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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 05-14-08, 08:12 AM   #1
SonataInFSharp
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Help with Detail Biking to Work

I have been trying to bike to work since around January, but I need some creative help with some issues I am trying to figure out. I feel rather guilty that I don't bike to work and I would like to bike to work at least one day a week to start and then eventually every day, at least until the baby comes.

The distance is only 17 miles one way and I have already found a perfect route, so thoses aren't issues.

I am not looking for excuses to not bike to work, but I do have a few details to work out:

1) In order to get to work on time, even averaging 14 mph I would have to get out of bed around 4:45am to get ready and get to work on time. I am an early riser, but that is pretty early, even for me, and I don't want to go to bed at 8pm the night before to avoid being tired. Any thoughts or tricks to be well rested and not have to go to bed so early to get up so early? Maybe I could take naps in the afternoon after work? My wife is a napper and I get home by 3:30pm each day, so maybe that would work.

2a) I have a very high metabolism and if I don't eat, I get dizzy and would probably faint if I bike on an empty stomach. BUT, I have a weird stomach and if I eat within an hour of waking up, I would vomit everywhere. So, what are good foods to eat moments before I head out in the morning that could hold me over until I have my real breakfast at my desk at work (which is what I do now)?

2b) I would have to have a snack before leaving work so I don't pass out on the way home in the afternoon. I wouldn't have room to carry a meal, so what types of energy-specific foods can I bring with or snack on to accommodate this issue of needing to eat enough before I ride?

As far as freshening up when I get to work, I don't care too much as I will be riding in cool weather even during the summer mornings and it's not like my co-workers don't already stink as it is (maybe I am kidding about that part).

I think those are my only two issues: getting up so early and having enough food!

Thoughts? Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-14-08, 08:18 AM   #2
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As far as eating, you can get a handlebar bag to keep snacks within easy reach. Every couple miles you could toss a chunk of granola or something in your mouth. A banana would be good to eat right before leaving, too. Energy bars might be a good idea for eating before the ride home. Read the labels though... some of those things are saturated with high calories and sugar.

Can't help you with sleep. Everyone requires a different amount. As far as the actual time your alarm goes off... that's phycological and you should get used to it.
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Old 05-14-08, 09:25 AM   #3
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I have a 15 mile commute. I get up usually at about 5:15, so we are not so different there.

I tend to eat a bananna right before heading out the door, and then have a real breakfast (cereal, bagel, yogurt, egg etc) once I get to work.

For snacks before leaving for home, I usually have a piece of fruit late in the afternoon, and a handful of nuts just before leaving. I have supper shortly after arriving at home.
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Old 05-14-08, 10:13 AM   #4
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Do you pack your food, change of clothes, riding clothes, etc the night before? I haven't yet established a habit of doing all of this the night before, but I should.

When I've done everything to prepare for the commute the night before - panniers packed and ready to go with lunch, snacks and change of clothes, riding clothes set out, breakfast set out/packed, coffee set on delay, and I've showered the night before - I can shift my sleeping schedule later by 30-45min.

For me that means going to bed at 10pm and getting up at 6am rather than 9:15pm and 5:15am. Either way I have time to read the paper, eat something, and have a cup of coffee before leaving on my bike, BUT my wife is happier when I stay up a little later with her and don't make as much noise in the morning.
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Old 05-14-08, 10:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
The distance is only 17 miles one way
I like this statement.

Quote:
1) In order to get to work on time, even averaging 14 mph I would have to get out of bed around 4:45am to get ready and get to work on time.
Someone already posted this: pack everything the night before, so all you have to do in the morning is brush teeth, take a shower, put on (already laid-out clothes) and go. This would never work for me because I love to stretch out my mornings and wake up slowly, and I also like to eat a large breakfast before heading out - but if you don't mind getting up and going right away, that could save a considerable amount of time.

Naps would help too, of course, if your body lets you nap. Not everyone can snooze in the afternoon; some people may have trouble falling asleep that early.

Also, if you only commute once a week, you can just try getting a little bit less sleep that day, and sleeping in a little bit the next day. Some people can't do it - they settle into a routine and a disruption to the pattern throws their sleeping schedules completely off. But for some it would probably work just fine.

Quote:
2a) I have a very high metabolism and if I don't eat, I get dizzy and would probably faint if I bike on an empty stomach. BUT, I have a weird stomach and if I eat within an hour of waking up, I would vomit everywhere. So, what are good foods to eat moments before I head out in the morning that could hold me over until I have my real breakfast at my desk at work (which is what I do now)?
Fruits, nuts, granola/energy bars... As someone else suggested, you can rig up a handlebar bag or so and munch on the go.

