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  1. #1
    dazed and confused newkie's Avatar
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    Relax and Cycle On

    This morning for the first time in weeks we had blue skies and sunshine (2 hours later skies are gray and rain is on the way. See location.). So I was feeling pretty mellow and decided to just relax and enjoy the commute this morning. So I downshifted and took it easy up my hills and downshifted in the wind. This didn't affect speed too much but was much easier on my legs. After my short 4 miles I could have done it all over again... and again.

    See, usually I try to keep it in high gear and hammer it to work to really work up a sweat. But this got me to thinking about you guys with long commutes. Do you play over the gears a lot more to conserve your energy spend?

  2. #2
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    There's a lot of variables in play, so every answer is going to be different. Me, I take it pretty easy every day, probably averaging only about 12mph. But I'm not "training" (some people here are) and have no plans to win the TDF - Also, I like to sight-see on the trip. Others here race to work like all get-out, which is OK too.
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  3. #3
    Se˝ior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I always ride like that. Why would I work harder to make the ride shorter? I like being on the bike. I average about 16.8 MPH, FWIW. I don't try very hard really.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I think it depends on the day. On a gorgeous morning, 15C, no wind, I usually pedal as hard as I can.
    If it's hot and humid, windy, or I don't feel that great, I go a lot slower and downshift quite a bit.
    I've taken the same hill with the highest gear and one of the lowest.

  5. #5
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    Commuting by bike was always the best part of my work day. Unfortunately, I developed a tendency to want to get the whole thing over with, so even on nice days I rode the same speed. Silly, really. Now that I'm retired I'm learning to relax. Too bad I couldn't have done some of that when riding to work.

    The speed I went was determined by weather, pretty much. I knew how hard I was working and simply maintained the same output. With a headwind, I'd go slower. One day I had a tremendous post-storm tailwind and my road speed was such that I got to work in 15 minutes rather than the usual 25.

  6. #6
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    Sometimes its a time trial, sometimes its a casual ride...unless I see a cyclist ahead of me, which is about once a month..then its a race.

  7. #7
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    I got used to my commute, at first I took 1h30 to go my 30.5 kms commute but over a year later I usually cover the distance in 1h05. My personal record is 58min. (did it 3-4 times). So when I take my time, at least once a week, often twice, I still go under 1h15
    Originally Posted by Leebo
    Headwind is like a hill without a soul. Just gear down and suffer.
    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    Headwinds are hills dipped in evil!
    Tabarnac de vent!!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    It's a balancing act. My 50-60 mile round trip commute is through the city, and getting up to speed after the many stop sign/lights is what seems to trash my legs out faster than anything. If I know I won't be riding the next day, I'll push it more in general, but if it looks like I can commute subsequent days, I try to take it a little easier. Today is Day 4, and my legs are definitely not fresh. I had a few energy drains from Days 1-3 I wouldn't mind getting back--pushing over a hill, not wanting to get caught by a cyclist behind me, chasing a green light, quicker starts than needed, etc. :-)

  9. #9
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    I generally push as hard as possible. Not looking to enter the TDF, but do use the time for a workout.

  10. #10
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    I generally ride hard but have tried to slow it down a bit. I took it easy on Tuesday and for some reason my knees were killing me. I drove the last 2 days because I want to take it easy on them. Not sure if I was spinning too much or if I was high geared a little too much and pushing harder but just not going as fast.
    Tailwinds make me feel like Superman and headwinds make me feel like Lois Lane.

  11. #11
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    i usually push myself pretty hard, but that's life when you've got a 15 mile one-way commute and a life full of other engagements.

    besides, going fast is really fun.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  12. #12
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeCommuter View Post
    It's a balancing act. My 50-60 mile round trip commute is through the city, and getting up to speed after the many stop sign/lights is what seems to trash my legs out faster than anything. If I know I won't be riding the next day, I'll push it more in general, but if it looks like I can commute subsequent days, I try to take it a little easier. Today is Day 4, and my legs are definitely not fresh. I had a few energy drains from Days 1-3 I wouldn't mind getting back--pushing over a hill, not wanting to get caught by a cyclist behind me, chasing a green light, quicker starts than needed, etc. :-)
    My commute is shorter than yours, and I'm still settling into my routine and attempting to become a 5-day commuter, but my experience is similar to what you have described well here. There are a couple of areas of my city commute that become sprint efforts every day, and I also try to maintain some reserve energy just in case I need it - sometimes a burst of effort can improve the safety of a situation or help get through a stale green light, so I don't want to be energy-spent going into those situations. Your description of legs not fresh later in the week is something I am dealing with too. 4 days is the best I have done in a week, but I am hoping with continued conditioning and weight loss that 5 day commute weeks will happen soon. That is the long-term goal. If at some point I find that 5 days of commuting is not enough of a workout, well that will be a wonderful place to be fitness-wise and a big improvement for me.

  13. #13
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    I try to ride at about the same tempo I would do a long slow run for marathon+ training. I should be able to hold a conversation, though of course I don't have anybody with me to talk to. Rarely I will pick up the pace, especially if I'm not planning on riding the next day.
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  14. #14
    dazed and confused newkie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I had a rare opportunity at the weekend to escape for a ride along the coast. Normally I don't do more than 6 miles in one go. Took a relaxed pace along the coast and did close to 20 miles (may have stopped for a pint halfway).

    Another thing I'm reminded of is when i briefly took up jogging and at the advice of a friend got a heart rate monitor. According to the monitor the ideal heart rate was a pretty slow jog and not going all out like I had been doing. I remember it had this nagging female voice that would constantly say "slow down". So don't know if there is anything to that, but becoming a gear-weenie may help avoid an anaerobic workout and could maximize weight loss. Also, like the last comment about marathon training (which I know nothing about) I could imagine it is about conserving your reserves so you can go the distance. Sort of obvious, but I don't get out on long rides really so never thought much about it.

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