will happen, but if your roommate is a thief by nature then it could be bad. And as an ex-ra I had a roommate arrested for stealing roommate's belongings and selling them...icky situation.

Cornell has a pretty good community all around, but all communities have their bad for me, I put both of my bikes in my room, sometimes I would put my mountain bike on the rack to dry off after a ride. But for me I didn't want me having confrontations with people lead to those people destroying my bikes...In my opinion though since everyone and their mother has a mountain bike or something then those are a lot safer from being stolen than a mountain bike. People will see that beautiful road bike and won't know how much but will now it is expensive (oooohhhh look that bike must be a $1000 when it is really know what I mean).

So either way ride the mountain bike/beater around campus, keep the pricy bikes as close to you as possible.

What I always think about is this: what if a thief knew something about easy is it to take those Krysium wheels, look pedals, stem, etc off, without effecting the lock that is around your frame and a metal post.
Aug 7, 2001 10:29 AM
There are more bike theives concentrated at college campuses than anywhere else on earth. And I mean ALL college campuses regardless of location.

I always used beater bikes that I found in dumps. I'd fix them into working condition and keep them looking like hell. Even though it's a POS, still use a lock. Even then, I still had 4 stolen on campus by theives cutting the locks. Why would people want to steal a bike worth $15? You tell me!

If you have a nice bike, don't count on keeping it for long. I've had friends that left their dorm room for literally 45 seconds and the bike was gone from the room when they returned. Even a lock in your room won't stop them. They break into the room when they know you're gone and steal it. If you leave a nice bike on a rack outside, it's history. Even if they don't get the bike they'll strip all the components off. You'll come back to a frame and wheels. The seat, derailleurs, handlebars, fork, etc.. will be gone. I've seen where if the thief couldn't steal the bike (because you had 50 locks on it), they'd destroy it. I've seen several instances where creeps took a crowbar to the bike or spray-painted it because they couldn't steal it.

I hate to be so negative, but that's the way it is. The only people I knew who had nice bikes in college where local students that kept their nice bikes at their parents house. They rode them on weekends.

Good luck at Cornell. Just don't take a nice bike.
another over-generalization, thanks!ak
Aug 7, 2001 10:58 AM
not quite all college campuses. Hanover college has had no bike theft in the three years I've been there. There are many people on campus with 500-1k dollar bikes that are left in hallways overnight, and in outdoor bike racks for hours at a time. Occasionally a bike is borrowed by someone who doesn't like the owner, but it can always be found behind a frat house later that day. One bike was reported stolen last year, but the owner's roomate had taken it to the campus bike mechanic (me) to give it an overhaul for her birthday. Luckily, one of the campus security officers uses the same mechanic and called me before he called the real police. Hanover has 1200 students (its not the smallest school in the world, but it is in the middle of nowhere and there are only about ten people in the county who know enough about bikes to know enough about bikes to distinguish between the value of a wal-mart full-sus bike and a nicer hard-tail.

(and if a crime wave hits in the next year I'll know where to go looking, so don't think about it)
Aug 7, 2001 1:20 PM
You found the one school where it isn't a problem. Consider yourself lucky. My brothers, friends, and I have experienced the problem nationwide. Between us, we have attended small and large universities in CA, AZ, MD, NY, MO, MA, PA, TX, RI, and CT. That's a pretty damn good cross section of locations. We've experienced at least one bike stolen at each school. I'll guarantee my generalization represents the average insitition far more accurately than your one exception.
Aug 8, 2001 5:24 AM
"And I mean ALL college campuses regardless of location."

You were the one who made this statement, not me. I wasn't trying to imply that my school was representitive of the average, quite the opposite in fact. I was trying to let people (you included)know that there are still places in this country where crime does not run rampant. I'm sorry if my attempt to brighten peoples' world-view pissed you off. Next time don't say ALL unless you've been to ALL of them to find out. I would, however, agree with you that in nearly all colleges and universities, especially those in populated areas, bike theft is a problem.
re: Cycling in CollegeBill RHIT
Aug 7, 2001 10:29 AM
Cycling is a great sport, and with leaving for college a great way to fend off the dreaded freshman 15. It will get you out and active and I completely encourage it. As above a lot of concerns are involved though. My best advice to you is to get in touch with a local cycling club or perhaps the university's squad. I ride for my colegiate team and this has its perks. We have a room in a building on campus dedicated to storing our equipment. So if you ride with the team and are serious they may let you store your bike here. Good luck and keep riding.
re: Cycling in CollegePave
Aug 7, 2001 11:40 AM

Congratulations on going to Cornell. I graduated in 1997 and loved my time there, both cycling and in general. Great spot for riding, with lots of rolling hills and light traffic rural roads. I did some time (too little) with the road team there, and led mountain bike rides in the summer. There are lots of riders in the area and upstate New York has a pretty strong core cycling scene, you just have to find it.

