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  1. #1
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    New commuter advice

    Hello there.

    I am planning to start commuting by bike in the next couple of weeks and was hoping for some advice.

    My main concern is the distance (17 miles each way) and my fitness level, so I plan to ride the route at the weekend. I rode 20 miles last weekend which was fine except for a bit of saddle soreness.

    I've bought a hybrid with road friendly tires and no suspension. I also bought a lock, pump, water bottle, puncture kit and tyre levers. I am planning to pick up some shorts, gloves and a spare tube this weekend.

    Is there any other kit I should get before I start out?

  2. #2
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    You don't mention a helmet. Please do wear one.

    A multitool would be great... one with allen wrenches and a chain tool for emergencies. Chain master links to quickly repair a break.

    As winter approaches, you will need lights!

    Also I have never needed them, but based on others' recommendations I carry a couple of zip ties.

    The shorts will help on the saddle soreness... If you have contiued problems after several rides, or increased issues after a couple, you may want to explore alternative saddles.
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  3. #3
    Lost in Los Angeles Bizurke's Avatar
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    I would suggest getting fenders if you don't already have them. I know lots of guys use fixed front and rear fenders but that's not my thing. I got a snap/clip on rear fender that I can situate however I want for about $15 at my LBS. Also I would make sure to have front/rear lights if you don't have them incase you are stuck riding in the dark you don't want to become the gunk stuck in a trucks girll or ride over something that will damage your tire or wheel.

  4. #4
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Commutting's great - you're going to love it.

    Might want to practice changing a tube. That way you'll surely know how to release the brakes, whether you have the proper tools etc.

    Also bright colored clothing if you going to be commuting along a road - make sure you can be seen.

    When you arrive at work, will you have shower facilities or will you have to do a sink cleanup? Make sure you have what you need for that too.

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I will definitely be getting fenders, lights and a rack for when I start commuting properly.

    Also, practising changing a tyre seems like an excellent idea.

    Another concern I have is security at home. Currently the bike is in the spare room but that will become a nursery next month (!) so I need to consider outside storage. I am thinking of a motorbike chain attached to a concrete floor. Any other suggestions, i.e. alarms?

  6. #6
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Nursery NEXT MONTH!! and you plan to start bike commutting in the next couple of weeks???

    I bow to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmore
    Nursery NEXT MONTH!! and you plan to start bike commutting in the next couple of weeks???

    I bow to you.
    Strangely enough the imminent arrival of our first child has encouraged me to do this.

    Currently my only exercise consists of walking from the sofa to the fridge to get beer. If I cycle to work, even if it's only once or twice a week to begin with, I can improve my fitness and avoid the stress of commuting by car.

    As I will be rather busy in a few weeks, I though I should sort out my route and equipment while I am rested and have the weekends free!

  8. #8
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    An mc chain connected to an anchor sunk into concrete a few feet deep should be enough to deter most thieves. You might also consider a cover for those rainy days and locking down the saddle to the frame w/ some old bicycle chain (available free from any LBS). Wrap the chain in an old tube to keep it getting rusted. Some superglue in the stem bolt and the seatpost bolts and a U-lock to lock the front or rear wheel to the frame and your bike will be fairly secure. Of course, that doesn't stop anyone from vandalizing it. Good luck!
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  9. #9
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    A spare tube is a great idea and I am glad to see you have it on your list. Lots of people only pack a patch kit which doesn't help out much when you rip a valve stem and have to walk the last 5 miles (I know from experience).

    As for security and safety, I'd highly suggest not leaving the bike in view of others. When I was younger I had friends who loved the challenge of jacking a bike from someones front porch in the middle of the night.
    I am fortunate enough to have a shed to store mine, but dependant upon your money issues since you have a child on the way and I know how expensive that can be, you might want to build some sort of bike-box to store it in using plywood or masonite. Basically a box that stands 4 feet tal by 6 feet deep and 3 feet wide with a hinged and lockable front door. It would be cheap and and easy to build and would deter theives and mother nature from messing with your ride.

    ~35 miles per day is a good haul for a starting commuter. Might I suggest a second water bottle cage so that you could bring along extra water (possible one bottle of cold water and one of frozen, it would melt by the time you need it) because summer riding really parches you. And maybe some extra food. I used to keep 2oz of trail mix in my saddle bad in case I wasn't fueled properly when getting out of work but now I just stuff a few energy gels in there (longer shelf life).

