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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 06-27-07, 07:25 AM   #1
Ghoulardi
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My first commute

Hello, I'm new to the board.

I live 2.2 miles from work, and today I rode my bike in for the first time.

My biggest concern was riding alongside traffic, which was astoundingly not an issue at all. The motorists were incredibly accomodating, mostly avoiding the right lane where I stayed.

That said, I think I need a new route. I tried to take a back way in, which is actually the shortest route. It includes one heck of a hill, though.

From my house, I go way down to a river, use a small bridge, then go up back to street level. The hill going back up to street level (ironically, downtown), is a killer. I got about 1/2 way up riding when I realized that there was no way I could go all the way, so I stopped and walked the bike up the rest of the way. This is partially because I'm overweight and haven't biked regularly since i was in shape and in college.

I looked at a map, and I found a new way, which will add about a mile but has more gradual hills. I bet I end up less sweaty at work with this longer route.
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Old 06-27-07, 07:46 AM   #2
MyPC8MyBrain
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Good going GeorgeGlass! The more you ride, the less hills will seem to impede your forward motion.
In regard to the cars... never let your guard down. It may seem that everyone gives you plenty of room, but it's the one idiot that comes along and mucks up the works. Usually they are on their cell phone and blind to the world. Don't get complacent…they will be along soon enough. Just know what you are going to do when they find you and all will be good.

Rules for new commuters:

~Just do it... then just keep doing it
~Ride It Like You Stole It
~Keep The Rubber Side Down [This one is of critical importance!]
~When you start talkikng youself out of riding....just Shut Up and Ride
~Buy new goodies/bikes with the money you save
~Constantly show off sexy biker legs to wife/gf/bf/whatever
~It never gets easier, you just go faster[well at first it gets easier]
~Work..it's the ugly time between rides
~Objects in your mirror are stupider than they appear
~The unintelligible comments from passing cars are always compliments
~Sweat and snot[in winter] are sexier than you might think
~If 2 bikes are headed in the same direction they are racing
~Your new name is Fred [or Wilma]
~The response to "Get on the sidewalk!" is "Ride your freakin' bike!"
~Once you are completely soaked, you can't get any wetter.
~Don't worry Be Happy
~Perfect your shower time down to 4.25 minutes. You'll be doing it a lot.
~Yes, helmets are dorky, but you should still wear one.
~Laughing at JAMs makes them madder than giving them the finger.
~Don't ride through Garbage Juice..especially when cornering.
~Quickie Marts are the cycling oasis [Gatorade fits the bottle holder].
~When you are bonking, chug down a coke...aka "Rocket Fuel"
~When someone bails you out, you are obligated to pay it forward 2x
~Biker Tan... Set a new higher standard for Farmer Tan
~Bicycles, the other fun thing between your legs.

Congratulations on your first ride !
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Old 06-27-07, 08:20 AM   #3
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Congrats on your first bike commute! I did my second ride into work this morning, and this time I had a Take a Look mirror mounted on my sunglasses. What a difference that thing makes! I've never ridden with a mirror before, and I find it definitely improves my comfort level with traffic. I take mostly back roads on my 13 mi. ride in but have to get out onto some busy routes as I get closer to work.

Scott
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Old 06-27-07, 08:36 AM   #4
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Congrats on the first commute! Don't worry about the hill, it will magically get flatter over time. Using an alternate, flatter route works too (that's what I did!).
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Old 06-27-07, 08:51 AM   #5
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GratZ, bud!! Isn't it nice?

