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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 07-12-11, 08:31 AM   #1
ill.clyde
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Questions for you commuters ...

So I've toyed with the idea of commuting to work on my bike ... around 30 miles one way. Couldn't do it every day due to childcare issues, etc ... but I could do it a day or two or three a week.

When you ride TO work ... what do you do to clean up? Shower? Towel off in the bathroom? Moist towelettes? What do you do with your bike?

These are the logistical issues I can't figure out. We have a fitness center in our basement, but you have to be a member to use the shower.

And I'm not sure I could park my bike at my cubicle, and that's the ONLY place I would consider leaving it.
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Old 07-12-11, 09:26 AM   #2
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What I do is this:

On the way to work, I pedal softly like I am just out meandering around. Keep your speed low(ish) and the sweat problem isn't so bad. On the last half mile I really dog it so I'm pretty much cooled off by time I come to a stop. Once I do stop, I sit on a bench outside for a few minutes. If I walk into the AC...I'll sweat. Bad. You want to be cooled as much as possible before you change into your work clothing. When I go to change, I take a paper towel and dry my pits, face, and lower back. Apply some deordorant, comb my hair, and I'm good to go. Put a stripe of deodorant across your lower back if you need to. You can substitute unscented baby wipes and give yourself a wh*re's bath...which would probably be your best bet for a 30 mile commute.

If sweat is a concern, under no circumstances should you use a backpack. Get your load off your back and you'll stay much cooler. If you have the space at work, bring your work cloths in the day before. That way you only have to bring your lunch.
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Old 07-12-11, 09:27 AM   #3
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I take my clothing & food & supplies in one day of the week, ride the other 4.

Clean-up after is with wet & dry towels, then some deodorent (make sure crotch is clean!). I have my own locker where all this is stored.

I'm fortunate to have a large office with 2 other guys (physical education teachers) and my bike has a nice little area of its own that isn't in the way. Office is always locked. Ask PIC if you could park the bike in the cubicle. Can't hurt to ask, right?

Maybe wanna join the fitness center just for the shower? But perhaps they have a space for your bike as well?
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Old 07-12-11, 09:32 AM   #4
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Well if the gym is affordable then jump on with them, not only does a cool/cold shower clean you up, but cools you off and stops the sweating quicker. Load up a water bottle with plenty of ice to help keep your body temp down. As for the bike, you can see what the boss allows, but if you can't park it in the cubical you could ask if there is a spare closet or the likes around.

My workplace has a gym, lockers, and showers for all employees, as HR is really trying to get us healthy (they also pay for us to play in the town's softball and flag football leagues). We also have a covered bike rack. Commuting is a breeze. In your case make the best of whatever you have.
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Old 07-12-11, 10:24 AM   #5
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Seriously, a 30 mile commute?
What you might want to do is drive part of it and ride part. I can't imagine the time commitment required to do a 30 mile commute. (Assuming you are not working some type of 24 on / 48 off type of shift)
For me the clean up isn't really that big a deal. I always shower before I leave. If you ride in different clothes than you will work in, when you take off your riding clothes a lot of the sweaty-ness goes with it. A little wiping down is all I need. I have never done the baby wipe thing--I carry a washcloth and a small towel and use that. I put the wet washcloth in a plastic bag so it doesn't wet my stuff during the day.
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Old 07-12-11, 10:33 AM   #6
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Yeah .. I mapped it on map my ride once, think it came out to 28 miles ... it would be at least two hours, since I usually average around 15 mph.

I've toyed with the idea of riding home from work one night a week or so, and then catching the train to work the next day to pick up my vehicle.

Just trying to figure out a way to fit in a longer ride at least once during the week

great replies so far ... thanks a bunch!
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Old 07-12-11, 11:39 AM   #7
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Check all the threads in the 'commuters' section of this site for more ideas.

I leave a duffel bag at the office with two pairs of jeans/pants, belt, socks, shoes, deodorant, and baby wipes. I have a pannier that I put a clean work shirt in.

My commute ain't much except for a 7% grade that goes up for a quarter mile . The first 7 miles are not too bad, it is the last mile and half that kills me.

