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  1. #1
    Senior Member rekon's Avatar
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    So, I did my first commute to work today...

    And it went surprisingly well. I never realized how scenic the back roads are compared to the freeway. The highlights were getting to work without much sweat and going downhill for 1.3 miles at approx. 30 MPH . On the way down the bike lane was closed. I took up the whole lane as a precaution (some advise i picked up on this forum).


    The worst part was the commute back home up that 1.3 mile hill! I have to admit - I walked half of it. It was a nice day in SoCal... about 77 degrees. I can't imagine how rough it would be in the summer.

    I bought my Jamis Nova Sport specifically for commuting. Should I regret not picking up a triple crank bike? Or should I just toughen up and build strength & endurance? If you have any experiences to share that would be helpful.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Good for you! It's amazing how satisfying bike commuting can be, isn't it? Taking the lane in that spot where the bike lane was closed was a good idea. I've gotten more comfortable doing that too. Is your bike a compact double? If so, unless that hill is super steep, I'm guessing you'll be okay once you build up some climbing muscles. Just try to make it a little farther up the hill each day and eventually you'll get to the point where you zoom right up it.

    Congratulations on your first commute!

  3. #3
    Senior Member rekon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant Doofus View Post
    Good for you! It's amazing how satisfying bike commuting can be, isn't it? Taking the lane in that spot where the bike lane was closed was a good idea. I've gotten more comfortable doing that too. Is your bike a compact double? If so, unless that hill is super steep, I'm guessing you'll be okay once you build up some climbing muscles. Just try to make it a little farther up the hill each day and eventually you'll get to the point where you zoom right up it.

    Congratulations on your first commute!
    Thank you and yes it was very satisfying! My bike is a compact double. The hill has a few parts that are super steep but not too bad. It's the consistent incline kills me! lol I'll keep training.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekon View Post
    Thank you and yes it was very satisfying! My bike is a compact double. The hill has a few parts that are super steep but not too bad. It's the consistent incline kills me! lol I'll keep training.
    At least you don't have to go up it on the way to work. You'd arrive sweat drenched!

  5. #5
    High Plains Luddite
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    I started in June of last year - very out of shape. The first week was awful with all the hills. By September, I was going up them at a pretty brisk clip. You'll get in shape before you know it.

    That's the part I'm dreading again after a long Colorado winter....

    Signed,

    Fatty

  6. #6
    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    If you start liking it enough to routinely take that route, at least during nicer weather, consider using a trainer on the nastier months. Or even just in addition to road cycling, the trainer is perfect for building functional endurance that can make those long hills seem like gentle slopes.

    Riding the trainer during the winter, and continuing to commute on studded tires meant when I went back to slicks I set personal record times without even trying. Ok ok I had a nice tail wind, but really I wasn't pushing it at all and still set that pr. Those studded tires felt like rolling on octagons compared to slicks, maybe octacontgon would be more accuratel, but you get the idea.

  7. #7
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    I have a long climb on both ends of my commute. When I first started I struggled to finish the climb. Over time it got easier, and I got faster.

    One tip I got was for longer climbs make sure you are keeping a good cadence. If you start pushing really hard and peddling slow your likely to start walking sooner then if you can keep your cadence up.

    I am sure a lot of people could give you better advice, but try different gears/cadence and see if it helps.

  8. #8
    Senior Member blakcloud's Avatar
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    You will be fine with your compact double 50-34 and 11-30 cogset. The hill may seem long now but in time will be nothing. Everyone has their own strategies to climbing but mine is to break it down into sections and just think about the section I am in. I might choose a corner or a telephone pole a third of the way up and just think about getting to that pole. Then I pick a second spot and concentrate on that. The last is top of the hill and I concentrate on that. Small accomplishments, one big goal.

    Like mstraus says, don't push it in the beginning, keep it light, save your energy for when you are getting closer to the top of the hill. Remember it is not a race, but just a ride. It should be fun.

    Congratulations on your first commute. You have a great bike, great climate for commuting and a scenic route, what more could you ask for?

  9. #9
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    Congrats on your first. I've got a hilly commute that I ride with a compact double and I carry a decent amount of stuff (two panniers). If you're otherwise happy with your bike, you'll get accustomed to it.
    I have a nasty little staircase-like section that took me a bit before I reached the point where I never had to walk it.

  10. #10
    I heart moonsaddle cyclebee's Avatar
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    Very nice if you do this commute every day in no time you will be racing up the hill

  11. #11
    Senior Member rekon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant Doofus View Post
    At least you don't have to go up it on the way to work. You'd arrive sweat drenched!
    True that!!

