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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 07-19-11, 08:47 PM   #1
noxyce
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Heat wave

With the heat wave that has gripped much of the country, how do you keep yourself motivated to keep commuting? I'm new to the experience, and I have to say, the heat sucks the life right out of me.
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Old 07-19-11, 09:13 PM   #2
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As a fellow MA resident, I don't know if you're familiar with the MBTA, but it's terrible. It's even more terrible during any kind of extreme weather. When it gets hot, they tend to break down or the HVAC system can't handle 350 people shoved into a single car so you lose 3lbs in sweat. Couple that with at least an hour of commuting, versus a 25-40 minute bike ride (depending on how fast I want to go) there really is no contest. I'd go for the bike every time.
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Old 07-19-11, 09:25 PM   #3
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Given that as an alternative, I'd have to agree. I live out in the country, so no real public transportation.. But on the 90+ degree days my car looks a lot more appealing than the bike. That's not to say that I don't want to ride, I just know I'm going to feel exhausted or heat stroked for the day if I do...
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Old 07-19-11, 09:40 PM   #4
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I try to show up to work early so I can cool off and get some cold water in me. I also bring ice water with me, but it tends to be HOT by the time I get to work. It's been working for me, but my commute in is pretty much down hill most of the way. A few hills towards the end I guess, but nothing too serious. The commute home is probably where I'm at the worst risk for heat stroke or exhaustion. I tend to fly home, and the traffic is thicker, so you get the heat radiating off of every car. It's like being inside an oven inside a hot room.

It's been killer a few times, but I try to drink a lot of water and once I get home I go straight to the shower. How far do you have to commute? I know the hills can be pretty annoying out there in Central MA.
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Old 07-19-11, 09:41 PM   #5
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Given that as an alternative, I'd have to agree. I live out in the country, so no real public transportation.. But on the 90+ degree days my car looks a lot more appealing than the bike. That's not to say that I don't want to ride, I just know I'm going to feel exhausted or heat stroked for the day if I do...
I guess I don't know how long your commute is if you're out in the sticks, but I just drink a lot of water, toss some deoderant, clean cloths, a towel in my bag, and ride in gym clothes. Feels okay man.
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Old 07-20-11, 05:49 AM   #6
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My commute isn't that bad, its only about 7.5 miles each way. I guess I just have to prep for it better. Usually I'm in my work cloths (heavy boots, carhartts, black t-shirt) and have a backpack with lunch and water. There are a few hills, nothing too killer, but I'm not yet in peak physical shape either. I suppose it doesn't help that I'm riding a full suspension mountain bike right now.. But I'm not buying another bike till I prove to myself I'm going to stick with this.

Thanks for the advice.. I think I need to get myself a pair of shorts at least.
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Old 07-20-11, 07:14 AM   #7
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Yeah man, I was commuting in Dickies work pants and a t-shirt but I realized that'd be a no go in the long run. Now I wear cargo shorts and some kind of technical fabric shirt (I have about 40020235323 soccer jerseys and running shirts) just to keep me slightly cooler. I too am not in the best physical shape, but I have lost about 5lbs since starting this bike commuting stuff about a month ago.
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Old 07-20-11, 07:53 AM   #8
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My commute is 20 and change each way, round trip comes out to about 41 miles. I've been sidelined the last two days due to a mechanical failure on Monday and am pissed about it - the only motivation that I need to ride in the heat are the memories of how freeking cold it was riding back in April and most of May.
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Old 07-20-11, 08:04 AM   #9
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A couple of suggestions:
1) Get your luggage, and heavy clothes, off your back: You can buy a basic rack, a Blackburn, Topeak, etc, from Amazon for no more than $30. Strap your backpack to it with whatever you have handy - bungees, rope, etc. Wear lighter clothes for your ride, and change into your work clothes when you get there.
2) Get an insulated water bottle, and fill it with ice and water or sports drink. Should stay cold enough to get 7.5 miles.
3) If your mountain bike still has knobby tires (and your commute isn't largely on dirt) then smooth tires of any sort will ease your effort, for very little money. I bought a pair from Nashbar for $20.
I appreciate your desire to not spend money until you know you'll stick with it. I started the same way. But it's important to realize that a small investment to make it more pleasant will increase the odds you'll stick with it.
Good luck!
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Old 07-20-11, 08:21 AM   #10
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how i keep myself motivated to ride in the humid weather?

well i just want to show how hardcore i am to the other commuters, my bike has been the only one on the rack this week. in which i have taken a pic of my lonley bike on the rack and emailed it to the other riders to prove my hardcorenessity.


