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  1. #1
    Uninformed Informer
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    Questionable starting commute

    Ok, so after a few set backs on my used bike I've been back in the saddle for a little over 3 weeks now, took it easy the first week riding every other day, second week I rode 2 days with 1 day rest, and finally this last week I rode every day but today as my rest day. I average about 5-6 miles and will probably keep this pace for the next week or so.

    Here's my question. My commute to work is 10 miles one way with a bunch of steep hills, like 3% for a mile followed by a slight decline and then 4% for another half mile then I believe it goes to a whopping 8% for a quarter mile. After that I get a nice rolling hill'd decent for about a mile and a half followed by uphill the rest of the way to work. My question is should I train up to the 10 mile mark around the house and on some of the local hills or just dive right in when I can maintain a steady 8 miles?

    The reason I ask is because I want to start riding ASAP but don't want to kill myself in the process(still have to function at work and be able to make my night classes.)

    Your advice is greatly appreciated
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  2. #2
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Well, I'd train around the house as a starter, it can't hurt. But mostly, I'd do a ride to work on a weekend day and see just how long it actually takes. Don't kill yourself, you want a worst case time, so just plod along at a speed that you know you can do. Use that as a base time for commuting.

    Then you know that you can make it and allow that amount of time to get there. As you get into better shape, you will arrive at work earlier and earlier.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  3. #3
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    ok, i'll probably do that in the next few weeks, should I have a friend pick me up at the end or do the full 20 mile round trip? (I can leave my bike at work if i need to)
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  4. #4
    Arrogant Safety Nanny
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    Can you go to www.gmap-pedometer.com and give us a map with elevation to better show your route?

  5. #5
    What is this demonry?! Szczuldo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal Commute View Post
    ok, i'll probably do that in the next few weeks, should I have a friend pick me up at the end or do the full 20 mile round trip? (I can leave my bike at work if i need to)
    do the full 20 miles, you're lucky you have hills on your commute, it's nothing but flat here. Even if you are out of shape as you say it'll be better in the long run to do the 20 miles entirely. Don't wuss out, that'll only encourage such behaviour and you'll do it over and over again.

  6. #6
    my legs are carbon thebeatcatcher's Avatar
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    allow plenty of time and do it all. first ride is the hardest, and therefore one of the most rewarding.

  7. #7
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    ^^^^ Allow plenty of time, alot maybe 5 minutes per mile,
    and spin in a gear lower than you think you need.
    At mile eight you will be glad you did !
    Good luck.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Painted Pony's Avatar
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    It is hard to give advice without knowing your current conditioning, weight, bike experience, age, etc. If the farthest you've ridden is 4-6 miles without all your commuting gear you may want to consider riding one way and driving the other, or riding one day driving the next until you are conditioned for the 20 miles round trip. If you have a friend that would give you a ride one way each day I think that's great! Some people even drive halfway to work with their bikes on the back of the car and then ride the other half the distance. You might consider that if you feel you have the time and desire to do so for a 10 mile route.

    Examples:
    Drive to work on Monday with bike on back of car & ride home. Ride to work Tuesday morning and drive home, etc. Repeat until you feel the one-way ride is easy for you to complete. Or you can simply ride to and from on Mondays, drive Tuesdays, etc. but this requires the conditioning to make the 20 miles with hills in a day & that may not be where you are just yet.

    The idea is not to hurt to much at the end of each day, and if you end the day wanting more time in the saddle you have ended the day with it being fun (I hope that makes sense). If you are getting in to exercise at an older age it is harder to recover from the exercise. If you start out with to much it is possible to hurt to the point that you do not enjoy the ride...and stop doing it...or hurt yourself.

    I do agree that riding the route to work before you actually attempt it on a work day is a very good idea. It gives you a chance to "work out the bugs" in your plan before the real deal. I would also recommend you ride hills around your house to get used to the hills on your ride. Riding 8-10 flat miles is not the same as 8-10 hilly miles if you are a beginner.
    GOOD LUCK!

