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  1. #1
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    My dream is to bike commute...

    ... but I recently moved into a setting which makes the thought of bike commuting quite overwhelming. Still, regardless of my mid-age questionable fitness, I have this vision of doing it against all odds, ( hopefully by the time I'm 50.) I really admire bicycle commuters and have *always* wanted to take it seriously, whether for running errands or work. I have too many bikes to choose from (yes, 6) only three of them can handle the new mtn route, so I might as well toss the rest now.

    I'm curious, being new here, how many of you have grueling commutes and have had to overcome impossible obstacles > from whom I can draw inspiration? Well, I'd LOVE to hear about your commute then, as I need all the inspiration I can gather. I am really out of the loop, and need to start somewhere, and that somewhere is here.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by 6bikes; 08-22-07 at 09:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Junior Member marburg99's Avatar
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    Welcome 6bikes,

    When i first started commuting a couple of years ago, it was only a 5 mile roundtrip. I weighed close to 300 pounds so that distance was plenty. I moved away and my commute turned into a 26 mile roundtrip...I did the 1/2 drive 1/2 bike thing...until i could do the whole thing. I was offered a job that would have made my commute 36 mile roundtrip, so i declined it. Its ironic that now i work at a job that has my roundtrip commute at 48 miles. My coworkers still think i'm crazy, but after about 3 weeks, i've gotten used to it. I'm averaging about 3-4 days a week. I'm still looking for that elusive 5 day straight.

    I also have a 1000ft elevation gain each way...makes me think twice about eating junk.
    Jamis sputnik

    48 mile roundtrip Pflugerville,TX to Austin,TX

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    There are a number of long distance commuters on this board, I am not one of them. However one thing you can do to work up to a long commute is either drive part way and then ride the rest, or drive to work, ride home in the evening and back in the next day. Either way reduces your mileage for one day and makes for a much shorter ride. Then once you are comfortable with that kind of ride you can work up to a longer ride.

    Craig

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    What "impossible obstacles" someone else has are obviously highly subjective. Mine weren't / aren't particularly huge.

    Actually, in my case it was the other way 'round: I was sitting in a crowded bus, stuck in traffic, in a hot summer morning, figuring out how much time I'd spend running, skiing or walking the same distance... none of those were practical, but how about cycling. Zing! A few days later I bought a commuting bike and some panniers. Haven't looked back since.

    My biggest obstacle remains the winter weather (or the fact that I need to find a place to dry my riding gear after a wintery commute). I've yet to commute throughout the year, but I'll get there one day.

    --J
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  5. #5
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marburg99 View Post
    Welcome 6bikes,

    When i first started commuting a couple of years ago, it was only a 5 mile roundtrip. I weighed close to 300 pounds so that distance was plenty. I moved away and my commute turned into a 26 mile roundtrip...I did the 1/2 drive 1/2 bike thing...until i could do the whole thing. I was offered a job that would have made my commute 36 mile roundtrip, so i declined it. Its ironic that now i work at a job that has my roundtrip commute at 48 miles. My coworkers still think i'm crazy, but after about 3 weeks, i've gotten used to it. I'm averaging about 3-4 days a week. I'm still looking for that elusive 5 day straight.

    I also have a 1000ft elevation gain each way...makes me think twice about eating junk.
    Wow, I am FULLY impressed ! All that in two years? That's amazing! I totally empathise with the daunting climb, mine is 2100 ft elevation, but only 10 miles ( I swear, it seems the last 3mi must have over 1000) .... then the 1/2 mile steep, rugged dirt road , at the end of the ride... is the "coup de grace".

    A little thing I didn't mention in the first post, I use to bike commute from a previous cabin, only a stones throw away (minus the dirt road part,is about it) >> about 10 years ago<< but it was never more than 2 days a week, and really, for only intervals of a month or so, with dry, car-driving spells of double that. So, you see, I *never* really was all the way. I hope to now just once a week even, integrate PartWay commuting, where I can park a few miles down the mtn, and shave off 1000 ft of the climb, and half the time.
    Last edited by 6bikes; 08-23-07 at 10:52 AM.

