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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    How has your commute evolved over the months / years?

    I've noticed a lot of changes in my commute over the past 6 months. Curious what changes other have experienced.

    In the beginning

    - Rode a Trek 4300 MTB
    - Was afraid to ride on the roads, especially if the speed limit was over 35mph.
    - Stuck primarily to sidewalks, and planned routes based on which roads had them and didn't.
    - If I got on the road, it was as short a distance as possible, as far to the right hand side as I could be.
    - I wore regular street clothes. Loose shirts, basketball shorts, jeans, sneakers etc. I had no gloves or eyewear.
    - I wore headphones in both ears, unless I was in the road. I'd take one or both out depending on traffic.
    - I rode at night with a handheld LED flashlight that I'd turn on and wave around if I heard a car coming behind me.
    - I used a backpack to transport cargo.
    - I resorted to my car in the rain or if I were running late.
    - I rode slow and steady, more concerned with getting to my destination safely and sweat free than how fast I could go.

    Now (6 mo later)

    - I ride a Ridley Fenix 7005 road bike.
    - I ride exclusively on roads, regardless of speed limit.
    - I ride within 1' to the left of the white line while cruising.
    - I claim the entire lane when I have a left hand turn coming up. I claim my spot in line in my lane during any stops such as red lights. I even switch lanes on a 5 lane 45mph road during my commute, which is the most dangerous part of my daily ride.
    - I use riding pants, riding gloves, sunglasses or safety glasses depending on the light, and have purchased assorted coats and pants for cold weather riding. I still wear regular shoes (Merrell Trail Glove 2's) and tops (long sleeve compression tops, loose fitting dri fits) though.
    - I never use headphones, but sometimes use a bluetooth speaker.
    - I use a handlebar mount for my Fenix PD22 and set it to strobe so anyone in a 200' radius of me is blinded at night and knows I'm there Also have a rear LED blinkie.
    - I still use a backpack, but I have a rack & bag in the mail!
    - I ride in the rain now. I just go a little slower and use a fender.
    - I don't ever drive to work now. Even if I'm running late, I'll ride. I can now ride to work as fast as I can drive there, so if I'm late I'm late, method of transportation can't fix that.
    - I go one speed. FAST.

  2. #2
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    The two big changes really.... one is a constant push to go farther on roads & routes one may not consider bike friendly, the other is more recent: going from a cruiser with limited speed and practicality (wide handlebars = no trains) to a town/utility/transport minded bike with all the stuff you want including dyno hub + lights, and rack + panniers. Riding has gone from a logistical question with no rack, to looking for any excuse to set off on any length or purpose of trip.

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  3. #3
    Member warrior4130's Avatar
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    Not much has changed regarding my commute habits, still subscribe to three primary "rules", bicycle to work as often as I can, take the long way home most days, and I still refuse to ride in sloppy weather (promised myself to avoid sloppy weather whenever possible after leaving the military). I do have a road bike now that I will use for club rides and event rides, and I plan on increasing my overall mileage in 2015....though I am off to a terrible start....0.0 miles so far.
    Mark Twain put it well .. it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt.

  4. #4
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    My bike hasn't changed much, except for minor adaptations to old age, such as a taller stem.

    I'm no longer ashamed to be a slowpoke.

    I'm willing and equipped to go out in a wider range of weather conditions.

    I'm more organized about keeping my gear together, so I'm not searching the entire house for my **** whenever I want to go out.

    The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.

    I'm probably more attentive to doing things just right, such as getting bearings perfectly adjusted, and finding out how to do things the right way before tackling a project.

    A huge change is that my kids are now capable of keeping up with me, pretty much indefinitely, which means that we can plan more interesting outings together!

  5. #5
    Senior Member BobbyG's Avatar
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    Less emphasis on speed, more emphasis on safety and comfort. Less emphasis on style, more on what works for me. I've been commuting for almost 30 years, 23 with mostly the same commute. The two biggest technical changes for me have been LED lighting, with better, brighter, longer-lasting lights, and the internet/smartphone with emergency calling capabilities, instant information lookup and mapping, and BIKEFORUMS.NET for fast, real-world answers divorced from commercial interests. Over the years, traffic patterns have changed here , roads have grown, some have become less used; some have gone from wide one-ways to narrow two ways with center utility lanes. Some intersections have had landscape and structural changes that make them safer or less safe with better/worse sightlines. In the short-term, Colorado Springs keeps adding bike-lanes and infrastructure, most work for me, some don't. If you want to consider how my bicycling has changed since I first explored my Chicago neighborhood with my friends on our Schwinn Sting-Rays in the 1960s, I now understand, and respect traffic.
    "When life hands you lumens, make lumen-aide!"

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Moved Many times in 40 years, now I'm with in Blocks of Town Center , in a small town.

