Here's kind of an open ended question/topic regarding bike commuting and length/difficulty of commute related to need or perception for specific "gear" (I apologize for the rambling). I did some commuting by bike last year and liked it a lot - I can squeeze in a bit of exercise into my busy family life, and it actually take about the same time as commuting by car (not including getting changed). Once I get back to the States in April, I intend to do it at least 4 days a week (perfect timing for warm weather in the mid Atlantic). We are a one car household and want to keep it that way until fall 2006 at least (maybe longer).
The commute is 7.5 miles each way - mostly downhill going to work, mostly uphill going home (perfect!). I have 3 bikes: one cyclocross, one steel roadie, and steel colnago. None of them are commuting bikes - all very "Race" oriented. I could do up the cyclocross bike as a commuter (space for racks and fenders )or turn the old steelie into a commute bike.. (no braze ons or space for fenders though) I have a lot of road bike clothing (winter stuff too).
So here's the point (I guess)... I kind of feel like a poseur/jerk getting all kitted up to ride only 7 miles! The ride home is actually tough, the first mile averages 5% with a long 8% and some 13% sections (with no chance to warm up). Basically - unless I get into amazing shape, its a lot of work. Are any of you guys in the same boat? I'd love to be able to commute in a leisurely fashion but the ride home really requires effort... It seems like total overkill to get in all of my road bike gear for a 30 minute 7.5 mile ride. I feel kind of silly - there is a 60 year old guy that rides into my office from my neighborhood...in sweats no bike gear on a crappy Mt bike. I show up in my explosion of lycra and feel silly. This guy is twice my age rides in more than me with no gear at all. I did find out though that it takes him 1 hour to get in the morning and 1.5 hours on the way home (I take 25 min in and 30-35 home). Kind of funny how different we treat the same commute.