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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 04-24-07, 03:26 PM   #1
JR97
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My first commute....

.... and it damn near killed me. 15 miles each way and a nasty headwind. I also tried a "shortcut" that took me about 20 blocks further west than I needed. Which meant 20 stupid blocks of headwind. Even with the detour and headwind, I arrived in about 1.5 hours. Which .5 hours less than I was thinking it would take.

The ride home was sweet with the wind. But the last leg is a brutal climb that only gets steeper at the top. I collapsed at home and was useless after that. I can't see how I can do this more than once or twice a week. That was Sunday and I can barely walk 3 days later.

On the bright side, I looked up bus routes. By bus it's about 1.25 hours. So maybe bus into work, ride home. Yeah, that's the ticket.
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Old 04-24-07, 03:40 PM   #2
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Take your time and work up to it. A 30 mile round trip is a pretty decent ride for most newbie's. Keep it up and you'll start finding it easier. The one way ride will definitely help your body adapt.
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Old 04-24-07, 03:43 PM   #3
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Sounds like you need to ride more at night/weekends and get used to the distance. 15 miles is easy when you are ready for it. Keep riding, get conditioned and in no time you'll pull the 15miles like it's not even there! I rode 65km on Sunday with a mild hangover
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Old 04-24-07, 03:48 PM   #4
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I usually ride 20-30 miles rt on the weekends and 10-15 rt a few times on the weekdays, but I avoid the big hill route home. So I think I need to just slow down and take it easy. For whatever reason, I felt the need to hurry to get to the office. I was really pushing hard. Anywho... thanks for the encourangment. I'm feeling so liberated.
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Old 04-24-07, 03:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR97
.... and it damn near killed me. 15 miles each way and a nasty headwind. I also tried a "shortcut" that took me about 20 blocks further west than I needed. Which meant 20 stupid blocks of headwind. Even with the detour and headwind, I arrived in about 1.5 hours. Which .5 hours less than I was thinking it would take.

The ride home was sweet with the wind. But the last leg is a brutal climb that only gets steeper at the top. I collapsed at home and was useless after that. I can't see how I can do this more than once or twice a week. That was Sunday and I can barely walk 3 days later.

On the bright side, I looked up bus routes. By bus it's about 1.25 hours. So maybe bus into work, ride home. Yeah, that's the ticket.
The first week or two are the hardest. If you're new to cycling, your rear needs to adjust to sitting on a bike saddle. If you're not new to cycling, your body needs to adjust to the kind of riding you're doing. A lot of bike commuters put on more miles than many serious weekend riders, and weekday traffic is a different breed.

You could ride the bus one way each day, take a car halfway, or whatever you want. There are no rules to bike commuting.

That brutal hill? Make friends with it. Practice riding up it. You'll eventually find a technique (and improved strength) that will make it easier than it was today. The rest of your commute will also eventually become a lot easier. If you can bring yourself to do it, take the occasional ride (once or twice a month) that's a lot harder than your usual commute. Steeper hills, longer distances, and higher speeds. Become stronger than you need to be for your commute.
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Old 04-24-07, 03:56 PM   #6
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My first commute was over 45min. Now the same commute is 25min and it is easier too.

Al
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Old 04-24-07, 04:24 PM   #7
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Take it easy at first. Do bus/bike combo or drive partway - whatever you have to do not to kill yourself. 30 tough miles in one day without preparation is kinda tough. Soon you'll get stronger and more than likely you'll soon be enjoying your commute. Good luck!
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Old 04-24-07, 07:31 PM   #8
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Build up slowly. In 2-3 months, you will own that hill.
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Old 04-24-07, 07:43 PM   #9
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better yet, he will pWnz0r!!!111!! teh hill.
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Old 04-24-07, 07:51 PM   #10
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That sounds about how my first commute went. Same distance and everything. I started on a mountain bike and then switched to a road bike. The first couple of months it took me 75 min to complete the trip one way a couple of days a week. A year later and riding a road bike everyday unless it snows and my commute time is down to 45 min. Keep after it and you will become faster.
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Old 04-24-07, 09:35 PM   #11
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I agree, that's a lot to start with. Heck, it would be a lot for me still, mine's only 5 miles each way. Don't get discouraged, and don't set any unrealistic goals. I second some combination of bus and bike, and maybe not full-time to begin with.

But congrats on starting!
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Old 04-24-07, 09:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR97
.... and it damn near killed me. 15 miles each way and a nasty headwind. I also tried a "shortcut" that took me about 20 blocks further west than I needed. Which meant 20 stupid blocks of headwind. Even with the detour and headwind, I arrived in about 1.5 hours. Which .5 hours less than I was thinking it would take.

The ride home was sweet with the wind. But the last leg is a brutal climb that only gets steeper at the top. I collapsed at home and was useless after that. I can't see how I can do this more than once or twice a week. That was Sunday and I can barely walk 3 days later.

On the bright side, I looked up bus routes. By bus it's about 1.25 hours. So maybe bus into work, ride home. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Boy does this sound familar! I started commuting about a month ago and suffered exactly the same symptoms complete with my own arch nemesis hill o' huff & puffing (in fact more than one). Lactate thresholds and me are on speaking terms now.

The good news is that I can do the hill with dramatically less huffing and puffing, the "burn" is still there of course, but also at lower levels - I find it easier to push through to the top although it is still a workout for sure. I know what cadence means and why it helps (which it does). My balance and confidence is growing, riding is becoming more reflexive i.e. I don't have to think about the various mechanics of riding - it just happens.