For mountain bike info, I'd suggest stopping by Cayuga Mountain Bike shop down on the Commons- they used to have pretty regular group rides, as did the Bike Rack in Collegetown. I can't speak to it now, but there was a good group of very fast guys on the road team when I was there, and a range of talent overall- definitely check in with the club (you can reach them through the faculty sponsor). Go out for a ride with them and get to know the local roads- there's plenty there to work with. If you like the guys (and girls) and want to give it a try, collegiate racing is a lot of fun. One of my biggest regrets is loaning my Cornell jersey to someone at the last race I did with them, and never getting it back. If you want a challenge, and some sometimes-scary, open road, race-style training, ask around about Tuesday nighters during the warmer months.

Don't keep a high end bike, or any bike you truly value in the bike storage rooms in the dorms. Not so much for theft reasons as the casual breakage and abuse that are likely to occur, though theft is also a concern. Depending on where you're living and how much collective junk you and your roommate have, you may be able to pull off keeping one or two bikes in your room- I had both, but I had an uncommonly large single room. Space in the University Halls and the old stone dorms on West Campus is notoriously tight, but I think they're putting all of the freshman on North Campus now- there's a little more room to be had in Donlon and the singles in Dickson. One option is to go up, get a feel for the space available, and grab your bikes during Fall break or have them shipped up. I think the Bike Rack still ships and receives bikes.

Beware that the whole place will likely be covered in snow for much of the fall/winter/spring. Those are the warm days- on the cold, clear days with no snow, the cold is unbelievable (to me, anyway- grew up in Southeastern Virginia). Bring a trainer if you have one, and don't lock anything of value up outside. The bike rack outside my window freshman year was completely covered in snow until the first warm day of spring. If I had to pick between the two, I'd probably say bring the road bike, since there are lots of great roads to ride, but trail access can be a bit sketchy.

As a warning, some of this information may be dated- I haven't been up in awhile, and don't really know what shops are still there. Hope this helps out. Good luck at school, and before you're done, stay up there for at least one summer. Ithaca is one of the most beautiful areas on earth when the weather is nice.

This is what I didTim.
Aug 7, 2001 11:42 AM
When I was in college I had my mountain bike with me. It was the only bike I had at the time so I was careful with it. When I lived on campus it stayed in my dorm room, and when I moved off campus it stayed in my bedroom. Never leave it outside overnight. I only rode it to class during the day and locked it with a simple cable lock. I never rode it to night classes because sometimes it would have been the only bike on the racks. Another thing is to lock it to a rack that is permanently attached to the ground or a building, don't lock it to a movable rack, these have tendency to get turned over. The final thing I did was remove all of the decals on the frame. That way unless someone really knew what they were looking for would think it was just a cheap Wal-Mart bike. And I would try to lock it up near other expensive bikes to make it look cheaper and a less likely target for theives.
I'd go with a beater ...Humma Hah
Aug 7, 2001 12:11 PM
... A bike in college is great, but save your nice ones for recreation. I'd be very nervous about commuting to class on an expensive bike.

I found a padlock and chain was sufficient that my old cruiser was never touched in 8 years. Had I had one of those high-dollar Paramounts I lusted after, I doubt I'd still have it.
1st Hand Experiencegrzy mnky
Aug 7, 2001 2:49 PM
Freshman year at Cornell - didn't know what to expect so I didn't bring my bike. I was jonsing so bad that I had my brother box and ship it within a few weeks. This was before MTBs so it was a bit simpler. Had my bike there every year after that. The dorm room sizes vary depending on which building and which campus you're in (North, West, etc.). I was in a U-Hole and kept the thing locked to the radiator at all times. Always lock it on campus and remove the pilferable items (pump, saddle bad, odometer, etc.) all this stuff walks away while you're in class. The road biking is OK, but the roads get pretty hammered by the winters and the salt (yes, salt) and Spring usually shows up the day before final exams. A fancy road bike will pretty much sit in your dorm room for six mos. The MTB riding is great and with fenders you can really extend the season into the winter - who knows you can even get some studs or tire chains. This place has some first class mud. There are tons of little trails around campus that aren't too good on a road bike, but are perfect for an MTB, plus you'll be grinding up some worthy hills with books and groceries - low gearing will be worth it - the whole place is built on a hill. Places worth checking are Turkey Hill (near by) and CT Hill (10,000 acres!!) and the Reservior (skinny dipping & cliff jumping). Really wished I could have afforded a decent MTB when I went back for grad school, but I still had the same road bike. Chances are most of your pals are going to have MTBs so you'll have more people to ride with on your MTB. You could drag a trainer out, but you'll become very unpopular in a hurry from the noise - besides they have great athletic facilities.
i'd say take it...dustin73
Aug 7, 2001 4:04 PM
it's covered under your home owners insurance, just make sure it's worth more than the deductable. i had my road and mtn bike at UT which is like 2nd in the nation for bike thefts, and they HAD to remain outside. my mtn bike was stolen, and unfortuatley, it wasn't worth the deductable, so i got screwed. another thing, don't use any lock except the Kryptonites...i had a specialized lock on my mtn didn't hold up to my expectations, but the Kryptonite lock ($60) kept my new Stumpjumper safe. oh, and check on them everyday, if you don't ride. ohhhhh, and take the front tire in your room with you. i did that...i know it might not seem like much, but do you think a bike theif is gonna know the difference between a $1500 Stumpjumper with no front tire and a $190 NEXT with dual suspension?

