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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 09-17-09, 10:56 AM   #1
ThinkQuixote
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25 mile hilly weekly commute

Hey Everyone,
I have been playing with the concept of using a bicycle for my once-a-week trip to visit my in-laws, about 25 miles away. The problem however is that I live in a rather hilly area (Appalachian area of VA), and am not sure if the idea is feasibly practical. Assuming it could be somewhat realistically done however, what sort of bike would you recommend for the journey? My thinking on the subject is that a lightweight road bike would be less to heft up the hills, a mountain bike would be cheaper and lower geared but slower, and an old touring bike would be a compromise but harder to find. As far as additional information goes, the roads are not very busy and aren't too horribly rife with potholes and my budget is perhaps $250 (eliminating the possibility of any "new" bike). Thanks for any advice you can give!

-Matt
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Old 09-17-09, 11:51 AM   #2
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In the sharply-steep Appalachians, I'd think you'd be better off with a solid, older MTB and some slick tires. In case you're in a windy area - if you can manage a riser stem and drop bars on it for your budget, even better.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:57 AM   #3
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Are you carrying stuff? If not, I'd probably go with the lightweight road bike. 25 miles seems like a long way on a mountain bike to me.
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Old 09-17-09, 12:04 PM   #4
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I went to college in that area, (Harrisonburg) and it's brutal, but 25 miles is quite doable. I would NOT use a mountain bike. You want skinny tires (assuming you're not going through any of the parts where the roads are suddenly not paved for no apparent reason) and drops for the massive, MASSIVE hills that you will encounter on a regular basis. Just get used to not coasting, you'll spend all your time either climbing a hill or flying down one trying to gain momentum for the next hill, but you'll get used to it.
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Old 09-17-09, 02:05 PM   #5
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I'd use a touring bike, preferably with brifters. I live in the Alps where we have a number of steep hills and the low gearing + drop bars + brifters + rugged but not too heavy tires make a really nice combination, IMO.
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Old 09-17-09, 03:23 PM   #6
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Are you carrying stuff? If not, I'd probably go with the lightweight road bike. 25 miles seems like a long way on a mountain bike to me.
I agree. This may be just my experience, but I could never go much over 15 miles on my MTB without getting numb hands. I went 25 one day and my nerves were damaged. I didn't get full feeling back for a couple of weeks.
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Old 09-17-09, 04:11 PM   #7
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Denali review
Some people may string me up for suggesting these bikes, so read this thread and make up your own mind. I don't know I've never ridden one, and only seen one up close and personal.
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Old 09-17-09, 05:25 PM   #8
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I agree. This may be just my experience, but I could never go much over 15 miles on my MTB without getting numb hands. I went 25 one day and my nerves were damaged. I didn't get full feeling back for a couple of weeks.
Nice avatar. You seeing them on this tour?

/offtopic
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Old 09-17-09, 05:31 PM   #9
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Nice avatar. You seeing them on this tour?

/offtopic
I wish. I think the closest they're coming to Texas is Pennsylvania. I saw them in Houston in 2007 though. Awesome.
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Old 09-17-09, 07:01 PM   #10
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25 miles can be a pretty solid ride. I remember when I first started I did 18 very hilly miles in one day, with about 3 weeks of daily riding under my belt, (3 mile commute at the time) and had to take 2 recovery days.

If you're doing regular riding, then 25 miles in a day is a pretty comfortable distance, and easily done.

My suggestion, if this is the only cycling you're considering, is to borrow a bike if you can, or get a cheap CL bike that you can resell at the same price just to see how you feel about it.
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Old 09-18-09, 12:26 AM   #11
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When you get your bike, maybe a good idea to ride it around those brutal hills for a few weeks to get accustomed to your new ride before you attempt the 25 mile ride (I assume you're gonna ride 25 miles back home on the same day?). Like the other guys asked, do you need to carry rack/panniers? If not, then road bike.
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Old 09-18-09, 06:58 AM   #12
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You want a Cheap road bike with a Triple crank. You might be able to find an old steel framed touring bike for $250, but it won't be light weight by today's standards. A new cheap touring bike can be had for around $850, so used is your only option.
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