  9. #9
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    ok, heres all the info requested.

    First, map of my commute

    second my condition: I am 280 lbs and been riding for the last 3 weeks with my full commute gear trying to get into shape for the first real ride.

    As far as experience goes, I rode my bike for my entire childhood. This includes all the way up to 18 when I got my license. I was 200 back then and in the last 4 years, not paying attention to what i eat or taking care of my body got me where i am. I am mainly doing this to get back in shape with the "gas money" thing being a close second. I have already taken care of the eating issues that plagued me and excersize is the last step. Since I'm a student with a demanding job I don't really have time to go to the gym everyday and the commute seemed like a good alternative.

    I wish I could do what a lot of people do and drive partway but I need my car for work and plan on leaving it there and commute on the bike. I do plan on starting out driving to work then riding home and switching days, I just needed some advise as far as taking that first leap.

    Thanks guys
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  10. #10
    Irvine Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post

    Then you know that you can make it and allow that amount of time to get there. As you get into better shape, you will arrive at work earlier and earlier.
    Yeah this is very much true. When I first started biking to work I would leave at like 5:15 or 5:20 if I had to be at work at 6:00 (it doesn't actually take that long but I need time to change and whipe down). Now I find myself leaving at 5:30ish and still arriving at about the same time.

    You can do it! But yeah practice once or twice before you do it on a work day. I don't know what kinda business you work at but like I work at a pharmacy. So what I do is I have a backpack and I put my work clothes in it and then when I get to work I go to the bathroom, whipe down and change my clothes.
    Last edited by SirGrant; 11-02-08 at 11:55 AM.
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  11. #11
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal Commute View Post
    ok, heres all the info requested.

    First, map of my commute

    second my condition: I am 280 lbs and been riding for the last 3 weeks with my full commute gear trying to get into shape for the first real ride.

    Fabulous that you've made this first step !!

    It is going to be ruff at first. STICK WITH IT !!!!!

    Also, do a flat repair in the comfort of your house. Just go through the
    motions so you are prepared on the road. They hit at the worst times.
    Hint: You usually do not have to pull the wheel off.
    Look in the archives for what tools you will need and proper lighting.
    Be safe !

  12. #12
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirGrant View Post
    Yeah this is very much true. When I first started biking to work I would leave at like 5:15 or 5:20 if I had to be at work at 6:00 (it doesn't actually take that long but I need time to change and wipe down). Now I find myself leaving at 5:30ish and still arriving at about the same time.
    That's a very good point. On my last commute that was 9 miles each way, I'd add 15 minutes onto my commute time and leave then. That extra 15 minutes gave me time to repair a flat en route if necessary and on most days, it provided time for me to cool down and wash myself. The company had a zero tolerance for lateness. So it was important.

    One time, the bearing race on my bottom bracket gave out on the way to work. With the crank assembly flopping around I couldn't pedal. So I did the last 4 miles using my bike as a scooter, and kicking it along. With the extra 15 minutes I had allowed, I made it on time, punching in at exactly 7 am.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal Commute View Post
    ok, heres all the info requested.

    First, map of my commute
    Not knowing the area or anything, but taking a glance at the map. Can you take a better route?
    Kinda looks like you head way north then back south.
    That's something you (or others around there) would be able to help with. Just a quick observation from me.

    my commute is similiar style. Up, down, up, up, up, down, down, down, etc. All the way in and home. It's about 8 miles. I just picked a day I wasn't working and tested my route. The following friday, I made my first run. Rode in and out. It was awesome. I've been hooked since
    I went right into 5 days a week. In retrospect, I'd suggest doing two days a week, then 3 days a week, then 5. My legs were toast for about 6 weeks. I had to take almost a week off to let them recuperate, then I was able to continue my 5 day a week routine.

  14. #14
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal Commute View Post
    ok, heres all the info requested.

