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  1. #1
    Member WilsonZone's Avatar
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    My first commute

    I posted this in the Commute forum but felt I needed to post this here as well, since this was the forum I mostly used when I planned this out.

    I finally did it. I woke up at 5:30 AM, got dressed (I showered the night before), ate my oatmeal and then rode my bike 12 miles to work today. Last Saturday I rode my bike to work and halfway back before I had to call my wife and ask her to come get me. I'm hoping the 9 hour break in between will enable me to ride all the way home today. I do have a co-worker who drives a truck and he offered to take me and the bike home if I need him to. My wife will also be waiting for my phone call to come get me. I don't think I will be needing either one of them today.

    This first commute has really taught me some things. First, the test ride I did last Saturday is a little too different than today's commute because Saturday I rode to work with no backpack and it was later in the evening on a weekend so traffic was different. Today I had my laptop, power plug, change of clothes and personal items (deodorant, unscented wipes, etc) along with my keys, wallet... it all adds up. I also learned why carrying all that stuff in a backpack is not a good idea. Not only was my back drenched with sweat, the straps on the backpack was cutting off the circulation causing my fingers to go numb frequently. On my way home I'm going to stop at my LBS and see if I can pick up a rack, or I may ride over there during my lunch since it's only about a block away from here. Maybe if I'm lucky I could get them to install it real quick.

    Also I learned that using Google Maps and driving in my car is really a poor way to plan my route. You don't notice the hills when you're driving and you can't see road conditions on a browser. The route I took last Saturday and today will not be the same route I plan on taking every day. Although one part of the road had signs all over the place to inform drivers that it was a bike route, the condition of the road was absolutely horrible. Google Maps does help me measure the distance accurately.

    Seemed like the closer I got into town the likely I'd run into drivers who wanted my lane so bad they didn't give me a lot of space when they passed me. One guy looked like he was in a hurry; he passed me so close I could reach out and touch his car, then he got in front of me and stopped at the light. I was tempted to hold up three fingers to where he could see me in his rear view mirror to remind him that is now a finable offense to pass a bike closer than three feet in Oklahoma. Where's a cop when you need one. At least this one didn't honk at me as he passed. First time that happened it scared the crap out of me.

    I did get one incentive that helped me out. After leaving the house I was not even a mile away and really dreading the ride. I took the back roads for a bit to avoid traffic and to get warmed up without worrying about some car behind me. As I reached the major road that I planned to take, another commuter rode by. He rode a pretty nice looking road bike, I wished I hadn't settled for my hybrid and bought me a road bike too. I still plan on saving up for a decent one. He also carried a backpack but it was much smaller than mine and it looked like he's been doing this for a while. He waved at me as he rode by which offered encouragement to me. Although it was pretty light out he still had his rear flashing lights on. Mine was off so I figured I'd better go ahead and turn mine on. I rode behind him for 0.7 miles and kept up with him, I was surprised because I'm usually pretty slow and he was going at a pretty good clip. Unfortunately he turned left on a different road so I had to continue on my own.

    Now that I've been able to rest the only difference I feel is my upper leg muscle are a bit tight but not painful (yet). Last week when I tried this and had my wife come pick me up I went back to bed and slept for hours. Today I feel great and I look forward to doing this more often.

    Lately I haven't been watching what I eat so my weight is slowly increasing. My low was 222 pounds; yesterday I weighed in at 232. I need to get back on the ball, log every meal I eat again (this link points to my log that I used. CodeMonkey was already taken here). Big thumbs up for piette and his goal to get below 200 pounds! 198 is awesome! I'd love to get below 200 pounds!

    I need to start a blog. Anyone know of a decent free blog site to use?

  2. #2
    2nd Century TBD AirBeagle1's Avatar
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    Great start! Congratulations on the first commute -- I bet it gets easier as you learn more and more.

    One trick I've learned to help avoid getting passed closely -- when I'm in traffic and worried about cars coming too close to me, I ride further to the LEFT and take up enough of the lane that cars have to switch lanes to pass me. It's a bit uncomfortable at first, but I think it forces you to be seen and taken seriously as a vehicle, as opposed to drivers trying to "squeeze through" in your lane and coming too close.

    Free blog site -- I use blogspot.com -- looks nice, cost is right, and fairly intuitive. Then again, it's the only site I've used -- first one I've found, and haven't seen a reason to try anything else.

    Good luck, and keep at it!!!