Quote:
2b) I would have to have a snack before leaving work so I don't pass out on the way home in the afternoon. I wouldn't have room to carry a meal, so what types of energy-specific foods can I bring with or snack on to accommodate this issue of needing to eat enough before I ride?
This is an easy one. There are tons of compact bars made just for this kind of situation. Or you can use nuts, dried fruits, carrots... I find dried fruits very convenient, tasty and nutritious.
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Old 05-14-08, 10:52 AM   #6
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Pack all your gear the night before so you are ready to go with no preparations in the morning. Eat something right before you go to bed and skip breakfast (or eat/drink something you stomach will allow). Then eat a better breakfast once you get to work.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:08 AM   #7
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I have my water bottle filled 1/3 fruit juice 2/3 water. My commute it 17 miles, but I always have a bowl of cereal and a drink of orangfe juice before I leave. I suggest you eat a banana or 2 as you ride. A granola bar would be a good snack before you return. Take your shower and sleep after you get to work. Pack your stuff and pump the tires the night before.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:15 AM   #8
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17 miles is not a small commute unless you're already fit. I'd drive half the way and start from there and commute 2-3 times a week instead. It will be faster and you will get your pace. You will know and feel how much time your commute takes. The point is to increase your mileage as you become more familiar and know and feel how your commute will go. IMO it's better to do a smaller distance 2-3 times a week then a long distance once a week; training-wise. It's also better for adaptation.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:20 AM   #9
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I used to get up super early for rowing practices in high school. 4:30 was the norm, like you. These were high-intensity workouts, and I needed to eat of course!

My solution after bonking my Cheerios one too many times... was 2 slices of whole-wheat toast and peanut butter. Kept me going till almost 9AM when school began. I would then have a nice big lunch that I prepared the day before.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:29 AM   #10
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Why not consider driving half and riding half to give you an adjustment period for the time and mileage.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:40 AM   #11
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I do 17 miles one way leaving between 5:30 to 6 am in the morning. All I have before I leave is a breakfast shake - 8 ounces fat free milk, spiroutein mix, some ground flax seeds - and coffee.

fresh fruit, dried fruits, granola and nuts are great for the pick me up snack before the ride home.

I also carry fruit leathers in my waist pack in case of energy drain during the ride. They are very small, all natural, keep forever and do the job.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
I have been trying to bike to work since around January, but I need some creative help with some issues I am trying to figure out. I feel rather guilty that I don't bike to work and I would like to bike to work at least one day a week to start and then eventually every day, at least until the baby comes.

The distance is only 17 miles one way and I have already found a perfect route, so thoses aren't issues.

I am not looking for excuses to not bike to work, but I do have a few details to work out:

1) In order to get to work on time, even averaging 14 mph I would have to get out of bed around 4:45am to get ready and get to work on time. I am an early riser, but that is pretty early, even for me, and I don't want to go to bed at 8pm the night before to avoid being tired. Any thoughts or tricks to be well rested and not have to go to bed so early to get up so early? Maybe I could take naps in the afternoon after work? My wife is a napper and I get home by 3:30pm each day, so maybe that would work.

2a) I have a very high metabolism and if I don't eat, I get dizzy and would probably faint if I bike on an empty stomach. BUT, I have a weird stomach and if I eat within an hour of waking up, I would vomit everywhere. So, what are good foods to eat moments before I head out in the morning that could hold me over until I have my real breakfast at my desk at work (which is what I do now)?

2b) I would have to have a snack before leaving work so I don't pass out on the way home in the afternoon. I wouldn't have room to carry a meal, so what types of energy-specific foods can I bring with or snack on to accommodate this issue of needing to eat enough before I ride?

As far as freshening up when I get to work, I don't care too much as I will be riding in cool weather even during the summer mornings and it's not like my co-workers don't already stink as it is (maybe I am kidding about that part).

I think those are my only two issues: getting up so early and having enough food!

Thoughts? Thanks in advance!

1) My commute is also 17 miles one way. I'm usually out the door by 4:20 am and around at work around 5:40 or so. I start at 6am. I really feel if you want to do this you will eventually be forced by your body to go to bed earlier than you like. Yes, you could drive part way, but I assume from your post that might not be within your interest. I think you will have to figure this one out for yourself.

2) What about eating a banana or just a granola bar? Or take one with you. If you are starting to feel queezy, stuff your face. I usually don't eat before I ride so I can't help you there.
2b) Once again, I tend to stick with fruit as an energy provider.
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Old 05-14-08, 12:15 PM   #13
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Some great ideas and a lot of similar information regarding the food, so I plan to take your suggestions very seriously.

Regarding driving partway, I typically ride 25+ miles every day just for fun without ever stopping, so the commute distance is no problem. I ride my 25 miles after work and after dinner; that is the difference in this case when compared to commuting to work.

I figure I am going to start with bananas tomorrow and tweak the diet as I commute more; if I do so. My wife and I eat pretty healthy as it is, so none of the foods suggested intimidate me.

Thanks again!
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