    First, map of my commute
    Yeah, I used to live in Rancho Penasquitos. Thats quite a climb up Black Mountain Rd. So it made me curious and I used bikely to plot out potential alternatives. Quite an evil landscape there. There is no way to avoid the climbs.

    But the best alternative I found was to head south from school and over Carroll Canyon Rd. to Pomerado. It's a little bit shorter and no hillier.

    Here are the stats according to Bikely.
    Via Pomerado
    Total climb: 577ftTotal descent: 597ft 7.4 miles

    Via Black Mountain
    Total climb: 596ftTotal descent: 629ft 8.5 miles

    Am I correct in assuming that you live in Poway, work in Rancho Penasquitos and go to school at Miramar? Still you'd be able to head back home via Pomerado and save yourself a little time.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  15. #15
    Uninformed Informer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    Yeah, I used to live in Rancho Penasquitos. Thats quite a climb up Black Mountain Rd. So it made me curious and I used bikely to plot out potential alternatives. Quite an evil landscape there. There is no way to avoid the climbs.

    But the best alternative I found was to head south from school and over Carroll Canyon Rd. to Pomerado. It's a little bit shorter and no hillier.

    Here are the stats according to Bikely.
    Via Pomerado
    Total climb: 577ftTotal descent: 597ft 7.4 miles

    Via Black Mountain
    Total climb: 596ftTotal descent: 629ft 8.5 miles

    Am I correct in assuming that you live in Poway, work in Rancho Penasquitos and go to school at Miramar? Still you'd be able to head back home via Pomerado and save yourself a little time.
    wow, that is insanely helpful. I drove both routes and it seemed that black mountain was the easier route... must have been an illusion. Thanks for the info, new route will be pomerado.
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  16. #16
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    The other option is to fit a bike rack to your car. Drive part way and ride the rest. I'd get a bike rack anyway, it's the most liberating thing you can do for your cycling as it means you aren't restricted to riding from home. In my case, that means I can avoid hills if I want (in my area, I can tell when I'm in my driveway because it's the only place in the area that's flat).

    My commute from home is 22km with a really steep hill (just under the 10%) about 6km in followed by a 2km stretch where you're on a multi-lane road with the a speed limit of 80km/hr - scary and dangerous.

    Although I have the fitness and strength to ride the full distance, I park just after that scary bit. This reduces my commute to 11km (or half an hour) which is easy, doable and helps with the fitness. It avoids the opportunity to become road kill and means I don't have to climb that big hill on the way home. I don't mind the hill and ride it periodically, but at the end of a long day, I can do without it.

    Richard
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    The other option is to fit a bike rack to your car. Drive part way and ride the rest. I'd get a bike rack anyway, it's the most liberating thing you can do for your cycling as it means you aren't restricted to riding from home. In my case, that means I can avoid hills if I want (in my area, I can tell when I'm in my driveway because it's the only place in the area that's flat).

    My commute from home is 22km with a really steep hill (just under the 10%) about 6km in followed by a 2km stretch where you're on a multi-lane road with the a speed limit of 80km/hr - scary and dangerous.

    Although I have the fitness and strength to ride the full distance, I park just after that scary bit. This reduces my commute to 11km (or half an hour) which is easy, doable and helps with the fitness. It avoids the opportunity to become road kill and means I don't have to climb that big hill on the way home. I don't mind the hill and ride it periodically, but at the end of a long day, I can do without it.

    Richard
    I agree that that would be ideal but unfortunately I need my car at work so I have the option of riding the whole way or none of it
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  18. #18
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal Commute View Post
    wow, that is insanely helpful. I drove both routes and it seemed that black mountain was the easier route... must have been an illusion. Thanks for the info, new route will be pomerado.
    Well, since there is just a little less climbing and one mile less to do it in via Pomerado, it may be a little steeper or at least seem that way. I looked at all the other routes, and they all seemed to have at least one insane hill. Once you are in shape you might consider them because the shortest ones went around the reservoir. But I wouldn't start that way.

    Have a good commute.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Grim's Avatar
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    First off...good for you!