  6. #6
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBBaron View Post
    There are a number of long distance commuters on this board, I am not one of them. However one thing you can do to work up to a long commute is either drive part way and then ride the rest, or drive to work, ride home in the evening and back in the next day. Either way reduces your mileage for one day and makes for a much shorter ride. Then once you are comfortable with that kind of ride you can work up to a longer ride.
    Craig, thanks. I've mastered the details of the PartWay commute, but just haven't implemented them yet. I'm all for PartWay, PartTime, whatever it takes to get a person so they can make that first step... um... I mean crank of the pedal.

  7. #7
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    What "impossible obstacles" someone else has are obviously highly subjective. Mine weren't / aren't particularly huge.
    So true!!! In fact, it probably directly parallels/correlates with one's mindset and fitness level. The commute before was a cake walk, now its a seeming impossibility>> when in fact, the only difference is the dirt road section and 10 years of age.

    Actually, in my case it was the other way 'round: I was sitting in a crowded bus, stuck in traffic, in a hot summer morning, figuring out how much time I'd spend running, skiing or walking the same distance... none of those were practical, but how about cycling. Zing! A few days later I bought a commuting bike and some panniers. Haven't looked back since.

    My biggest obstacle remains the winter weather (or the fact that I need to find a place to dry my riding gear after a wintery commute). I've yet to commute throughout the year, but I'll get there one day.

    --J
    I admire you bad weather commuters (especially!), but all bicycle commuters, more than anything else there is! A bicycle commuter, navigating his/her way through traffic, in the dark, sunrise, sunset, in the city, on the slick icy rural roads, in the rain, in the snow, in the sweltering heat... just is prettier than anything I can imagine!!!

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    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    It was raining in dc the other day and I as I went down in the elevator (in rain gear, bike garb, helmet on) a person in the elevator says to me with a shocked look on her face It's raining...what are you going to do? I look back and say, I have a rain jacket on, and if I get wet, it's not like I'm going to melt and die. She had for a brief moment an epiphany-esque look on her face as she perhaps realized that getting wet isn't the end of the world.

    I've always wondered at what point in our lives getting wet becomes a disaster. Kids will play in the rain just long as the sun unless they constantly hear Get inside. It's raining! At somepoint we just lose that. We decide we have to run to get out of it, carry umbrellas around in the car, etc.


    I have to admit that commuting in the rain and occassional snow are my favorite commuting days of all.
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  9. #9
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
    It was raining in dc the other day and I as I went down in the elevator (in rain gear, bike garb, helmet on) a person in the elevator says to me with a shocked look on her face It's raining...what are you going to do? I look back and say, I have a rain jacket on, and if I get wet, it's not like I'm going to melt and die. She had for a brief moment an epiphany-esque look on her face as she perhaps realized that getting wet isn't the end of the world.
    Heh, heh.... reminds me of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther after stepping out of a car into a big puddle "Hmm... just a little wetness... it will pass".

    I've always wondered at what point in our lives getting wet becomes a disaster. Kids will play in the rain just long as the sun unless they constantly hear Get inside. It's raining! At somepoint we just lose that. We decide we have to run to get out of it, carry umbrellas around in the car, etc.


    I have to admit that commuting in the rain and occassional snow are my favorite commuting days of all.
    Right, I can imagine the level of accomplishment goes up a few notches. Similarly, I had a friend remind me about umbrellas >one of those moments of epiphany!< .. and now I no longer let rain keep me from hiking with dog in the early morning.
    Last edited by 6bikes; 08-23-07 at 10:54 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    First thing to remember about bike riding...it is always better once you are on the big. Don't psych yourself out. Once you get to riding, you will be surprised at what you can do, and overcome. Plus, it's fun.

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    Member chickPEA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marburg99 View Post
    Welcome 6bikes,

    When i first started commuting a couple of years ago, it was only a 5 mile roundtrip. I weighed close to 300 pounds so that distance was plenty. I moved away and my commute turned into a 26 mile roundtrip...I did the 1/2 drive 1/2 bike thing...until i could do the whole thing. I was offered a job that would have made my commute 36 mile roundtrip, so i declined it. Its ironic that now i work at a job that has my roundtrip commute at 48 miles. My coworkers still think i'm crazy, but after about 3 weeks, i've gotten used to it. I'm averaging about 3-4 days a week. I'm still looking for that elusive 5 day straight.