if you're going to ride both bikes, take both. if not, take one...i took both, but at Christmas break i took my road bike home 'cause i never rode it. rode the SJ around campus, and almost everyday after class. didn't really have the need for both...good luck...
re: Cycling in CollegeDrEvilAdam
Aug 7, 2001 5:23 PM
If you bring a bike to school I'd keep it in your room. My roadbike is with me at school but stays in my dorm whenever I'm not riding. That thing is jailbait the way it stands out from all the Huffy's.

Of course, I've had a single for all three years so far...
re: Cycling in Collegetrx0x
Aug 7, 2001 10:22 PM
I think you should bring your bike(s), just be very careful and aware of where you are leaving it. When I lived in the dorms, I used to keep my bike in my dorm room (which technically wasn't allowed in my dorm, but no one really cared).

When you are locking up the bike, like if you are using it to go to class, make sure you use a good U-lock. I usually lock the bike up, and take my front wheel to class with me. And try to lock it in an area where there are a lot of bikes and people walking around. That way, if there is anyone trying to steal your bike, most likely, someone will see something, or all the people around will deter the thief. Or the thief may find some other bike further down the rack that looks better than yours.

One thing I will say is this: it seems that in my experience, mountain bikes are stolen more than road bikes. Frankly, people don't want a road bike. It's just not "cool"...most bike thieves steal the bike to sell on the street...and no street thug wants to be caught crouched forward, riding a skinny-tire bike, with a tall seat post, and small, weird looking pedals.

Good luck.

!Update!Andrew G.
Aug 8, 2001 7:35 AM
I was reading the thread above about making a fixed-gear beater bike, and I think that's what I might just do. The weather isn't great in Ithaca so a cheap durable beater might be best. On the plus side, if anyone ever tries to steal it, he will get a nice surprise with the lack of coasting. So, here are my questions. Is this a good idea? Is it difficult to make a fixed-gear bike? Should I start from scratch? Can I just buy a dept. store bike and easily modify it?

Andrew G.
Deadlygrzy mnky
Aug 8, 2001 9:15 AM
Hey, I don't know if you've visited the campus or not, but you're dealing with some significant hills. Not thousands of feet, but enough pitch to make gearing very attractive - add a loaded book bag and you've got your work cutout for you. Don't think the bike thieves don't know what they're doing when they swipe stuff - we're talking professionals as well as the druken frat boy. They've loaded entire racks onto a lifting tailgate and disappeared. Not being to far away from NYC probably has something to do with it. I still think it's a bad idea based on my 7 years at Cornell.
Aug 8, 2001 10:09 AM
I definitely agree with grz that a fixed gear probably isn't the best idea for Cornell/Ithaca. As my sister told me when I got there, you really only need to remember two directions in Ithaca- up and down. As grz stated, it's definitely not the Alps in the length or duration of the climbs, but there are more tthan enough decent hills and very steep grades to keep you on your toes. One trip down Buffalo Street on a fixie would likely render you legless, if you haven't already blown your knees trying to force it up the hill to campus.

If you're absolutely set on the idea, think about going with a flip-flop hub: fixed gear on one side, and a single speed freewheel on the other. The single freewheel lets you put on a big enough cog to get uphill or home in a pinch, and lets you coast downhill when you want/need to.
Yeah, Buffalo!Jack S
Aug 8, 2001 10:11 AM
Burns, outside of town, is another good one. Or the ride up to the observatory.