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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 08-31-10, 11:06 AM   #1
Aeneas
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Commuting: Phase 3

I've been commuting by bike on and off for more than 18 months... some weeks are 4x, some are 1X but since June it's been more regular than any other period over that time. I believe I've entered a new phase to my commuting life, the phase I'm calling it the "get to work" aka the "Yeah, so?" phase.

When I first started, I was nervous, I was excited, I was out of shape. I made a big deal out of the fact I rode my bike to work. I bought every shiny new gadget I thought I would need. I invested in high quality trunk bags and panniers. I was all over the road, dodging potholes and bad patch jobs. I was constantly worried about the weather and getting hit by a car.

I progressed to the adaptation phase. I got my bike dialed in, I got comfortable with the roads, with the cars and with myself. I tinkered with gear, with clothing, with routine to make things go smoothly. I learned how to ride assertively and safely. It still took an effort to get on the bike in the AM, but I made myself do it.

Now, this third phase, the "Get to work/ Yeah, so?" phase, I think I have things dialed in with my equipment, I know my routine, I know what I need to brave the weather, the road and how to interact with motorists. Riding to work no longer requires a choice in the AM, it's just the way I get to work. There's a more active choice, and a greater ordeal, when I have to drive. Riding is no longer a point of discussion with my co-workers, it's normal.

I'm feeling though that I need to change things up, I'm getting complacent. For the first time this morning, I thought it might be nice to have my iPod playing as I rode (which I think is dangerous.) I might need to start doing some bulk miles after work or something. I might need to change the route a bit to keep me on my toes. My strength and stamina have improved, but I'm no racerboy. Then again, the fall will be here soon, wet leaves, shorter days, more challenging weather may throw me the monkey wrench I need.

Anyone else notice these patterns? How do you overcome complacency? What's the next stage I should expect? Am I on track to become a full fledged Fred?
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Old 08-31-10, 11:49 AM   #2
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The weather change makes things interesting again. But I've grown fond of daily variations in route. I have three main routes, 4.5 miles, 9.5 miles and 16.5 miles. Each has some variations. I seldom do the same route to and from work, and try not to do the same route two days in a row. This keeps things interesting for me, year round.

Last night on the way home, I ran into a shop ride, the Monday Night Small Ring Ride. I rode with them for a ways, lights, fenders, panniers and all. It was a nice change of pace, and nice to see the folks I used to ride with before my hours changed.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:59 AM   #3
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Pretty much what tsl said.

When I change up my route, though, it is almost exclusively in the morning. At that time of day, traffic is not much of an issue. On the way home, I usually stick to the safest (not the shortest) route because traffic comes into play.

My normal route is around 10 miles each way. I have gone up to 30 miles getting to work (that's my longest so far, anyway).
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Old 08-31-10, 12:12 PM   #4
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Another way to make it different, and definately to eliminate complacency, is to make the commute a real exercise/training session. Do intervals on the way. Crank things up as much as you can for 30-60 seconds, then back off for awhile, then keep repeating until you arrive. I just started doing this, and it certainly makes the ride different.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:49 PM   #5
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I don't feel that the ipod is a bad thing, IF you only roll with one earbud, I have been riding with an ipod since about Feb.or March. With only one earbud, you can still hear the traffic if you use it in your right ear.
I initially felt that riding with an ipod would be dangerous, then I tried it, I liked it.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:54 PM   #6
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I'm in agreement with tsl.
I recognize your phases, though. I've been through them all. I keep it semi fresh and interesting by varying my route home (I usually dilly-dally until it's too late to go any way but the most direct route, riding in) and I'll change bikes between the three I like the best: the touring bike, with drops and brifters; the hybrid with flat bar and big cushy tires; and the new build with the mustache bars and friction bar ends. Which one I choose depends on my mood, and how much time I have to move my MS headlight from one bike to another.

Lately, we've been so slammed at the library that I often ride one of the shorter rides back (even then it's such a great way to decompress that I'll sometimes change my mind half way home and switch to a more meandering route).
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Old 08-31-10, 12:55 PM   #7
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I don't feel that the ipod is a bad thing, IF you only roll with one earbud, I have been riding with an ipod since about Feb.or March. With only one earbud, you can still hear the traffic if you use it in your right ear.
I initially felt that riding with an ipod would be dangerous, then I tried it, I liked it.
I've been thinking about just getting a small, powered speaker and mounting it to my bars.
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Old 08-31-10, 01:36 PM   #8
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I totally agree, I have varying routes that go from 50km(direct/shortest route to work) to detours of nearly 60km which take more scenic routes along our canal, a few more hills, etc. Depending if I left late or early or how I feel I'll mix and match routes, hop on or off different sections of the MUT and make my way in as fast as I possibly can. Every red light is a sprint and every other cyclist is a catch-up game. It makes things very fun(on top of just loving to bike!)

On bad weather days I'll drive in and bike the difference, usually only 15-20k. Don't want to be stuck on the highways in the rain, happen a few times but it's not pleasant.

Cheers,
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Old 08-31-10, 01:52 PM   #9
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Re: ipod safety.

When commuting I always listen to an iPod with both ears and actually think I hear road noise better. I use Sony headphones similar to these:

I find that the reduced wind noise across my ears helps me hear traffic sounds better, I can absolutely hear traffic sounds better at speed with the headphones on and the ipod paused then with no headphones. I usually pause the audio for high speed descents as the wind noise obscures the sound enough that I have to rewind when I get to the bottom of the hill so i just pause it. I also listen exclusively to spoken word podcasts and I find that voices are not in the same frequency range as traffic sounds. Traffic sounds tend to be above and below the frequency of voice and with the additional help of my helmet-mounted mirror, I don't recall ever being surprised by traffic from any direction.
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Old 08-31-10, 03:12 PM   #10
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How long is your commute? I have several routes. When I scoped it out I measured it out at 17 miles. I've since found that the shortest practical route is 15 miles and I can add miles use any of a number of different routes, with the associated change of scenery.
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Old 08-31-10, 03:59 PM   #11
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Wearing head phones over both ears while riding a bike or operating a vehicle is illegal in my state. I seriously doubt that you hear road noise better.
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Old 08-31-10, 04:13 PM   #12
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You can eat chorizo and eggs before you ride in. That would make it interesting.
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Old 08-31-10, 04:43 PM   #13
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There are a couple routes I can explore, maybe part of my complacency comes from the rarity from which I deviate from the shortest/ safest route. Other than the occasional stop at the grocery or farm stand, my route is the same 5.25 miles every day...
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Old 08-31-10, 08:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
I've been thinking about just getting a small, powered speaker and mounting it to my bars.
+1... though at first I was thinking about installing a car stereo with 6x9's in a custom pannier box that thought didn't last long, though I still might do it for critical mass.
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Old 08-31-10, 08:59 PM   #15
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I bet if you get one of those mega-bass cannon thingys the kids mount in their trunks, and aimed it backwards....you could probably use it as a sort of ram-jet to propel your bike.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:03 PM   #16
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Because I have such a short commute it doesn't vary much unless I need to go somewhere to get something. But if my schedule allows after work, I go home, drop off my work stuff, and then go out again. Usually my wife goes to yoga or the gym after work, so if the weather is nice that is the time I use. Sometimes when I need to go shopping I go to a store further away just to have a longer ride.
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