P.S. i still dont ride in the rain
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Old 07-20-11, 08:42 AM   #11
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How to stay cool and motivated

Stay cool:

Take off your black shirt. Feels pretty good.

Alter your route to stop by a beach, pool, creek, pond, public water park, or The ol' swimmin' hole on the way home. I love stopping for a dip in the lake on the way home. Shoot. My shirt is already off and my shorts are already soaked with sweat anyway. Only takes a minute to cool off. Enjoy the journey!

Back down on the effort level a notch. Heat stroke is a real risk. So what if it takes an extra 5 or 10 minutes to get home.


Stay motivated:
Drive in a day or two and sit there in hot rush hour traffic for about 45 minutes/day. Watch a bike or two coast past you while you consider the option of riding in despite the heat.
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Old 07-20-11, 08:44 AM   #12
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I don't have any trouble with motivation. It is still cool in the morning or at least not hot. In fact, this morning I rode 32 miles just because it was nice at 82f -- regular route is 10 miles.

So it is only the afternoon that gets bad. I just take it easy and make sure to stay hydrated.

As for motivation, it has been 540 days since I last drove my car to work (and that was one day). I don't intend to change away from my bike for any reason.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:07 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by horizonradar View Post
As a fellow MA resident, I don't know if you're familiar with the MBTA, but it's terrible. It's even more terrible during any kind of extreme weather. When it gets hot, they tend to break down or the HVAC system can't handle 350 people shoved into a single car so you lose 3lbs in sweat..
ditto that for the CTA in chicago. i don't have a car, so my only options for getting to work on hot, muggy days are a sweaty, but invigorating, bike ride or a sweaty, oppressive cattle car experience on the el.

bike wins!

the mornings haven't that bad thus far this week. today we're supposed to maybe hit 100 (extremely rare heat for chicago), but the temp along the lakeshore when i left this morning was only 78. going home this afternoon will certainly be a different story, but i just make sure to stay hydrated and ease off the throttle a bit on stupid hot days like this.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:24 AM   #14
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The last two weeks here have been pretty brutal. Highs in the upper 90s with heat index well over 100. So how have I maintained my motivation to commute?

I've been training for a half marathon in September. So every morning I've been waking up early and running. Once I'm done with an 8 mile training run in this weather, I look like I just climbed out of a swimming pool.

After that, hopping on a bike and riding to work seems like a piece of cake. At least I'm generating some wind to cool me off.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:29 AM   #15
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With the heat wave that has gripped much of the country, how do you keep yourself motivated to keep commuting? I'm new to the experience, and I have to say, the heat sucks the life right out of me.
What?

I'm just biking in it.

I got this long sleeve white Zensah compression shirt. Holy ****, that thing is cold! My arms are FREEZING! Luckily I'm wearing a Pearl Izumi screaming yellow Attack jersey over it, which helps a bit ... it's a bit muggy, but it breaths way better than the rain jacket (which is great in rain, and on cold mornings). I'm surprised I'm colder with the compression shirt than with bare arms.

I have this 3L camelbak filled with Nuun, and occasionally a little ice. I tried Kona Kola, with 80mg caffeine per 8oz ... screw that. Water, salt, stim... no, forget the stim, must have sugar with stim (sugar is good anyway) but not putting that in my camelbak.

Besides, the Kola is too heavy; I'm sticking with Lemon Lime, Orange (Orange/Ginger in the case of Nuun), and Citrus Fruit. The light citrus is easier to swallow and more refreshing--as soda goes, I've always found Sprite and 7up to be the most refreshing, with Root Beer the heaviest (but I suspect Pepsi and Coke would be, too, if they weren't such watery crap), and the same has held true for electrolyte tablets. I'm not sure if I want to try the berry stuff.

So, compression shirt and shorts are keeping me cooler than just a t-shirt. I've only gone with loose shorts. A big camelbak filled with lots of water helps; it takes me 2 days with 16 mile round trips (about 32 miles, 4 hours total) to drain it. Electrolyte tablets are excellent, as I sweat out tons of salts. If I'm not sweating, I'm not drinking.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:38 AM   #16
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how do you keep yourself motivated to keep commuting?
Well ... riding a bike keeps me warm. It's chilly, and the heat in the car takes a while to kick in. I need to do a better job of remembering gloves, or keeping them with the bike, though, because metal brake levers are cold to the touch. At least water isn't necessary when it's this cool and cloudy.

