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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 08-22-08, 05:13 PM   #1
bobbyortizjr
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Why carry so much?

disclaimer: the following works for me, because i work where in an office where i can store my bike in the copy room (so i'm lucky enough to be able to leave my locks at home). i also have a gym membership which is near the office. finally, there is a great supermarket just a few blocks from my job. i'm very aware and grateful that the confluence of factors allows me to ride fairly easily to work.

that being said, i don't understand why so many commuters carry so much stuff with them, e.g., lunch, shoes, etc. i did at first and found a little planning helped me out.

work clothes:

i work in an office where i have to wear a shirt and tie...and suit a couple of days a week. i have a rear bike rack where i carry a neatly folded pair of slacks, shirt, etc. i wear a timbuk2 medium messenger bag, which i find to be infinitely more comfortable than a backpack, where i carry my wallet, cell phone, cash, etc. inside. i store 2 pairs of shoes under my desk and keep a handful of mostly neutral ties in my drawer. i'm no great style maverick, so i keep a basic blue or grey suit at the office (occassionally switching them out) i hang a towel on a hanger in the file closet.

food:

i occassionally pack lunch for a few days early in the week, e.g. sandwich meat, bread, containers of soup, bags of salad, oatmeal, peanut butter (not all at once). i also will go to the supermarket and buy food and keep it in the fridge. again, i'm lucky enough to have a fridge at the office where i can store food.

granted my situation is ideal, but a little planning can help lighten the load.
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Old 08-22-08, 05:57 PM   #2
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Your situation obviously makes things easier. I must bring my food from home, no market within walking distance at work. To lighten the load I could eat the nasty vending machine lunches at work, actually, no I couldn't. I leave shoes at work and occasionally leave clothes there and wear them again the next day. My daily load is lunch, bike necessities (tube, patch kit, etcetera), personal items (wallet, cell-phone, glasses), and clothes. The lock stays at work.
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Old 08-22-08, 05:57 PM   #3
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Daily, I carry a PB&J sandwich which I eat when I get to work, and a tupperware with leftovers. A cell phone, an ATM card and my work security card, a pair of underwear and fresh socks. A multitool and a spare tube.

Not everyone has a grocery store on their route. It would be about 4 miles out of my way to go by one, and it would also take me an extra 15 minutes to go in there, pick stuff up and buy it. THEN I'd have to prepare something versus just nuking some leftovers.

I keep a pair of jeans and 4 or 5 shirts at work; since I take a shower, put them on and then sit in an air-conditioned room all day, I only change them out every 2 or 3 weeks, I also swap out my towel on about that schedule (not all at once). A pair of sneakers that's been there for about 4 years.

There are some people at work who keep stuff in the fridges. However, there are two problems; one, if everyone did that, it wouldn't work; we have about 200 people and 4 fridges. Second, people put stuff in there and FORGET IT. Yuck. I've found liquified sandwiches and even worse stuff in there. I refuse to put my food in community fridges anymore since I've found some of that crap in there.

Seems to em like YOU are carrying a lot of stuff. Wallet? Cash? Clothes EVERY DAY? Heck, I'm not sure I even still OWN a tie.

Messenger bag? I use a cheap pannier. I'm already sweaty enough, I don't need a bag up against my body, and I'd hate to wrestle a bag on my body for 11 miles in the winter through snow and ice; I need to be nimble for when my tires get stuck in ruts so I can bunny hop out.

I carry what I need every day. I'm not sure how planning makes me not need to eat or have clothes to wear. It seems to me like YOU could plan and not have to carry clothes every day.
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Old 08-22-08, 05:58 PM   #4
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Maybe it is just me but I do not consider lunch/shoes/change of clothes as much of a load. Then again I ride to stores on my bike and will easily put 20-40lbs on my bike.
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Old 08-22-08, 05:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbyortizjr View Post
that being said, i don't understand why so many commuters carry so much stuff with them, e.g., lunch, shoes, etc
Because "so many commuters" don't see it as an issue?
Sounds like you found your routine. Great. That doesn't mean that you can assume that your routine is better than others.
Duppie

On second reading of your post, you carry a trunk bag and a messenger bag?
That what I call way overpacking...
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Old 08-22-08, 06:01 PM   #6
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I do not have to have a change of clothes at work or plan anything ahead. I pack what I need in a bag which is maybe 5lbs at most in weight. Takes me 0 time on top of what I already do for getting ready to work. If I did something like you did it would take my extra time.
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Old 08-22-08, 06:39 PM   #7
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If you don't carry a bigass bag some self-esteem challenged commuter may accuse you of being an elitist roadie.
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Old 08-22-08, 06:47 PM   #8
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As an elitist roadie I hate hauling loads back and forth. Instead I have my wife follow me in a ford f150 loaded with three spare bikes, a couple spare wheelsets, clothing, food, and a mechanic.
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Old 08-22-08, 06:54 PM   #9
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I wonder how much a used Skoda station wagon would be?

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Old 08-22-08, 06:57 PM   #10
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How about a rock racing escalade?
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Old 08-22-08, 07:13 PM   #11
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I don't need the whole gang at NASA's Mission Control to get involved in my complicated commuter plans. I just carry what I need and go to work. Geez.
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Old 08-22-08, 07:16 PM   #12
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As an elitist roadie I hate hauling loads back and forth. Instead I have my wife follow me in a ford f150 loaded with three spare bikes, a couple spare wheelsets, clothing, food, and a mechanic.
That thing better be pulling a pop-up camper with an A/C equipped bedroom and shower!
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Old 08-22-08, 07:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
There are some people at work who keep stuff in the fridges. However, there are two problems; one, if everyone did that, it wouldn't work; we have about 200 people and 4 fridges. Second, people put stuff in there and FORGET IT. Yuck. I've found liquified sandwiches and even worse stuff in there. I refuse to put my food in community fridges anymore since I've found some of that crap in there.
Wow - We used to have that issue at my work, but the management put that to a stop. Every Friday evening the cleaning crew EMPTIES the fridges. All of it is thrown away. If you leave your nice food container and forget about it, it's gone. Bought a 6 pack of cola and only had one, it's gone.

