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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 03-06-12, 11:57 AM   #1
ckaspar
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Just getting started

Well...just like the title says. I am getting started in commuting. It is 22 miles round trip. Half of the trip is on a bike trail in Los Angeles. The remainder is on streets. I am riding a MTB with street tires on it. I am also keeping any accessories to the bike to a minimum as I still want to use the bike for light mountain biking with a friend.

I am wondering 2 things.

1. What is a decent pace to keep? I understand this will vary based on my physical condition, weight of the bike etc but what should I be looking for? I am getting 10-11 miles per hour atm.

2. Essentials-I have a saddle bag full tools, tube, CO2 inflator. I got that bag because I will obviously need that on a trail as well. I still need to get a "you see me headlight and a rear light". Anything else I am missing that you can think of for the basics? I am not gonna be moving groceries or any clothes back and forth to the office so bags on the back aren't necessary.

TIA
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Old 03-06-12, 01:34 PM   #2
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1. Speed: If you haven't been biking a lot, you might want to take it easy so you can turn around and do it the next day and the next, and so forth. If you can only do 11 mph tops now, take a little off that at first. You will probably want to push the pace as you get used to the distance just to save time and increase your fitness level. On the other hand, some take it slow simply because they need to look/smell nice and don't have the opportunity to shower at work.

2. You're on the right track with the stuff you will need. Will you be riding at night much? Is the bike path lit? People will chime in with light recommendations if we understand your needs a little better.

Have fun with your ride!
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Old 03-06-12, 02:54 PM   #3
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Only time I would be riding at night is if I had a major mechanical issue but at that point I can call the wife. Only an hour ride home and I leave well before dark. The trail is the first part of the ride from work so even if I do have a major issue it is at the beginning of the ride and plenty of time to make other arrangements.
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Old 03-06-12, 03:09 PM   #4
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1. There are so many vairables to speed that it's impossible to give a good number. 10-11 is nothing to be ashamed of, for sure, especially on a mtn bike.

2. If you live in a rainy area, fenders are worthwhile. I'm not a huge fan of bells, but being that half of your commute is on a bike path, I'd install a small one to make life easier. Also, make sure you bring your cell phone (if you have one). Aside from that, you have the essentials covered.

Good luck & keep us posted on how it goes.
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Old 03-06-12, 03:25 PM   #5
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I figured the speed was gonna be near to impossible considering you know little to nothing about me, my bike and my fitness level. I am glad to hear 10-11 is nothing to be ashamed of. LOL I feel like I am always pushing myself harder than I need to I feel fine at that speed for now. A few years ago when I tried this I was using a heavier bike and a dodgy drivetrain with rubbing breaks. I was beat when I got to my destination. With this I feel much better once I get where I am going and it will only get easier.

Cell phone is my music device while riding (one ear plugged in of course) so it will always be with me. I live in So Cal so not much rain however I skipped the bike today as it was "supposed" to rain. Which brings my next question actually. You mentioned fenders for the rain. Any other gear I would need? Last time I rode in the rain was when I was 14 or so (I am 32 now) and that was to get to school everyday so I didn't exactly have to look presentable, not that I have to at work either. Just a T-Shirt and Dickies but I certainly don't wanna be wet all day either. I don't imagine I will need it much in the near future but just something to plan for next rainy season. Any particular gear I should look at?

Thanks again.
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Old 03-06-12, 04:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckaspar View Post
Well...just like the title says. I am getting started in commuting. It is 22 miles round trip. Half of the trip is on a bike trail in Los Angeles. The remainder is on streets. I am riding a MTB with street tires on it. I am also keeping any accessories to the bike to a minimum as I still want to use the bike for light mountain biking with a friend.

I am wondering 2 things.

1. What is a decent pace to keep? I understand this will vary based on my physical condition, weight of the bike etc but what should I be looking for? I am getting 10-11 miles per hour atm.

2. Essentials-I have a saddle bag full tools, tube, CO2 inflator. I got that bag because I will obviously need that on a trail as well. I still need to get a "you see me headlight and a rear light". Anything else I am missing that you can think of for the basics? I am not gonna be moving groceries or any clothes back and forth to the office so bags on the back aren't necessary.

TIA
What areas are you travel in? I also commute in LA. Regardless of light level outside, I always run my lights front and back. I have a NiteRider MiniNewt 600 on the front(daytime in blinking mode)and Cygolite Hotshot in the rear. Probably don't need the flashing front while on the trail during the day as it annoys some people. My commute is all streets.

10-11 ave MPH is not bad. When I first stated 7-8 months ago now mine was close to that. Now its a bit higher, but due to stop lights/traffic I max out at 15-16.
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Old 03-06-12, 04:41 PM   #7
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I run from North Long Beach to Los Alamitos. Basically up Del Amo the over on the trail to Katella. I am planning on getting some lights in the near future.