    I also have a 1000ft elevation gain each way...makes me think twice about eating junk.
    Just curious, do you do this on your Sputnik?

  12. #12
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    I do the partway thing also. Works pretty well for me. On the bike, I have a 32 mile round trip commute. I have no desire to do the entire thing as I'd end up getting up at 4:00am to commute. Not my idea of fun. Take baby steps and expand as needed. You'll be fine.
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  13. #13
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rule View Post
    First thing to remember about bike riding...it is always better once you are on the big. Don't psych yourself out. Once you get to riding, you will be surprised at what you can do, and overcome. Plus, it's fun.
    On the big? I suppose you mean, the big ring... as in downhill? I might as well not even *have* a big ring anyway, as I'm coasting most of the way down, and don't even go near it going up. BUt yes, it's all good and fun, once you're fit. Thanks.

  14. #14
    3TooMany 6bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster View Post
    I do the partway thing also. Works pretty well for me. On the bike, I have a 32 mile round trip commute. I have no desire to do the entire thing as I'd end up getting up at 4:00am to commute. Not my idea of fun. Take baby steps and expand as needed. You'll be fine.
    I'm all into BabySteps! Since I'm not working right now, but am considering doing errands on my bike, I'm looking at a minimal of 20mi round trip, plus all the biking around in town. So, I think mastering the PartWay commute is just the way I'm going to have to go. Especially now that autumn & winter are on their way.

    My next puzzle is, how to transport stuff around. I'd need to throw the trailer/bike & panniers all in the back of my Rav4, since I'm going to start with the PartWay thing. I don't care for back o' car bike racks > our dirt road would lose anybike that wasn't duct taped to the car... no kidding, and i'm too short for top o' car racks. I'm thinking a Bob Tote type trailer would be great, to squeeze in with the groceries and the bike. Does anybody know of a small trailer that folds up?

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    Mine isn't as dramatic as some.
    Several years ago I hit my all time high weight of 210. My back started hurting, feet, and so on. Not to mention that I have a fairly skinny build. Too much!
    My wife was in a car accident that totaled my car. After finding BF I started commuting.
    My baby steps:
    1) First few months on an ill fitting huffy MTB 4 miles each way. The first day was 40 minutes to make it 4 miles.
    2) New hybrid bike and changed to a 15 mile each way bike \ bus commute. So much pain. I think I lost 20 lbs in the first few months.
    3) Bike falls apart and I upgrade to a touring road bike... my first road style bike. I slowly start adding miles and occasionally riding the entire commute of 28 each way. I lost 20 more lbs.
    4) I added a full carbon racing bike and with a combination of the touring bike I started riding the entire commute 3-5 days a week. No weight loss directly from this.
    5) This year I rode my first century, a few group rides, and a few mountain canyon road climbs. Discovered I love climbing! Now I am training for a 125 mile organized ride next year with 12,000 feet of climbing next year. So far I have dropped about 15 more pounds to aid in climbing. I gained a few last winter. It is nice to drop weight not because you are heavy but to aid in a training goal.

    My attention is turning more towards high intensity rides due to a desire to spend more time with my family. That and different activities to train with. However, I will always commute in some fashion or the other. Maybe not as nutty as this year but it is still a blast.

  16. #16
    tlc
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    Can't really say much more than, "get out there and do it!"