I just started recently too...up to about my 5th or 6th commute.
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Old 06-27-07, 09:08 AM   #6
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well done on the commute. Soon you'll be glad of the extra mile and will be looking to add more miles to your journey in. You might even go up and down the hill twice just for the hell of it.
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Old 06-27-07, 10:27 AM   #7
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Keep at it and in a few months, that hill will feel like a speed bump. Welcome to the freedom and happiness that is bike commuting!
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Old 06-27-07, 10:51 AM   #8
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Bravo, George! Definitely mix it up and have fun but probably best to hit that hill some more because if you're like me, some days you have to get to work by the most direct route. Other days, it's all about experimenting. Also, if you don't already have one, I suggest a bike computer. Just a cheap $20 one. It makes it fun to compare the distances of your routes and just log miles after work and, evenutually, to brag about the hundreds of miles you've done to your coworkers!
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Old 06-27-07, 11:51 AM   #9
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Nice work, George! As others have said, the hills will be less of a problem the more you ride, it's partially conditioning and partially just fitness - you'll get there soon enough.

+1 on the cyclocomputer - I personally love seeing how fast I ride, and use the odo/trip distance for bragging rights amongst my non-bike inclined peers
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Old 06-27-07, 01:40 PM   #10
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Welcome to the HHCMF! Hills flatten at our approach, donuts quiver under our gaze and the opposite sex must restrain themselves mightily from throwing themselves at us. Please use caution when showing off your new found awesomeness as it may overwhelm lesser mortals.
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Old 06-27-07, 02:13 PM   #11
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Thanks guys. I have eaten less today than I normally do, have not been hungry at all, and I've been thinking about my ride home for the last hour or so. I'm pumped. I think I am going to try an alternate route home. As rough as getting up that hill was, I'm afraid what going down it will do to my breaks. Throw down some snow and some skis and I'd be all about it!

I'll be wary of traffic, but I'm still shocked I didn't get honked at once downtown.

Oh, and on top of it all, I had fun riding my bike to work. I'll have even more fun cancelling my monthly parking in a few weeks.
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Old 06-27-07, 02:28 PM   #12
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Congrats on your first commute. Keep after that hill, not only will it get easier, it will give you a goal to shoot for and to measure your progress against, from a fitness standpoint.
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Old 06-27-07, 02:52 PM   #13
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Congrats!

Yes, find an easier route on the way to work. I hate being sweaty at the beginning of the day. Maybe take a challenging route home where you can quickly shower.

If you post what town you're in, someone might be able to suggest alternate routes around and in-out of downtown.
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Old 06-27-07, 02:56 PM   #14
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Congrats and welcome to the Other Side!

By all means, explore and experiment with your route. The direct route is sometimes the best cycling route, but oftentimes not. Be sure to tell us of your daily adventures in the How Was The Commute Today thread.
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Old 06-27-07, 03:31 PM   #15
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*high five* Take the hill. What sucks going in is a blast going home. Plus the hill becomes your gauge to see how well your technique and strength are improving.
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Old 06-27-07, 03:41 PM   #16
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That hill WILL be mine.

I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I go from the Tremont neighborhood to downtown. If anyone knows any better routes than the West 3rd/Commercial Road bridge, let me know. I'm going to take the Lorain/Carnegie home in a few minutes. I may try the Detroit/Superior tomorrow morning, just to see how the ride is.

Well, time to hit the road.
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Old 06-27-07, 06:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeGlass
That hill WILL be mine.

I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I go from the Tremont neighborhood to downtown. If anyone knows any better routes than the West 3rd/Commercial Road bridge, let me know. I'm going to take the Lorain/Carnegie home in a few minutes. I may try the Detroit/Superior tomorrow morning, just to see how the ride is.

Well, time to hit the road.

Dude, what part of downtown do you work in? You can always just take Abbey over to Columbus and come through the flats, then up into downtown on St. Clair or Huron. Detriot-Superior and Lorain Carnegie bridges are nice rides...not steep climbs, but long with great downhills, but during rush-hour they would be an adventure you might not be ready for.
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Old 06-27-07, 07:46 PM   #18
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I work over near Playhouse Square. How bad is that hill up into downtown from the flats?

