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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-25-07, 09:07 AM   #1
Neil_B
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Crooked Clyde Commutes

I posted an item titled "I am a bike commuter" to my blog on Monday morning. Monday afternoon I was involved in an auto accident. I'm OK, the car isn't. So I need to begin commuting to work in earnest. I've mapped my route here:

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/commute58560

Any suggestions? It's largely along PA State Route 23 to avoid major climbs. It comes to about 15 miles, and I estimate a bit less than 2 hours to ride. The only drawback is that I need to ride at night on the return leg. I'm not worried about riding through Phoenixville, but the dark rural roads are a little disconcerting.

Any advice? I leave in 15 minutes. I'll post how it went later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Or if it doesn't go well, look me up in the local newspapers.
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Old 07-25-07, 09:14 AM   #2
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I started commuting about 1 1/2 months ago and am loving it...my commute is very short though.

Tips:
1. www.alertshirt.com
2. Reflective tape is your friend, use it everywhere liberarlly (helmet, bike, etc...)
3. Good lights (front and rear)
4. Scotchguard bags/backpacks or get waterproof ones
5. If you don't have fenders and mudflaps, it's time to add them
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Old 07-25-07, 10:51 AM   #3
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for fall/winter/spring I ride to work in the dark and twilight on the way home. all of my cool weather gear has reflective strips. tail light is a must, I also have a helmet light (nite rider HID) and a handle bar light (cheap nashbar LED), it's not a matter somuch of seeing where you are going but rather the cars and traffic being able to see you.

since I live in the middle of the desert and even in the spring we have very little rain I have not needed fenders or mudflaps, I did add a rack to my commuter bike with a rack bag and then I use a backpack.

I've been commuting for a bit over a year now, it's always an adventure .
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Old 07-25-07, 10:55 AM   #4
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Here's hoping the commute went well, Neil!

KT is right, by the way, add some fenders! You can get some inexpensive clip on fenders from Planet Bike for about $10! Easy to install and they work reasonably well.

Also, 1 gallon and larger ziplock bags are your friend for packing the work clothes in in case of weather.(Touring trick) Line your panniers, if you use these with a white kitchen trash bag as well. That way you can also use the liners as a clean white patch to small parts and tools on for roadside repairs (makes small parts easier to find than if you lay them on the ground!), as well as waterproofs the panniers with a barrier layer.
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Old 07-25-07, 07:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I posted an item titled "I am a bike commuter" to my blog on Monday morning. Monday afternoon I was involved in an auto accident. I'm OK, the car isn't. So I need to begin commuting to work in earnest. I've mapped my route here:

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/commute58560

Any suggestions? It's largely along PA State Route 23 to avoid major climbs. It comes to about 15 miles, and I estimate a bit less than 2 hours to ride. The only drawback is that I need to ride at night on the return leg. I'm not worried about riding through Phoenixville, but the dark rural roads are a little disconcerting.

Any advice? I leave in 15 minutes. I'll post how it went later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Or if it doesn't go well, look me up in the local newspapers.
I can relate, about a month ago, my significant other was driving the car when it stalled out, it would not start again, little did we know it was the last time it was going to run, ever. Had it towed to the mechanic, Thank God for CAA (Canada's version of AAA), they towed it half way across town, for free. So I waited for the mechanics call, fuel pump, it's in the tank, so $350 for the part, $400 to drain the tank, drop the tank, remove the old fuel pump, and put it all back together. So $750, for the fuel pump, with a small coolant leak to take care of as well, probably another $250 for that, of course there is a 14% tax on all of it, so over $1100 on a car, that if I were to sell it, was worth maybe $150. Told the mechanic to call the knacker, I wasn't fixing it.

Now I ride everywhere, except to work, having to ride through Toronto's infamous Jane/Finch intersection at midnight, My luck I would get caught in a gang shootout, and end up with a fatal case of "lead poisoning". Besides after loading courier delivery trucks all night, I often bonk taking the friggin' bus home:
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Old 07-26-07, 04:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I posted an item titled "I am a bike commuter" to my blog on Monday morning. Monday afternoon I was involved in an auto accident. I'm OK, the car isn't. So I need to begin commuting to work in earnest. I've mapped my route here:

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/commute58560

Any suggestions? It's largely along PA State Route 23 to avoid major climbs. It comes to about 15 miles, and I estimate a bit less than 2 hours to ride. The only drawback is that I need to ride at night on the return leg. I'm not worried about riding through Phoenixville, but the dark rural roads are a little disconcerting.

