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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 07-15-12, 10:55 AM   #1
rickyhmltn
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Is this commute Crazy, Normal, or somewhere in between?

I live in the Appalachian Mountains and my commute is about 14 miles each way (28 RT) I must go over a mountain to get there. It's not really practical to commute but I do enjoy it.

Anyway my route is nothing but four lane traffic. Cars, trucks, and 18 wheel coal trucks going between 55-75mph. I do have a 4' - 4.5' shoulder pretty much all the way there though that I stay on the far side of.

What do you consider this commute? I don't get to do it often at most twice a week. Once a week is more like it and sometimes less than that.

Anyway here is a picture from the very route that I go on for you to have a visual:

http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/touring...adshoulder.jpg

What do you think? Part of this the route 76 bicycle route.

Would you commute like this? Why or why not?
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Old 07-15-12, 11:06 AM   #2
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Hey there Ricky!

I'd do it on a HT MTB 29er or better yet, a Marin Muirwoods 29er, or perhaps even a Surly Ogre!

I'd stay all the way to the right, as far as possible!

I'd wear a reflective orange and yellow vest. I'd also attach a bright red flag to stand up about 1.5 to 2 ft above my head, just for the trucks to see.

However, you're right...

That could be quite dangerous, if you're commuting like that for 28 miles RT!

Good Luck!

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Old 07-15-12, 11:54 AM   #3
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Looks like a piece of cake to me if the surface is reasonably smooth and clean. 11 mph up hill and 35 mph down.
+1 -- ride a foot from the right or 2 ft from the guardrails. Added bonus is the traffic breeze is usually good for 2 or 3 mph boost. Forget the MTB BS.
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Old 07-15-12, 11:55 AM   #4
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Is that a gravel shoulder or is it concrete? I can't really tell from the photo.
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Old 07-15-12, 12:05 PM   #5
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Hey there Ricky!

I'd do it on a HT MTB 29er or better yet, a Marin Muirwoods 29er!
That's my bike, but if he's riding on a road like that, he might be better off on a cross bike if it's somewhat rough. I mean the fat tires on the Muirwoods 29er soaks up a lot of stuff, but for long distance, the position really isn't ideal as far as a aerodynamics go. In an urban environment where speed is dictated by stop lights and traffic, it's not such a big deal, but on open road like in that photo, the situation is quite different. I mean it's very seldom that I go more than about 500 ft without stopping or slowing down.

Look at the plot of my speed indicated by the purple graph. I think the resolution is one reading per 10 seconds which is why it does not indicate a zero reading at every stop; but then again a lot of stop signs I coast through at a low speed if there is no traffic.

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Old 07-15-12, 12:08 PM   #6
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Looks like a piece of cake to me if the surface is reasonably smooth and clean.
If the shoulder surface is good, it is a a scrumptious piece of cake compared to the 55mph highway without a usable shoulder I commuted on for 7 years.
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Old 07-15-12, 12:10 PM   #7
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I think it's crazy. But I'd probably do it to, at least every now and again.
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Old 07-15-12, 01:03 PM   #8
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http://s240.photobucket.com/albums/f...6-29_121_1.jpg

Another pic.
I have about only a mile or two of this type of road. I make a left at the end of this and then it's 4 lane traffic (two lanes on each side of the medium) for about 12 miles like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_23_KY.jpg

It's concrete but keeps a alot of debris on it. road kills, glass from wrecks, shredded tire from when 18 wheelers pop a tire, loose gravel.

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Old 07-15-12, 01:15 PM   #9
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There's no alternate route? 14 miles each way is not too bad, a mountain is okay too. But that road doesn't look very friendly to me, and that would be the deal breaker. I would be willing to ride 10 miles out of my way just to avoid that.
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Old 07-15-12, 01:31 PM   #10
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There's no alternate route? 14 miles each way is not too bad, a mountain is okay too. But that road doesn't look very friendly to me, and that would be the deal breaker. I would be willing to ride 10 miles out of my way just to avoid that.
Unfort. no. Notice in this pic:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_23_KY.jpg You'll see the road has been created in between the mountain. Where that highway is, use to be the middle of the mountain until it was "cut through".

The roads here are created by destroying the middle of mountains and creating a highway in between them. As you can guess it's expensive to do this so it's the only route to get there.
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Old 07-15-12, 01:38 PM   #11
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That's my bike, but if he's riding on a road like that, he might be better off on a cross bike if it's somewhat rough. I mean the fat tires on the Muirwoods 29er soaks up a lot of stuff, but for long distance, the position really isn't ideal as far as a aerodynamics go. In an urban environment where speed is dictated by stop lights and traffic, it's not such a big deal, but on open road like in that photo, the situation is quite different. I mean it's very seldom that I go more than about 500 ft without stopping or slowing down.

Look at the plot of my speed indicated by the purple graph. I think the resolution is one reading per 10 seconds which is why it does not indicate a zero reading at every stop; but then again a lot of stop signs I coast through at a low speed if there is no traffic.

The Muirwoods 29er would traverse that gravel much better than a CX bike IMO. A HT 29er MTB, or the Muirwoods 29er, would do better, due to the terrain alone. Aerodynamics gets cancelled when the terrain is loose gravel on a steady incline...

