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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 09-01-10, 11:56 AM   #1
Lamabb
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The hardest commute?

Who here has the hardest commute in terms of miles, elevation and environment ( bad roads / traffic).

I am a pretty strong rider, and I want to start commuting by bicycle, but I don't know if my commute would be too hard.

It's 23 miles with 2200 feet of elevation. Basicaly it's rolling hills to start, then a giant 1 thousand foot hill with stupid steep climbs, and rolling hills to my destination. there is no way to avoid the climbing, there's a range of tall mountains in between me and my destination.

The roads would be mostly rural and low traffic, with the traffic increasing to that of a popular urbanized suburb.

I'd have to be at my destination at 9:30, so I figure leave at 6 and have 3.5 hours to get there and clean up. I want to have time, if I attempt it fast, i'll probably be ridiculously sweaty upon arrival.

Plausible? Does anyone else have difficult commutes ? what are they?
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Old 09-01-10, 01:23 PM   #2
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I ride a little over 20 miles from a suburb to northside Chicago. The thing that makes it hard for me is the traffic and roads rather than anything else (I ride fixed gear and it doesn't feel like this has ever slowed me down). I have to go around O'hare airport to make it to school and the roads around there were not designed for anything except driving. This means that the roads are terrible and some (very few but memorable) drivers don't appreciate me riding there, even if I'm not directly in anyone's way. I would gladly exchange 30-40 miles of rural riding for my commute.

I have very rarely seen anyone commuting on the 45 mph roads that I ride on, and I'm sure these people don't do it year-round and probably have much shorter distances to cover (judging from their attire, bikes, etc.)

That being said, it actually doesn't take that long in terms of actual riding. It takes me no more than an hour and twenty minutes to get from A to B. Today it was raining and I had to fix a flat (both of these meant that I rode conservatively), and it still took less than 2 hours. I AM, however, one of those people that will do anything to keep moving quickly as long as I don't get in anyone's way. I always run stop signs/stop lights if possible.
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Old 09-01-10, 01:28 PM   #3
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Before I worked here, I had a 15 mile commute with 2 miles of climbing right at the end of the trip in to the office, some of it in excess of 15% grade. I'm not sure as to the acutal elevation gain, probably in the neighborhood of 700-800 ft. It was a great workout in the morning, and a really nice descent at the end of the work day. Was in pretty good shape after a few months of that too.

I miss the commute, but not the job.

Took me roughly 55 minutes to an hour going in, and 45-55 minutes on the way home. 8 additional miles and roughly double the climbing shouldn't take you more than an additional hour if you're a strong rider.

Last edited by Kojak; 09-01-10 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 09-01-10, 03:54 PM   #4
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Man, 7 hrs per day in commuting time? That's alot. It's basically what one would ride if on a tour, timewise. My commute was 20 mi each way w/a 500 ft drop in and a 500 ft climb on the way home. I spent almost 3 hrs per day in the saddle and you're looking at twice that. Don't know what to advise except you may want to do Monday, Wednesday, Friday leaving Tuesday and Thursday for recovery days. Lots of carbs, protein and especially water. But, as you're an experienced cyclist you know that already.

Maybe get a good, cheap cyclocross and trick it out for commuting w/rack/garmentbag(for suits)or panniers(for t-shirts, jeans), headlight, blinkies, etc. Would recommend one of these: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm as I've got one and it's got over 12,000 miles on it w/no problems. Changed out the stock tires for some Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700x28mm and have been good to go ever since. The stock tires gave me 2 weeks before flatting...I've had 1 flat and 1 slow leak on the SMPs.

You'll be ready for the RAAM in short order that's for sure.
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Old 09-01-10, 06:11 PM   #5
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Give it a try and see how it works out.

As for riding hard, go for it just back it down the last two miles. You'll still be a sweaty mess when you arrive, but, you'll recover quickly if you've already had a few miles of cool down. Hopefully, there are no killer hills right before you get there.

If this ends up being more than you want, break it up by drivnig part way.
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Old 09-01-10, 06:13 PM   #6
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I dunno, but it looks like I'm about to start doing 14 miles of my commute on a Madsen with a kid in the back...
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Old 09-01-10, 06:23 PM   #7
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Try it on a weekend first, so you don't have any surprises. "Dang, that hill was a lot tougher than it looked!"-type of things.
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Old 09-01-10, 06:25 PM   #8
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You're saying it would take you 3 hours to commute 23 miles? That's only about 7 mph. I average 15 mph year-round over a fairly hilly route, and I consider myself pretty average among regular riders. Have you actually ridden your route yet? Would you be riding a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid? On a road bike, I would think that 2 hours would be very doable to go 23 miles, even for a slow rider.
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Old 09-01-10, 07:03 PM   #9
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I thought I had a challenging commute at 19 miles one-way with rolling hills, but yours puts mine to shame. It's not so bad going to school because it's mainly downhill. The way back home is more uphills, especially with a nice climb about a mile before I get to my house.

I also agree that you should be faster than 7mph average.

This is showing from home to my destination.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg home-school..jpg (17.5 KB, 12 views)
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Old 09-01-10, 07:30 PM   #10
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I can't imagine doing a ride like the one in the OP while trying not to sweat. I can only see doing that if there are showers on both ends.
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Old 09-01-10, 07:45 PM   #11
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yeah, the shower is going to be a problem, but I figure. Bathroom + water + stall = hobo wash up....

