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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 06-01-06, 09:49 PM   #1
rkalex25
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first commute - sorta

I did a dry run of my commute to work tonight with my friend.
Total commute is 14 miles one way, so 28 miles. The first 5 miles are through city streets, mostly residential. Then 9 miles of bike trail through rural and then city areas, finally, a trip through a parking lot to get to work.
The commute was a lot of fun, but I would like some advice from the experts. :-)
First, after doing 28 miles , with just a 15 minute break once I got to where I work, I'm not in a LOT of pain, but my legs feel weird, and my fingers are kinda numb, i think i was gripping the handle bar too tight. I'm guessing it will be different when i commute into work, then work 8 hours, then commute home. Although, at my job, I am a supervisor at the Home Depot, and on my feet for 8 hours, running back and forth across the store constantly. lol.
Second, I noticed my average speed drops off a couple mph when I get on the bike trail. Is that normal? Is there anything that can be done about that?
It took a bit longer than expected. About an hour and a half on the way there, and an hour and 45 minutes on the way home. But we had to stop quite a few times as my friend was in a lot of pain. I dont think his bike is a good fit for him.
Let me know what you think, and any advice you might have! I loved every minute of it!
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Old 06-02-06, 05:53 AM   #2
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Congrats.

The distance to my last job was ~14.2 miles one way. My time was usually about an hour and 15 minutes. The last part of the ride I'd slow down to begin cooling off. If there are walkers/joggers/dog walkers etc on the bike path they will definitely slow you down.

What type of bike are you commuting on?

As you said, the numbness may be because your were gripping the handlebar too tight.
If you're not used to riding 14 miles almost non-stop, you will be in pain for a while, until your body gets built up and you're used to the distance.

Keep at it and let us know how the "real" commute goes.
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Old 06-02-06, 09:03 AM   #3
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I have a Trek 7.3 FX.
The joggers/walkers on the bike path didn't really slow me down. It just felt like i had to push extra hard to keep the same mph i was keeping on the roads.
My first real commute is going to be tomorrow (saturday). I work at 9, so I'm going to leave at 7...ugh. lol.
My index finger on my right hand is still numb. Hope it goes away soon.
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Old 06-02-06, 09:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkalex25
I have a Trek 7.3 FX.
My index finger on my right hand is still numb. Hope it goes away soon.
Hmmm. Flat bar with no way to change hand positions. Could be a contributor.
Do you ride one handed to give the other hand a short break?
Do you wear padded gloves?
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Old 06-02-06, 09:24 AM   #5
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Well, the thought of my hands going numb never occurred to me, so i didn't write one handed or wear gloves.
But someone else recommended I get some drop bars on this bike, so I asked at the LBS yesterday and they said it would be no problem, so i might do that.
What do u think?
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Old 06-02-06, 09:39 AM   #6
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Drop bars give you the option of placing your hands in several locations on the bar. This also allows you to change the angle and position of your hands.
On the hoods, on the top of the bar, on the drops, upside down on the top of the bar, on the bend in the bar behind the hoods, etc.

Here's four guys riding drop bars and they all have their hands in different positions. They ride a lot of miles so numb hands is something that must be avoided.
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Old 06-02-06, 09:45 AM   #7
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The numbness is not caused by not having enough hand positions, it's being caused by too much weight on your hands. Your butt should be supporting more of your weight, followed by your legs. Are you sure the bike fits you properly, in the sense that your stem is the right height relative to your seat? If you have to bend far down to grab the bars that could be a problem. Also, make sure your seat is adjusted properly to help you support your weight. Mess around with different forward/backward and pitch combinations and see if that helps.
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Old 06-02-06, 10:21 AM   #8
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Your commute is long enough that a lot of people would prefer bars with more hand positions. Mine is 18mi each way and I frequently vary between 4 hand positions. You might want to inquire about the cost of switching to drops since you usually need to change the brake levers and shifters too and maybe a different stem. Look around, there are some threads here about switching to drop bars.

About the speed difference on the trail - is it paved or gravel? I do about 2/3 of my commute on a packed down limestone screenings trail and, though I don't have a cycle computer, I'm pretty sure I'm slower on the trail than the pavement.
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Old 06-02-06, 10:29 AM   #9
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It's like that fine crushed limestone gravel. I did inquire at the LBS about switching to drop bars, they said they could do it no problem, but i'd have to leave the bike there for a couple days.
I'm a little wary about taking the trail at night. I'm not really worried about crime, it's pretty safe area. But the trail runs by a river and a large park, and last night when i was riding it, it was like it was raining bugs on me! It was kinda nasty. lol
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Old 06-02-06, 10:44 AM   #10
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Congrats on the commute! I had a real problem with numb hands last year, but this year I don't - and I haven't done anything different ex. ride A LOT more. You'll get more used to it, but I'd also check your saddle/handlebar height.

And go for those padded gloves!
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Old 06-02-06, 10:56 AM   #11
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bar ends for 10 bucks, you can play with the angle to hive additional positions. Most of my commute 2/3 about is crushed gravel slower, yes, ctross streets annoying but still better than cager mania (to me) It is slower but you will get faster.
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Old 06-02-06, 11:14 AM   #12
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Ya i like the bike trail better than the roads, it's a lot more relaxing even if it is a little slower. I'm going to experiment with some different routes though. The route I DRIVE to work (which I'm about to do) is a straight shot down a highway linking my city to the city i work in. It's 6 lanes (3 in each direction) and pretty busy, but I do see people biking down it quite regularly. I might give it a try soon.
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Old 06-02-06, 11:30 AM   #13
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My route is longer via the bike path too, but it is more enjoyable. It sounds like your surface conditions are the same as my path. It's not as smooth as nice, new pavement, but it's sure better than roads that are broken up. The bar ends are a good idea, or better yet maybe some trekking bars from Nashbar - more hand positions yet.
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