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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 08-21-05, 10:55 PM   #1
Mars
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Very long commute club: week 23

I was riding along a MUP today and was approaching a group of riders coming the other way. A woman on a mountain bike was on my side of the path with her head down looking at something. I called out, "Heads up" but she ignored me. I called again, then finally "HEADS UP!!!!!!!!!!" in my loudest voice. I started to hit the brakes as she looked up and veered out of my way with a foot to spare.

That is jus tthe latest in my "Greatest MUP Follies" collection. All in all, I find riding along these paths to more frightening than the streets by a long way. I ride on them because I like the quiet and beauty when I'm not dodging women on mountain bikes and the like.

Happy riding everybody!
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Old 08-21-05, 11:25 PM   #2
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I have to agree with you about that! Mr. Longhorn and I went riding on the Town Lake Hike 'n Bike trail in downtown Austin earlier this summer. Really bad timing as we got there at about 11 a.m. on a Sunday. Everyone and his dog -- literally! -- was there. Fortunately, most folks do a loop between two bridges and we did the entire 10 mile trail. It really thinned out once we got further east. By the time we got back, it was hot enough that the crowds had thinned somewhat. But we won't be doing that again!

I hope to get a few more practice runs in this week before my commute begins next Monday. Unfortunately, we've had the hottest weather since mid-July but temps are supposed to "drop" into the mid-90s this week. I've decided if it's too hot to ride, I'm going to do the elliptical instead.

Have a great week, y'all!
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Old 08-22-05, 12:52 AM   #3
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Hey Guys! I'm slowly fading from the VLC... mostly because we're experiencing practically the opposite of you, Longhorn - the COLD!!! Is it too early to talk winter cycling??!! I've woken up the last few mornings to a bit of a frost on the ground! There is no way my brain would let me ride in! I do have to get used to it though. It warms up in the day a bit, but those mornings are cool. Summer didn't last long...

Ah well, the next 2 days I'm off and I'll get back out rain or shine OR cold!! Good to see everyone still cranking it out! I hope to get a few more commutes in till my season (work season, that is) is over end of Sept.
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Old 08-22-05, 02:25 AM   #4
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Lovely wet commute today, very heavy rain and lots of standing water, but with full muguards and proper rain equipment it was great, i love battling with Mother Nature.
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Old 08-22-05, 03:56 AM   #5
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I used to ride bicycle paths with my best friend a few years ago.
He was a militant biker......it was hard to enjoy the ride with all the
interference from joggers on the wrong(?) side of the trail and unleashed
dogs darting all over the place. Im all for bike paths as alternatives to
road use but mixing in joggers, kids on training wheeled bikes and hyper-dogs
doesnt seem to be a good idea to me.
Im looking for ways to make my VSC ride enjoyable. The ride itself has a brutal
uphill thats about 3/4 of a mile so Im trying to work on hill efficiency for when
I finally get back to the old country. On Friday I got my first MTB flat. The road
is so narrow I had to push for about 1/4 mile before could find a spot I could
fix it.....a flat in the rain......Ive had better biking experiences.
This morning the moon was full and casting an eerie, blue/purple glow over the
grass and fields...I saw a family of deer resting and drinking water by a run-off
basin. They looked happy and calm. IT was a great sight.....the type of thing
that makes the bicycle sooooo much more preferable to any other means of
commuting.

Be safe !
LEm in ??
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Old 08-22-05, 04:37 AM   #6
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I find the path that I ride on in the mornings (W&OD and the Custis Trail) to be pretty enjoyable. I like it when it is really hot out, as few people tend to venture out. The only part I dislike is that there will be joggers wearing no reflective material before sunrise. I guess that at that time of day their brain has not woken up

Well I took the day off today, as I did a brutal ride in Lem's state. The ride started from Frederick Maryland, went to Emmitsburg Pa, and onto Mt. Alto, Pa. The climbs were interesting as the group went over South Mountain in both directions and came back through the Camp David area in the Cartocin range, for a little over 7,000 feet of climbing. I will be back on the saddle tomorrow.
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Old 08-22-05, 05:43 AM   #7
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Hmmm, not specifically VLC-related, but I wanted to brag that I successfully finished the Covered Bridge Metric (Lancaster PA) yesterday (That's Lem's stomping grounds), on my city-commuter hybrid no less. I rode with a group of stellar BF'ers (see the Road Cycling forum for the thread). I wonder if I'll think of my 32-mile commute as "short" now that I've done a metric.