  3. #3
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  4. #4
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Wow, congrats! I've been commuting to work via bicycle, with some time off from November - Feb, for over a year. I started doing it because on a whim I started riding my bike to my wife's (then girlfriend's ) apartment, which was across town from mine. Gave me a good workout every night, and didn't cost me a thing to go see her - it worked out well!

    As far as routes go, you'll figure out the best one for your commute, don't worry. Since I started my new job I've done several different routes. The "direct" way is 3.5-ish miles, but I don't ever like taking that way. VERY busy streets with drivers who are in too much of a hurry to even consider giving you any leeway on the roads, so it's sidewalks. I have two others, one that's a hair over 5 (my second choice, as the roads it's on are not busy but are pretty rough) and a 7 mile route that I prefer. You'll eventually find your preferred route.

    For blogs, blogger.com is what I use, and it works well. And.. free!

  5. #5
    VeloSIRraptor
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    Congratulations on your big achievement! It is a really big step to make the switch and ride to work.
    Keep it up- you will figure out your own personal preferences and the little things that will make the commute go easier the more you do it.

    As you become more accustomed to riding a bike, driving the route won't leave you as unprepared- you will see it from a cyclist's perspective. You might try veloroutes.com to plan routes- it has height calculations and some other features that you may find helpful.

    +1 to riding a bit further to the left. My experience in the midwest is that there isn't much of a shoulder to ride on. It takes a decent bit of courage- but I'd recommend riding a bit further in- the drivers will respect you more. (and you will get fewer flats from the debris along the side of the road)
    I use wordpress- but most all the blog sites are good.

    Again, congratulations and keep it up!
    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    If it comes down to a field sprint, you probably won't win, so don't let it.

  6. #6
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    Good for you! I didn't ride in this morning, but threw the bike on the rack so I can ride home (I carpool with my wife). This will be my first time riding from work, and fortunately she's going to swing by and grab my backpack - and give me a final chance to back out. I'm not worried about the distance, I usually ride this far, but I am thinking about the 30% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon!
    Well, Yeah. Because that's what cake is FOR.

  7. #7
    crash survivor tate65's Avatar
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    I promise it gets easier, 5 years ago I did 1 days a week 1/2 way. Now I do 2-4 days a week 42 mile round trip. I have also lost near 100 lbs, still over 200, but I can ride all day now.

  8. #8
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Good job! A few thoughts from a fellow commuter:

    • Although a lot of commuters prefer panniers or a messenger bag to a backpack, you want to take a good hard look at what you're carrying around, and whether you need to carry it around. When I leave work, I leave work, and my laptop stays there -- it only comes home on Friday evening. Likewise, I wouldn't be bothered hauling toiletries around. Keep spare wipes, deodorant etc. at work, it won't break the bank. For clothes, you may be somewhat limited depending on your workplace dress code -- a lot of people deal with this by driving in one day a week and bringing in a week's worth of clothes. If you're a clipless person, keep spare shoes at work (I have a pair of Tevas that lives there).
    • If you go the rack-and-panniers route and plan to use them to transport your laptop, better make sure you've got an absolutely bombproof attachment -- and be absolutely sure it will stand up to real-world conditions, i.e., rough roads and a relatively heavy load (a laptop is quite dense). I ditched the whole idea of panniers after the fourth time my laptop parted company from the bike. Now I use a messenger bag.
    • If you're not going to have a regular bailout option in the form of someone who can give you a ride, think about what you'd do if you had a flat or other breakdown. You may decide you want to carry a few tools, at least a tube and pump. I don't bother because I always have public transit nearby (although, since it's the Boston Catch Fire Crash and Burn MBTA system, I'm not so sure that's a good backup anymore), but if I didn't have that option, I'd carry more than I do. As it is, I carry an Alien multitool to handle any "things working loose" issues on the fly.
    • You might want to read up a bit on muscle recovery and post-exercise stretching.

  9. #9
    Member WilsonZone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    Good job! A few thoughts from a fellow commuter:
    When I leave work, I leave work, and my laptop stays there -- it only comes home on Friday evening.
    I try to do the same but after a while it became easier to just grab the laptop and backpack than lock it up at work. If I had been thinking about it yesterday I would have gone ahead and lock it up. I *may* go ahead and lock the laptop at work, I think I will be too busy to do any work over the weekend.

