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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 12-10-07, 09:07 AM   #1
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Extreme Commuter Club: Week 2, 2007

Well it is hardly extreme around here. Temps were in the 40sand it was foggy or slight misting rain occasionally. Nothing very significant. I was running a little late this morning so I'm not sure if the lack of bike commuters was a function of weather or timing.

Not much of question this week, but my only thought was how (or if) people commute with their kids on bikes to school in the winter. I will commute with my son for at least 1 full week and possibly a few other days this winter. I find the toughest thing is to make sure he is fully suited up. Strap to hold his pants leg out of the chain, warm shoes/boots, gloves, hat under helmet, etc. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions? Anyone have experiences to share with other parents of kids?
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Old 12-10-07, 09:45 AM   #2
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I had a few inches of snow to play in late last week. That's all gone. We had some ice this weekend, but the ice melt already burned it off. Tonight, we're supposed to have an epic ice storm of apocalyptic proportions (okay, .5" to 1" of ice accumulation, not exactly end-of-days type stuff). They're saying roads will be a disaster tomorrow. We'll see what happens.
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Old 12-10-07, 10:45 AM   #3
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The commute in was AWESOME!!! We had tons of snow all weekend and pretty good cold weather, too (weekend high was 20degF). This morning was cold at first, in the shade, and almost all on ice and snow. Took one digger being stupid around a corner, but the rest was just fun!.
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Old 12-10-07, 10:47 AM   #4
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Light dusting of snow, 31F on the way in this AM! whoO!!!

I actually wore pants. Usually shorts till it gets into the 20's.

awesome 6 mile ride at 4am this morning. I love biking in the early AM.

Cheers
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Old 12-10-07, 10:59 AM   #5
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Freezing rain yesterday and this morning. the paved bits were OK as they'd been salted, though there were some crusty rutted things on the shoulder of the high-speed roads.
The gravel road was glassy on top and my rear wheel slid sideways several times if I was riding next to a rut. Made be a bit nervous. The rear tire is missing about 8 studs (out of 96) so it could be starting its slide when it comes by a place with missing studs. The front is still 100%. I'll be getting a replacement for the rear (rotating the tires) for next year.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:29 PM   #6
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Low 30s this morning. We had a little snow yesterday, and it was into the 20s overnight, but nothing seemed to stick around, at least in my neighborhood. I'm sure not soaking my base layer in sweat these days, though.

On Saturday I replaced the cassette, cranks, and chain. I also had to replace the rear brake cable for some reason. It was working fine before I started changing out the drivetrain, but was pretty much frozen up after. I disconnected it from the lever and, sure enough, the cable wouldn't slide in the housing. Bummer. On the plus side, though, everything seemed to be working just fine this moring. Shifting was good and I didn't feel any chain skip, like I was last week.

I've never ridden kids on my bike. My son is 23 years old, 6'6" tall, and weighs about 275. I'm waiting for him to get a bike and trailer so he can pull me around.
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Old 12-10-07, 04:00 PM   #7
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Just keep waiting Unix!!
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Old 12-11-07, 10:02 AM   #8
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My son is 2 yrs old and I haven't ridden with him yet. We go out for walks in the winter all the time though, so he likes getting bundled up and outside. I imagine that we will get a trailer this spring. It needs to fit two kids since child #2 is coming on or about Valentines Day.

The freezing rain started in the wee hours this morning, but the roads were just a little slushy thanks to all the salt. The only sidewalk I stepped on was super slick though and the rain was very cold indeed. I had a bus actually brush against my arm this morning when it passed and crowded me towards the curb. I called the transit authority when I got to the office to complain. They are supposed to call me back. Whenever I finally talk with a supervisor, I'm not going to let them off easy.
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Old 12-11-07, 11:05 AM   #9
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I thought I was the only crazy to go out in this but I got blown away by another singlespeed mtb biker wearing rolled-up corduroys. I thought that was crazy until I passed another dude on a cruiser wearing earmuffs, a scarf, and an overcoat.

Had to go around two different bus crashes on the same street. Looked like one had skidded into its stop and onto the curb. And I thought riding the bus would be safe.

Took me a while to get used to riding with the studded tires. It's a lot of work.
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Old 12-11-07, 11:14 AM   #10
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Still plenty of snow here in Minnesota although nothing new since early last week. The roads are fairly clear by now although secondary streets still have a good packed down covering.