I arrive at the office, hopefully before the clan gets there, and sit for 20 minutes with the desk fan cooling me off. Afterwards, I clean up my head, chest, and pits, put deodorant on, and get to work. My cycling clothes are laid out to dry in my office.

The important thing is, always take a shower before riding. Your sweat will be clean and easy to wipe up. If you don't take a shower, guaranteed everyone will smell you.

28 miles each way is do-able, but be sure you are used to riding that distance, otherwise you will be staring at your wall in a trance for the rest of the day.
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Old 07-12-11, 12:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
And I'm not sure I could park my bike at my cubicle, and that's the ONLY place I would consider leaving it.
Well then that is the lynchpin, isn't it? If you cannot park your bike at your cubicle (I was allowed to when I commuted to NJ), game over unless you put what I have to assume is a fear of theft behind you. I lock my bike outside my office building on the streets of Philadelphia and have never had a problem. In fact, the only place I have ever had a bike stolen is from inside my house--while I was at home and awake. I lock my bike up right outside the main door to the building. You would be surprised how well constant foot traffic and daylight work as deterents.
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Old 07-12-11, 12:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
So I've toyed with the idea of commuting to work on my bike ... around 30 miles one way. Couldn't do it every day due to childcare issues, etc ... but I could do it a day or two or three a week.

When you ride TO work ... what do you do to clean up?
Splash water on my face and dry off. When you take a shower before you ride you don't stink after sweating.

Quote:
What do you do with your bike?
Park it at my cubicle.
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Old 07-12-11, 12:41 PM   #10
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Another approach some people with long commutes take is to drive to work with the bike on a rack, then leave the car parked and bike home. The next morning, bike to work and drive home after work. When faced with a 4 hour commute each day, cutting it in half makes the prospect much more appealing.

This only works if you work somewhere where you feel safe leaving your car overnight. If you're not willing to leave your bike locked outside for 9 hours or so during work hours, then I'm guessing you'd be hesitant to leave your car unattended during the night as well.

I've had 3 bikes stolen in my life. Two were stolen out of my garage. The third was stolen outside an arcade when I was a kid and didn't have it locked properly. Never had anyone mess with my bike when commuting.
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Old 07-12-11, 01:02 PM   #11
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I park in my office. If you cant leave your bike in your cube, be creative, maybe housekeeping has a locked closet you could use, or an office of someone that works another shift. I ride one hour in and take a shower right before I leave, keep a towel, deoderant and stuff in your cube. This is the most important part. Keep at least one extra everything you need at work. Pants socks belt shoes, everything. It is pretty embaressing to forget your pants and be 30 miles from home.
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Old 07-12-11, 01:49 PM   #12
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My commute is ~20 miles and I only do it a couple of times per week as that is all I have time for. I shower before I ride and I find that when I get to work if I splash some water on my face and hair and then towel off I don't have any odor issues (I have had my wife come visit me at work to verify this). It is also not too hot first thing in the morning so I don't sweat as much as I do on the way home.

I also bring everything I need for work (clothes, food etc.) the day before I ride so I do not have to carry it on the bike.

As for bike storage - I am really lucky as I have a locked cage outside (but covered from rain) that I can store my bike in that only a few people (that I trust) have access to.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:40 PM   #13
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Let me encourage you, 28-miles each way is certainly a doable commute. My commute is just about 46-miles round trip. Takes me about 80-mins in the morning (including lights), and 105-mins in the evening (by car, it's about 30-mins each way). If I can do it, anyone can.

As green427 said, make sure you're ready for the distance. What got me when I first started was that distance 4 days in a row and the early waking pattern. Now I'm used to it. You will be too.
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Old 07-12-11, 03:15 PM   #14
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So far there have been some great replies (bird bath shower, baby wipes, showering before work, etc.). Also the park and ride 1/2 way might be doable or drive into work and ride home might also work.

To me the best piece of equipment you can buy would be puncture resistant tires. After that a rear rack and some sort of basket or panniers will come in extremely handy.

