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College! It's great isn't it? No parents to tell you what to do, tons of freedom, lots of… ahem, social gatherings, plus you even get to spend a lot less time in class than high school! Of course, there's a downside, too: Unbelievable parking fees and headaches, 8 a.m. seminars, back-to-back cross-campus classes, and paying for pizza with pennies. How do you address these issues? With a bicycle, of course! Allow our resident scholar to explain.

If you're like me, you like to slide into classes just before the professors. The easiest and quickest way I found to do this is getting to campus on my bike. It's so sweet. I can ride right up to the building. There's always parking in the bike rack, and some of the teachers even let me roll my bike into class. Also, biking's the fastest way to get across campus, and the most fun, too, because you see your friends and can stop anywhere you want. Best of all, by biking I save big time on parking (no yearly pass required) and gas.

Almost any bike will do. We've got great ones here at the shop, and we can tune-up your two-wheeler if it needs it. I have a nice machine to ride, yet it did take some experimenting to get my gear just right, and you'll want to dial your ride in to suit your bike-to-school needs, too. To help, here's what I recommend and why. Be sure to contact us with any questions, too. We're always happy to help! 

Lock - I always make sure my ride is solidly locked, both wheels and the frame to an immovable object. And I take my light and pump with me (if you have a quick-release seat, take that with you, too)! Thieves love targeting campus bikes so it pays to always lock-up like this. I use a heavy-duty U-lock, which even carries a guarantee. To lessen my load (all those books can get heavy), sometimes I'll leave my lock on campus if I know I'm coming right back to school in the morning. 

Messenger bag - People think my bag is permanently attached to me because I always bring it along riding and walking. It rides comfortably, handles books well, includes reflective details for safety and gives me easy access to my lock and other gear. Plus, it's rainproof and super durable. In the shop we also carry backpacks and bags that mount on the bike if you want to carry your stuff that way. We're always happy to show you the different options and explain the benefits of each.

Helmet - I never ride without my helmet. I'm a good rider and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to crash. But, it's sketchy out there. Some people shouldn't be allowed to drive in the morning before getting their coffee fix, or in the evening after getting their bar fix! And my helmet is built to protect me with awesome impact resistance, large vents for cooling and even a visor to shade my eyes.  So, I never ride without it. Oh, it also looks great and makes me even more visible to drivers. Plus, if it's been a while since you've tried out a bike helmet, you're in for a surprise. They're lighter, breezier, safer and even more affordable than ever. Come try one on and you'll see.

- With these guys, I don't get bummed out if it starts raining while I'm in a lecture, or riding, because I know I'll stay relatively dry (my gear will, too) with no spray off the wheels. They also make my bike a year-round machine, keep it cleaner and prevent that dreaded mud line up my back! And, when the rainy season ends, it's easy to take them off, too, to make my machine lean and mean again.

Lights - My plans are set, oh wait, there's my buddy, new plans take over. Lights are good. I am so stoked to have them when I get sidetracked and end up having to come home in the dark. I can see where I'm going, and drivers can see me. Plus, the headlight comes off the handlebars in a snap for use as a flashlight when I need to so it does double duty around the dorm. There are all kinds of lights like the simple ones shown in the photo to deluxe rechargeable systems so powerful you can see clearly at night even when riding trails in the woods. Be sure to ask if you have questions about which type of light is right for your rides.

Car rack - Actually my car and my rack. I don't drive around much, but thank goodness I have a way to carry loads like laundry and groceries, and my buddies. Plus, I drive to get to certain trails, and with my trunk rack, I can transport my bike there, or to my friend's campus 200 miles away. My rack mounts quickly to almost any car, folds to fit in the trunk or my closet when not in use, and can hold up to 3 bikes. We have a complete selection of racks for all your needs. 

Bike rack - The one on the back of my bike, is great for hauling all those books during finals week (I just strap them on with bungee cords). It's made of aluminum for light weight and it has a stout top platform shaped to support loads and keep them from sliding forward. And, when I put on bags that attach to the sides (also called "panniers" or sometimes "saddlebags"), my bike becomes even more useful because I can load the bags and the top of the rack.

Thorn-resistant tubes - This simple and affordable unseen blessing has kept me relatively on time for classes. Flats are practically a thing of the past with these bad boys holding the air in my tires no matter what I run over. And that's important, because in my experience professors can only hear "I'm late 'cuz I had a flat," about twice before they lose it.

Here's one last tip: Come Parents' Weekend use it as an opportunity to bring your folks down to the shop. Just explain what you need and how it will make you get to class on time and save them bucks, and they'll surely buy you all the accessories you need and maybe even a cool new bike!