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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-13-17, 08:42 PM   #1
johngwheeler
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Any time-saving hints for a new commuter?

I've started to commute when the weather is fair, but find there is a considerable time overhead compared to my usual routine using public transport.

I find that I spend quite of lot of time preparing the stuff that I need to take on the bike, and transferring items from my normal backpack to the bike panniers. I don't commute by bike every day, so need to change bags.

I wear business casual clothes at work, and have a few hills to contend with, so a change of clothes and a shower are essential. I pack up my work clothes in an Eagle Creek travel "envelope", which keep things in good enough shape to avoid needing to iron my shirt. It does take a bit of time to pack this up neatly though.

At the other end, I don't have a dedicated locker, so have to take everything I need and remove it all for the return journey.

I estimate I spend at extra 10 minutes in the morning getting ready before leaving home, plus abut 15 minutes parking the bike, showering and changing into my work clothes. The return journey overhead is a bit quicker at 10 mins change and packup time.

So I'm looking at about 25 minutes extra time using my bike compared to just dressing and getting my usual public transport (ferry). My actual journey time to work is marginally less (5-8 mins) than my public transport option.

Can any of you experienced commuters suggest any time saving hacks that I could use to reduce the 25 minute overhead in the morning?

The obvious one is to prepare stuff the night before - I know! But I'd love to hear your routine.


Thanks,

John.
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Old 03-13-17, 08:58 PM   #2
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Commuting or Touring What worked for me was to get it all ready the night before the ride.

Takes some time to get into a routine.

That should make it faster.
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Old 03-13-17, 09:07 PM   #3
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Take some time to get into a routine. That should make it faster.
+1... Practice

When I'm coming off a week or more of non-bike-commuting I find myself back-tracking from the garage to the house or catching myself several times before I leave the house, for forgotten things, before I'm really ready to leave. When I'm commuting 4-5 days a week the departure routine becomes second nature and goes really smoothly.
The other thing is, just accept there is a minimum prep time, and don't try to cut it shorter than it realistically can be. Make it up by riding faster...
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Old 03-13-17, 09:17 PM   #4
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If you have a locker at home, I would pack a few more changes of clothes in the Eagle Creek packing envelope and keep them in your locker. Your dirty clothes can be stuffed in the panniers for the ride home. That way you won't have to pack new clothes each day you ride.
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Old 03-13-17, 09:29 PM   #5
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Bike stuff gets mounted on the bike and stays on the bike. Personal stuff goes directly into the panniers. Get yourself a convertible backpack/pannier so you won't have to switch bags all the time. Practice makes perfect -- you'll get faster the more you do it, especially the riding part.

You're taking the most efficient route, yes?

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Old 03-13-17, 09:40 PM   #6
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Skip the shower at the office, reduces prep with towels and toiletries.

As your fitness improves, you may be able to avoid perspiring much by keeping your heart rate below 120 bpm.
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Old 03-13-17, 10:06 PM   #7
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+1... Practice

When I'm coming off a week or more of non-bike-commuting I find myself back-tracking from the garage to the house or catching myself several times before I leave the house, for forgotten things, before I'm really ready to leave. When I'm commuting 4-5 days a week the departure routine becomes second nature and goes really smoothly.
The other thing is, just accept there is a minimum prep time, and don't try to cut it shorter than it realistically can be. Make it up by riding faster...
Yes, I think it's the mix on bike and non-bike commuting that interrupts the routine, especially with different bags. Doing it the night before should stop the back and forth between house & garage which is my usual morning panic when I ride the bike :-)

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If you have a locker at home, I would pack a few more changes of clothes in the Eagle Creek packing envelope and keep them in your locker. Your dirty clothes can be stuffed in the panniers for the ride home. That way you won't have to pack new clothes each day you ride.
I assume you meant if I have a locker at work? The bike storage at work has its own change rooms & lockers, but these are for single-day use, so you have to empty the locker each evening. I do have a small locker in my office that might just about fit a few shirts. I tend to leave my laptop & computer bits in there overnight to avoid carrying them each day. However, I work in a large building and the office locker is a 5-6 minute walk from the change room, so leaving clean clothes in the office locker means an additional round trip of 12 minutes to pick them up. So it's probably easier to just take clean clothes with me each day.

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Bike stuff gets mounted on the bike and stays on the bike. Personal stuff goes directly into the panniers. Get yourself a convertible backpack/pannier so you won't have to switch bags all the time. Practice makes perfect -- you'll get faster the more you do it, especially the riding part.

You're taking the most efficient route, yes?

-Kedosto
I have a smallish Topeak bag that goes on the top of the rack, so I could leave this for bike specific stuff (lights, lock, rain-jacket etc.) and then use the panniers for my work papers, clothes and lunch.

What could save me time is to have an inner bag that I can use on both the panniers and in my normal back-pack. That way I wouldn't have to unpack all of the pockets in my backpack and then have stuff loose in the pannier. The trick would be to reduce the amount I have to carry, period!