    Likewise, I wouldn't be bothered hauling toiletries around. Keep spare wipes, deodorant etc. at work, it won't break the bank. For clothes, you may be somewhat limited depending on your workplace dress code -- a lot of people deal with this by driving in one day a week and bringing in a week's worth of clothes. If you're a clipless person, keep spare shoes at work (I have a pair of Tevas that lives there).
    The items I brought with me I had purchased last night after a last minute "holy crap" thought. Obviously I wasn't a very good boy scout. These items are meant to be left behind. I originally planned on buying larger items to keep at work but knew space was limited so I bought smaller wipes, deodorant, etc. I do have to wear dress pants and a collared shirt Monday through Thursday, but I wear black running shoes all 5 days (nobody has said anything about that). I'd probably prefer to bring my clothes with me though. Do people use clipless on hybrids?

    I ditched the whole idea of panniers after the fourth time my laptop parted company from the bike.
    Holy crap! I think if I lost my laptop that way my boss would ban me from riding my bike to work! I didn't think about the bag falling off. During lunch I went to the LBS to look at racks and panniers, but after reading your post maybe I better re-think this.

    If you're not going to have a regular bailout option in the form of someone who can give you a ride, think about what you'd do if you had a flat or other breakdown. You may decide you want to carry a few tools, at least a tube and pump. I don't bother because I always have public transit nearby (although, since it's the Boston Catch Fire Crash and Burn MBTA system, I'm not so sure that's a good backup anymore), but if I didn't have that option, I'd carry more than I do. As it is, I carry an Alien multitool to handle any "things working loose" issues on the fly.
    That's part of the reason why I considered a pannier or bike rack. I did buy one of those foldable allen wrenches (a cheap one though) but I haven't started carrying it yet. I can't figure out how the tool pouch fits on the bike. I also bought a cheap tire pump, but don't plan on keeping it long. I plan on getting a Topeak Road Morph but the LBS didn't carry it. Our public transportation here doesn't go all the way to my neighborhood. I'd have to ride the remaining 4.5 miles.

    You might want to read up a bit on muscle recovery and post-exercise stretching.
    Thanks, I'll definitely do that. Although I did get quite a bit of stretching while changing my clothes in the bathroom stall.

  10. #10
    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    If it does rain just think of that as mother natur's way of colling you so you can keep you cadence higher.
    Cars make you weak.

  11. #11
    "Fred"--is that bad? DTSCDS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    <<SNIP>> I'd probably prefer to bring my clothes with me though. Do people use clipless on hybrids?<<SNIP>>
    I can't comment on any aspect of commuting since I am a student, work on campus and live directly across the street from the school. It would take me twice as long to carry the bike down from the 4th floor than it would to ride the hundred yards across the street!

    But, as far as the clipless and hybrid question. My wife and I do on our Trek hybrids. We may be seen as the textbook definition of dorks as we ride around the local lake path with our clipless shoes/pedals and our biking shorts/bibs and jerseys. She has shiny, silver Nike and I have black/blue Shimano shoes. But, we are both pretty happy with our gear so away we go... I think it makes a huge difference. I would suggest getting something like these: Shimano M324. That's what we are using. You can use these with regular shoes as well as cleats. Plus, if you are in an area where you are hitting a stop sign every block or two you can use the platform side instead of constantly clipping/unclipping.
    BTW--Good for you on the commuting commitment. Keep it up.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    Good job! A few thoughts from a fellow commuter:

    • Although a lot of commuters prefer panniers or a messenger bag to a backpack, you want to take a good hard look at what you're carrying around, and whether you need to carry it around. When I leave work, I leave work, and my laptop stays there -- it only comes home on Friday evening.
    Get another power adapter and cord from your IT department (or buy one) and leave it at hope. there's a couple lbs there.

  13. #13
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    Well done! I agree with most of the feedback here - pack light, find the right bag for you, try different routes till you find the one (or more) that works best for you, take more of the lane where necessary, etc. Would only add that, IMHO, the most important thing you can do to be safe on your commute is to be VISIBLE and PREDICTABLE (okay, that's two things...)

    Have fun with this! To me, there's nothing quite like the feeling in your legs all day long that says, "I'm on the way to becoming the superior human being I've always believed I am. The rest of these mere mortals have nothing on me..."

  14. #14
    Member WilsonZone's Avatar
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    I tried to get the IT department to supply me with a spare power cord. No can do, I'm stuck getting one myself. I don't know how long I will have this laptop, I guess I could sell the extra cord on Ebay if I get a different laptop.