I would still talk to someone about using the showers or locker room at the gym in your basement. Maybe you could rent a locker or something (to keep your clothes or gear in), but not a membership. Otherwise, try to befriend the manager or the usual person who will be there in the morning. They might let you slide.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:24 PM   #15
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My commute is 48 miles round trip and I've been doing it about twice a week...I'd like to do it 3x, but my schedule has been weird lately. One day each week I bring in a few sets of clothes and I leave one pair of shoes and a towel there, along with a toiletry kit. My office has showers and lockers (but no gym), so I shower and get ready at work and hang my commuting clothes to dry. Then I change back into commuting clothes for the return trip and take home the dirty work clothes on a driving day. I carry my lunch/keys/wallet in a compact backpack since I don't want to put panniers on my bike. I leave my ulock attached to the rack in my office parking garage so I don't have to carry it around (I only use my bike for commuting and exercise, otherwise I use bike share). I usually park my bike around 730am and am showered and ready by 745, so it's a pretty easy process.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:54 PM   #16
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In the plus column, I'm fortunate in that my office building has a shower available. In the minus column, they won't let us bring bikes in the building. There is a bike rack in the corner of the parking lot, and I lock my bike up with a heavy U-lock as well as a cable between the wheels. It made me a little nervous at first; I wish they'd put it close to the front door or something, but the location is such that there aren't really a lot of random people walking by, and so far I haven't had any problems. My commute is about 5 miles each way, but my office is also close to a greenway, so some mornings I put in an extra 20 or so on that before I go in.

I know a lot of people take stuff in at the beginning of the week so they don't have to carry it every day, but I take my stuff back and forth each day. One thing I did to save at least on the bulk is get one of those Speedo "swim towels". It's a lot less bulky than carrying a regular towel and you just wring it out instead of having to hang it to dry. I hang all my biking gear up in my cubicle and it dries out pretty fast.

My only problem is that my metabolism gets so revved up, after I take my shower I still keep sweating for another 15 or 20 minutes. I've even tried running the shower fairly cool hoping it would cool me down. Oh, well, so far nobody has complained about the smell.
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Old 07-12-11, 06:09 PM   #17
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Sometimes I have extra clothes at work and other times I carry the stuff in a backpack. Either way I negotiated a "shower only" membership at a local gym. I go there, shower up, then coast easily the mile back to work.
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Old 07-13-11, 07:29 AM   #18
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I commute *almost every day, but not anywhere near your mileage. mine is only 4 miles so i ride in dress shoes, slacks, dress shirt and rode a few times in a suit. I shower right before i leave, have baby wipes and a towel a extra bottle of cologne at my desk (plus extra clothes incase of a emergancy).

for me its easy to mangage the sweat (even though i sweat a lot). it only 4 miles so i can adjust my speed with the temperature. now when we had the humid days i rode in shorts and a tee. when i got to my desk i checked emails and responded to cool down before i changed.

I lock my bike up outside and once for got my lock so it sat in my cubicle that day.

my opinion would to just become a member of the fitness center just for the shower! the positive is you could ride your 30miles into work then lift at the fitness center then shower then go to work. you will get ALL your exercise in and be shower fresh all before you start work.
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Old 07-13-11, 07:47 AM   #19
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Do you not have anything to lock your bike to? (e.g. this: http://www.treehugger.com/new-york-c...equirement.jpg) I lock my bike up in downtown Portland every day with a tough-ish U-Lock and I haven't had a problem yet (knock on wood).

In terms of my procedure: I usually hit the bathroom first thing, splash some water on my face, towel off as much as possible with a paper towel, apply deodorant as needed, etc. That having been said, my commute is minuscule compared to yours and I do it 5 days a week, 365 days a year so my body is kind of used to it by now.

I like the idea of driving in, riding home then taking the train the next day to pick up your car. If the train can get you to work, you could also probably take your bike on the train and ride home that night (that way you never have to stash your car).