    Other than what gets suggested here I'm sure your more "personal specific" items will be figured out in time. For me I like bringing a few bandanas to whipe sweat and an extra pare of socks in case my feet sweat profusely. I also cary one of those travel tubes of toilet paper in case nature calls and a small first aid kit, as well as a few other ins and outs.

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    I don't think vandalism is likely to be a big problem, because the bike will be in my garden and someone would have to climb over the wall to get to it. We are also fairly well overlooked so I doubt anyone but a thief would bother.

    I like the idea of a bike box made of plywood. I always like an excuse to break out the power tools. It seems it would be worthwhile locking it to the ground inside the box as well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    For visibility, consider getting a neon-lime safety vest at a safety-supplies store. Day or night, this will help people see you sooner. If you'll need raingear, get neon-yellow/lime color too. Also, if you will be riding in darkness, wide reflective legbands are a great visibility product, and so is the powerful Cateye LD-1000 rear "blinkie".



  12. #12
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhifoe
    Another concern I have is security at home. Currently the bike is in the spare room but that will become a nursery next month (!) so I need to consider outside storage.
    I'm guessing you don't have a garage since you're considering outside storage.
    Do you have space in any inside room for something like this?

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=

    If not, how about either of these in an out of the way spot?

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
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    http://www.alertshirt.com/
    They have some good moisture wicking clothing. This site was mentioned on here about a year ago and I picked up a few of their shirts, wow are they bright!
    WOW! S&A just lost to Argentina 0-6 (sorry, World Cup fan here).
    anyhow....
    Commuting is fun, and you get the pleasure of knowing that you are slightly better than everyone you see driving by in their auto when it is 82F and partially sunny, that is no type of day to be caged in a car.
    I've lost about 50 lbs just by bike commuting in the last year and feel great.
    We are in the same boat here, sort of. I started commuting because I was pushing 350lbs when my first child was born almost a year ago and decided to finally get into shape. And I love the comments from my coworkers when they make remarks that I must be nuts for biking 10 miles to work every day, or how they could never do it. I gave up on trying to convince them, after all, this is Detroit, the Motor City, and that mindset is pounded into peoples heads around here.

    So when is your kid due? Boy or girl? Already have plans on getting a bike trailer and taking them out of rides with you?

  14. #14
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhifoe
    I am planning to start commuting by bike in the next couple of weeks and was hoping for some advice.
    Have you read the "Advice for New Commuters" thread? Filled with loads of great info.
    Advice for New Commuters

    Also read the "Light selection guide" thread.
    Light selection guide.
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    Bright clothing seems like a great idea. There are several workwear shops in my home town, and the alertshirt stuff looks pretty good.

    I've read the advice thread which lead me to my bike purchase last week, in particular the lack of suspension and slick tyres. I'm impressed at the quality of bikes compared with what I remember as a kid. Gears and brakes in particular are so much better than I remember.

    The new arrival is due on the 28th of July, and we have chosen not to know its sex until the birth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhifoe
    Bright clothing seems like a great idea. There are several workwear shops in my home town, and the alertshirt stuff looks pretty good.

    I've read the advice thread which lead me to my bike purchase last week, in particular the lack of suspension and slick tyres. I'm impressed at the quality of bikes compared with what I remember as a kid. Gears and brakes in particular are so much better than I remember.

    The new arrival is due on the 28th of July, and we have chosen not to know its sex until the birth.
    That's great, my boy was born July 17 of last year... wow, where did the year go.
    They guys on here helped me make my decision on which bikes to look at and which ones to avoid as well and I have been very happy with my purchases.
    Now I am considering going car free. It's just me, my wife, and our son and we have two brand new cars, one of which always sits in the drive way because my wife only works when I am off and vise versa, so why have two cars when I can bike all the time and drive when needed, anyhow, enough about me.

    Bright clothes definately do make a big differance, especially when you are riding the roads. I feel they are just as, if not more, important as lighting to be seen. I recall how much more room I was given when I first got my Alert Shirt and how much slower people passed me, maybe the bright colors triggered some sort of psychological effect in them.

