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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 07-04-12, 03:52 PM   #1
Evahrt Report
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First day of commuting by bike tomorrow...

Tomorrow morning will be the first day that I will be riding my bike to work. It is about 20miles one way. I have rode the route 4 time there and back and have had no issues. I plan to start one day a week and hopefully get to 3-4 days a week.

I plan on it taking me a little less than two hours based on my times of testing out the route. It would be faster but I have a sluggish mountain bike and I'm still pretty new to cycling so my speed isn't exceptional. Only thing that sucks is I have to be to work by 5am on Thursdays and 4:30am Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I can't ride on Mondays because I don't have an opportunity to make it to the showers on Mondays.


Any general advice for a new commuter???? I think I have all my bases covered but any input would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-04-12, 04:05 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great plan. I started just like you did, same approach, except you have done full practice runs, whereas I only did a practice run half-way and back once before I tried. My commute is only 6 miles, but I could have gone further, even on that first day.

You may get a little bit of butterflies the night before and morning of, but doing it once successfully, working that day, and getting home will feel fantastic. You will love the sense of accomplishment. It gets easier after that. Take a cellphone for sure, it is a nice Plan B and a reassurance in case anything pops up and you need to call a ride. Also, allow yourself cushion time to cool down at the other end.

I've been at it for a couple of months now and am up to 3-4 days per week. You can do it.
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Old 07-04-12, 05:07 PM   #3
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Sounds like you've thought it through. Make sure you have your tires aired up, and have a flat kit (tube, levers, and pump) just in case. You might want to think about changing your tires to slicks, if you haven't done so already. Since you have to start so early and in the dark, you have lights, right?

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 07-04-12, 05:08 PM   #4
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Sounds like you're ready. Enjoy the ride!
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Old 07-04-12, 05:19 PM   #5
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Thanks for the support!

I do have lights and I will be wearing some reflective gear. I don't have a flat kit which makes me a little paranoid but it is a paved trail that I will be taking. I plan on getting a flat kit once I get paid again...Money is tight.

I also plan to save up for some slicks.

If I can start to commute enough to make my gas tank last 2 weeks instead of 1 week then I will be saving about $90 a month which will help with the bills and give me some money to put into the bike!
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Old 07-04-12, 05:28 PM   #6
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Bad idea, sell the bike and get a car!!!
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Old 07-04-12, 05:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Evahrt Report View Post
Thanks for the support!

I do have lights and I will be wearing some reflective gear. I don't have a flat kit which makes me a little paranoid but it is a paved trail that I will be taking. I plan on getting a flat kit once I get paid again...Money is tight.

I also plan to save up for some slicks.

If I can start to commute enough to make my gas tank last 2 weeks instead of 1 week then I will be saving about $90 a month which will help with the bills and give me some money to put into the bike!
Slicks and tire repair kit were the first things I got when I started commuting, they're essentials. For the gaz money you'll see it's quite hard to not spend it all on the bike, I saved about 600$ so far in the last 2 month and I spent about 400$ on bike items (new pump, new shorts, new helmet, new pedals, more powerful light, a new computer, better tires and a few other things.)
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Old 07-05-12, 05:55 AM   #8
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I rode in Specialized Fatboys (slicks) for a long time when I rode my Mountain bike in to work. They were pretty cheap (around $25-$25 each) and really helped with the commute time. Good luck. It's a long commute, but my commute is the best part of my day.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:08 AM   #9
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A patch kit is $3-4, so skimp on a couple of cups of coffee and get one, and tire irons maybe the same price. I assume you have a pump already. Paved trail or not, flats do happen, and you don't want to be 10 miles from home, 10 miles from work and unable to get anywhere.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:30 AM   #10
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Good luck on the commute, set yourself some goals, get past the first day, first week then first month and I promise you won't look back.

I had to get back on my back after a long time off it, and have saved over £400 by not using car/bus. I feel fitter, am still slightly nervous when I have to join a highway (but its only for about 10% of my trip).