I put the studded tire on the front wheel last week and will probably throw on the rear once we get more snow accumulation. I'm running a 25mm slick on the rear, which makes for an odd appearance paired with the 35mm studded knobby on the front.

This is the first winter that I'm running a fixed gear and I'm not sure if I'll make it to spring with the same gearing I started with this past summer. With all the extra gear/clothing/rolling resistance, I may have to change to something smaller. I keep telling myself that I'll be a monster come spring if I can stick with my current gear, so I guess we'll see how it goes.
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Old 12-11-07, 11:23 AM   #11
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There was an ice storm last night (rain above freezing, surface temperature below freezing = ice).

This morning, temps had warmed up to barely freezing, but the rain was still falling. If you thought riding in 40 degree rain sucked, you should try it at 32. Worse than snow, and it started to slush the ice by the time I was riding to the bus.
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Old 12-11-07, 12:00 PM   #12
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Axon -- after last winter you have my full sympathies. Nothing is worse than freezing rain crap. Derailleurs and brakes freeze up, its hard to stay dry and warm and it makes even the most committed bike commuters doubt their sanity.

I was watching the Peanuts special, "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" last night and caught a scene where young Linus discusses riding around on a seat on the back of Mom's bike. He says it is kind of hard because we can't see very well and they slide around a good bit. He even remarks that every time they ride to town they get chased by a big German shepherd who won't stop until he throws his shoe at him. It was nice to see a subtle plug for bike commuting with kids on TV.
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Old 12-11-07, 12:24 PM   #13
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I saw the Peanuts special too. I thought it was great having the mom doing errands and getting around on a bicycle. It probably was subtle to the average viewer, but it was came off as obvious cycling advocacy to me. Heck, she was riding around in the winter with snow on the ground.
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Old 12-11-07, 01:18 PM   #14
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Me three for the peanuts special. I laughed at that segment. I did respect her for riding in the winter and going to the dry cleaners, grocer, and the mall all on the one ride.
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Old 12-11-07, 01:44 PM   #15
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Not too extreme this week. Temps have been hovering ~freezing, and the snow from last week is still around, but the roads are dry and clear...
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Old 12-11-07, 02:48 PM   #16
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Todays ride in was pretty weird. It was a weird fog/mist light floating rain thing and for the first hour of my commute the visibility was almost nil then slowly improved. If I didn't know the streets so well it would have been really bad. It seemed all the drivers stayed home since during my whole nearly 2 hours on the road I was passed a whopping 5 times. Three of those times I actually had to pull off so the driver would pass me. It was a 4 lane road so they had plenty of room to pass and even when they did I kept pace with them till they turned off.
I had to remove the lenses out of my glasses so I could see but still have my take a look mirror to see anyone coming from behind. Of course I get to work and find out instead of 5 more days till I get what will be my pure commuter bike (giro 26) I have to wait till february or later and to ask if I wanted to cancel my order I love my xtracycle but it is slow and heavy and the wind really really puts a beating on it.
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Old 12-11-07, 02:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairlessbill View Post
I thought I was the only crazy to go out in this but I got blown away by another singlespeed mtb biker wearing rolled-up corduroys. I thought that was crazy until I passed another dude on a cruiser wearing earmuffs, a scarf, and an overcoat.

Had to go around two different bus crashes on the same street. Looked like one had skidded into its stop and onto the curb. And I thought riding the bus would be safe.

Took me a while to get used to riding with the studded tires. It's a lot of work.
Yeah, this morning was pretty fun in Denver. My 15 mile commute usually takes me an hour...took me an hour and a half this morning

I don't have studs, but seriously thought I should pick some up after today. Heck, I only ride my MTB when it's too snowy for the road bike, so I could just leave the studs on it from Nov.-Mar.

For those who don't know, Colorado got nailed. Probably 4 inches of fresh powder on my MUP, and traffic WAY slow.

I have never encountered so many rude people before. Biking in the right rut in the right lane I was honked at twice. I had nowhere else to go, but people honked nontheless! So, once I pulled into the snowbank and let the guy by, and he made some monkey motions at me and I saluted him back. Then, get this, the jagoff realizes where he's at and that he has to get in the left lane to turn anyways! Biggest problem is around Denver they made it illegal to ride on sidewalks. So, on a road like the one I was on (i.e. absolutely NO shoulder) my choice is either to ride in the gutter or the lane...and when there's a snowbank in the gutter, I'm going to ride in the lane! But people are too stubborn to get into the other lane.

