September/October 1996, p.15

Commuter of the Month
By Delphine Taylor

Hal Ruzal
Occupation: Manager of Bicycle Habitat.
Age: 43.
Commuting history: 25 years, about 265,000 miles.
Longest commute: 4,200 miles, from Santa Cruz to New York.
Current commute: From 204th Street to Soho, about 25 miles round-trip. I usually take Broadway to 165th Street, down to Riverside and the West Side Highway and cross-town. I ride back up 10th Avenue. Sometimes I ride through the wood paths through Riverside Park just to spice up my ride and get away from the exhaust. Although I love to commute by bike, exhaust can be exhausting.
Bike: Maruishi 10-speed with a Bianchi decal, a psychedelic paint job, fenders, a rack, and lights.
Locking: I try not to lock up on the street, but if I have to, I lock my bike with a big chain to a light post high up in the air, where it's hard to reach, then stick a U-lock through the frame and wheels. I also keep my bikes locked in my apartment.
Bikes stolen: Only one, when I was 18, from outside my Dad's candy store on Wall Street.
Helmet: I threw it in the Wallkill River about 15 years ago-it's too hot!
Clothes: Cycling clothes are overrated-actually, clothes in general are overrated. I wear a rain jacket in the rain and wool (with $6 gloves) in the cold.
Weather: I missed a total of four days last winter. I just kind of surf through the snow.
Advice for safety: I ride like a grandmother in traffic, and keep to the extreme east or west side of Manhattan when going up or downtown.
Best commuting story: A friend and I were riding uptown and a cabby kept cutting us off. When he stopped at a light, I started pounding on his hood to distract him. When he got out of the cab, my buddy reached in and grabbed his keys and threw them into the sewer. My friend and I then rode off into the sunset, and the cabby was left pulling his hair out.
Worst: I came out of a restaurant in Chinatown and saw that someone had stolen my rear derailleur and let the air out of my tires. When I bent over to start pumping up my tires, a German Shepard took a bite out of my butt. I couldn't sit for a week.

Read more commuter profiles.