If I have enough recovery by Wednesday temps are supposed to cool off and I'll VLC again.
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Old 08-22-05, 06:02 AM   #8
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mtn_chick, I am seriously glad I live in Melbourne with its temperate winters, allowing me to commute year round. The days are getting longer although it is still mid winter here temperature-wise. That will continue well into spring, the seasons here lag the time of year quite significantly. The seriously hot days will only rock up in Jan-Feb.
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Old 08-22-05, 06:51 AM   #9
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Since we were in "show-me-yours-and-I'll-show-you-mine" last week in the VLC, here's mine.

It's an old Giant Innova hybrid I got for free, it was pretty busted up, but I got it back on the road again. I put on a Deore LX RD for good shifting, semi-slicks, replaced the handle bars with something better and now it is the apple of my eye. Oh yes, and the Brooks B17, see the darkening effect of treatment with Hydrophane. The bike is very light for a hybrid, even the LBS chap remarked on it. For commuting I use a Topeak beam rack with the purpose sliding trunk bag. The rear blinkie is mounted permanently to the rack. I pulled a set of alloy fenders from a rubbish bike on the sidewalk. Pedals yellow Crank Bros Candy C.
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Old 08-22-05, 07:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JugglerDave
Hmmm, not specifically VLC-related, but I wanted to brag that I successfully finished the Covered Bridge Metric (Lancaster PA) yesterday (That's Lem's stomping grounds), on my city-commuter hybrid no less. I rode with a group of stellar BF'ers (see the Road Cycling forum for the thread). I wonder if I'll think of my 32-mile commute as "short" now that I've done a metric.

If I have enough recovery by Wednesday temps are supposed to cool off and I'll VLC again.
Juggler Dave........Congratulations on the Metric. A metric is on my list of goals I
hope to attain shortly. That area is a little different than what you are used too ??
I am in Exton right now for two more weeks and the difference in traffic from where I
was is unbelieveable. As much as I think its not too much fun on a bike I cant imagine
why people suffer it in a car. I think to be called 'driving' one must spend more time in
forward motion than stopped. This doesnt seem to happen around here.
Cars here are griddlocked at 30 and 100 for what seems an eternity
I cant see how people knowingly except and incorporate such unpleasantness
into thier lifestyle. Very sad. No amount of rain and flat tires on my bike would
convince me to subject myself to that every day ! [rant] [/rant off]
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Old 08-22-05, 07:45 AM   #11
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Well I am back after vacation and did a very pleasant commute this morning. The weather had cooled off and the humidity dropped so it was very nice. Fortunately I was able to do 3 recreational/family rides while on vacation so I was not completely out of it.

If you're in Upstate or Western NY and looking for easy rides with family or friends who don't ride much I highly recommend the Canalways trail. Eventually it will reach from ALbany to Buffalo (just like in the Erie Canal song) but now it is disconnected pieces here and there. There is one continuous section from Newark to Lockport that seems to be complete and open although I've not ridden the whole stretch. It's all flat canal towpath riding either paved or crushed stone and very easy. My wife and son, who have not ridden any real distance before, managed to do a 12 mile stretch over by Weedsport and another 14 mi trek in the Pittsford area. Not a challenging ride, but a very good family ride with no vehicular traffic to worry about.
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Old 08-22-05, 07:50 AM   #12
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Newbie:

Welcome back, I have missed your sense of humor.
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Old 08-22-05, 08:09 AM   #13
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I changed out my saddle, pedals, and shoes this weekend. I probably should not have done all three. The new saddle - Terry Butterfly - is great (my old one had a gash, and some nasty gel stuff kept oozing out). The pedals are fine after I finally got the tension right, but the shoes just are no good. I think they are too small. My feet kept getting numb and they were not comfy. They were comfy in the store, though. So tonight I'll take the new cleats off the new shoes and put them on my old shoes that fit me like a glove and keep my feet happy.

Aside from the numb feet, the commute was really nice-not humid, breezy, and light traffic.
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Old 08-22-05, 08:15 AM   #14
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Mornin' everyone.
Here's a helpful reminder for those of you who are riding in the dark now and using halogen lights. Becareful riding with your mouth open while riding in the dark, with your halogen on. Why? Because bugs are attracted to your light. I came VERY close to having a nice big, fuzzy moth in my mouth this morning. Luckily it hit my lip. I had several others hit my hands as I was riding.

Other than that; all is well. Still fairly warm here in Oregon in the mornings; mid 50's.

Well, I think I've dodged work enough.
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Old 08-22-05, 08:38 AM   #15
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DL:

I thought that the bugs add protein to the diet.
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Old 08-22-05, 08:45 AM   #16
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velogirl: When I started riding with bike shoes, I found that the outside edges of my feet were going numb. That got fixed by rotating the cleats inward slightly -- I apparently tend to point my feet outward. It's all fine now. Are your feet numb all over, or just at certain points? You've probably checked this already, but are your cleats in the same position and rotation as they were in your previous shoes?