It will be a commute to college, as I am student and commute.

I have ridden it before, but that was back when I was a sack of fat. I'm going to be trying it again soon and recording how I do.

I just purchased a Surly Long haul trucker for touring, and I took it out for a hilly 30 miler, and it felt great! granny gears are nice. I got a pannier that works as a bag when you take it off the bike. I will shove my notebooks and clothing in there.

And depending on how hellish it is, I may just ride 3 times a week. Guess I'm just going to have to get out there and give it a go.


Just did a elevation graph with veloroutes and holy moly... no wonder if felt so hilly. It's Exactly 2699 feet of elevation, 22.6 miles long and has a maximum grade of 30% at one point... OH gawd, why do I have to go through this damn mountain range!

Last edited by Lamabb; 09-01-10 at 08:04 PM. Reason: Elevation map
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Old 09-01-10, 08:23 PM   #12
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See that giant spike in the dead center with the wicked descent? yeah, that's going to suck.

Ok, this one seems realistic. Avoids the constant rolling steep hills, and instead combines it into one hell hell.

If I do this, my legs are going to get HUGE. I put in this kind of mileage weekly already, but that's with a club..
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Old 09-01-10, 08:28 PM   #13
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my commute:

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=8Jkf__aUQpE&feature=channel[/video]
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Old 09-01-10, 08:42 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
my commute:

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=8Jkf__aUQpE&feature=channel[/video]
Silly city dweller, with your flats and constant stopping. Come on up to duchess county and i'll show you a commute!

Oh, and, what's that camera and mount you're using? it's nice.

Last edited by Lamabb; 09-01-10 at 08:42 PM. Reason: question
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Old 09-01-10, 09:01 PM   #15
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I have been considering commuting by bike. I may start by using my cruiser. I plan to save some cash and outfit an old Trek Alpha for commuting. My commute is 13 miles, but I put it into the Veloroute Web site and it said 0 elevation. That's not a typo: 0 elevation. The only caveat is that for 3/4 of the year it's over 100 degrees outside. The company does have a shower that I can use though.
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Old 09-01-10, 09:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
It will be a commute to college, as I am student and commute.
when I was an undergrad, we paid a small mandatory fee and had all the gym access we could spare the time for. Colleges have figured out they can charge more for that, but I think I would look into it.
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Old 09-01-10, 09:42 PM   #17
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My commute is 10 miles in each direction with about 1000 feet of climbing:
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/166813

You're going to sweat, probably a lot, if you do anything more than amble up the climbs.

I already think my commute takes up a lot of time, though. When you're doing that kind of riding every day you're getting to the point where you're saying you don't want to do much else with your time other than go to school and ride a bike.
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Old 09-01-10, 11:16 PM   #18
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OP - that's a lot of distance + climbing for a commute. Hopefully your job isn't too demanding - that commute will take serious focus to keep up with on a regular basis.

I'm a pretty respectable climber (I train with competitive roadies) and a flattish 18 miler with no significant hills is long enough - I have to ride at 23mph on flats pretty much the entire time I'm moving just to average 19mph after stoplights and traffic in a VERY bike-friendly area. I'd be pretty grumpy with a 1000 foot hill in the middle of that - you'll be lucky to get through that commute in 1:15-1:20.

Good luck!
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Old 09-04-10, 12:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
Silly city dweller, with your flats and constant stopping. Come on up to duchess county and i'll show you a commute!

Oh, and, what's that camera and mount you're using? it's nice.
Filmed with a Samsung HZ30W camera on dual image stabilization mode, high definition setting.
Using a Fotopro Flip Motion mount on the handlebars of a 2009 Fuji Newest 1.0.

Hey that was just a portion of an hour and a half commute. Here's another part of the
same commute with hills in Central Park:

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=FXsWfHKmrTo&feature=related[/video]
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Old 09-04-10, 12:41 PM   #20
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I was doing some hills this past week. 17 miles, 800-1000 ft of climb in a little over an hour. 23 miles and 2200 ft of elevation should be doable in 3.5 hours. I won't say it's easy, but should be doable for someone with core fitness and I don't know if it's something you want to do every day.

Hudson valley? Commuting up the Helderbergs?
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Old 09-04-10, 07:04 PM   #21
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I was doing some hills this past week. 17 miles, 800-1000 ft of climb in a little over an hour. 23 miles and 2200 ft of elevation should be doable in 3.5 hours. I won't say it's easy, but should be doable for someone with core fitness and I don't know if it's something you want to do every day.

Hudson valley? Commuting up the Helderbergs?
Not that far up. I was talking about the Putnam / dutchess border. if you pull up google maps and click terrain, you will see how there are tons of high peaks that shoot up around there. Just north of Fahnestock park.

I tried to tackle the commute a day ago but I got a slow leak, a piece of glass poked a tiny hole in my tube, and the one time I didn't bring a spare tube too!

Last edited by Lamabb; 09-04-10 at 07:05 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-04-10, 09:46 PM   #22
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It's definitely not me. My cumulative elevation change over 8 miles is like 2 feet.
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Old 09-05-10, 06:23 AM   #23
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I'ma stop complaining about my 270ft of climbing now. But I can still complain about the heat and humidity in the summer, right?
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