I've studied various routes and think I'm on the most efficient one that avoids major roads shared with traffic - just too dangerous in Sydney in my opinion!

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Skip the shower at the office, reduces prep with towels and toiletries.

As your fitness improves, you may be able to avoid perspiring much by keeping your heart rate below 120 bpm.
Hmmm, I think I'd have be a lot fitter than I am to avoid sweating. It might work in winter if I dress in shorts & t-shirt and don't pedal too hard, but I'm riding mostly for the exercise, so not putting some effort into it defeats the purpose. My average heart rate is about 140bpm on my commute due to the hills.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

John

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Old 03-13-17, 10:44 PM   #8
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I'll add my +1 to getting stuff prepped the night before.

Certain stuff is bike stuff and doesn't get used for anything else, such as the tools and flat-fixing supplies in my saddle pouch. If I need a flashlight, I find a flashlight, rather than borrowing my bike light.

I check the weather the night before, so I can plan what gear I need to wear.
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Old 03-13-17, 11:06 PM   #9
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Don't be offended by the bluntness, but stop obsessing, and settle into a routine. Some of the preparatory packing can be done the night before, so actually getting out of the house should take well (very well) under 5 minutes.

That and pedal faster.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:43 AM   #10
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I get everything ready the night before. Pack up clothes into trunk bag/panniers, lay out cycling clothing. In the morning all I do is get up, eat a granola bar, take care of nature then brush teeth, put on cycling clothes and out the door I go.
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Old 03-14-17, 03:36 PM   #11
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Don't be offended by the bluntness, but stop obsessing, and settle into a routine. Some of the preparatory packing can be done the night before, so actually getting out of the house should take well (very well) under 5 minutes.

That and pedal faster.
Yes, I am probably over-thinking this.... just more prep-time the night before would fix this.

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I get everything ready the night before. Pack up clothes into trunk bag/panniers, lay out cycling clothing. In the morning all I do is get up, eat a granola bar, take care of nature then brush teeth, put on cycling clothes and out the door I go.
Sounds like you have your routine down pat. Nice and simple.

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Old 03-14-17, 03:49 PM   #12
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You just have to accept that you're going to be spending some extra time prepping things when commuting by bike as opposed to by car or public transit. Like others have said, prepping as much as possible the night before helps with the morning routine. It's easy to forget things when you do it in the morning just because you have a time constraint. Doing it the night before allows time for you to remember the little details that get overlooked in the morning haste. This includes things like lights on your bike, laying out the clothes and gear to eliminate any decision-making in the morning, and food in the fridge ready to be packed. I'll put my food in my pannier the night before because the bike is in the mudroom where it's cold enough for food to sit over night. One less thing to pack.

Not having to shower helps a lot provided you don't sweat too much. I have a shower at work but don't always use it. When it's -20*C it's pretty difficult to break a sweat. But when it's 30*C it's difficult not to, regardless of how slowly you ride.

So, yeah, there's lots of prepping to do, but as others have said, once you settle into routine it becomes second nature.
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Old 03-14-17, 03:53 PM   #13
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Yes, I am probably over-thinking this.... just more prep-time the night before would fix this.

.
You have to keep in mind that you're riding you bike a few miles to work. It's not like you were hired to explore the Louisiana Purchase, so chill out. Take a few moments to pack whatever you'll need at work, and make sure the bike is checked the night before so you don't get an early AM surprise.

After that, just relax and allow enough time for the ride. At first you may want to set the alarm 15 minutes earlier, just to make sure you allowed enough time, but soon enough it'll be routine and you can do it sleeping.
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Old 03-14-17, 04:38 PM   #14
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shower at home, just cool down, de-sweat before switching to work clothes after arrival.
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Old 03-14-17, 05:33 PM   #15
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Ride more slowly, so you don't have to change or shower. Remember, the purpose of a bike is to save energy, compared to walking or running. It is a convenience machine.

I don't get this prep stuff. Throw on a coat, hop on the bike, and go. No need to check the weather, because you are going there anyway. I started riding to work because it was EASIER than driving.

If you have to check your bike before each ride, get a new, more robust bike.

If I had to spend 10 minutes getting ready for each ride, I would never, ever, have ridden a bike.
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Old 03-14-17, 05:39 PM   #16
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Store some stuff at work. I specifically take in a load of pressed shirts but you could also take your lunches or lunch ingredients in bulk. I have a coworker who brings in a couple flats of soda from Costco every month or so. That saves you from the time and mental checklist of packing it or casting about your house for it.

I cool off while I check my e-mail before I change, but most jobs probably won't let you indulge yourself so.
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Old 03-14-17, 06:11 PM   #17
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So I'm looking at about 25 minutes extra time using my bike compared to just dressing and getting my usual public transport (ferry). My actual journey time to work is marginally less (5-8 mins) than my public transport option.
I'm having a hard time grasping this... normally you take the ferry? How is your bike faster? I can't imagine you take the same route.
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Old 03-14-17, 06:24 PM   #18
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I'm having a hard time grasping this... normally you take the ferry? How is your bike faster? I can't imagine you take the same route.
Pontoon bike.