Some other guy honks on a state park road, with no one else around for miles, and again I'm in the right rut of the lane...come on guy! Can't you just pass me? I seriously don't know about people sometimes.

Needless to say it was a pretty awersome commute. The cold wasn't so bad, maybe around 15degF at the house and 20degF at the office when I arrived. Stayed warm the whole way. The snow was just fun fun fun fun fun...but I need studs!
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Old 12-11-07, 03:08 PM   #18
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This thread makes me feel better about my 40 degree 5:45am commute. Thanks guys!
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Old 12-11-07, 08:30 PM   #19
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Urban -- that's what here for, a bit of virtual inspiration.

The ride home tonight was filled with varying levels of mist and fog. It was kind of cool even if it did require frequent glasses wiping sessions.
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Old 12-12-07, 06:50 PM   #20
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Ghetto studs are coming off. They're not really helping all that much. I have some Kenda Hammers going on tonight. They're basically the same tread design as WTB Velociraptors, but a little narrower (1.95 instead of 2.1)

We'll see how they handle tonight or tomorrow morning.
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Old 12-13-07, 08:05 AM   #21
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Hello everybody. It is nice to be posting on the VLCC/XCC threads again.

5 F this morning on my ride in. My feet are just thawing as I type this. Keepng my feet warm for winter riding is still eluding me. I have a studded front tire on as well. Just put it on last week. I sure slows you down, but there is a lot of ice on the roads now, so I really have no choice.
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Old 12-13-07, 08:19 AM   #22
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Well, my Kenda Hammers took the ice okay, and destroyed the snow and slush the way any mountain bike tire should be able to. They're noisy on pavement, but nothing compared to metal spikes like I rode on yesterday. I encountered some steering sluggishness/indexing on my way to work yesterday morning, and thought it was the studs making it hard to turn. This morning with the knobbies, the steerer tube binding sensation was back. When I got to my destination, I picked the bike up and rocked the steering back and forth, only to be greeted with a horrible, evil grinding noise.

I haven't determined if I'm going to put the knobbies on my other bike and take the Sorrento to the LBS, or just try to R&R the bearings myself this evening. I kept this thing lubricated, too! Freaking kansas city salt is tearing my bike up this year.
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Old 12-13-07, 12:11 PM   #23
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Nothing extreme this week, aside from a little fog one night and some wind the next. 50's and gloomy all 4 days so far here.

Another mini-question. Any part of your commute that you hate? I am fine in the mornings- wake up, pound an OJ and double espresso and roll. It's the end of the day that gets me down a bit. I have about 2 miles of riding from my office in Tysons (a ridiculously soulless, huge office park/town) to the MUP. I dread it some nights in the winter, especially with all the idiots out xmas shopping. But once I hit the MUP, I am fine for the next 10 miles, happily pedaling along.
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Old 12-13-07, 01:18 PM   #24
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This time of year I don't ride the full trip, but there are three particularly dicey/stressful parts of my usual route home when I do ride all the way.

The first is a major up-hill battle, 6 lanes (3 each direction, 45 MPH), and then in the middle of the up-hill, the outer lane turns into a right-turn-only lane. This means I have to slog up the hill, and then ride in what's apparently the "center" lane of the 3 going my direction, or else I get stuck between right-turning traffic and the gutter. To the letter of the law, taking the right side of that center lane is the correct and legal way to go. To the motorists, it looks like I'm out in the dead center of the roadway. To top it off, I'm going pretty slow up the hill. It upsets quite a few people.

Then there's the shoulder-less uphill struggle to a very short light, and it's one lane each direction. You get cars scrambling to beat you to the light so that they don't get stuck behind you (and have to wait 2 light cycles to get through it), and as I go through the intersection, a lot of people buzz me at positively ridiculous speeds in attempt to beat the yellow.

Finally, there are multiple ways I can get home, but every last one of them has a huge massive hill. I'm talking 18% grade. Not bad on my mountain bike. I could pull tree stumps with it if it had the traction. On my road bike, though, I have to build a lot of speed and keep the cadence high to get up them.

Did I mention that I hate climbing hills?
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Old 12-14-07, 09:14 PM   #25
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Mars nice to see you back on board.

Nothing extreme around here this week, although we are in line for a possible winter storm this weekend. If I could only find the time I need to do some drivetrain cleaning and maintenance this weekend. I have a feeling it is the plaintive call of many a commuter.
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