    One prior situation, 12 mile commute between near By Towns . ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-18-15 at 01:09 PM.

  7. #7
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    I had a long hiatus between my days of commuting in Boston as a 25 yr old, and my recent recent picking it up again last year as a 34 hr old...

    Boston:
    -wore regular clothes, often rolled up ankles on my pants.
    -rode a 1983 motobakane road bike with front brake only.
    -rode only in decent weather.

    Now, small-city Indiana:
    -wear bike shorts,
    -dress warm and ride in freezing weather
    -ride a Walmart Schwinn Varsity 1200 hybrid.
    -

  8. #8
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    It's my 8th year of daily all year round commuting. I haven't evolved too much since I started commuting, I am still stuck in stone age and do everything opposite of what most other modern cyclist do.

  9. #9
    Used to be fast surfjimc's Avatar
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    Not much has changed in my commute over the years. Still the same bike and gear. I have moved from battery lights to a dynamo hub and lights. I like it much better than I thought. There is always light on demand, and with the USB port my phone is always charged. My route changes from time to time because I like to explore; and I am always looking for ways to add miles on the ride home when time permits.

  10. #10
    Senior Member locolobo13's Avatar
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    When I first started commuting again in 2008 my commute was less than 3 mi each way. That was sufficient for a few weeks. But I decided to up my overall mileage. So I started going for 4-5 mi at lunch and made the ride home last 5-6 mi. At the time I was riding a 90s Raleigh MTB.

    In 2010 my bike was stolen. I bought a Trek FX 7.1 hybrid. The same year my work moved and now my commute was ~5mi each way. In a way this was nicer. Because I don't feel like I HAVE to extend my ride home. I can if I want to but truthfully 50-60 mi/wk is sufficient. If I don't eat too many desserts.

    Last Feb. the hybrid was stolen. I bought a Trek 3700 MTB. The police recovered my hybrid in Mar. So now I have 2 bikes. Usually commute on the MTB. But it's nice to have a spare when 1 is in the shop.

  11. #11
    Seior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I don't have a choice but to ride on 50-60 MPH roads unless I want to ride only in a half mile loop around the subdivision I live in. The only real thing that's changed is I have a pair of nicer bikes now than the single hybrid I rode for the first 9 years/30,000 miles or so. I have a road bike and a foul weather/winter bike with fenders, studded tires, hydraulic disc brakes and an IGH.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  12. #12
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    I started out Commuting on an Italian racing bike that I had rigged up with a rear rack and bag, about 8 years ago, and my route was about 20 miles round-trip. Light options were more limited then, and I used a Cygolite NiCad headlight with a huge battery that filled up a bottle cage and a single Planet Bike Superflash in the rear. I quickly changed my lighting to a Fenix LED flashlight that was only about 180 lumens but still brighter than the old Cygolite, and I replaced the rack-top bag with a Carradice Barley seatbag. After several years, I bought a touring bike and started commuting on that because it could better handle more weight as well as larger tires and fenders.

    Several years ago, my office moved downtown and my commute distance increased to about 30 miles RT. The roads are mostly the same, a mix of neighborhood, suburban and downtown streets. I got tired of riding my touring bike all of the time, and picked up lighter and faster sport touring bike that can handle fenders as well as a cyclocross bike. Now I commute on 4 different bikes, depending on my mood, the weather and how much gear I have to carry. However, I usually ride one of my two touring bikes because they are better suited for carrying loads and have wider tires.

    The advancement in LED light technology has probably made the biggest difference in my commute. My $120 Light & Motion Urban 800 is brighter than lights that would have cost more than $500 when I started commuting, and I can easily charge it from my computer at work. However, I've been using the same Dinotte 140 LED taillight for 6+ years and still haven't found anything better for the money. I back up the Dinotte with my Superflash and Radbot taillights.

    So, in short, my commute has gotten longer, slower and better lit over the years. I still have my occasional "fast days" when I ride a lighter bike and kick it up a notch, but my mileage is so much higher that I'll burn myself out trying to ride fast every day.

    Addendum ... I just remembered that I actually started bike commuting when I was in college at the University of Georgia in Athens more than 40 years ago. I didn't have a car then and the UGA campus was very spread out. I soon realized that I couldn't make it to many classes on time by relying on the campus buses, so I got a cheap 10-speed. So began my interest in cycling and commuting.

    I used bikes as my primary means of transportation through about 7 years of study at UGA. My bike was cruddy compared to what I ride now, although I picked up a nicer one by the time I got in grad school. I did very little recreational riding or touring back then, but was much more dependent on my bike for getting places. I remember my bike wheels being almost always out of true and not shifting well. My lights were pitiful compared to what is available now, and I'm surprised that I wasn't hit by a car because I often had to ride at night. My light system consisted of a single "leg lamp" that I strapped to my ankle, and mainly helped visibility by its movement up and down. It did very little to light up the roads in front of me. I carried my books and other gear in backpack.
    Last edited by tarwheel; 01-23-15 at 09:02 AM.