The good news for you is that I'm pretty sure you can expect the same, maybe faster, maybe slower but you will improve. Welcome to the club!
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Old 04-25-07, 06:45 AM   #13
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For the hill, are you in your lowest gear? Don't worry too much about your speed, just use a gear that doesn't make you work too hard, even if you're only going 2 mph.
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Old 04-25-07, 07:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR97
.... and it damn near killed me. 15 miles each way and a nasty headwind. I also tried a "shortcut" that took me about 20 blocks further west than I needed. Which meant 20 stupid blocks of headwind. Even with the detour and headwind, I arrived in about 1.5 hours. Which .5 hours less than I was thinking it would take.
That sounds familiar. I've been commuting about a month as well and my first day was rough. My wife had to drive me home!! I'm up to 2 days/week right now, my commute is 45 miles r/t so I still need a few days off between commutes. I want to try 3 days the week after next. You'll get there sooner than you think.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ax0n
better yet, he will pWnz0r!!!111!! teh hill.
Haha! Oh, sorry I meant ROFLOLLZZZ!!11!!one!1!

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Old 04-25-07, 07:49 AM   #15
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15 one way is killer to start with, I started on an 8 and for the first few weeks I got maybe 3 days a week. Don't worry about the hills, the same ones that I could barely do at first I mash up at the same speed as the flat sections.

Hey, BigRedSnackFoam, did you ride in Monday morning? I took a longer route than usual that put me on the bike path in Pittsford right when a roadie, or at a less hybrid biker than me was getting on and mostly paced him for about 5ish miles, wondering if that was you?
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Old 04-25-07, 08:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick
A 30 mile round trip is a pretty decent ride for most newbie's.
Unless you've already been a hobbiest/exercise/professional/etc bicyclist, a 30-mile round trip is INSANE for a newbie.

JR97, you can also do what I do, which is ride one way each day and leave your bike there (if your boss will allow the bike at work overnight). That way you don't have to carry it on the bus. I bike to work, take the train home, then next day take the train in and bike home.

Actually for some insane reason I decided to bike both ways yesterday, which isn't that big a deal except I ALSO decided to really push it both ways... Man was I worn out when I got home.
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Old 04-25-07, 08:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squegeeboo

Hey, BigRedSnackFoam, did you ride in Monday morning? I took a longer route than usual that put me on the bike path in Pittsford right when a roadie, or at a less hybrid biker than me was getting on and mostly paced him for about 5ish miles, wondering if that was you?
Yea I did ride in on Monday, a very nice ride too. If the guy you saw was wearing a hi-viz yellow/green jacket and black shorts then that was probably me. I didn't even notice anyone behind me though. I bought a helmet mounted mirror and found it to be utterly useless for seeing things behind me. I can get a good look at either the other side of the road or my shoulder though.
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Old 04-25-07, 08:03 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggplant Jeff
Unless you've already been a hobbiest/exercise/professional/etc bicyclist, a 30-mile round trip is INSANE for a newbie.
Oh sure, NOW you tell me!
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Old 04-25-07, 08:47 AM   #19
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For head winds, drop bars are definitely easier, and they are also better for lane splitting in heavy traffic. You may also be able to find alternate routes for head winds where you can get protection from the wind by trees or buildings. Stop before the big hill and phone home or refill your water bottle, then you can go up the hill with fresh legs - this wont reduce your commute time but it will make the hill more enjoyable.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:40 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRedSnackFoam
Yea I did ride in on Monday, a very nice ride too. If the guy you saw was wearing a hi-viz yellow/green jacket and black shorts then that was probably me. I didn't even notice anyone behind me though. I bought a helmet mounted mirror and found it to be utterly useless for seeing things behind me. I can get a good look at either the other side of the road or my shoulder though.
Nah, wasn't you then, we exchanged a few words in regards to him turning off his rear-blinky(me telling him he successfully turned it off while riding) and passed each other twice.
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Old 04-27-07, 04:53 PM   #21
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I started commuting 7.5 miles each way a couple of months ago after not having been on a bike for 25+ years. I ride a low end MTB, F.S. Elite Grand Teton, that I found in near-new condition at a thrift shop for $30. I put bar ends on it, made pannier racks out of u-shaped bamboo trellises from the garden shop and found a couple of suitable second-hand bags that serve nicely as panniers.

There's a 400 ft. difference in elevation between work and home with work on the high side. "Springtime in the Rockies" limited the days I could ride. It worked out to 2-3 days a week. My commute is along a bus route, so I started out riding 1.5 mi to a bus stop, busing for 3, and riding the last 3. As the weather improved and more bicycle commuters got their bikes out of winter storage, I found an empty spot on the two place bike racks on the bus less and less often. By that time, though, my strength and stamina had improved enough that I could ride the entire distance without too much difficulty. I ride it every day, now, unless the wind is just too strong. If I get too winded going up one of the steeper/longer hills (especially with a headwind), I have no problem dismounting and walking it the rest of the way up. I find myself dismounting less and less as I get stronger and my times have improved. Once I replace the 2" knobbies with higher pressure slicks, I expect they will improve quicker.

My short-term goal is to be as carfree as possible. My long-term goal is to be carfree.
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Old 03-18-08, 08:12 AM   #22
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my commute is five miles or so one way...it's a great distance
i like to go on some longer exploration type rides on the weekend and whenever i feel i have the energy
headwinds are the worst...give me a little rain before wind anyday, just dont combine the two

but i am armed with a cape if it is wet out
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