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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 09-04-05, 11:01 AM   #1
Mars
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Very long commute club: week 25

I know that the emphasis on this thread is how fun and rewarding the VLC experience can be. However, let's face it, sometimes it can also be pretty miserable. Bad weather, mechnicals, illnesses, and boredom can make some of our rides less than utopian. What are your tricks to get through these periods?

Here are three of mine:
On a steep hill, I have an imaginary converstion with someone I don't like or have been disagreeing with. I tell them off in scathing terms. Before I know it, I'm at the top of the hill!

When I am bored of riding but have miles to go, I make up a commentary between two sportcasters observing my "race" performance. One is an American who is enthusiastic and the other a sneering Frenchman who is always dissing me: (American)"I can't believe it! Mars is STILL out of the saddle, charging up the hill like Roosevelt's Roughriders!!" (sneering Frenchman) "He vill nevair keep it up! Look at heem, sweating like the peeg he is! Soon the French riders will crush heem uderfoot!"

Part of my commute is on the ferry. The ferry ride can last an hour on one route, and 20 minutes on the other. I have gotten into Sudoku puzzles to pass the time. They can make you nuts, but it is SO rewarding when you start to unlock them and all the numbers start leaping out! Try them!

Good riding eveybody and have a fun day off tomorrow!
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Old 09-04-05, 01:29 PM   #2
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Good post, Mars!

When I face a hill that has my number, I just push the throttle to the motor and pedal like crazy.

On long stretches where I'm bored, I listen to the radio.

Technology is my friend.

My only real challenge so far has been the oppressive heat. I just drink a lot of cold water and even occasionally stop in the shade and keep reminding myself that it WILL COOL OFF EVENTUALLY!

Have a great week, y'all!
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Old 09-04-05, 07:28 PM   #3
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Just thought that I give a recap of my fitting for the new bike.

Well I got fit for a new bike and yes it will be Ti and not Carbon Fiber The new Ti bike will be replacing my soon to be retired Ti built in 1990. Tom Kellog designed the original Ti and the new Ti.

Tom Kellog, my wife and I had a great time during the fit and the design. Tom spent a little over two and a half hours with me to hash things out. Tom asked me what I wanted and I said that I wanted to combine the ride of my Ti and a Steel bike that he desgned for me. He said that was easy, now let's get to the hard stuff. Tom asked me what my toes and then we discussed every other limb, back and neck and how each felt at the beginning, the middle and the end of the ride.

I then rode my two bikes on the trainer and he asked me numerous questions about each bike and how things felt. We then discussed what characteristics if each bike that I liked. During all of this discussion he was busily taking notes. The most interesting part of the discussion was when we discussed how the new bike should be different than my old bikes. It felt like we wnt tube by tube and what the pro and cons of doing things in different ways would mean to the ride of the bike. At the end of the fitting, I was somewaht depressed, as we designed the perfect bike for me and I am now going to have to actually wait for it. But it should be here in November and I will be counting down the days. Overall a tremendous experience.

Back in the saddle on Tuesday into work.
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Old 09-04-05, 10:13 PM   #4
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That sounds absolutely awesome. How different was my bike 'fit'. I picked up my new commuter last Friday and with the fit in mind, I asked the LBS chap some questions, like 'the handle bars feel a bit far, can that be improved?' His response: 'Yeahhhh, you can adjust the angle, see?'

And 'what about the seat backwards-forwards adjustment?' His response: 'Yeahhh, looks about right, yeahhh.'

I didn't want to buy there again, but they blew everybody out of the water wrt price.

Seemingly small differences in measurements have a major impact on how the bike 'feels'. I am now concentrating on making the body contact point have the same relative measurements for all my bikes. The trick is finding the right ones.

I haven't ridden it yet, eggbeater pedals arrived today only, so tonight's the night. SWMBO is taking the cranks back to the LBS so they can remove the Shimano pedals. I tried, but they must have used a gorilla with a monster wrench-from-hell to tighten them. Better they wreck the threads than me.
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Old 09-05-05, 03:44 AM   #5
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Mars: When things get tougher (although i have to say that i have yet to have a day where i have felt i didn't want to ride), i just think i'm almost getting paid to ride and keeping fit. When i see the flash cars queued up and going nowhere i have to laugh, the drivers look so stupid, they've been led into this consumerist, 'must have' lifestyle and the very toy that they craved for is their prison, so funny. Granted not everyone can bicycle commute, but if those that could did, then there would be a lot less stationary traffic.

I guess i'm on my own here today, i'll put the kettle on and if anyone passes, i make them a cup of tea.