Actually, the OP lives near Puget Sound, an area of islands and ferry crossing. I can see where he might have a choice between a ferry and bu or train or riding around on a land route.
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Old 03-14-17, 06:29 PM   #19
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Pontoon bike.

Actually, the OP lives near Puget Sound, an area of islands and ferry crossing. I can see where he might have a choice between a ferry and bu or train or riding around on a land route.
I live in the Puget Sound area also. I don't ride a ferry very often. However, I don't know of any ferry routes where the actual ride time on a bicycle around the ferry route would be shorter. I'm not real familiar with schedules and stops, but just trying to imagine how it would work.
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Old 03-14-17, 06:37 PM   #20
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I live in the Puget Sound area also. I don't ride a ferry very often. However, I don't know of any ferry routes where the actual ride time on a bicycle around the ferry route would be shorter. I'm not real familiar with schedules and stops, but just trying to imagine how it would work.
Sorry about that. It got screwed up in editing. The Op never mentioned where he lives and I meant to list the Puget sound area as the kind of place where there are land routes or a ferry. I figured that since you lived there you could imagine the possibilities.

Obviously it would be hard to go around the direct crossing and come out ahead, but hypothetically one may live or work away from the ferry on either leg, in the direction of the land route. Ie. live on Bainbridge Island, and work at Sea-Tac (though that distance is probably too long for a bike commute.

By example, here in NYC, one may live up near the GW bridge and work across the river near the ferry, or even between the bridge and ferry. So it's very possible that the routes are roughly equal in distance, and a decent cyclist can easily beat the ferry/bus combination.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:27 PM   #21
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I used to keep a cardboard box near my desk. used it as a locker for some stuff
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Old 03-14-17, 07:41 PM   #22
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I assume you meant if I have a locker at work? The bike storage at work has its own change rooms & lockers, but these are for single-day use, so you have to empty the locker each evening. I do have a small locker in my office that might just about fit a few shirts. I tend to leave my laptop & computer bits in there overnight to avoid carrying them each day. However, I work in a large building and the office locker is a 5-6 minute walk from the change room, so leaving clean clothes in the office locker means an additional round trip of 12 minutes to pick them up. So it's probably easier to just take clean clothes with me each day.
Yes, I meant work. Yeah, if it takes another 12 minutes just to get to your locker and back, it's probably quicker to take your clothes.

Over time you'll figure out a system naturally and it will be part of your normal routine. Enjoy the ride.
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Old 03-14-17, 09:25 PM   #23
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Sounds like you have your routing down pat. Nice and simple.
Mostly. The hard part is getting my arse out of the bed.
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Old 03-14-17, 10:14 PM   #24
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Ride more slowly, so you don't have to change or shower. Remember, the purpose of a bike is to save energy, compared to walking or running. It is a convenience machine.

I don't get this prep stuff. Throw on a coat, hop on the bike, and go. No need to check the weather, because you are going there anyway. I started riding to work because it was EASIER than driving.

If you have to check your bike before each ride, get a new, more robust bike.

If I had to spend 10 minutes getting ready for each ride, I would never, ever, have ridden a bike.
But....I have to show off my new lycra gear.... :-)

My prep time is mostly just transferring work items from my non-bike backpack to the panniers, but this could be streamlined by having a common inner bag and doing it the night before when I'm not in a rush.

I do have to pack and carry work clothes every day because there's no way I can cycle wearing the same clothes I work in - I get too hot & sweaty, work clothes are not flexible enough & I could crumple or damage them by riding. I also want to wear hi-viz colors (although wearing a reflective vest or sash is an alternative).

In any case, my reason for riding a bike is not to make my journey easier. I can get a very relaxing ferry ride to within 300 meters of my office, during which I can work or read, which is a more efficient use of my working day. My reason for riding my bike is exercise and the enjoyment in riding. I save a small amount of money as well.

I understand that some people like to ride at a much more sedate pace in their work gear (which used to be pretty common in my youth, less so now). If I lived somewhere flat, this might be an option :-)

John.
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Old 03-14-17, 10:20 PM   #25
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Store some stuff at work. I specifically take in a load of pressed shirts but you could also take your lunches or lunch ingredients in bulk. I have a coworker who brings in a couple flats of soda from Costco every month or so. That saves you from the time and mental checklist of packing it or casting about your house for it.

I cool off while I check my e-mail before I change, but most jobs probably won't let you indulge yourself so.
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I'm having a hard time grasping this... normally you take the ferry? How is your bike faster? I can't imagine you take the same route.
Storage is a bit of an issue at work; we have hot desks, so nothing personal can be left on or under the desk. I have a small locker, but this is a 12 minute round trip to the bike storage area (with showers), so leaving clothes there doesn't save me time (park bike, walk to office in riding gear, pick up work clothes, walk back to bike area, shower, change, walk back to office). It's not ideal, but it's quicker to take clothes with me every day.
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