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Welcome aboard, Karen!

First of all, please feel free to use this list as a resource! The
kinds of questions you've asked are fine, but so are many other kinds,
too. If in doubt, just ask.

Bikes are pretty robust. The main problem with a
not-very-well-lubricated bike is that you will have a less
"efficient" ride, i.e., you'll either have to work a bit harder to go
at the speed you otherwise might have, or for the same effort you'll
go a bit slower. At worst this means a few extra minutes of
commute. You're on one of the most beautiful bike paths in the US. No
harm done. (-:

The more important thing, I think, is to make sure you have basic
safety equipment. You can find all sorts of safety lists on the Web,
some of which are very long (necessary if you're biking cross-country,
not for Bike-to-Brown). I'd propose the following, much shorter list:

- Make sure your bike's reflectors are present and clear. In a pinch,
  they will make you visible.

- Unless you are certain you will ride in clear light, please get at
  least basic bike lights. There are two purposes for lights: lighting
  up the road vs lighting up you. The former requires more powerful
  lights, and isn't as critical if you know your way. The latter is
  what's important, so others see you. Just a few bucks will get you
  lights that make you visible. Really useful in the winter.

- Have a spare tube and a pump. You will rarely if ever use it. But it
  sucks to be stuck. [An alternative is, for that very rare flat
  you'll get every few years, just be willing to hail a cab or
  page Uber/Lyft or call a spouse.]

Shriram

Bike to Brown discussion list:
http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/bike-to-brown.html

Bike to Brown website:
http://biketobrown.brown.edu/