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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 08-23-10, 08:14 PM   #1
spoonsphere
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considering commuting to work by bike

hi folks!

i live in falls church, va, near the w&od trail. i have been thinking about commuting to work.

i can get on the w&od on great falls street and ride to reston town center, which is about a 14 mile commute door to door. for those of you unfamiliar with the area, there are a few hills, but nothing too crazy. i think i can do the ride in an hour and 15 minutes each way.

there is a gym at my office, so i can shower and get ready there.

i won't have a car at work, which means that if something comes up during the work day that requires me to be somewhere in a hurry, i'll need to jump in a taxi.

the motivation is primarily exercise. when i have time, i go to the gym in the morning for an hour. if i'm biking, i'll be riding for 2 and a half hours round trip each day. i'm not sure how realistic that is.

the cost savings is a nice bonus, but certainly not the driving motivation. i've taken the bus a couple of times, which costs $3 round trip as opposed to $3.50 + gas + wear and tear on the car. but i like the convenience of driving, so the cost savings hasn't been much of a motivation. besides, the cost of the additional food i'll consume as a result of biking will probably be more than the cost of driving.

anyhoo, wondering if i'm setting realistic expectations for myself with this commute.

thanks!
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Old 08-23-10, 08:20 PM   #2
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How much more food will you be eating because you bike to work? I wouldn't think it would be that much.

If you go to the gym for an hour in the morning, your commute is only 15 minutes longer. Think of the ride home as a bonus workout.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:40 PM   #3
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Do it. If you stick to it, it can be incredibly rewarding.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:41 PM   #4
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Do those buses have racks on the front for bikes? That might help you out if you ride in, then start feeling a little under the weather (or get a flat or other mechanical issue).

Take one of your normal days off and ride that commute. You'll have a lot better idea of how long it really takes.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:54 PM   #5
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I've been doing pretty much exactly what you're considering. my ride in is an hour, and it's 1:15 coming home. so, nearly 2 1/2 hours of exercise per day.

sounds insane, but my driving commute would be an hour each way and even a bit longer on public transit. so, i'm actually SAVING time b/c commute + 1 hour in the gym would be 3 hours per day.

and I'm dropping pounds / getting stronger like crazy.
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Old 08-23-10, 11:20 PM   #6
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I ride to work and back 5 days a week. Year round. Love it. Lose weight, lots of time to ponder, does not take much longer than if I drove. It takes less time than city transit. I dont know your current fitness level, maybe do it a couple times a week till you are broken in.
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Old 08-23-10, 11:48 PM   #7
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Consider combining biking with taking the bus, if it can save time if that is your concern. Plus, if you plan on taking the bus regularly you could get a bus pass that would be much cheaper when averaged out. How much time do you need to drive to work? I just convinced a friend to ride to work. His ride takes him 20 minutes more than his drive. But he figures for the extra 40 minutes he is getting his workout in.
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Old 08-24-10, 06:47 AM   #8
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I live in the area, and your commute is completely do-able and realistic. I have a 24 mile commute that I bike/bus/Metro. You might be able to do a partial bus ride and knock down the 14 miles, or just go for it! At 14 mph average, it will take about 1 hour. Your 1 hour 15 minutes estimate puts you at a little over 11mph, and while I can't speak for your fitness level/specific commute, that trail should allow you a little faster pace than that during commuting hours. In traffic I tend to average 12mph with stoplights, etc. Nowadays in the morning with no traffic and good light timing/blinking lights, I'm definitely 15+ mph.
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Old 08-24-10, 07:49 AM   #9
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Mondays, drive to work with bike on car with all clothes for the week. Leave car at work and bike back and forth to job. Drive home with bike on friday pm. Ride, rest, repeat.
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Old 08-24-10, 10:57 AM   #10
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I know your ride pretty well -- I use the W & OD from Vienna to Falls Church a couple of times a week, generally, and I ride out to Reston on Sunday mornings when I get the chance. MY B-i-L rides the opposite direction -- Herndon to Merrifield -- and he finds that cycling takes about the same time as the car, but as you are effectively reverse commuting , that might not be the case for you. I know he does the ride from Herndon to Merrifield in under an hour, and depending on your capability, I'd think you'd be close.

Echoing Kegoguinness, I'd guess you can average over 12 MPH, if not right away, pretty quickly (depending on your ride, etc...) I average close to 15MPH on the stretch between FC and Vienna, and my average is only lower (a hair under 13 overall) because of the lights at rt. 7 and Gallows, and my street riding in the Town of Vienna after I leave the trail. The part of the trail from 123 to Reston is much faster overall, I think -- I average well over 15 MPH there. I ride a not-terribly-fast Kona Dew Plus (42c tires?), with a fair amount of commuting stuff, and I'm over 40, and still 25 or more lbs overweight.
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Old 08-24-10, 11:19 AM   #11
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Sounds like you got it pretty well figured out. Just start riding and you'll figure out what you need. I have about the same length of commute and it's do-able, but not necessarily every day, at least to start. Having a shower at work makes this possible; without that, I would say it's too long of a commute (I used to do a 7 mile commute with no shower, but 17 miles each way would be too far, at least for me). I carry stuff to and from work (as opposed to taking it by car the day before or whatever). If you plan to do the same, you're key piece of equipment will be panniers. They weigh the bike down a bit but that just adds to the exercise, right?
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Old 08-24-10, 01:01 PM   #12
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Seems realistic. 1-1/4 hours may be what you start at, or at least hit pretty early on. But 14 miles can probably be done in under an hour once you get used to the route. Biking is indeed good exercise. I only do 10 minutes each way, and its enough that I can maintain my weight despite less than enviable eating habits.

Is the trail paved? This makes a big difference, and if time is an issue, many people prefer riding on roads to unpaved trails. Still, it looks like it's a rail trail, which means easy grades, so if the roads are hillier, it probably evens out.
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Old 08-24-10, 02:27 PM   #13
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All good advice and thoughts so far above. Only thing I'd add with a local DC area slant... bike commuters qualify for the Guaranteed Ride Home Program. You could register for that and then if an emergency does come up your cab ride is paid for... Check out the MWCOG website for more details.
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Old 08-24-10, 05:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Mondays, drive to work with bike on car with all clothes for the week. Leave car at work and bike back and forth to job. Drive home with bike on friday pm. Ride, rest, repeat.
ding, ding, ding....we have a winner!!!!

sounds like you have a job where you may need to have a vehicle at the ready. also, not having to carry cothes every day is a nice thing.

i am actually considering doing this for a few reasons.

reason 1- instant motivation. can't take a car that ain't there.

reason 2- ahole boss just banned my bike from the building. if my car is already there, i have a handy dandy bike garage with locking door.
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Old 08-24-10, 11:14 PM   #15
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Perhaps you can make close enough friends at work that would let you borrow their car if you had to run an unexpected errand.

It never even occurred to me until someone offered.
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Old 08-27-10, 09:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Mondays, drive to work with bike on car with all clothes for the week. Leave car at work and bike back and forth to job. Drive home with bike on friday pm. Ride, rest, repeat.
I think I'll try using this method when I change jobs at the end of the month! Awesome way to do things.
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