I always pack my cloths/shoes for the day. I just recently got a short locker that houses my towel/wash cloth, so I don't have that in my bag, except for getting a fresh one on Mondays. I always take food too, nothing that heavy, so it's really not that big of a deal.

Michael
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Old 08-22-08, 07:35 PM   #14
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I work in a casual office. I can wear the sneakers I ride in, and I dress casually.
So I carry nothing but a small drawstring back pack.
In it, I'll have:

-a change of clothes (jeans/slacks + polo or button shirt)
-lunch, tied in a plastic bag (apple, lean pockets/healthy choice microwave meal, and a sammich)
-toiletry travel bag in which I keep my wallet, keys, cell phone, and inhaler.
-20oz bottle of water (I still have to get a bottle cage).

Small bag, easy to wear, and pretty comfortable. It gets sweaty on my back, though. I could probably get away with a small pannier. One day...

Last edited by Big M; 08-22-08 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 08-22-08, 07:48 PM   #15
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I commute for 3 reasons: 1)I enjoy it...it's fun. 2)It's great exercise, hence the elimination of other exercise. 3)I save money.

That being said, what I carry doesn't adversely effect any of the three. In fact, it positively effects #2. I get more exercise when I am carrying my work clothes, a big, fat lunch, a raincoat, tools, spare this and that; a full light setup etc.

I weaned myself off of the bicycle computer a long time ago. I could care less about average speed, or keeping up with anybody. I ride for the three reasons.
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Old 08-22-08, 09:10 PM   #16
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Carry:
- lunch/breakfast : 1 peanut butter sandwich, small salad, container of oatmeal w/ banana, yet another banana, apple...
- clothing: pants, polyester/cotton shirt, underwear, socks, small towel, belt... all rolled tightly
- toiletries: deodorant, comb
- other: wallet, sunglasses, rain poncho, windbreaker, tire pump

Fit all of the above in a daypack which has been modified with pannier hooks so that it is fits snugly on my left rear rack.

Weight: about 11 pounds.

By this time, it's mostly all habitual. Always carry the same stuff. Never pay much attention to the weight.
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Old 08-22-08, 10:41 PM   #17
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I keep a towel, a pair of shoes, and shower supplies at work.

Lunch, clothes, and a small laptop travel with me in my messenger bag. It's a big bag so I can carry other stuff as needed (like a new towel).

There's a grocery store not far away but I don't get lunch supplies there, just snackies.

I don't plan at all. I decide on what I'm going to wear and what I'm going to have for lunch that morning. Normally it's not a problem, but I have forgotten my pants at home.

I've seen people commuting both with panniers and a backpack
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Old 08-22-08, 10:43 PM   #18
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Sounds like you've planned your work location well for biking to work. Well done.
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Old 08-22-08, 11:28 PM   #19
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The stuff is no big deal - my bike always carries the load and not my back. Having what I want when I want it is much more important than shaving a few pounds off the bike. When I bring leftovers I use a glass container as I don't like nuking in plastic and that obviously is heavier too.
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Old 08-23-08, 12:59 AM   #20
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I used to carry a huge backpack filled with my change of clothes, breakfast, lunch, necessities. Then I found out that if I leave a weeks worth of clothes at work (in a box under my desk, now a locker) and buy a sandwich from lucky's or safeway that fits perfectly in my jersey pocket I don't need to carry so much stuff. Now I look like a weight weenie clad in lycra on a daily training ride whilst commuting.

The only trouble with this is some other commuters feel obligated to prove to me how much faster they are than me just because I'm on a roadbike and in a jersey and lycra. Whatever.
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Old 08-23-08, 01:32 AM   #21
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One could always ride 4x per week and drive 1x per week with all the food/clothes/toiletries/shoes that might be needed for the whole week.
No muss, no fuss.
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Old 08-23-08, 02:23 AM   #22
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I carry a pair of dress pants and a dress shirt in my panniers, neatly folded and rolled up. I carry my tube fixing/changing tools in there as well as an old piece of cloth to wipe my hands clean. I keep my lunch box in there including my daily apple/banana. There's a USB harddisk in there somewhere as well, for all the data I need to be able to access at work as well (for instance, commuting data). That's actually most of the gear I bring with me. My cellphone is as well my radio (let's not discuss that in this forum shall we ) on the road, so that's stuffed inside my cycling tights somewhere, mostly top of my left thigh. Last but not least, I have a bottle of water in the bottle cage. So I guess I'm travelling light...

Think I might get my boss to get some more lockers though. Should be a nice solution, so I only need to carry this much on Mondays, leave a bunch of shirts and two pairs of pants at work and I'd be done for the week...
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Old 08-23-08, 05:25 AM   #23
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I teach at a college and even have access to laundry machines in the dorms. I don't have to carry all much.
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Old 08-23-08, 06:19 AM   #24
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Always an interesting subject.

I suspect most people started in cars and then moved to bikes. I didn't own a car forever. Many years. I'd probably be in the why-I-take-so-little car discussion!

It's just another vehicle. Take required spares and then whatever's needed. Think that's the way it's been since we were walking carrying sticks and sharp stones.
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Old 08-23-08, 06:28 AM   #25
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Yeah but you never know when you are going to need the coil of rope, 2 man tent and flare gun. God knows what I would have done during the flooding the other day if I'd not had this in the pannier:




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