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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 09-19-08, 09:03 AM   #1
dcrowell
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Staying Motivated

I started commuting earlier this year. I was riding an average of 3 days a week. I did it long enough that it became habit.

Last week I had to travel for work, and didn't ride at all. This week, I skipped Monday because of debris everywhere from the windstorm. I rode Tuesday, but I haven't ridden since.

Today, I overslept. I had planned on riding. I've found my motivation lacking. I thought it would get easier as time went by.

I do have a 33-mile round-trip, and the mornings are getting cooler and darker. Financially, I have incentive. Parking just went up to $7 per day, plus I use $4 to $6 in gas per day (depending on which car I drive). So everyday I ride, I save at least $11. Yet I still find it hard to get on the bike in the morning.

On days that I do ride, I feel great when I get to work, but I dread the ride home.

How do I get past this?
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Old 09-19-08, 09:23 AM   #2
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Man I have so much fun riding a bike I can't imagine needing more motivation.

What is it that you dread? Is it the effort? Traffic? Something hurting? Maybe we can help address the symptoms.
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Old 09-19-08, 09:26 AM   #3
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I was kind of in that boat this morning. Hadn't slept well. Wasn't sure I wanted to ride in.

GLAD I DID.
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Old 09-19-08, 09:28 AM   #4
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My motivation is that driving sucks, and riding a bike is great fun. ONE TIME EVER have I ridden my bike and wished I'd driven; on that day we had 9 inches of snow the night before and the plows weren't through yet. I was having to walk up hills, and actually pedal to go DOWN them due to the weight of the snow. It was only about 3 miles until I reached plowed pavement.

Other than that, I've never driven and not wished I'd ridden, and I've never ridden and wished I'd driven. That includes bad weather; -25*F temps, thunderstorms, hail, whatever ya got, I'll enjoy it.

This time of year I'm driving twice a week because my daughter needs to go in for early marching band practice. Even then sometimes I rack my bike, park the car at the school and ride from there.

I have NO DESIRE to drive when there's any choice in the matter.
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Old 09-19-08, 09:33 AM   #5
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Man I have so much fun riding a bike I can't imagine needing more motivation.

What is it that you dread? Is it the effort? Traffic? Something hurting? Maybe we can help address the symptoms.
Well, I bought a recumbent for comfort, so that's not an issue.

Part of it is time. The round-trip is 3 hours per day. That leaves little time for anything else. I also have to get up earlier. My bicycle commute is not faster than by car. I don't have quite the traffic issues that some of you do.

Part of it is traffic. About 7 miles of my ride is 4-lane divided highway with fast traffic. I have to ride on the shoulder there. A small section of that has an extremely narrow shoulder. Oh, yeah, and an interchange with a freeway. Dealing with ramp traffic is a pain.

I have ridden a couple of alternate routes, but they are all longer, hillier, and have no shoulder (but I can take the lane). There are also blind curves. Also, being more rural, I've had stuff thrown at me on that route.

The darkness in the morning is bad. I have lights, but I still feel a lot more vulnerable in the dark.

I really want to move closer to work. I'd need to sell my house to do it, and I've got to wait for my divorce to be final before I do that. I can't afford to rent a place and pay my mortgage at the same time, so that's out.

I'm doing this for weight loss, and general fitness. I own two cars, and will probably always own at least one. I'd like to save the driving the car for long trips though.
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Old 09-19-08, 09:35 AM   #6
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Money.

Seriously.

Money.

Every day I ride, I take the money that I would have spent on gas and put it into a special fund (a jar, actually) and save that money for a new bike. And every time I add money to the jar, I count up the total.
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Old 09-19-08, 09:37 AM   #7
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Good habits like Riding and running are easy to get out of. You just have to stay on top of it. I have been commuting by bike since July 07 and there are days I get up and just don't feel like it but once I start to get ready for work I slip on the bike shoes and just get into the pre-ride routine.
As far as getting motivated for the ride home it sounds like you are not to thrilled about going home? Maybe if you had some sort of incentive to going home like a hobby. Or if you are married something to do with your significant other like some sort of group activity.
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Old 09-19-08, 09:46 AM   #8
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Good habits like Riding and running are easy to get out of. You just have to stay on top of it. I have been commuting by bike since July 07 and there are days I get up and just don't feel like it but once I start to get ready for work I slip on the bike shoes and just get into the pre-ride routine.
As far as getting motivated for the ride home it sounds like you are not to thrilled about going home? Maybe if you had some sort of incentive to going home like a hobby. Or if you are married something to do with your significant other like some sort of group activity.
Maybe I need to have someone hide the car keys for a week

Back in early August, I had considered making September car-free. That sure didn't happen.