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Old 07-15-12, 01:39 PM   #12
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It's not so bad, at least from a quick visual inspection. I'd say the x-factor would be the quantity and friendliness of the local traffic. The professional drivers, while loud, are extremely motivated not to hit you.
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Old 07-15-12, 02:28 PM   #13
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http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm w/28mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus. Stock tires are too soft for asphalt. Get full coverage fenders 700 FE2506 from www.bikeisland.com No shipping. Strong combination of climbing gearing and top end. Sora/Taigra comps are fine. The cantis are a little iffy for your decent. May want to go to discs.

But, no I don't think you're crazy. Plenty of room to the right for commuting w/comparatively minimal danger.
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Old 07-15-12, 02:33 PM   #14
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You could probably do it with reasonable safety if you keep to the right but I'll bet you will be going through quite a few tires.
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Old 07-15-12, 02:46 PM   #15
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You could probably do it with reasonable safety if you keep to the right but I'll bet you will be going through quite a few tires.
Yeah
Well I got my Trek 7.1 in Oct of last year and already replacing them. Back tire got a big slash in it almost exposing the tube. I got the Bontrager H4 in, gonna give those a shot.
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Old 07-15-12, 10:05 PM   #16
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Crazy.
Much more fun since I purchased the Schwinn Crosscut.
The Trek Alpha 2.1 is fun, fast but not comfy and a tad too flashy. Ive moved away from branding all over the bike.

I was always afraid something was going to crack, I was going to get a flat. Someone was going to bash me in the head.
It really is a sturdy bike but I love the Crosscut for my commuting needs.
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Old 07-16-12, 12:29 AM   #17
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I'd do it. I prefer riding 6' from 60 mph traffic to riding 2' from 45 mph traffic any day.

Get some Mr. Tuffy tire liners.

I often do a century that's about 90 miles on Interstate 5. I bring 2 tubes, 1 spare tire, patch kit and more...
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Old 07-16-12, 12:41 AM   #18
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I'd do it. I prefer riding 6' from 60 mph traffic to riding 2' from 45 mph traffic any day.

Get some Mr. Tuffy tire liners.

I often do a century that's about 90 miles on Interstate 5. I bring 2 tubes, 1 spare tire, patch kit and more...
Hey there Lester!

Which bike do you ride on Interstate 5?

Would you ride on that loose gravel on that same bike?

Thanks!

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Old 07-16-12, 01:04 AM   #19
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I've ridden a Pinarello Record (sweet '80s roadie with 26mm tires max) and a KHS Montana (badass 1997 rigid MTB with Michelin Country Rock semi-slicks) for long distances on I-5.

The more gravel involved the more I'd tend towards the KHS.

My old Univega Super Special road bike took 35mm CX knobbies just fine and KILLED on the gravel, so I'd ride that on loose gravel.

I'm wanting to get into gravel grinding races. Most folks run old roadies/CX rigs/MTBs and they seem to be pretty low key. That's my kinda scene.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:46 AM   #20
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I do some highway riding, I don't know if I would want to do this ride at night, in my experience that's when the majority of the trucks that drive coast to coast hit the highway.
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Old 07-16-12, 07:37 AM   #21
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Shoulder looks a lot wider than 4 feet in the pictues - so from that perspective I'd say do the ride if you enjoy it. I"m not sure I'd enjoy riding on a busy 4 lane hwy for 20+ miles a day -- but it's hard to tell how much traffic is on it also.
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Old 07-16-12, 08:51 AM   #22
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That wide shoulder looks a lot better than the 2-lane hilly roads with no shoulder I would have to ride on. Hilly and no shoulder means cars have to wait behind me until they crest the hill before they can pass, which likely means there will be some impatient drivers.

There is one stretch for about 1.5 miles of 4-lane 55-MPH speed limit, which actually has marked bike lanes on both sides. I'd say the road looks about similar to the pics you posted above, minus the blasted out mountains.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:06 AM   #23
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I've ridden a Pinarello Record (sweet '80s roadie with 26mm tires max) and a KHS Montana (badass 1997 rigid MTB with Michelin Country Rock semi-slicks) for long distances on I-5.

The more gravel involved the more I'd tend towards the KHS.


My old Univega Super Special road bike took 35mm CX knobbies just fine and KILLED on the gravel, so I'd ride that on loose gravel.

I'm wanting to get into gravel grinding races. Most folks run old roadies/CX rigs/MTBs and they seem to be pretty low key. That's my kinda scene.
I can't even imagine 20 miles of loose gravel on a inclining shoulder...I'd have to have some wide MTB tires for that stuff!

If it wasn't for the incline, I'd recommend the Pugsley or perhaps even the Moonlander...

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Old 07-16-12, 02:54 PM   #24
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I hate to say it, but that doesn't sound like much fun to me and I don't think I'd commute by bike if that were the only route. Too bad there aren't MTB trails you could take to get there.
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Old 07-16-12, 03:04 PM   #25
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Is this deep gravel, shallow gravel or fresh chipseal?

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