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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 05-14-14, 07:33 PM   #1
mefford509
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Good Eveing! About to Embark on Commuting to work...

I have come to the forums as I mentally prepare for a new goal. I need excercize and I am working only 4 miles from my home. SO this year I have decided to ride a bike to work. TO some this earns a high 5... although I am 5 feet 1 in tall and over 200 lbs so this will be a challange, but one I am excited to try.

I have a few questions:

If there is no way to shower at the office, what do people do to de-sweat themselves. Sponge bath?
Truth be told, this is my biggest worry.... Will this really be fesable?

I saw it mentioned that 27 in tires should be avoided, but I could not find an answer of why?
I just picked up a used 10 speed bike with 27 in tires.. Is this a concern or just a personal preference for some..

THanks so much... Commuting each day with healthier eating should help me reach my goal of better health. FINGERS CROSSED

Nina
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Old 05-14-14, 07:43 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums

I moved your thread from Introductions to here in Commuting so that you'll likely get quicker responses.
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Old 05-14-14, 07:56 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard!

Where you live has more to do with sweat than anything. Really super hot or humid, you'll sweat. 4 miles for a beginner sounds about right. The main thing is to not work so hard that you're sweating. Steady pace where you feel like you're working but not challenged is the secret to avoiding sweat. On hot days.... really good antiperspirant deodorant and some cold water in bottle should help keep your core temperature down enough and keep sweat minimized and unnoticeable to others. Cooling down & staying cool is a HUGE deal, as your body will still be needing elevated levels of water & oxygen for up to 2 hours after you're parked and doing your daily activities.

So in short, don't over-work yourself, and dress for the weather. If you're warm when you set out, you'll be too warm riding.

- Andy
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Old 05-14-14, 08:00 PM   #4
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This is a wonderful goal. You might want to start by biking just a couple of days each week. Build up slowly. Trust me, it's addictive! In hot weather I bring along a wash cloth, zip lock bag, and a witch hazel and water combination. Pour the witch hazel and water over the wash cloth inside the bag and then use it to wipe down. Then take the wash cloth home in the bag to launder. If you can stand in front of a fan, that's ideal. If that's not possible, then just hanging out in an air conditioned bathroom stall while you cool down will do. Good luck!
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Old 05-14-14, 08:02 PM   #5
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Transitbiker's advice is great. Definitely don't try to hurry to work. Pedaling at a relaxed pace is the key to getting there with minimal sweat. Don't worry, you are still getting plenty of exercise.

edit: 27" tires are fine.
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Old 05-14-14, 08:08 PM   #6
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The walk-in freezer at my local Tower Mart is amazing. You can be dashing around on a scorching hot day and go run into that thing for a couple minutes and feel wonderful. And they're pretty much 100% cool with people coming to their store just to loiter in the freezer.
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Old 05-14-14, 08:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mefford509 View Post
I have come to the forums as I mentally prepare for a new goal. I need excercize and I am working only 4 miles from my home. SO this year I have decided to ride a bike to work. TO some this earns a high 5... although I am 5 feet 1 in tall and over 200 lbs so this will be a challange, but one I am excited to try.

I have a few questions:

If there is no way to shower at the office, what do people do to de-sweat themselves. Sponge bath?
Truth be told, this is my biggest worry.... Will this really be fesable?

I saw it mentioned that 27 in tires should be avoided, but I could not find an answer of why?
I just picked up a used 10 speed bike with 27 in tires.. Is this a concern or just a personal preference for some..

THanks so much... Commuting each day with healthier eating should help me reach my goal of better health. FINGERS CROSSED

Nina
Yeah, some people just wipe themselves down after they get to work. Giant Doofus has some good suggestions.

I'd make a practice trip or two on non-work days to get comfortable with the route and see if the distance and any hills are manageable given your current fitness level. Four miles each way might be really easy for you, or it might not. If the whole distance seems too long, you can put your bike in the car and park it half way between work and home until you're comfortable doing the whole distance on the bike.