    My co-workers and my wife think I need to get a ride home. They say it's too hot to ride all the way home. Of course most of these people think I'm crazy for doing this in the first place. I checked the weather; 90 degrees (feels like 94) and a wind from the south at around 18 MPH. The wind is what bothers me, since I have to go south to go home. I'll be fighting the wind the whole way. I'm also worried about getting sunburned since I didn't bring any sunscreen with me (the suncreen bottle is too big). The other thing that bothers me is water. The city's water in this old building is nasty tasting. We have a water dispenser that gives us filtered water, but I don't think the water for the ice maker is filtered or filtered enough. I'll be filling both water bottles with filtered water and the ice from the ice maker. I guess it can't be too bad, there are some people here who use the ice in their drinks.

    When I walked downtown to eat my lunch I was surprised at how much energy I had. My legs feel great! I hope it carries over to my ride home.

    My phone is charged, my water bottles are filled, and I'm ready to head home for the day.
    Last edited by WilsonZone; 05-30-08 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Incomplete post, first column.

  15. #15
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    I try to do the same but after a while it became easier to just grab the laptop and backpack than lock it up at work. If I had been thinking about it yesterday I would have gone ahead and lock it up. I *may* go ahead and lock the laptop at work, I think I will be too busy to do any work over the weekend.
    It's good for you in other ways than the amount of stuff you lug around. Also what Brando said. There are laptop adapters now that have multiple connectors so that you can find the one that fits your laptop. Buy one of those, and you'll be able to use it on your next laptop, most likely. (your IT dept is cheezy for not getting you one, though)

    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    The items I brought with me I had purchased last night after a last minute "holy crap" thought. Obviously I wasn't a very good boy scout. These items are meant to be left behind. I originally planned on buying larger items to keep at work but knew space was limited so I bought smaller wipes, deodorant, etc. I do have to wear dress pants and a collared shirt Monday through Thursday, but I wear black running shoes all 5 days (nobody has said anything about that). I'd probably prefer to bring my clothes with me though. Do people use clipless on hybrids?
    I have a CVS around the corner from my workplace -- that's where I stock up. If you have something nearby, you might want to use that rather than lugging stuff from home. And yes, people use clipless on hybrids.

    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    Holy crap! I think if I lost my laptop that way my boss would ban me from riding my bike to work! I didn't think about the bag falling off. During lunch I went to the LBS to look at racks and panniers, but after reading your post maybe I better re-think this.
    I wouldn't discard the idea -- a lot of people use panniers and love them, and never have this sort of incident. You just have to be really, really sure that it's going to stay on. If you always park your bike in a secure location, you may be able to secure the pannier to the rack with zip-ties in addition to its usual attachment system -- that will give you a failsafe. If you have to take the panniers off when you get to work or home, though, this won't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    That's part of the reason why I considered a pannier or bike rack. I did buy one of those foldable allen wrenches (a cheap one though) but I haven't started carrying it yet. I can't figure out how the tool pouch fits on the bike.
    It fits in your bag.

    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    Thanks, I'll definitely do that. Although I did get quite a bit of stretching while changing my clothes in the bathroom stall.
    Take a look at this. The guy who wrote this document did a lot of research on stretching and digested it. His assumption is that you're stretching for improved flexibility, so you may not want to go the whole hog with the PNF stretching, but there's a lot of valuable info there on physiology, risky stretches, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by WilsonZone View Post
    I'm also worried about getting sunburned since I didn't bring any sunscreen with me (the suncreen bottle is too big). The other thing that bothers me is water. The city's water in this old building is nasty tasting. We have a water dispenser that gives us filtered water, but I don't think the water for the ice maker is filtered or filtered enough. I'll be filling both water bottles with filtered water and the ice from the ice maker. I guess it can't be too bad, there are some people here who use the ice in their drinks.
    Unless you're riding in before the sun is up, sunscreen is something you should have on your body before you go out the door in the morning. Put it in the bathroom and apply it as soon as you dry off after showering. Keeping some at work is also a good idea, because on a hot day you do sweat it off. As for water, don't add ice cubes to your water bottles -- fill one bottle with filtered water and put it in the freezer. Unless your commute is very long, you probably don't want to let it freeze all the way, but maybe let it get a little slushy. Put the other bottle in the refrigerator and you ought to be fine.

  16. #16
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    Good luck with the head wind. After five solid weeks of commuting, I have conquered the (small) hills on the way to work, but the head wind and I still do battle. I suspect we will be life long nemesis!

  17. #17
    Member WilsonZone's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the headwind. It took me about an hour to get to work, and about 2 hours to ride home yesterday. I was really sore when I got home last night. Didn't bother posting here, I just went to bed and fell asleep.

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