Most of my issue with the ride home is that it's slightly more uphill than the ride to work. I arrive at work feeling good. I arrive at home completely drained.

I live alone now other than my dogs. I do enjoy being at home. It's the traveling part that bothers me. I don't like driving, but it's easier than biking, and takes less time.

Short-term answer is "just do it"

Mid-term is move closer to work.

Long-term is get rid of one of the cars.
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Old 09-19-08, 10:06 AM   #9
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Every day I ride, I take the money that I would have spent on gas and put it into a special fund (a jar, actually) and save that money for a new bike. And every time I add money to the jar, I count up the total.
I did that in my first couple years, to keep me going. In those days, it was only about a dollar a trip, so I would get some dollar coins from the bank and put one in a jar each day I rode. Then once in a while I would empty out the jar on the table and count them, like a little pirate with his gold coins.

Now, to keep the motivation up, I buy bike stuff, although I'm running out of excuses in that area now.

Fifteen miles one way could be a bit of a drag after a while, I suppose. But for me, if I were saving $11 EVERY DAY, which is over $2500 a year (assuming one rode every day), I would be motivated by that alone. I would consider making it a personal goal to ride every single day for two years, keep track of the money saved, and after two years and $5000, buy an Aerorider (www.aerorider.com).
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Old 09-19-08, 10:11 AM   #10
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Fifteen miles one way could be a bit of a drag after a while, I suppose. But for me, if I were saving $11 EVERY DAY, which is over $2500 a year (assuming one rode every day), I would be motivated by that alone. I would consider making it a personal goal to ride every single day for two years, keep track of the money saved, and after two years and $5000, buy an Aerorider (www.aerorider.com).
Now that is a worthy goal to get behind.

Last edited by harleyfrog; 09-19-08 at 10:49 AM. Reason: Corrected typo
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Old 09-19-08, 10:24 AM   #11
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Do it five days a week until it becomes habit. (Approx 5 months). Cognative dissonance will do the rest. Eventually, you'll feel weird not riding in.
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Old 09-19-08, 10:28 AM   #12
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Yup, do it 'till it's a habit. The amount of time it takes to become one will depend on how motivated you are to make it one. I came to grad school determined to ride to class, so once my parents got me a bike, it was easy. Now I ride back and forth about ten times a week. My round trip is less than four miles, though, so at 40 miles per week, it's considerably less than what you're doing. If you're comfortable with music, I recommend a set of quality earphones and an iPod filled with albums you like. That got me through walking everywhere in undergrad, and it's getting me through biking to class in grad school.
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Old 09-19-08, 10:56 AM   #13
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Riding to work

You might just be over trained...............take a few days off from riding. Reduce your effort and slow down when you do ride to avoid burnout. Don't feel guilty about not riding, especially if you are doing it for weight loss. You might want to mix up your exercise efforts to include some weight training or some other activity that you enjoy on the days you don't ride or in place of riding now and then. I ride 17 miles round trip per day and sometimes 54 miles if I start from my doorstep. I do the full commute very infrequently however. I know what you are talking about as far as the ride home. Last night I worked until after dark and rode the 8.5 miles back to my car. It was the first time in a long time that I have ridden this late and I was nervous about it, plus, I have been having some sciatic nerve problems that have been hampering my riding. I am being forced to take time off the bike to heal. Its downright scary to ride in the dark on busy roads when you aren't feeling your best. I will continue to commute through November here in the Northwest weather permitting and will ride on the weekends some to maintain my aerobic conditioning but will supplement with other activities to avoid burnout or more injuries due to the one dimensional routine of cycling only.
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Old 09-19-08, 11:13 AM   #14
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Movement begets movement. Every day, barring some legitimate excuse. You'll suddenly find yourself motivated.
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Old 09-19-08, 11:43 AM   #15
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The safety issue is important and if you're riding in the dark on a busy road where you don't feel safe, that's going to provide another excuse not to do it.

But that you're considering moving closer to work shows your dedication. I know I had to force myself some mornings -- because I was tired, because it was cold out -- but once I got started I was so happy I did.

So shut off your brain 3 mornings a week. Start getting into your bike clothes without thinking about it and before you know it you'll be pedalling.
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Old 09-19-08, 11:45 AM   #16
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I just enjoy riding in the mornings instead of sitting in a car or standing on the overcrowded bus.. I don't really have a motivation problem.
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Old 09-19-08, 11:48 AM   #17
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I'm going to do some recreation riding this weekend. I'm trying to decide whether or not to ride all five days next week though.

I'll followup next week.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by harleyfrog View Post
Money.

Seriously.

Money.