  12. #12
    Senior Member rekon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
    Everyone has their own strategies to climbing but mine is to break it down into sections and just think about the section I am in. I might choose a corner or a telephone pole a third of the way up and just think about getting to that pole. Then I pick a second spot and concentrate on that. The last is top of the hill and I concentrate on that. Small accomplishments, one big goal.
    Great advice, I will try doing this and breaking it up into sections.

  13. #13
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    I can't imagine that a triple crank would make the hill any easier. If it were the steepness that was getting you I'd say you could use those lower gears, but it sounds like it's just an intimidating distance.

    I climb about a mile on a single speed every day. I find the key is keeping a good cadence (or else I have to get out of the saddle, since I can't just down shift). I also find that my hand position and posture are both important or else I feel it in my back instead of my legs. Finally, a lot of it is mental. Don't thing of it being a 1.3 mile objective, it will just make you want to walk up it. Break it up into sections and think of each attempt as training for the next one.

  14. #14
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Nice report on your first commute. As others have said, the hill will get easier.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  15. #15
    Senior Member EnsitMike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekon View Post
    I can't imagine how rough it would be in the summer.
    Summers are brutal. I wouldn't dare commute during it, haha.

  16. #16
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    I also have a hilly commute, and also use a 34-50 compact double and 11-28 cassette. Many places are still pretty hard for me even now almost a year later. Unfortunately I believe my recently-diagnosed heart condition has held me back from getting much better.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
    Everyone has their own strategies to climbing but mine is to break it down into sections and just think about the section I am in. I might choose a corner or a telephone pole a third of the way up and just think about getting to that pole. Then I pick a second spot and concentrate on that. The last is top of the hill and I concentrate on that. Small accomplishments, one big goal.
    That is a great way to think about it mentally. I actually do it verr similarly, although my big climb is broken naturally by a number of sections that flatten out briefly before the next section, giving me natural sections along the way.

  18. #18
    Senior Member rekon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnsitMike View Post
    Summers are brutal. I wouldn't dare commute during it, haha.
    Yeah, summers get into the low hundreds here. Commuting in the morning shouldn't be bad but the afternoon would be killer! I suppose it's a good excuse for me to work later and leave when it cools down!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekon View Post
    Yeah, summers get into the low hundreds here. Commuting in the morning shouldn't be bad but the afternoon would be killer! I suppose it's a good excuse for me to work later and leave when it cools down!
    Believe it or not, you'd survive. And it won't be as bad as you think.

  20. #20
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    I commuted all last summer. The temp readout on my bike computer got as high as 107 I think.
    2011 Felt Z85 105 | Ultegra | KMC | Selle Italia | Vuelta | Topeak
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  21. #21
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    Breaking up the climb is solid advice. Congrats on your effort. Like mentioned, you will be able to ride entire uphill section with time. I don't have to deal with much of any hills, but heading to work is uphill. I think being able to go downhill on your way to work is the best way to have it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rekon View Post
    Yeah, summers get into the low hundreds here. Commuting in the morning shouldn't be bad but the afternoon would be killer! I suppose it's a good excuse for me to work later and leave when it cools down!
    Triple digits aren't a big deal as long as you're moving. The dry air flowing past you does a pretty good job keeping the sweat to a minimum. I can't count the number of times I was zipping around in the triple digits comfortable and dry only to stop at a coffee shop and suddenly start sweating buckets. A nice cool down really helps.

    That hill you've gotta climb could soak your shirt though.

  23. #23
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saving Hawaii View Post
    Triple digits aren't a big deal as long as you're moving. The dry air flowing past you does a pretty good job keeping the sweat to a minimum. I can't count the number of times I was zipping around in the triple digits comfortable and dry only to stop at a coffee shop and suddenly start sweating buckets. A nice cool down really helps.

    That hill you've gotta climb could soak your shirt though.
    Oh yeah I heard that. Always hottest when I'm stopped.

    Another thing for me in the summer is that any day when the humidity is a bit lower or there is a break in the heat, usually means the winds are out of the north, which makes my ride home more difficult as I'm mostly going from south to north. If it's hotter and/or more humid, I will likely have a tail wind and a faster ride home.
    2011 Felt Z85 105 | Ultegra | KMC | Selle Italia | Vuelta | Topeak
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  24. #24
    Senior Member FedericoMena's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your commute! As others said, the hill will get easier. And the advice about increasing your cadence is spot-on: my LBS guy told me to do that when I commented about hills being hard, and it's the best damn piece of advice I've gotten.

    Two things that help me here in the heat/sun: long sleeved shirts, and water with lime+sugar and a bit of salt. About 1/3 teaspoon per liter of salt, I'd say - but I sweat like a pig regardless of heat, anyway

  25. #25
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Congratulations
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

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