  13. #13
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Started bike commuting seriously in 2005. 14mi r/t commute in the city. Mtn bike converted to upright, commuter service.

    2006-13 38mi r/t commute over rural roads and through small towns. Dedicated commuter with fenders, rack, IGH; custom commuter w/ fenders, rack, derailleur drivetrain, dyno lights.

    2013-present 30 mi r/t bike-bus-bike commute. Sometimes I do the whole thing; more often, I drive to the bus station, bike commute the 6 mi r/t on the other end. Dedicated custom commuter, beater lockup on the bus end of the commute, Birdy folding bike.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  14. #14
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Ride a steel frame instead of aluminum
    Added fenders
    Went from beam rack to stayed rack
    Added helmet-mounted headlight and taillight
    More clothes and shoes
    More tires, including studded
    More wheelsets
    Went from riser bar to Jones loop bar
    Lots of other small adjustments and improvements along the way

  15. #15
    rhm
    rhm is offline
    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    I started bike commuting when they installed bike lockers at the commuter train station to which I'd been driving until that point. That was in 2001, I think. When I got to the city, I'd take the subway. I got to work at 9:00 or so.

    I started out on an aluminum MTB with a rack and panniers. Changes over the years involved adding dynamo hub, internally geared transmission, ditched the suspension fork....

    In 2005 I got a folding bike that I kept in the locker, took on the train, and rode in the city.

    In 2007 I switched to a better folding bike that I used for all my commuter biking; folded it up and took it on the train, unfolded and rode at the other end. Its little wheels overpowered the lights, so I learned to make my own LED headlights. I also learned that with the folding bike I could use a variety of different train stations, and I started changing around my routine a lot. I gave up on the luggage rack and panniers, and use a messenger bag at all times. I didn't open my bike locker for years!

    In 2012 they moved my office in the city; now I'm so close to the station that I gave up on the folding bike. It lives in my office but I don't use it that much. I now have an old steel race bike rebuilt with fenders and dynamo hub and internally geared transmission and I'm using my bike locker again. There's a rack on the bike but I'm still using a messenger bag. Walking to the train station proved to be difficult; so many years of riding in traffic made me more comfortable among the cars than I am among the tourists on the sidewalk. I'm a really bad pedestrian.

    Then they introduced the Citibike program in NYC. Now I ride the Citibike between the office and the station. No more dodging pedestrians on the sidewalk

    Another trajectory over the years has been I get up earlier and get home earlier. I now get to the office by 6:30, pretty much avoiding the worst rush hours both morning and evening.

  16. #16
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    My commute went from 8 miles on bike trails, to 22 miles on roads, to 5 miles on trails, to ZERO at retirement..... Over about 35 years.........

    The last one was the best, a straight shot from my subdivision, down an old RR ROW, to the back door of my office - the last working one, I mean.

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  17. #17
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    the first 7 years of my bike commuting career was a 15 mile one-way commute through city streets and along chicago's lakefront path (i lived downtown and worked up in evanston). i started out as a multi-modal commuter using a folder and the el train, but i soon became a strong rider and just started riding the whole distance and i converted an old MTB from my sister's garage into my commuter. then i got a nice titanium road bike for fair weather commuting because at 15 miles one-way, i got a little obsessed with speed as i got stronger and stronger (30 miles a day, every single workday, builds some stupidly massive leg muscles).

    then my old MTB commuter was killed in a bus accident and i got a IGH/disc brake hybrid as its replacement for foul-weather commuting.

    then this past summer my wife and moved to the far northside of the city to a much bigger condo in anticipation of the arrival of our first child, and now i'm only about 4.5 miles from work. i picked up a disc brake CX bike to use as a dedicated commuter because my stripped down lean and mean Ti road bike didn't make much sense for such a short commute. the new bike has a rack for panniers (i was previously a backpack commuter because of my speed obsession) and full fenders and it gets me to work and back just fine.

    some days i miss the longer rides along the lake front path, and i know i could always just extend the ride home, but with a brand new 4 month old cutie-pie waiting for me at home, i have yet to take the long road home. she fills me with more joy than any bike ride ever could. the switch from 30 miles/day of bike commuting to 9 miles/day has put back well over an hour of free time back in my day, that time is priceless now that i'm a dad.
    Last edited by Steely Dan; 01-20-15 at 05:26 PM.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  18. #18
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    When I started:
    - One road bike that I rode only for pleasure on my days off
    - Always decked out in bike shorts, helmet, jersey, and gloves (too cheap for cleats & pedals)
    - Same monotonous trail every time (there's only one in my town)
    - Didn't ride when there was more than a 10% chance of rain, or when it was too hot or too cold

    Now:
    - One commuter, one roadie
    - Street clothes when I commute, riding clothes for joyriding
    - I use various routes tocommute to work and to run errands around town, and still ride for pleasure on my days off. I use my car for big loads.
    - Don't mind riding in the rain, so long as it rains only when I'm already on my way home (light drizzling doesn't count). I ride when it's boiling or freezing, but only when I feel like it.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    How has your commute evolved over the months / years?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
    …The two biggest technical changes for me have been…and BIKEFORUMS.NET for fast, real-world answers divorced from commercial interests.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    What you got from BF transportation forums?