Of course, we had our own heat wave. Two of them. The mercury went past 80 degrees! It was this warm for 12 minutes on July 2, and more than an hour on July 6. We've had 78 minutes this summer that were warmer than 80 degrees. We've had almost 19 hours this summer that were warmer than 75 degrees. That's the whole summer, to date, based on minute-by-minute data from a weather station at the UW.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:46 AM   #17
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With the heat wave that has gripped much of the country, how do you keep yourself motivated to keep commuting? I'm new to the experience, and I have to say, the heat sucks the life right out of me.
I don't mind the heat much. When it gets to me, I just remember riding through wet sticky snow and I feel better.
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Old 07-20-11, 10:18 AM   #18
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It's not an issue here high is about 70 F
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Old 07-20-11, 10:30 AM   #19
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Like others have said, I just keep riding. When it's really hot (103), like yesterday's commute home, I reduce the average speed a few mph and try to keep moving.

Even at 103 it's quite tolerable when moving. Stopping at a traffic light is not fun.
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Old 07-20-11, 10:32 AM   #20
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Even at 103 it's quite tolerable when moving. Stopping at a traffic light is not fun.
Yeah I went from 30mph to dead stop at a traffic light in 101F weather and almost puked guzzling down tons of (really, really cold) water too fast.
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Old 07-20-11, 10:35 AM   #21
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0F or 100F, it's the same to me, just mount up and ride. However, when you mention riding in work clothes with a pack on your back, I would agree with prior response that you need to get the load off your back and lighten up the clothing. No way I would be doing my 13 miles each way without taking a shower and changing clothes after I arrive at work or at home. Find a shower or learn to washup in the sink, but with the heat up, you have to wait a bit to cool down before washing or your change of clothes wets through immediately. Nothing worse than a long red light near the end of your commute so that perspiration can flood your eyes.
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Old 07-20-11, 10:35 AM   #22
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Yeah I went from 30mph to dead stop at a traffic light in 101F weather and almost puked guzzling down tons of (really, really cold) water too fast.
And that's why you should sip and not guzzle.
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Old 07-20-11, 10:45 AM   #23
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you need to get the load off your back and lighten up the clothing. No way I would be doing my 13 miles each way without taking a shower and changing clothes after I arrive at work or at home.
-1 Disagree.

Camelbak on my back, but I went with a MULE NV and keep my work clothes in it. If you go with panniers, you can stick your work clothes in them; this is a personal preference, but it does give you a way to go with a much smaller CamelBak. I have two water bottle cages on my bike and I often want to dump the contents into the CamelBak when I drain it, but I'm not putting sugar in there and the bottles often contain Gatorade or Tang.

It's worth having it on your back.

You definitely need a change of clothes; but I find a shower unnecessary. Shower immediately before you leave for work, then swap off the sweaty clothes for clean ones in the bathroom.
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Old 07-20-11, 10:55 AM   #24
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My commute isn't that bad, its only about 7.5 miles each way. I guess I just have to prep for it better. Usually I'm in my work cloths (heavy boots, carhartts, black t-shirt) and have a backpack with lunch and water. There are a few hills, nothing too killer, but I'm not yet in peak physical shape either. I suppose it doesn't help that I'm riding a full suspension mountain bike right now.. But I'm not buying another bike till I prove to myself I'm going to stick with this.

Thanks for the advice.. I think I need to get myself a pair of shorts at least.
Here's part of your problem; it's the same with the SUV crowd -- they CAN'T walk away from the investment! INVEST in that better bike, and you'll FORCE yourself to do it more so you don't feel like you've thrown the money away! (AND, along the way, you'll discover one day that you don't MISS the car!)
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Old 07-20-11, 11:09 AM   #25
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I leave early in the morning and do any "extra" miles in the morning. I also bring fresh riding clothes for the afternoon, since with all the sweat my office would smell like a locker room by the end of the day if I didn't. I drink a 20 oz water bottle right when I get up as I'm getting ready to go and I bring 2 bottles with me on the bike instead of one and I get my 20 mile ride in. Then, in the afternoon I take the direct route, and have an easy paced ride home for about 5 miles. If its super hot I have driven to work and then done "make-up" rides at night. Doesn't save on gas consumption but does keep me on track fitness wise.
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