Panniers have certainly helped, I was sweating so much with a back pack, but now I give myself plenty of time, I take it easy and ensure I get about 15 mins the other end for my body cool down.

Good luck, post details of how you get on!

Puff
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Old 07-05-12, 06:55 AM   #11
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When you can afford it, consider Conti Sport Contact 26x1.6” tires. They are slicks and quite fast as well as being quite impervious to flats. Riding on pavement is good, but typically where bikes can ride, road trash accumulates and can cause flats.

One thing to keep in mind is, you don’t have to go the entire distance by bike. When I was commuting the first 6 or 8 mi. were terrible traffic areas in the afternoon. I packed up my bike and drove a little less than half way, then had a very nice 10 mi. ride into work and I didn’t have to put up with narrow roads choked with afternoon traffic on the way home.

Leave yourself enough time when you arrive to cool down. It is very hot at the moment where I am and after a hard ride it takes a while to cool down before a shower. You may or may not have access to a shower. You may, like many of us, have to learn the art of the shower from a wash bowl.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
A patch kit is $3-4, so skimp on a couple of cups of coffee and get one, and tire irons maybe the same price. I assume you have a pump already. Paved trail or not, flats do happen, and you don't want to be 10 miles from home, 10 miles from work and unable to get anywhere.
+1

Can't stress a flat repair kit enough. I had a spate of flats for around a week and had to wait until payday to get new tires. It sucks when I'm riding and I hear the hissing sound of a tire that was just punctured.

I can't imagine how much more it would suck if I was trying to get to work and I had no way to fix the flat.
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Old 07-05-12, 08:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
A patch kit is $3-4, so skimp on a couple of cups of coffee and get one, and tire irons maybe the same price. I assume you have a pump already. Paved trail or not, flats do happen, and you don't want to be 10 miles from home, 10 miles from work and unable to get anywhere.
+1 except don't skimp on the tire irons. Nothing wit ruin your day worse than breaking one and having to scratch a nice set of rims with a key.

My commute is 65 miles, so I do all but the last five by train. I'm at work by 6:30, five days a week. Total transit time 90 min. Sixty minutes of that I get to read or sleep.
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Old 07-05-12, 08:25 AM   #14
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How are you carrying your gear/clothes/whatever? For a twenty mile ride I'd recommend not carrying this on your back. I ride 10 miles and use a backpack when I take my road bike but have a rack and bag for my regular commuter bike. I'd prefer to have a rack on my road bike but it would look silly on carbon fiber.
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Old 07-05-12, 08:38 AM   #15
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I'd prefer to have a rack on my road bike but it would look silly on carbon fiber.
I fitted a bike rack on my cheapest roadbike and commute everyday with it, it does looks silly but it's faster. I keep my other bike (a nice vintage Bianchi) for my sunny sunday ride!
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Old 07-05-12, 09:33 AM   #16
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Welcome to the bike commuting world. Since you're in the DC area, also check out the Washington Area Bike Forum.
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Old 07-05-12, 12:09 PM   #17
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Wow. That's a helluva long and early commute. I feel your pain about early, but mine is not quite as far.

On top of the other good advice already given, I would only add this;

-keep the weight off. Pannier/trunk bag is much better than backpack.
-have a backup plan. Get familiar with transit options and keep enough $ or transit card with you (for a round trip) at ALL Times, just in case.
-good lights. You really can't spend too much in this department.

Also, keep it interesting. The best way to stop commuting is to get bored with it. So find a way to mix it up. If tracking mileage/breaking speeds is your thing, get a free app on your phone to do so. I like Strava, but there are others. If scenery is your thing, check out google maps/bike. It can help you find various routs you may have not even considered.
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Old 07-05-12, 01:19 PM   #18
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Welcome To Bike Forums, Evahrt!

I say, keep the MTB as a spare, just in case of an emergency. However, traveling the distance that you're traveling, I think that you should either get a performance hybrid with barends, or a genuine road bike. If you can't afford a new one at this time, then just monitor your local Craigslist, to see what's available. Meanwhile, get some slicks for your MTB and roll on!