I took Lorain-Carnegie home. It didn't seem to be all that bad at 6. Is it worse in the morning?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 06-27-07, 07:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyPC8MyBrain
Good going GeorgeGlass! The more you ride, the less hills will seem to impede your forward motion.
In regard to the cars... never let your guard down. It may seem that everyone gives you plenty of room, but it's the one idiot that comes along and mucks up the works. Usually they are on their cell phone and blind to the world. Don't get complacent…they will be along soon enough. Just know what you are going to do when they find you and all will be good.

Rules for new commuters:

~Just do it... then just keep doing it
~Ride It Like You Stole It
~Keep The Rubber Side Down [This one is of critical importance!]
~When you start talkikng youself out of riding....just Shut Up and Ride
~Buy new goodies/bikes with the money you save
~Constantly show off sexy biker legs to wife/gf/bf/whatever
~It never gets easier, you just go faster[well at first it gets easier]
~Work..it's the ugly time between rides
~Objects in your mirror are stupider than they appear
~The unintelligible comments from passing cars are always compliments
~Sweat and snot[in winter] are sexier than you might think
~If 2 bikes are headed in the same direction they are racing
~Your new name is Fred [or Wilma]
~The response to "Get on the sidewalk!" is "Ride your freakin' bike!"
~Once you are completely soaked, you can't get any wetter.
~Don't worry Be Happy
~Perfect your shower time down to 4.25 minutes. You'll be doing it a lot.
~Yes, helmets are dorky, but you should still wear one.
~Laughing at JAMs makes them madder than giving them the finger.
~Don't ride through Garbage Juice..especially when cornering.
~Quickie Marts are the cycling oasis [Gatorade fits the bottle holder].
~When you are bonking, chug down a coke...aka "Rocket Fuel"
~When someone bails you out, you are obligated to pay it forward 2x
~Biker Tan... Set a new higher standard for Farmer Tan
~Bicycles, the other fun thing between your legs.

Congratulations on your first ride !
second time i have heard this in two days, never heard it before. but anyways, that is the most important one on the list
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Old 06-27-07, 08:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeGlass
I work over near Playhouse Square. How bad is that hill up into downtown from the flats?

I took Lorain-Carnegie home. It didn't seem to be all that bad at 6. Is it worse in the morning?

Thanks for the help!
The hill on St. Clair from the flats up to W9th is a little steep, but pretty short, just one block.

I love riding the Lorain-Carnegie...but in the morning the intersection at Ontario is where you need to have your spidey-senses on high - especially watching for the cross traffic running the light after just getting off 77 or 71, already pissed at traffic, still trying to do freeway speeds, all jockeying to change lanes.
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Old 06-27-07, 08:24 PM   #21
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I'll add my name to the people who are congratulating you. I've only been commuting for 3 weeks, but it is a freaking blast. It definetely becomes a way of life...be warned.

My commute is 13.3 miles, and I bring several pounds of gear. My first commutes were in the range of 1:06 or so total riding time (or 12.09 mph average). In just little over 3 weeks, and some long weekend rides, I can feel a huge surge in my power and strength, my lung capacity, and my competitiveness (racing with myself). I keep on breaking my own best record, and am now doing that same commute in 56:30 or so (right at 14 mph average). So be warned, that hill will be getting much easier. I would recommend taking a nice scenic route (bike friendly, out of the way, less traffic etc) that will increase your ride length to say 5-6 miles each way, that way you are on the bike for at least a half hour each way. Not so far that you have to have all sorts of bike specific gear (like padded shorts and gloves), but long enough to get a great cardio workout twice a day.
\
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Old 06-27-07, 09:46 PM   #22
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Good Job George, for my first summer of commuting I stuck mainly to the side streets, now I'm right on the main drags with all the big trucks and busses.
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Old 06-27-07, 09:51 PM   #23
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Congrats! Let us know when you conquer that beastie.

(is not-so-secretly REALLY GLAD I don't have a hilll on the most direct bike-friendly route to work!)
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