Lastly there's no problem with 27 inch tires other than a limited selection at bike shops. Newer road bikes typically use slightly smaller "700c" tires rather than 27 inch so that's what you'll find a bigger variety of in stores. You can use the same tubes for either as long as they are the right width.

If you haven't ridden a bike much in awhile it may take a bit for your body to adjust. You may get a little sore but if your back, neck, wrists, knees, or shoulders start and continue to bother you while riding it could be a fit problem. Forgive me if I'm talking about stuff you already know. The only reason I mention it is that I wouldn't want a problem that could be solved with some minor adjustments to your bike to keep you from riding.

Last edited by tjspiel; 05-14-14 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 05-14-14, 08:29 PM   #8
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Bring some baby wipes, deodorant and a clean shirt. After you cool down in the air conditioning, wipe down with the baby wipes in the restroom, apply deodorant and change your shirt. You'll end up smelling and feeling better than usual.

27 inch tires are fine. Make sure you pack an extra inner tube (or 2) in your backpack and a frame-mounted hand pump. A lot of complaints about 27 inch tires are just that they are sometimes harder to find. Make sure you've got a source, or shop online for them at nashbar.com or a similar online bike retailer.

Have fun! You'll love it - great way to start the day.
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Old 05-14-14, 09:03 PM   #9
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During warm weather, if you can't wear shorts at work, you may want to bike in them and have "office" clothes at the office. andyprough already mentioned having a clean shirt, but I tend to change out as much as I can. I use my car days to tote the office clothes to and fro.

Also in warm weather, I take my coffee iced instead of hot. That (or some other cool drink) also helps with the cool down.
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Old 05-14-14, 10:12 PM   #10
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Also in warm weather, I take my coffee iced instead of hot. That (or some other cool drink) also helps with the cool down.
Yup - I've become a dedicated iced coffee drinker in the Texas heat. Fill the water bottle up with it before every morning commute ride.
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Old 05-14-14, 10:14 PM   #11
Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by mefford509 View Post
...I have a few questions:

If there is no way to shower at the office, what do people do to de-sweat themselves. Sponge bath?
Truth be told, this is my biggest worry.... Will this really be fesable?...
See this thread for IMO a good discussion.
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Old 05-15-14, 12:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mefford509 View Post
If there is no way to shower at the office, what do people do to de-sweat themselves. Sponge bath?
Truth be told, this is my biggest worry.... Will this really be fesable?
For most people (don't know if all), if you shower in the morning (or even the night before), sweating won't smell. Sweat + bacteria causes body odor, if you wash the bacteria off by showering, then it's not a problem.

Another trick is that for the last mile (or half mile), don't bike very hard at all. Biking is basically like standing in front of a fan - if you're working hard you'll still sweat, but if you take it easy you will dry off as the air passes over you, and when you fully arrive you'll be fairly dry again (if the temps aren't extremely high).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mefford509 View Post
I saw it mentioned that 27 in tires should be avoided, but I could not find an answer of why?
I just picked up a used 10 speed bike with 27 in tires.. Is this a concern or just a personal preference for some...
As another poster said, I don't think it's a big deal, just a more limited tire selection. One other thing to mention is that flat-resistant tires are far more flat resistant than...non flat resistant tires. Unfortunately, I cannot easily tell what kind you have over the internet.

And one more trick - if you have a cube or an office, you can leave most of your clothing at work and not have to carry it. It's a little easier for me as a guy I suppose (lol), but I leave shoes, jeans, and a spare shirt at work so I don't have to transport them back and forth.
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Old 05-15-14, 12:41 AM   #13
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If you work first thing in the morning, try to get there earlier than most others. Secure your bike and rush to the restroom. That's where you can wash up and quickly change your shirt.