Looks like I'm riding Tuesday and Thursday again. It's a lovely morning right now, darn it.

(Went on my first group ride on Saturday, though... was fun!)
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Old 08-22-05, 08:52 AM   #17
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DL:

I thought that the bugs add protein to the diet.
I had already had my Powerbar for the morning
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Old 08-22-05, 11:18 AM   #18
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While this is not specific to the VLC it does relate to bike commuting. Yesterday I saw the movie, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin". It turns out the 40-year-old virgin is a bike commuter who works in the stock room of an electronics store. His apartmnt is packed with action figures, video games and a framed Asia poster. He paints war game figures as a hobby as well as playing the tuba and singing karaoke by himself. I am not sure if we are supposed to infer that bike commuters are geeks or if bike commuting is seen as one more symptom of geekiness.

On the upside, while his bike commuting (and lack of a car or license) poses some problems, the right woman is willing to pick him up in her car and at one point buys him a new bike from Trek and they go riding together. In the end the bike commuting virgin gets the girl and successfully consumates his marriage. Is there a lesson in here for us two wheeled commuters? Is this a lesson in redemption for people outside the mainstream or is it Hollywood's portrayal of a morally superior class of people who have much to teach the unenlightened around them?

Anyway, if you're not offended by foul language, check it out and see what you think of this latest portrayal of the bike commuter.
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Old 08-22-05, 11:53 AM   #19
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hello everyone on the vlc!

I am pretty new to this - have only been commuting for about 3 weeks and only on Tues and Thurs. However, I do have about a 15 mile commute each way. Funny - I wake up and don't look forward to the commute, but 5 minutes into it - I'm loving it!

Here's my question - i noticed a great number of the vlc postings are from NOVA/DC/MD commuters. I currently go from Falls Church to Herndon on the W&OD. But it looks like I'll be changing jobs soon and need to get into DC - I know the best route is W&OD to Custis - but then what? I need to get into the 14th and I street area but dread riding on those DC streets. Any suggestions for paths? I am looking forward to a reduced ride though (11 miles each way) !!

Gracias!!
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Old 08-22-05, 12:06 PM   #20
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I had a very nice commute through heavy fog this morning - in my car! I brought clothes for 3 days and food for 5 days. Looking forward to good weather this week.
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Old 08-22-05, 12:54 PM   #21
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jh:

I currently go over the 14th st bridge. I then backtrack to memorial bridge (need the extra 2 miles) and then I go from Constitution to F Street.

If I were you, I would check out going up 13th Street, as it is not as heavily traveled as 14th or 15th. I usually get to Constitution around 6:30am, so traffic is not bad at that point. Usually, if I can stop and then go through one red light, when the coast is clear. The traffic does not bother me.

Good Luck.
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Old 08-22-05, 02:37 PM   #22
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I made a decision to go slower today. It's hard for me because I am so freaking competitive that when I see a cyclist up ahead of me I always want to shift to afaster gear and blast by them. What a weirdo.

Anyways, I shifted into an easy gear and promised myself to stay in it and go no higher. I kept that promise and actually had a nice ride.

I looked over my winter commuting bike last night. It's a cyclocross bike that will take studded tires. I keep three different front wheels ready in the winter: one studded, one with treads, and one slick. I proabably ride the slick more than the other two combined, even in the Vermont winter, but the studded tire is great when needed. The bearings on the rear wheel are toast, I think. when i spin the wheel, I can hear grinding sounds from back there. Lubrication doesn't help. DanO, you are into bike mechanics, right? Can you (or anyone else) tell me if it is feasible to try and fix those bearings myself? Thanks!
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Old 08-22-05, 04:09 PM   #23
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Jenifer- thanks for the advice on the shoes. I know I need to dial in my cleats just-so, but I also realize that the shoes are just plain too small. I don't know why I bought them--they are nice and they were on sale, that's why! But they are size 38! I don't wear 38! I wear 39 or 40, depending on the shoe. It must have been a bad-judgment day. So there you are, I gave them to a dear friend with smaller feet and a new bike. I kept the cleats and will put them on my old shoes tonight, but I have to take the Metro home.

jh: I ride over the 14th Street bridge on the bike path, but it's narrow. You only have to go to I Street, so that's not too bad--only a few blocks up from the river. I ride between the Alexandria and up near Catholic University in NE. I don't have trouble with DC traffic, but I would suggest that you do stop at red lights, and be quite careful when they turn green because, as you know, alot of folks don't necessarily stop for red lights in and around DC.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:17 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDL
Mornin' everyone.
Here's a helpful reminder for those of you who are riding in the dark now and using halogen lights. Becareful riding with your mouth open while riding in the dark, with your halogen on. Why? Because bugs are attracted to your light. I came VERY close to having a nice big, fuzzy moth in my mouth this morning. Luckily it hit my lip. I had several others hit my hands as I was riding.