Join a nearby bicycle co-op, so that the leadership or bicycle mechanics there, can assist you with locating a chromoly steel bicycle frame. They will also be available to provide you information concerning any repairs, ugrades, or adjustments, once you've found a bicycle frame.

Locating a bicycle on your local Craigslist:

Make certain that you have someone with you who "knows bikes". That will be your "expert". Have your "expert" inspect the CL bike, both before and after your twenty minute test ride. Your expert should be able to advise you about the overall condition of the bike and your approximate fit upon the bike's frame. If you suspect that the bike is little too large, it most probably is, so don't buy it!

Buying New:

Always buy new, if you can afford it and know exactly what you're looking for. The following would be my recommendations:

1) The Jamis Satellite Comp ~ $1000
www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/road/satellite/12_satellitecomp.html

2) The Jamis Satellite Sport ~ $700

www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/road/satellite/12_satellitesport_gy.html

3) The Motobecane Fantom Cross Outlaw ~ $1000
www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/outlaw.htm
(Get the brushed silver model. It's gorgeous!)

4) The Jamis Coda Comp ~ $775
www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/street/coda/12_codacomp_bk.html

5) The Jamis Coda Sport ~ $560
www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/street/coda/12_codasport_bk.html

Good Luck!

PS.

Always stick with steel when buying used, unless you know about the frame's history...

Last edited by SlimRider; 07-05-12 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 07-05-12, 01:36 PM   #19
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Something to NOT skimp on is the pump you carry with you to fix flats - I struggled with a cheap one wayyyyy too long before I got a Lezyne Micro HP drive. Best $30 I ever spent.
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Old 07-05-12, 01:53 PM   #20
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It was 85F this morning and now is close to 100F. Most don't start bike commuting in this ridiculous heat and humidity. Drink lots of water all day to stay hydrated. Your body needs to store water for this weather, like a camel. Go slow and take breaks as necessary. At least you get to ride to work during the coolest part of the day.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:21 PM   #21
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I'm sure the OP is relaxing with a beer right now celebrating his success while typing a detailed report. Waiting...

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Old 07-05-12, 07:20 PM   #22
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Thank you all again for all the support and info.

First day went well. I made it to work with no issues.

I must admit though that I did ***** out and got a ride home from a neighbor that I work with. I was planning on riding home but the opportunity presented itself to get a ride and it was almost 100 outside.

I will be buying a flat kit this weekend. I cannot afford to be stranded in the middle of my commute.

Between money and things my priorities are:

1. Flat kit
2. Mace
3. Slicks (thank you for all of the suggestions)
4. Maybe a road bike

I have more to share but the wife wants attention....
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Old 07-05-12, 07:27 PM   #23
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Nice , man! Glad it went well! Good idea on buying the Mace!
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Old 07-05-12, 07:50 PM   #24
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Congrats on your first commute.

No shame is getting a lift. I put my bike on the front of the bus most days for part of my commute. A nice air-conditioned SAG.

What's up with needing spray?
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Old 07-05-12, 08:01 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evahrt Report View Post
Thank you all again for all the support and info.

First day went well. I made it to work with no issues.

I must admit though that I did ***** out and got a ride home from a neighbor that I work with. I was planning on riding home but the opportunity presented itself to get a ride and it was almost 100 outside.

I will be buying a flat kit this weekend. I cannot afford to be stranded in the middle of my commute.

Between money and things my priorities are:

1. Flat kit
2. Mace
3. Slicks (thank you for all of the suggestions)
4. Maybe a road bike

I have more to share but the wife wants attention....
Great job. I commuted occasionally (rarely, actually) at my old job. Maybe soon at the new place.

As far as tires go... If you do a search, you will find lots of suggestions. Some pretty good ones aren't very expensive, either.

You can do that until you're sure it's for you, then maybe think about getting a road/touring/cyclocross type bike. Your ride is definitely long enough to warrant that, but really, if you're comfortable on the MTB, riding that with slicks should serve you well. Maybe bar ends, if you find you need more hand positions.
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