Any advice? I leave in 15 minutes. I'll post how it went later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Or if it doesn't go well, look me up in the local newspapers.
OK. First of all, my left knee is bothering me, so I got a lift back in the evening. I suspect a cleat problem.

But the ride in was so much fun. It was warm out, but not terribly sticky. Stats:

Speed: 10.75 MPH
Distance: 17.03 miles
rolling time: 1:35
Total Time 2:12 minutes

The total time includes 5 minutes to lock up the bike, and about a half hour at two different bike shops looking for lighting materials.

The ride wasn't perfect. I forgot my lunch. I don't have an area to store clothes, so I need to bring everything each trip. A police car turned on its siren a few feet behind me, startling me enough to dismount. Other than that, an ordinary commute. :-)

I don't know if I have the strength to ride it today. Oddly enough, I'm more tired from the 17 miles than from some of the long rides I've been on. I was warned bike commuting requires more sleep than you normally take.
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Old 07-26-07, 04:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
Here's hoping the commute went well, Neil!

KT is right, by the way, add some fenders! You can get some inexpensive clip on fenders from Planet Bike for about $10! Easy to install and they work reasonably well.

Also, 1 gallon and larger ziplock bags are your friend for packing the work clothes in in case of weather.(Touring trick) Line your panniers, if you use these with a white kitchen trash bag as well. That way you can also use the liners as a clean white patch to small parts and tools on for roadside repairs (makes small parts easier to find than if you lay them on the ground!), as well as waterproofs the panniers with a barrier layer.
Thanks for the tip. I'll have to see if I can fit fenders on the Navigator.
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Old 07-26-07, 08:14 AM   #8
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Neil,

Look at these for now, they are cheap and actually pretty decent.

http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-Cl.../dp/B000C1YPA8

I did have to drill a couple of small holes on the rear of the fender to zip tie the rear of the fender to my rack, but that's because I put them on a 27" wheel road touring bike.
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Old 07-26-07, 09:05 AM   #9
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Whoever said commuting requires more sleep is.. very correct. I can see direct correlations with my rides and my sleep schedule. The past two days have been very long work days for me, and while the riding has been pleasant, my legs have been light lead. Not full-on lead, just the lighter stuff .

Good luck on the knee, one of mine was bothering me, but I suspect it was mainly due to my new commute route - which is quite hilly. Two weeks after starting the new route, the knee no longer seems to be bothering me, here's hoping you have the same luck.

Also regarding tiredness, I know that I am slower commuting - even if I'm on the "fast" ride home - as I have a backpack on me. I'd suspect loaded panniers would be the culprit in your case, but same difference, extra weight definitely is noticeable. I am always surprised how a 10 pound pack can alter my speed. In fact, I've stopped carrying my laptop (with the carrier and accessories it probably weighs in around 10 pounds) with me, as I will literally drop 1mph average over my "long" commute, and arrive noticeably tired. I learned this same thing hiking, as it's amazing how much difference even 5 pounds will make.

Finally, good luck and enjoy it. I love bicycle commuting, there are days where I make excuses not to like yesterday (which was a good one, I was at work until 1:30am and was headed back at 8:30am), but for the most part I love it. A great way to start the morning, in my case.
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Old 07-26-07, 10:52 AM   #10
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Whoever said commuting requires more sleep is.. very correct. I can see direct correlations with my rides and my sleep schedule. The past two days have been very long work days for me, and while the riding has been pleasant, my legs have been light lead. Not full-on lead, just the lighter stuff .
Some sort of lead Aluminum alloy?
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Old 07-26-07, 10:56 AM   #11
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I commute 21 mile rt. 5 days last week, 3 days this week (thanks to a broke spoke). Usually one side of the ride is in the dark. The more lights you can get on the bike the better off you will be. I have a small one on the back of my helmet, one on my trunk/pannier and one one the trunk rack. Odds of all three batteries going dead at the same time are slim. I ride the shoulder as much as I can, but if I take the road, I will be at least 4 ft from the white line. Otherwise people want to ride to close. All of mine is on a rural route. I have 3 stop lights and 2 stop signs in 10.5 miles. Be careful of how much you carrier. My spokes are starting to go and the rear wheel bearings are going out. 1300 miles on it. If you carrier more than 15-20 lbs look into getting a front rack or something to even out the weight.

