Believe it or not, it's not the gas prices that got me to commute, but the benefit of fitness. In March, I was completely unfit doing nothing in the form of exercise. I wasn't really overweight (well, maybe 10 lbs), but decided to do something about it. Fast foward to 8/28 and I completed my first sprint distance triathlon of which most of my bike training was on a stationary. Even though I hated it, I didn't want to mess up my routine, so I decided to put of my commute until after the triathlon. Also, at some time while doing the stationary bike, I found a 1987 Schwinn Tempo with full 105 components from a co-worker for $40. This was my first road bike and it just flies compared to my mtn bike I used to ride all over when I was in college (12-16 years ago).
My commute is 14 mi each way. Rather than going both ways, I decided that I would drive my car to work with my bike and ride home. Then vise versa the next day.
Yesterday was my ride home. I can now say that I did not ride in today (lucky for me I have a "hobby" car). The ride home was a killer. It completely exhausted me. Perhaps I went too hard as I ended up averaging 14.5 mph including the time spent at traffic lights (averaged 17.2 mph in my 14mi no-stop triathlon ride). I have now made the decision that I'll make 2 commutes per week (Tue & Thur) until I can easily manage the commute, then I'll bump it up to 4 days.
On the bright side, the ride was very pleasant and traffic was not a problem at all. I decided on a route that puts me about 50% in neighborhoods, 10% on realatively low traffic multi-lane divided roads, and 40% on two lane (no shoulder) low-traffic roads. Overall, it adds about 2 miles to the shortest distance which is all moderate to heavy traffic on multi-lane divided roads.
remember... the commute does not have to be a race. LEave a few minutes earlier and take your time on some mornings. Any time spent on a bike is quality time, and 50-60 minutes of even moderate cycling puts you in the 'zone' for quality exercise.
I have to practice on that "it's not a race" part. Prior to this commute, I had exactly 3 rides on the road, mainly to test out parts of the commute. In all three, I went hard and found that I had to really work to slow down to maintain a reasonable pace.
I wore a HRM on my commute home and my aveHR was 173 with about 50% over 180 (and my running maxHR is 202). Obviously, I was pushing too hard.