Always keep deodorant and a fresh shirt or two at your workplace....
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Old 05-15-14, 01:36 AM   #14
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Good evening

and

good luck!
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Old 05-15-14, 04:57 AM   #15
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I don't have anything to add that hasn't been said already, lots of great advice, other than the iced coffee...that's just gross... Good luck to ya as you venture into a healthier lifestyle.

p.s...Welcome to the forums!

Last edited by Dzrtrat; 05-15-14 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 05-15-14, 06:49 AM   #16
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Good advice ... welcome to the fun!
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Old 05-15-14, 07:18 AM   #17
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4 miles is an easy ride and will take the same time however you ride, fast or slow. Fast riding just needs a longer cool-down.
I would suggest an easy pace and during the last section, ease off and do a rolling cool-down. Carry a bottle of water and if it is really hot, pour it over your head and jersey. The evapourative cooling is really effective.

At 5'1" you are quite short for a cyclist so you need a smaller sized frame. These tend to ride better with smaller sized wheels; the std small size would be 26" MTB. This is just A.N.Other size, nothing specially off-road about it. My commuter bike has 26MTB wheels fitted with slick city tyres (Schwalbe Big Apple).

Commuter bikes are most useful when fitted with fenders, rear luggage rack and lights. You also need to carry a lock, puncture repair kit, work clothing etc. Most of this will fit in a small backpack but this gives you a sweaty back. Experienced commuters usually carry a single pannier bag on one side of the rack, it doesn't affect balance.
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Old 05-15-14, 07:21 AM   #18
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Welcome! Others have already given great advice. I'll just throw in that unscented wipes do wonders for cleaning up the crotch. For the rest, just wipe down with a towel and change clothes after cooling down (10-15 minutes unless it's really hot).

The popular wheel size right now is 29 inch / ISO 622mm / 700C. Other than a limited selection, I don't see any problems with riding 27" wheels.
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Old 05-15-14, 08:29 AM   #19
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I can't disagree with anything said so far but I'll add this. Always have fresh laundered clothes skin out, no exception. Even if you perspire a bit, it doesn't smell right away but old sweat lingering on clothes are guaranteed to if you're hot and damp. I carry my clothes daily AND keep shoes plus a spare of everything at my desk, just in case. I drove in only 5 days last year (8 miles each way) and never had a hygiene issue, but only because I kept spares here.

I used to wear the slacks and ride in easy, but that was more of an image thing for walking in the front door. I don't bother now, just wear shorts and change everything, since I'm changing anyway. We do have showers but I consider it optional, as long as I start out clean and have fresh clothes. So yes, it is really feasible, 100%.
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Old 05-15-14, 09:35 AM   #20
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Good Luck!
I have one suggestion. Don't be afraid to get off the bike and rest in the beginning. Within two weeks you won't have to stop anymore. I have what's really a pretty small hill on my way into work, but in the beginning it just did my legs in. I found that getting off the bike and standing in the shade drinking water really refreshed me. After a week of riding I didn't need to stop anymore, but it helped me adjust without overdoing it.
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Old 05-15-14, 10:21 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Yeah, some people just wipe themselves down after they get to work. Giant Doofus has some good suggestions.

I'd make a practice trip or two on non-work days to get comfortable with the route and see if the distance and any hills are manageable given your current fitness level. Four miles each way might be really easy for you, or it might not. If the whole distance seems too long, you can put your bike in the car and park it half way between work and home until you're comfortable doing the whole distance on the bike.

Lastly there's no problem with 27 inch tires other than a limited selection at bike shops. Newer road bikes typically use slightly smaller "700c" tires rather than 27 inch so that's what you'll find a bigger variety of in stores. You can use the same tubes for either as long as they are the right width.