Anyway, good for you for going for it!
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Old 07-13-11, 08:46 AM   #20
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I'm going to be trying my first commute (20 miles) tomorrow morning. I posted a thread about it in the commuting forum:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-about.-Advice

We'll see how it goes!
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Old 07-13-11, 08:49 AM   #21
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I like the idea of driving in, riding home then taking the train the next day to pick up your car. If the train can get you to work, you could also probably take your bike on the train and ride home that night (that way you never have to stash your car).
Someone recommended this to me as well, but I ultimately had to reject that idea. It makes sense at first, but the weather here is really unpredictable (it wasn't supposed to rain yesterday, weather.com said 0% chance, then it poured all afternoon!), so I would hate to be stuck in a situation where I am forced to bike into work the next morning when the weather is terrible!
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Old 07-13-11, 07:11 PM   #22
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Someone recommended this to me as well, but I ultimately had to reject that idea. It makes sense at first, but the weather here is really unpredictable (it wasn't supposed to rain yesterday, weather.com said 0% chance, then it poured all afternoon!), so I would hate to be stuck in a situation where I am forced to bike into work the next morning when the weather is terrible!
Some people use a cheap (a few hundred or few thousand dollars depending on your finances) spare car for that so there's always one waiting at both ends of the commute in case the weather gets bad or they need to work late.

Insurance can be very reasonable with multi-car discounts (IIRC net cost to add a truck to my policy with liability only was about $100/6 months)
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Old 07-14-11, 03:00 AM   #23
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My ride to work is 9 miles one way. Flat/downhill going. Flat/slightly uphill on the way back. Time to get there is 35 minutes there. 45 minutes return. I work in big honking enterprise computing company. We got showers in every building and in the on-site gym/workout that is fully staffed. We have free sodas, and big honking server rooms and labs with enough A/C to get hypothermic in 4 minutes. So, yes, I get there, and shower if I have time. Bike has rear rack, dual small panniers and seat bag with all the standard extras, like clothing, toiletries, small microfibre towel to dry off, mini first aid, and bike repair kit. Parking the bike is easy. No lock. I wheel it in. Head up the elevator. It stays outside my office door and provides proof to the other folks that I did indeed ride in today and deserve to eat a better lunch!
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Old 07-14-11, 12:02 PM   #24
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Let me encourage you, 28-miles each way is certainly a doable commute. My commute is just about 46-miles round trip. Takes me about 80-mins in the morning (including lights), and 105-mins in the evening (by car, it's about 30-mins each way). If I can do it, anyone can.

As green427 said, make sure you're ready for the distance. What got me when I first started was that distance 4 days in a row and the early waking pattern. Now I'm used to it. You will be too.
+1!

I commute 41 miles round trip, as many days of the week as my home schedule will allow. I cover my route in somewhere between 75 - 90 minutes, on average.

A morning shower & baby wipes once you get there are a must. Even if you weren't to get all sweaty (Covering 20.5 miles in less than 90 minutes gets me sweaty), that much riding leaves you covered in grime.

As you begin racking up the miles, there may be a few other logistical items that you have not considered:
  • You should know how to fix a flat (& have the proper equipment to do so) at the bare minimum.

    It's a personal decision how much stuff you bring with you but I always carry a spare tube. A patch kit will only help if you puncture, not if you blow out.

  • Get into the habit of giving your tires a squeeze before every ride and air up as needed.

  • Depending upon where you live, your chain can grime up rather quickly. You'll need to figure out what's best for you but again speaking for me I clean & re-lubricate mine every 100 miles.
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Old 07-14-11, 12:09 PM   #25
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What I do is this:

On the way to work, I pedal softly like I am just out meandering around. Keep your speed low(ish) and the sweat problem isn't so bad. On the last half mile I really dog it so I'm pretty much cooled off by time I come to a stop. Once I do stop, I sit on a bench outside for a few minutes. If I walk into the AC...I'll sweat. Bad. You want to be cooled as much as possible before you change into your work clothing. When I go to change, I take a paper towel and dry my pits, face, and lower back. Apply some deordorant, comb my hair, and I'm good to go. Put a stripe of deodorant across your lower back if you need to. You can substitute unscented baby wipes and give yourself a wh*re's bath...which would probably be your best bet for a 30 mile commute.

If sweat is a concern, under no circumstances should you use a backpack. Get your load off your back and you'll stay much cooler. If you have the space at work, bring your work cloths in the day before. That way you only have to bring your lunch.
This.
Although since i work at a local pizza parlor I just towel off change into my work clothes and apply some deodorant. Fortunately, i don't sweat much and so don't really have a "funk", and if i have a little it is not noticed because as soon as I start working I smell like bleach and pizza anyway.
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