I love commuting, You will require a little more sleep but you will start looking foward to your commutes

Brian
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Old 07-26-07, 11:16 AM   #12
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Some sort of lead Aluminum alloy?
Quite possibly, or maybe lead with carbon stays..
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Old 07-27-07, 05:12 AM   #13
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Here's hoping the commute went well, Neil!
I got a ride in yesterday morning, and so I rode home last night. I pulled out from work at 9:40 PM. I immediately ran into trouble by dropping my rear blinker and breaking it. I had a backup, a small white light that I attached to my rear rack. It refused to stay in position. Also, my headlight was a Bell light from Wal-mart. Again I had a backup, which I attached to the front end of my rack. It refused to stay in place.

I had overlooked one factor when plotting my return route - it's all uphill, for 16 miles. So it took me nearly 2.5 hours to ride the 16.44 miles. Some of the time was spent trying to get the bike lights adjusted. And this included replacing my main light with the backup when it failed, about 2/3 of the way home.

I enjoyed the nighttime riding. It was cooler, and the country roads I feared turned out to be the safest to ride on. In fact, that was the best part of the commute. There's a lot to be said for bombing down a country hill in the dark.

I'll no doubt commute at night again, but next time I'll be much better lit and more reflective.
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Old 07-27-07, 06:20 AM   #14
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Neil, you have re-inspired me. I did the first 1/3 of the commute in today (Martha dropped me off with the bike), and will ride the whole 18 miles home tonight.

We've got three clyde-o-neils commuting now, at least part time for some of us!
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Old 07-27-07, 08:12 AM   #15
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Neil, you have re-inspired me. I did the first 1/3 of the commute in today (Martha dropped me off with the bike), and will ride the whole 18 miles home tonight.

We've got three clyde-o-neils commuting now, at least part time for some of us!
I'm still without my car, so I will be commuting through this weekend. I do have a rental (ugh!) today, because I need to get groceries, wash bike clothes, run other errands, and give my sore left knee a break.

I do have a Cygolite Night Rover light for the next commute, on Monday probably. A helmet light is in order too.
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Old 07-27-07, 08:19 AM   #16
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Somehow, I thought you might love night riding! It's a blast, isn't it?
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I got a ride in yesterday morning, and so I rode home last night. I pulled out from work at 9:40 PM. I immediately ran into trouble by dropping my rear blinker and breaking it. I had a backup, a small white light that I attached to my rear rack. It refused to stay in position. Also, my headlight was a Bell light from Wal-mart. Again I had a backup, which I attached to the front end of my rack. It refused to stay in place.

I had overlooked one factor when plotting my return route - it's all uphill, for 16 miles. So it took me nearly 2.5 hours to ride the 16.44 miles. Some of the time was spent trying to get the bike lights adjusted. And this included replacing my main light with the backup when it failed, about 2/3 of the way home.

I enjoyed the nighttime riding. It was cooler, and the country roads I feared turned out to be the safest to ride on. In fact, that was the best part of the commute. There's a lot to be said for bombing down a country hill in the dark.

I'll no doubt commute at night again, but next time I'll be much better lit and more reflective.
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Old 07-27-07, 08:23 AM   #17
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Somehow, I thought you might love night riding! It's a blast, isn't it?
Yes, if I can keep the lights from falling off! :-)
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Old 07-27-07, 01:32 PM   #18
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Yes, if I can keep the lights from falling off! :-)
one thing that might help is to get a helmet light along with the lights on the handle bars. the nice thing about the helmet light is that it points in the direction that you are looking as opposed to the direction that the handle bars are facing.
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Old 07-28-07, 03:46 AM   #19
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one thing that might help is to get a helmet light along with the lights on the handle bars. the nice thing about the helmet light is that it points in the direction that you are looking as opposed to the direction that the handle bars are facing.
I'm getting a helmet light. And I'll get to test it, since I'm car free for the next week. Sigh. 17 miles in the morning, 17 miles at night, four hours a day commuting..... which means no time for Bike Forums. Some folks might be happy about that!
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Old 07-28-07, 09:47 AM   #20
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I'm getting a helmet light. And I'll get to test it, since I'm car free for the next week. Sigh. 17 miles in the morning, 17 miles at night, four hours a day commuting..... which means no time for Bike Forums. Some folks might be happy about that!
In another land, I'm a bit of a light geek.. which helped with my cycling since I already had a lot of lights!

I have a Streamlight Argo HP headlamp that works GREAT for night cycling. I've tried others (some PrincetonTec models) but the Argo really does a great job. The runtime is hard to beat as well.
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