Every day I ride, I take the money that I would have spent on gas and put it into a special fund (a jar, actually) and save that money for a new bike. And every time I add money to the jar, I count up the total.
I was going to say something similar. Rather than being purely practical, have fun with that $11. Put it in a fund for a new bike, new bike toys, a vacation, or whatever fun stuff you like to spend your money on. I guess that changes it from a savings of $11 a day to spending $11 a day on fun stuff, but what's wrong with that.

From the cycling angle try switching your route. If you have a computer try a slow relaxed pace one day, keep track of your best time and try to beat it another day. Find a ride partner if you can. If you have the type of bike that can handle it take it off road, try some jumps, hop some curbs, etc. See what animals, wild-life, plants, etc. you can locate on your ride and go read about them so you can know more about the environment you're riding in, and then try to find new ones on subsequent rides. The point is to find little ways to switch things up to keep them interesting. Seems to be working for me so far.

I know for me I have no problems with motivation in the afternoons, after all I have no choice and need to get home. The mornings can be hard some times. The hard part is only the first 5 minutes, after that I'm having fun and always happy I'm on the bike. If you're the same way just remind yourself to suck it up for the first 5 minutes and you'll be fine.

Good luck!
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Old 09-19-08, 12:18 PM   #19
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Becoming physically addicted to bicycling to work has been my biggest motivator. I simply become grumpy and restless when I don't ride. I love my ride in, and love riding home, it's that simple.

Living in Seattle I don't get the kind of weather you have in Kentucky, but we still get good wind storms and lots of rain. The only thing that stops me is the occasional snow and ice in the winter, or when wind gusts are over 40 mph.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:21 PM   #20
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The mirror and my wallet are all the motivation I need. That being said I burn out a couple times a year and take a break. Boring myself to tears on mass transit has a funny way of motivating you. That and seeing others out and about on their bikes.
Strangely enough, I have not burned out since last year.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:24 PM   #21
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I've been on a bit of a spending freeze. I've put too much money into bike stuff this year. However, I do need fenders for the recumbent, and better lights. I do have two PB superflashes on the back, but my headlight is a Trek Ion 6... probably fine for being seen, but not good for lighting up the road.

Anyway, my LWB recumbent throws rainwater (and sometimes sand) directly into my face... so I went ahead and ordered fenders for it.

I'm still trying to decide on a lighting system. I've thought about a homebrew setup with a SLA battery, to keep things cheap, but I really like the DiNotte lights.

Spending is one of my vices. It does keep me motivated though.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:31 PM   #22
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Maybe I need to have someone hide the car keys for a week

Most of my issue with the ride home is that it's slightly more uphill than the ride to work. I arrive at work feeling good. I arrive at home completely drained.
I sometimes drive to work with the bike on the car. Then bike home and back to the office the next day where the bike goes back on the rack and I drive home. I do it to shuttle things to and form the office or to get the car to the office because I need it for something during the day. But I don't get the exhausted feeling I have sometimes with two rides in a day.

If such a plan is workable for you, you could just do that on a regular basis. You get a savings over a car only commute. You get exercise for the weight loss you wanted. You get back some of the 3 hours you were using for the commute by bike everyday ....

Another option is maybe drive partway and bike the rest.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:33 PM   #23
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Drive in to work a few days in a row. Sit and be frustrated by traffic for about an hour each day. Other motivation: Bike Bux. It doesn't have to be "dollars saved." Pay yourself maybe $.10 a mile. Use your "earned" money on bike stuff. (jersey, new tires, save up for a whole new bike even! It can take a long time to "earn" a bike in "bike bux." When you realize how long it is going to take and that each bike commute makes a difference in reaching your goal, you might be more motivated to ride in.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:38 PM   #24
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I sometimes drive to work with the bike on the car. Then bike home and back to the office the next day where the bike goes back on the rack and I drive home. I do it to shuttle things to and form the office or to get the car to the office because I need it for something during the day. But I don't get the exhausted feeling I have sometimes with two rides in a day.

If such a plan is workable for you, you could just do that on a regular basis. You get a savings over a car only commute. You get exercise for the weight loss you wanted. You get back some of the 3 hours you were using for the commute by bike everyday ....

Another option is maybe drive partway and bike the rest.
I started by driving part of the way, parking in a strip-mall parking lot, and riding from there.

It worked well, and maybe I should do that on days that I can't motivate myself, or when I oversleep. It does require that I ride my hybrid though... the recumbent doesn't fit on my car.

Leaving my car at work isn't an option. I would have to pay for parking, and it's not safe overnight.
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Old 09-19-08, 01:02 PM   #25
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I ride primarily because I enjoy it. Sounds like your distance is the biggest problem. Maybe commute just 1 day a week for a while.
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