If you haven't ridden a bike much in awhile it may take a bit for your body to adjust. You may get a little sore but if your back, neck, wrists, knees, or shoulders start and continue to bother you while riding it could be a fit problem. Forgive me if I'm talking about stuff you already know. The only reason I mention it is that I wouldn't want a problem that could be solved with some minor adjustments to your bike to keep you from riding.
+1 on the non-work day practice ride.
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Old 05-15-14, 10:31 AM   #22
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Welcome and good luck! No advice to add, except don't overthink it. It's just like riding a bicycle.
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Old 05-15-14, 11:12 AM   #23
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@mefford509

Great for you! Biking is an addictive way to get around. I was just thinking this morning why I started biking. I can not recall the exact reason, but I have trouble stopping now. I went to get take outlast night and my wife said, why don’t you just take the car? Because the bike is as fast and just as easy!

It does take some getting used to. Four miles will be a fairly easy route to adapt to. Do not be ashamed to walk a hill, I almost did the other day and I have been going for 6 years. Some days you are just tired. I had a much longer starting commute (about 15 miles) and I started using a combination of transit, bike lockers and cycling. Then I omitted the locker, I finally did away with the transit after a few months. The longer distance seems daunting at first, but it is not so bad.

I am lucky and I have a shower at work, but my wife used to bring a wash cloth and hand towel and wipe down and dry in the bathroom. I have done this for appointments and meetings I need to cycle to, it works well. Clean clothes are a must, as mentioned. I keep a few changes of clothes at work; I would bring a few days at a time with the car and leave them. It is nice as a guy and having a shower at work, I do not need to wash them everyday (undershirts!). I only have one pair of work shoes, keep it simple. So all I bring everyday are under clothes and lunch.

Do a few practice trips on the weekend to get used to the route. Even drive the route one day to get an idea of traffic at the times you commute. Good tires are worth the money, it is nice not having to change a flat on the way in. With 27 inch tires just look on line or find a shop that can get them. One pair will last a while. It is always good to carry bus or cab fare (or a friend on speed dial to pick you up) for bigger failures. I have only had two major failures in about 10,000 miles.

It is worth getting the bike looked over before starting; that way no unexpected issues will arise on your first commute.

A good lock is a must. I have Pinhead wheel skewers to not have to worry about quick release wheels when I go out. They offer a nice peace of mind and just a little more hassle than quick releases.

Once you start you will find what works for you, so that is the most important part.

The best diet plan I found has been a diet log combined with Alternate Day Fasting. The idea has been studied (peer reviewed journals) and shown to increase longevity and other health benefits. In addition it helps with weight loss and weight maintenance. The idea: you go 24 hours without eating 1-3 days per week. It is tough the first 2-3 weeks, but gets easier. The best benefit is going from breakfast to breakfast (so skip lunch and dinner). I do dinner to dinner (skip breakfast and lunch), but I have to be really careful about snacking after dinner. There is an allotment of about 200 calories per 24 hours of snacking (nuts, cheese, something filling). I have lost nearly 10 pounds in a month and half doing alternate day fasting and avoiding beer.

Let us know how you do!
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Old 05-15-14, 01:03 PM   #24
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+1 on the non-work day practice ride.
Just an observation that you may find that the direct 4-mile route is not the best route by bike. Lots of people have found that it's well worth it to "take the long" way if it avoids busy, narrow streets, big hills, etc. Good luck.
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Old 05-18-14, 09:02 AM   #25
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Just an observation that you may find that the direct 4-mile route is not the best route by bike. Lots of people have found that it's well worth it to "take the long" way if it avoids busy, narrow streets, big hills, etc. Good luck.
+1

^ A very good point.

It would be hard to overstate the importance of having the means and ability to fix a flat tire on the road, using puncture-proof tires (I like Bontrager Hard Case), having a rescue option, or all of the above. Also, even tires that are not leaking need to be inflated frequently (at least weekly) so a good floor pump at home with a gauge is very helpful. I also keep one at work.

The body is an amazing machine and, though the first few rides may test your will, it will quickly adapt. It will only take about a week before the rides start getting easier!
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