    There are many stories of people starting out like you. Guy local to me just finished his second year of commuting and rolled 10,000 miles in the process. I believe he said he was 300lb when he started. Think he is down to 180 now.

    I'm not going to kid you. Starting out and being out of shape you are going to think you are dying but it does get easier. I'd say if you are up to 8 miles then just go for it. Every other days is not bad. The first few weeks you are going to be sore and having a recovery day is not a bad idea.

    I don't know who said this but it is true. "The more you ride the more you can ride".


    You can always stop and rest. There is no shame in it. Just take your time and learn the gears. Sometimes the easy to peddle gear will wear you out more then the higher gear. If you have a cadence meter shoot for 60-70 on the flats and around 80 on the hills.

    I got some booger hills and ride almost every day. Rain is where I draw the line. getting buzzed is bad enough with good visibility around here its just not worth the risk the way idiots around here drive to ride in poor visibility. I have a couple hills I have to take in traffic. I hit them hard trying to get up them between groupings. I often pull off at the first drive at the top of the hill to catch my breath and take in some water. Thats after commuting since May.

    I was 240 in Feb and 202.5 this morning.

  20. #20
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    SoCal Commute,
    There still might be way of driving part way and biking part way if that is what you want (at least at first or sometimes) and still have the car available at work. Instead of driving the first part of the way to work and then biking the rest, switch the order and bike the first part of the way to work and drive the second part, having your car at work during the work day.

    The potential problems with my suggestion are 1) you only have your bike available at home during the work week and would have to use it to get everywhere other than work, 2) I don't know if you get to school from work or home and how that would affect things, and 3) if there is bad weather you would be forced to bike to the car to get to work anyway. So you might have to carefully lay out which days to do this.

  21. #21
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Just ride, baby!

    Do it on an off-day the first time. Ride to work. Allow for a little rest time. Then head home. I did that and felt like I was going to die the first time I did it. But knowing I could ride twice as far as my normal commute all at once made the commute seem that much easier.

    Make sure you take, and drink, plenty of water.
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    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  22. #22
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    SoCal Commute,

    It seems like we have similar commutes! (sort of). I'm further west along the 5 into Sorrento Valley and up into Mira Mesa, so it's similar altitude changes. I completely agree that for a short ride it's a lot of hills!

    About 2.5 months ago I started commuting by bike--first 2 days a week, now up to about 4 days a week (hoping to go all 5). I found the easiest thing to do was just go for it. The first day is tough but it's only easier after that. And there's nothing wrong with walking parts of hills--when I switched from a 21spd MTB to a 14spd road bike I missed that third gear.

    Good luck. Unfortunately there's no way to avoid the hills around here, but I'm sure you're capable of conquering them.

    PS: If anything, I feel more energized on days I ride as opposed to more tired. I can even be awake for 2 hours before I have my coffee.

  23. #23
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    The hills are a lot easier if you dont have to pull a lot of weight. Apart from your own weight, you can save a lot by keeping a lot of stuff at work - towel, shoes, lock, pants, shampoo etc. If you regularly ride to several places, keep a lock at each - several keys are a lot lighter than a decent lock. I carry a light lock on my bike incase I have to make a quick stop on the way. Also it is easier if the weight is on a rack on the back of the bike, rather than on your back. After the climbs, I find I get a quicker recovery if I keep pedaling at a low effort on the downhills. The cycling hasnt done anything for my weight over the past 37 years but it has made life a lot more enjoyable.

  24. #24
    Senior Moment bikegeek57's Avatar
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    good idea about reversing the order. will also teach you to think twice about just a quick trip to the store. a short 20 minute ride to the car should not deter you for real need but could be a real money and gas saver for frivolous trips. you would benefit every time you took the car out. something for me to consider.

  25. #25
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    >The reason I ask is because I want to start riding ASAP

    There's your answer. Start. Go. Get up early. Take it easy. Do it on a Friday. If you can't face the commute home, find another way home.

    Steve

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