    It's what I have to tell myself each morning. The only seemingly impossible obstacle I face is getting out of bed...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bikes View Post
    My next puzzle is, how to transport stuff around. I'd need to throw the trailer/bike & panniers all in the back of my Rav4, since I'm going to start with the PartWay thing. I don't care for back o' car bike racks > our dirt road would lose anybike that wasn't duct taped to the car... no kidding, and i'm too short for top o' car racks. I'm thinking a Bob Tote type trailer would be great, to squeeze in with the groceries and the bike. Does anybody know of a small trailer that folds up?
    I have a Toyota Matrix and use a receiver hitch type bike rack. Works perfectly. It folds down to allow access to the hatch as well.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    I was in the same boat as you for a long time. I live within a reasonable commuting distance (10 miles) but was concerned about the safety issues. There are no bike paths where I live, and my car commute is on busy roads with lots of traffic. Last fall I decided to try bike commuting one day as part of a local campaign to reduce driving -- either through carpooling, transit or bikes. I chose my bike. I took some back roads that kept me away from the busiest roads, but still didn't feel safe enough to make it a regular event.

    This past spring I decided to try bike commuting again as part of the Bike to Work week events. This time I did more research on routes and found some roads that avoided 90% of my concerns about the traffic. So basically, out out a 10-mile commute (one-way), about 1 mile is on a road with enough traffic that it makes me nervous. After riding that route for a few days, I decided the stretch of road wasn't as bad as I built it up in my mind. However, I also wear very bright jerseys and have flashing lights in the mornings when daylight is low.

    Once I got over that initial hurdle, I've been bike commuting regularly -- usually about 3 days a week. Since April, I've bike commuted more 1,000 miles and saved more than 50 gallons of gas. Lately my biggest problem has been the extreme heat, but that shouldn't last much longer. I usually carpool on the days I drive in a car, so I'm actually driving to work only about 1 day per week.

    My total bike commute averages about 22 miles each day. On the days I drive, I bring in clean clothes and other supplies, and bring home my dirty laundry. I am fortunate in that we have a shower in my office building, I don't have be sweaty and smelly all day.

    Bottom line, it's worked much better than I imagined, and I'm bike commuting more than I ever expected. I also have more free time after work because I've already finished my exercising for the day when I get home.

  19. #19
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bikes View Post
    ... but I recently moved into a setting which makes the thought of bike commuting quite overwhelming.
    What makes it overwhelming? Distance? Traffic? Weather?

    I admire you bad weather commuters (especially!), but all bicycle commuters, more than anything else there is! A bicycle commuter, navigating his/her way through traffic, in the dark, sunrise, sunset, in the city, on the slick icy rural roads, in the rain, in the snow, in the sweltering heat... just is prettier than anything I can imagine!!!
    I know. The romance of it! The only thing that's prettier, to me is a bike messenger, but I'm not willing to do that for romance alone, and the pay isn't much.

    I started commuting as a university student. I was a student on a fairly isolated campus on the outskirts of the city, and I lived in residence, so for the first year I hardly ever left campus. The campus itself was huge, and there was a lot to do, so I just walked. However, one day my karate instructor and the school had a disagreement, so the karate classes, my favourite extra-curriculur pursuit, moved to a different location, about 7 miles away from campus. There was a bus that would take me pretty much straight there, but it was getting stuck in traffic all the time. I didn't have a car (and it would've been stuck in traffic just the same anyway), so biking was a natural solution, especially since the whole thing was hapenning in the summer.

    The challenge, in my case, was traffic. There weren't any alternative routes that did not meander a lot, so I had to travel on a really narrow and aggressive arterial with horrible pavement. I knew very little about biking on roads at the time, so I just took the sidewalk. Almost immediately had a classic sidewalk accident, running into a side of a car pulling out of a driveway (there is a long commercial/industrial section with lots of driveways there). I think eventually I would've migrated to the road for that commute, but I soon stopped going to the karate classes altogether, for unrelated reasons. I also moved off campus the following year, much closer to the city core, so I started commuting to school, 10 miles one way... At first I only rode on the nicest days, but gradually increased the acceptable weather range. I also modified my commuting route to cut out a couple of stressful high-traffic sections and replaced them with much pleasanter streets with virtually no increase in distance and commute time, which gave me further incentive to bike-commute more often. By the time I worked up to commuting every day regardless of the weather, I graduated.