Oh, nearly forgot, another lovely ride in today, and i begin my fourth consecutive week without using the truck.
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Old 09-05-05, 06:16 AM   #6
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Jur:

I will ask my friend where he got his fit stick. He uses this to set up people's bikes. Another alternative is to go to a high end bike store and get one bike fit, and then use this one as the base map for your others.

It sounds that if your handlebars are too far, then you will get the wonderful neck pain. The nice thing about Kellog, is that he designs the frame around the stem that he will use. When you walk into his shop, he looks at you and says you are XX stem. For me, it was a 9cm stem with a 6 degree rise.

The only down side to this new frame, is that my wife is making me sell two of my bikes.

If you need help and guidance om bike set up, the serotta forum www.serotta.com has some very knowledgable people on the message board. Some of my favorites are Too Tall and Jerk. The builders who frequent the site are Tom Kellog, David Kirk, Richard Sachs and Sacha White, who are masters in their own right. A top notch fitter is Smiley.

My screen name on the serotta forum is ZNFDL which is for my other hobby of drinking too much wine.
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Old 09-05-05, 10:05 AM   #7
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Ok...I filled up my little "rice box" car and it took $25. As far as commuting is concerned the car stays parked now, no matter what.
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Old 09-05-05, 11:05 AM   #8
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Mars: I have one nemesis on my ride: Horrell Hill. It sucks coming and going. As of yet, my most effective method to date is to make fun of myself the whole way up the hill. It's surprisingly effective. I respond well to criticism, apparently. Everyday, I do my best to pick a gear and grind until I can't anymore, and finally have to downshift, then mock myself. Reading this, maybe it's not the best method, but hey, it works.

My new bike buying experience was quite brief, and dictated solely by price. My LBS is pretty good, but I'm certainly a second rate customer to them still. Ah well, maybe if I go in and drop $5K on an Eddie Merckx they'll be nicer, but I don't really care. It's nice, because it makes me want to work on it more myself.

The commute this morning was actually somewhat chilly! Maybe fall does exist in the South.
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Old 09-05-05, 11:08 AM   #9
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The funny thing is, it doesn't bother me at all to have to downshift. What bothers me is running out of gears to downshift to!
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Old 09-05-05, 11:21 AM   #10
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The Megadrive 34t cog at the bottom of my cassette is always there to help me out. One great advantage to the commute on the mountain bike.
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Old 09-05-05, 11:31 AM   #11
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My Trek has a 32t cog and there were times when that wasn't enough! But I have to admit that I was finally able to make it up every single hill without stopping, though I had to zigzag up the biggest one. I still have to zigzag up it with the electric bike!
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Old 09-05-05, 11:34 AM   #12
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None of my hillls are so long that I can't get up them, but there are a couple that make me love the big cog. Although, I do my best not to use it.
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Old 09-05-05, 01:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wuneyeddog
Everyday, I do my best to pick a gear and grind until I can't anymore, and finally have to downshift, then mock myself. Reading this, maybe it's not the best method, but hey, it works.
Wun:

You are going about climbing a hill the wrong way. Start with a gear that you feel comfortable with, before you get to grinding mode, downshift. Once you get to the grinding mode you have lost all momentum and probably starting to go anerobic.

One way to get better at climbing is start with an easy gear and then maybe shift to harder gear as you go. If the gear that you started in feels right then do not shift. By not grinding it out and spinning at a comfortable cadence you will increase your aerobic base, which will help you climb better in the long run.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-05-05, 01:28 PM   #14
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That sounds like a much more intelligent way to go about climbing. I don't really climb like I described all the time, on the big hills I usually end up downshifting one by one, trying to keep my cadence up. Eventually, though, I run out of juice. I'm just not in very good shape yet. Hopefully the 30-mile round trip 3-4 days a week will help that out.
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Old 09-05-05, 05:17 PM   #15
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Tibikefor2: Thanks for the tips, will go there later.

Last night I attempted to work on my new bike to prepare it for commuting, but was largely unsuccessful. I ended up just staring at it for most of the time
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Old 09-05-05, 05:40 PM   #16
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My VLC starts tomorrow! Wish me luck...
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Old 09-05-05, 05:54 PM   #17
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Mirona: Good Luck. Where is Southwick?
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Old 09-05-05, 06:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Mirona: Good Luck. Where is Southwick?
Southwick is in western Mass and is, what I refer to as, the pimple on Mass's ass.
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Old 09-05-05, 07:15 PM   #19
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What a great couple of days it has been in Melbourne; no wind, sunny but cool...... have been loving the commute this week....

