About cruising around in the small ring all the time. Going on the third week of my effort to start commuting, I finally thought to look and see what size chainrings I had on my steel frame commuter. It turns out I'm running a 53/42. My carbon road bike has a compact crank.
I usually go up and down the cassette from one point to another, but I've yet to put it on the big ring while commuting. I'm sure it's half me being out of shape and half the 15-20 extra pounds in commuting trim (the bike, not me).
The SAD thing is this was my first roadbike back when I was 20 and didn't know what shifting gears/cadence was all about. I pushed that thing all over in top gear 100% of the time in the dead of a Texas summer. I figured if I couldn't make it up a hill in the hardest gear, I wasn't doing it right. Of course, it was a relatively flat route, but I regularly did a 32 mile loop averaging about 18 or so mph.
Maybe I ought to take the same approach to commuting. I'll either fall dead or have legs like tree trunks.