    Now most of my rides are around the downtown and midtown, though occasionally I travel to the 'burbs and even a bit past, to visit my parents. I ride every day, in rain, snow, slush, thunderstorms and whatever else the weather gods will throw my way. It's a lot of fun. In fact, way too much fun for something that healthy.

    There are a lot of benefits to commuting by bike that get mentioned on these boards all the time: better fitness, better mood, greater connection with nature, knowing the city so much better, saving money... They all apply to me, but there was another completely unexpected and very welcome benefit: improved spatial thinking and map-reading skills. I used to suffer from a very severe case of topographic cretinism. As a Russian proverb has it, I was the type who'd get lost in a forest of three pines. I had very limited map-reading ability and almost zero spatial thinking and memory. However, having to figure out and memorize zig-zagging bike-friendly routes and shortcuts did absolute wonders for me. I couldn't've guessed something like this was possible. I'm almost average in that department now!!! Thank you, nasty cagers, for forcing me off the major road and thus making me smarter!
    Last edited by chephy; 08-22-07 at 12:02 PM.
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  20. #20
    del dot
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bikes View Post
    My next puzzle is, how to transport stuff around. I'd need to throw the trailer/bike & panniers all in the back of my Rav4, since I'm going to start with the PartWay thing. I don't care for back o' car bike racks > our dirt road would lose anybike that wasn't duct taped to the car... no kidding, and i'm too short for top o' car racks. I'm thinking a Bob Tote type trailer would be great, to squeeze in with the groceries and the bike. Does anybody know of a small trailer that folds up?
    If you're going to be loading equipment in and out of your car, you'll probably be a lot happier with panniers than with a trailer. Even when you're not using the car, a trailer is kind of awkward for everyday use. It limits your maneuverability in traffic a bit, makes it harder to park the bike without blocking pedestrians, and you need to worry about locking the trailer as well as the bike.

    I own a trailer, and it's great for large grocery or hardware runs. But for typical work-supply loads of up to forty pounds or so, panniers are a lot more convenient. (And maybe a few bungee cords on hand for objects too large to fit in the panniers...just make sure the bungees can't snap loose and catch in your spokes!)

  21. #21
    J3L 2404 gbcb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy View Post
    there was another completely unexpected and very welcome benefit: improved spatial thinking and map-reading skills.
    You know, I'd never thought about that, but you have a point. I have a ridiculous number of zigzaggy routes stored in my head, going back to the early 90s. My problem now is I can ride anywhere, but I can't tell anyone how to go on the same route... I go by landmarks (some of which aren't really landmarks, but little things that seem to stick out for me) and rarely remember street names. Also, there's the old problem of giving directions to someone in a car, only to find that half your memorised route involves cutting across a park.

  22. #22
    Senior Member aMull's Avatar
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    No obstacles for me at all. One day i thought what was the point of sitting for an hour in a bus, then sitting three hours at a lecture and then an hour back home. I hate being inactive and all this sitting seemed pointless and a waste of time. So i bought some bike gloves and rode the 20km to school (had a bike already) This time i was glad i was going to sit for three hours

  23. #23
    Junior Member marburg99's Avatar
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    Hey Chickpea,
    I am doing this on my sputnik...i enjoy the fixed gear simplicity plus the great workout, but somedays i jones for some easy gears.
    Jamis sputnik

    48 mile roundtrip Pflugerville,TX to Austin,TX

  24. #24
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    6 bikes - my longest commute was 12.5 miles each way total about 35 miles a day round-trip plus other daily trips, but I never considered it grueling even when I had to bicycle in sub-zero temperatures or rain, or snow.

    I think most people bicycle commute because they enjoy it and I hope that will be your motivation also.

    Riding a bicycle is fun and nice. It is the best way to start and end your work day.

    Enjoy. Welcome to the club.
    Mike

  25. #25
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    Sorry, not as inspiring as some people's stories, but here's mine:

    My commute to my part time job is 9 miles uphill. I have to go on a path, several arterial roads, two smaller roads and to save about 2 miles I pick up my bike and hop a railroad track. And I do this at rush hour, as I work a 5:30-close shift. I've done it in the rain and with a heat index of 124 (although the actual temp was only about 104f)

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