How do I beat those hills? I treat them as an arm wrestle - gotta keep hanging in there, until I feel the other guy beginning to give in and then whooo hah, down we go
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Old 09-05-05, 08:49 PM   #20
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I've found that the only inspiration i need on the bugger of a hill on my commute is that if i don't get up it fast enough, i'll have a bonnet badge imprint on my arse (it's a hill with a nasty crest at the top with traffic that flies over it - and no escape hatches along the sides - very nasty little hill).

Other than that, feeling drained from a weekend of paintballing, drinking and frivolity

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Old 09-06-05, 05:11 AM   #21
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Great ride in this morning. I had to break out the arm and knee warmers for my commute and the ride along the Potomac River was into a steady head wind. Atleast the winds should not change direction, so I should have a nice ride home.

As a side note my car's gas tank is still full and should remain that way this week.

Hope everyone has a great week.
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Old 09-06-05, 07:41 AM   #22
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I had a great ride in this morning in just perfect weather. I'm still riding in shorts and t-shirts and allowing my excess natural insulation keep me warm. I'm hoping for the day when the natural insulation has been biked away and I have to wear more layers!

Tibike, that sounds like quite the fitting operation! I've bought suits where people paid less attention. I hope your new bike lives up to your expectations.

Had a great weekend getting in two long (at least for us) family rides. We did 17 miles on Sunday on a nice winding trail along a small creek. Eventually, there were hills that were too tough for my wife and son, but we still pulled out 17 mi. Then Monday we had a great 25 mi. ride along the C & O Canal. Once we got past the worst of the strollers and gawkers, it was great riding and so pretty. Except for some sore bottoms everyone seemed to survive intact. Now my wife is seriously talking about doing some bike camping this fall along the canal. I think I may have created a monster! By the way does anyone have any experience camping or touring with a trailer? I'm thinking a single wheel one will be better for where we will most likely ride.

As for Mars original question, I keep myself occupied in several ways. Occasionally there are wildlife sightings, but more often I keep an eye out for interesting people or at least unusual human tricks. Since I ride a MUP, such people appear fairly often. Before the bike computer I also spent some time calculating how fast I was riding as I pased the mileposts and setting a new time goal for the next mile. Now with the computer I monitor my speed -- particularly on the uphill segments to make sure I am pushing myself to a reasonable degree. Otherwise I am contemplating work projects or home improvement projects that need to be done.
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Old 09-06-05, 07:42 AM   #23
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I haven't checked in to one of these threads in a while. I'm up to a little over 4200 miles commuting for the year, 40 miles a day almost every day. That's about my yearly total for last year, and I've still got two months or more to go.

Definitely fall here. It was 47 when I left this morning - just perfect riding weather and it was awesome.

I pulled out the lights and installed them last weekend. I'll be riding after dark from time to time now, so it was time. I have a cygolite HID which I supplement with a 5 watt halogen, in case that one goes down. Overkill, sure, but I ride a looong way where there are no lights, so I think it's worth doing.

Now I'm looking forward to the dark!
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Old 09-06-05, 07:43 AM   #24
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I had a great ride in this morning in just perfect weather. I'm still riding in shorts and t-shirts and allowing my excess natural insulation keep me warm. I'm hoping for the day when the natural insulation has been biked away and I have to wear more layers!

Tibike, that sounds like quite the fitting operation! I've bought suits where people paid less attention. I hope your new bike lives up to your expectations.

Had a great weekend getting in two long (at least for us) family rides. We did 17 miles on Sunday on a nice winding trail along a small creek. Eventually, there were hills that were too tough for my wife and son, but we still pulled out 17 mi. Then Monday we had a great 25 mi. ride along the C & O Canal. Once we got past the worst of the strollers and gawkers, it was great riding and so pretty. Except for some sore bottoms everyone seemed to survive intact. Now my wife is seriously talking about doing some bike camping this fall along the canal. I think I may have created a monster! By the way does anyone have any experience camping or touring with a trailer? I'm thinking a single wheel one will be better for where we will most likely ride.

As for Mars original question, I keep myself occupied in several ways. Occasionally there are wildlife sightings, but more often I keep an eye out for interesting people or at least unusual human tricks. Since I ride a MUP, such people appear fairly often. Before the bike computer I also spent some time calculating how fast I was riding as I pased the mileposts and setting a new time goal for the next mile. Now with the computer I monitor my speed -- particularly on the uphill segments to make sure I am pushing myself to a reasonable degree. Otherwise I am contemplating work projects or home improvement projects that need to be done.
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Old 09-06-05, 10:03 AM   #25
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I don't have any serious hills that require self motivation. I usually just let my mind wander and keep my eye out for interesting wildlife. My legs were really ready to motor this morning after not being on the bike for several days. I sailed to work at a good clip.
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