Other than that; all is well. Still fairly warm here in Oregon in the mornings; mid 50's.

Well, I think I've dodged work enough.
Well, I don't know if last year's 20 mile round-trip commute in lovely Victoria BC counts as a VLC, perhaps a VSLC (somewhat long?), but one of the highlights for sure was biking home after a gruelling 12 to 15 hour day (a crazy little indie feature I was working on there) from View Royal up to Saanich, first on the deserted and paved Galloping Goose (reclaimed railbed), then the equally deserted hard-packed Lochside Trail (reclaimed hillibilly tractor dragstrip). Now these are all wonderful MUPs, but after midnight they were my-exclusive-use-paths. Nights were as black as ink though, and the three-LED white blinkie in the front of the bike wasn't worth cr*p, as I discoved after numerous ditch-dunks and a few close calls with a certain bridge over Belkinsop Lake. A 10W Halogen helmet-mount soon fixed that, even if it made me look kind of strange in the daytime... I soon discovered an amusing side-effect of using the light at night however (other than being able to see where I was going!): bugs. Lots and lots of huge juicy bugs, heading straight for my blazing head. I got pretty good at keeping my head angled just so they would bounce mostly off the front of the helmet, and wearing clear-lensed glasses for the rest. But here's the cool side-effect to the bug side-effect: bats! Lots and lots of crazy dive-bombing bats, gunning for the bugs. The crazy ones would dive straight at the light, coming up behind the bugs and whatnot and nearly startling me off the path into the woods. The really cool ones were the ones who would match my speed and direction and then weave back and forth about five to fifteen feet ahead of me, just chowing down in the beam of my light, nailing the critters high and low as they dove towards oblivion.

Now I'm back in the concrete jungle of a daily Vancouver-Burnaby run, and I sure miss the nightly dance of the bats. That, and the mist rising off Blenkisop Lake at midnight, with the bullfrogs calling to a gibbous moon, as I stopped for a squirt of water on the boardwalk.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:38 PM   #25
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Well, I don't know if last year's 20 mile round-trip commute in lovely Victoria BC counts as a VLC, perhaps a VSLC (somewhat long?), but one of the highlights for sure was biking home after a gruelling 12 to 15 hour day (a crazy little indie feature I was working on there) from View Royal up to Saanich, first on the deserted and paved Galloping Goose (reclaimed railbed), then the equally deserted hard-packed Lochside Trail (reclaimed hillibilly tractor dragstrip). Now these are all wonderful MUPs, but after midnight they were my-exclusive-use-paths. Nights were as black as ink though, and the three-LED white blinkie in the front of the bike wasn't worth cr*p, as I discoved after numerous ditch-dunks and a few close calls with a certain bridge over Belkinsop Lake. A 10W Halogen helmet-mount soon fixed that, even if it made me look kind of strange in the daytime... I soon discovered an amusing side-effect of using the light at night however (other than being able to see where I was going!): bugs. Lots and lots of huge juicy bugs, heading straight for my blazing head. I got pretty good at keeping my head angled just so they would bounce mostly off the front of the helmet, and wearing clear-lensed glasses for the rest. But here's the cool side-effect to the bug side-effect: bats! Lots and lots of crazy dive-bombing bats, gunning for the bugs. The crazy ones would dive straight at the light, coming up behind the bugs and whatnot and nearly startling me off the path into the woods. The really cool ones were the ones who would match my speed and direction and then weave back and forth about five to fifteen feet ahead of me, just chowing down in the beam of my light, nailing the critters high and low as they dove towards oblivion.

Now I'm back in the concrete jungle of a daily Vancouver-Burnaby run, and I sure miss the nightly dance of the bats. That, and the mist rising off Blenkisop Lake at midnight, with the bullfrogs calling to a gibbous moon, as I stopped for a squirt of water on the boardwalk.

A buddy of mine travels for work and his travels took him to the Island of Midway; not only known for it's role in WWII but also a home for millions of Albatros. One night he had to ride a bike back to his building using a helmet lamp and he was constantly having to bob and weave to miss the albatros that were flying directly at him. Those things gotta weigh at 8 lbs. each.
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