    You know, I still have all my sons old clothing, if you have a boy next month maybe I can save you a butt load of money, which gives you more cash for bike stuff

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhifoe
    Bright clothing seems like a great idea. There are several workwear shops in my home town, and the alertshirt stuff looks pretty good.

    I've read the advice thread which lead me to my bike purchase last week, in particular the lack of suspension and slick tyres. I'm impressed at the quality of bikes compared with what I remember as a kid. Gears and brakes in particular are so much better than I remember.

    The new arrival is due on the 28th of July, and we have chosen not to know its sex until the birth.
    You got a kid coming, so save your money on the expensive stuff like alertshirt - Walmart has been carrying some bright orange poly shirts recently, they'll do nicely during daylight hours. I am wearing them myself.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    You got a kid coming, so save your money on the expensive stuff like alertshirt - Walmart has been carrying some bright orange poly shirts recently, they'll do nicely during daylight hours. I am wearing them myself.
    Good point
    I also have some of the Champion brand moisture control shirts from Wal-Mart, I think they cost right at 10 bucks a pop. Not high-vis like alert shirt but still very bright colors.

  19. #19
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Maybe a cell phone. I don't carry one, but my commute is only 5 miles. No matter how well prepared you are, you might be stranded along the route sometime. If you have someone to call for a rescue, a cell phone would be handy.

    I'd look for a cheap water-proof bag. I have a couple vinyl coated nylon ones. Until you find a deal on those, use large freezer grade ziplock bags for stuff like clothes, food, and cell phones.

  20. #20
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    I rode to work and back today, and am slowly recovering. The first 30 miles were OK but I really started to flag on the last 5.

    The shorts really helped, I don't think I could possibly cycle a long way again in normal clothes.

    The biggest problem were the designated cycle routes. Although I am mainly cycling on country lanes, there are a couple of bike paths which offer a more direct route. There is an abandoned railway line I had high hopes for, but it features mud, a very bumpy path and loads of gravel. I won't be using that one again.

  21. #21
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    You've earned a hot bath keep it up!

  22. #22
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Think about a carrying a couple extra spokes and a spoke wrench. You can replace 3/4 of the spokes on the road if needed. (There are emergency folding spokes that cost about $10 that would even work on the drive train side.) I bough the regular extra spokes and had my LBS dip the ends in spoke prep and put nipples on them. When I have broken a spoke, I just throw out the nipple and use the spoke. The repair takes only about 5-10 minutes, but it will make your ride home a lot easier.

    I second the idea of a second water bottle and food. I keep a Powerbar in my seatbag. I don't really like Powerbars, which discourages me from using it as a snack. You can bonk out on your way home, being bonked in traffic is a very dangerous thing.

  23. #23
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    Nice idea about the spoke kit.

    I'm planning to get a rack and pack/panniers anyway for work so I can take my lunch in and avoid putting stuff in my pockets. Some spokes sound good, and others have suggested a chain tool would be worthwhile. I remember as a kid walking ten miles with my bike because I didn't take any tools, not something I fancy again.

    Some emergency food sounds like a good idea. The last five miles yesterday caused me real trouble, and when I got home I was the hungriest I think I have ever been and immediately consumed two snickers.

    A bigger breakfast next time I think.

  24. #24
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    I should have said that I keep powdered Gatorade at work. The sugar boost is enough to get me home, but doesn't ruin dinner the way a Powerbar does. Your bigger breakfast idea is on target, but you should expand it--eating well all day long is much more important now that your food is the fuel for your trip home.

    I also should have said that I have never used a folding spoke. From looking at it, it appears it would work on the drive train side of the rear wheel, but I have not tried it myself.

  25. #25
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    I tried the commute again on Sunday morning, and it went very well. The ride in took 1:30 and I felt fine at the end of it.

    The way back took slightly longer (1:50) because I tried an alternative route, which included a half mile of bridleway that didn't look too bad on the map. Unfortunately it was a 1 in 4 hill that is heavily used by horses and I had to carry my bike for several hundred yards. I won't be using that route again.

    When I got home I felt fine, no doubt helped by my prodigious breakfast and chocolate bar on the way home.

    I'll be buying mudguards and a rack at the weekend and plan to commute in next Monday. It'll be much better than sitting in traffic. Now I have to decide whether to get a rack pack or panniers?

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