Whereabouts are you riding?
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Old 03-06-12, 05:02 PM   #8
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I commute from Silver Lake to Santa Monica, so a little ways away. Good luck and ride whatever pace feels right for you, you'll keep getting faster the longer you do it. At least between stop lights.
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Old 03-06-12, 05:27 PM   #9
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Ya that is a bit aways. LA is a pretty big place. lol. My problem is that my pace is too slow no matter what pace I am going. lol. It was easy keeping pace when I rode to school so many years ago because I was with my brothers and we took out time. I also ride leisurely when I am with the wife but when alone it is like a darn race. I have a Cateye coming soon and that will help me keep an eye on pace to make sure I don't push too hard too early or too long.
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Old 03-06-12, 07:13 PM   #10
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I have a Planet Bike 2W Blaze that is visible during the day in Superflash mode. Probably not super visible at noon on a sunny day, but I think it helps in the morning and evening, and on overcast days. I have a Planet Bike 0.5W Superflash tail light that it about the same story as far as daylight visibility goes. These are relatively affordable lights that do increase safety, IMO. If you have the money to spend, there are definitely brighter ones out there.
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Old 03-07-12, 08:08 AM   #11
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You will get 100 different answers on rain gear. Here's mine. if it's raining on the way into work, I don't ride. (If it rained earlier & the ground is wet, the fenders really help-although you might still get some grime on your shoes/ lower legs). If it looks like rain later in the day, it depends on the chances, anything under 50% chance of rain at 5 pm (when I leave) I will ride, but I will bring a light waterproof winderbreaker (goretex or event). If it looks like 70% chance of rain, I'll just drive. the windbreaker keeps my comfortable enough for the ride home. I don't worry about my legs, etc as it's tough to keep them dry, even with rain pants (then you're just sweaty wet). A rain cape is supposed to work well, but I just can't bring myself to wear one.
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Old 03-07-12, 10:14 AM   #12
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That pace is fine as those are reasonable miles to be doing. It'll pick up.

For rain gear personally I like MTB shorts. They tend to repel water/wind pretty easily. A light water resistant jacket is all I wear specifically for rain. If it rains, you'll get wet, no point trying to really fight that too much, just stay dry enough to be comfortable. You don't need full fenders imo (although they will protect you and the bike better) - you can get by with just something simple (seat post mounted) to stop the skunk stripe.

I have a 9-10 mi commute each way and for tools, etc. all I carry is a spare tube, pump, patch kit and levers. But there at least 2 bike shops on my route if things get really bad.
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Old 03-07-12, 11:05 AM   #13
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Right on. Thanks for the info y'all. I am back and forth about fenders. As I said I still want it to be a MTB but I already gotta switch tires so why not unbolt some fenders too. Or I could just drive. lol. Not to worry for now I guess. Definitely gonna get a windbreaker though. I had to wear my zip up hoodie today as it was kinda chilly. I was sweating pretty good half way through.

I snaked the wifes lights as she said last night, "I am not gonna ride in the dark anyway." She has a cruiser so...most of her stuff wil be at parks and schools or the beach.

Thanks again all.
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Old 03-07-12, 11:12 AM   #14
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If you don't care about getting muddy/wet if it rains, then you can skip the fenders for sure. As far as swapping the tires, you might be better off to buy a second set of wheels & just swap them on & off as you need them. The guy across the street from me does this with his cross bike. Slicks for riding the streets & more aggressive tread for the trails. Swapping wheelsets is a lot easier than swapping tires/tubes.
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Old 03-07-12, 11:42 AM   #15
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Try to justify new wheelsets to my wife. lol
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Old 03-07-12, 05:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MK313 View Post
1. There are so many vairables to speed that it's impossible to give a good number. 10-11 is nothing to be ashamed of, for sure, especially on a mtn bike.

2. If you live in a rainy area, fenders are worthwhile. I'm not a huge fan of bells, but being that half of your commute is on a bike path, I'd install a small one to make life easier. Also, make sure you bring your cell phone (if you have one). Aside from that, you have the essentials covered.

Good luck & keep us posted on how it goes.
Yeah, a small, LOUD one.

My standard recommendations for lights are: www.pricepoint.com Sette Glo HL(secondary 'be seen' use only) and Sette 316 blinkies. The blinkies are as good as Planet Bike Superflash and only cost 10.00USD per. I recommend 3. 2 on the bike and one carried in one's toolkit as a backup.

If you want a good, basic 'to see' HL to work in combo w/t others go to www.nashbar.com and get the Niterider Mi-Newt 150 Cordless for 70.00USD +shipping.

110.00USD for a full coverage lighting system is pretty good bang for the buck.
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