    I have been an avid cyclist, as a lifestyle since about 1972; self-described year-round commuter, occasional centurian (in-training during the nice weather), and former cycle tourist, including a cross-country ride…I happened serendipitously on Bike Forums in 2008, and it was frankly incredible to find a community that shared so many concerns I had kept to myself as a lone cyclist.

    This enthusiasm has definitely increased my enjoyment of cycling. As far as improving it, what I have gotten directly from BF are:

    1. the motivation and tips to ride in rain, and wintry roads, i.e. studded tires
    2. the Fifty-Plus Annual rides that motivate me to train in the nice weather
    3. the safety tip to watch the front wheels of a car rather than the body or hood to anticipate what the driver is going to do
    4. the opportunity to post and literally "journal" my thoughts and activities about cycling and lifestyle (even if nobody else reads them), but which I wouldn't write down otherwise.
    Before and after subscribing, the basic routes and style of riding have not changed much over about thirty years. Not to read like a shill for BF, but to elaborate on the above:

    1. Before BF I had an arbitrary lower limit of 20F, and didn’t ride in rain, but now my only weather deterrent is drenching rain with/without lightning, and I’m not dissuaded by ice and snow on the roads.

    2. I now increase my 14 mile one-way ride according to a published century training schedule begining in April, to train for the Annual Ride, usually in July.

    3. Another useful tip to make quick cycling decisions I read subsequently on a thread is not to assume that if you make eye contact with a driver, that they necessarily see you.

    4. Many of my posts are about winter cycling, and urban commuting. When I joined BF in 2008, I wrote:

      Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
      …I have been perusing this site for a few weeks and I have had several comments to make so I hope to make useful contributions to future discussion threads, as well as glean from the comments of others…
    Finally, after I was hit from behind by a car in 2012, I had to promise family and friends I would not ride home at night, so now I commute only one way, and return home via Commuter Rail with my bike.
    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 01-21-15 at 04:37 PM.

  20. #20
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    I shortened my route and added some interest by taking a 1-mile dirt access road. This also allows me a longer, faster downhill on the inbound leg, on a city street where it feels safer than it would on the MUP. I feel silly admitting it but that wheeee! makes my day. I once had a route that was a little easier (the fire road or MUP routes add a climb) but it went unprotected along a major artery for a mile and I decided to avoid it.

    I haven't commuted as often and I am feeling time pressure more since having a kid.

    I swap bikes from time to time. Right now my two in rotation are an ancient road bike that is currently down for a fender install that was interrupted by lack of the right screws/taps, the other is a MTB that recently got a new lease on life with a bigger crankset and taller handlebars. I prefer the road bike for speed but the MTB is actually easier to get on and go.

    The MTB recently had a hitch installed for a child trailer. That's going to be fun.
    Genesis 49:17

  21. #21
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Steely Dan -- Your story is comparable to mine in a sense. I didn't start commuting until my daughter finished high school and left home for college. I totally understand not wanting to take away time spent with your children.

  22. #22
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    I first stated cycle commuting to the family business when I was thirteen or so.

    I then didn't commute until my mid twenties when I would occasionally ride to campus during grad school. I started riding more at the end of grad school when I acquired a hybrid. But it was tough motivation to ride since I lived so close to campus and was two minutes from a bus stop and it was an 800 foot climb or so in 4 km or so.

    When I got my job I drove for a few weeks and decided by mid February I couldn't drive. So I started with a combo transit bike with a bike locker. It was tough since the choices of stations with bike lockers left a somewhat hilly ride. The bike routes were also poorly marked and ended suddenly which made it challenging to a new commuter.

    I decided to give up the locker and try another route that transit let me being my bike on. That worked okay. I eventually started to ride home some nights instead of the train. I then realized it wasn't hard to do the whole 30 mile round trip in the same time or faster as the combo with transit. I then started to ride three or four days a week February until November. Each year I extended my riding season. My route itself didn't change much and I would always push hard.

    I then get a new bike almost five years ago to replace the hybrid so I could haul the upcoming kid. That was a great and worthwhile upgrade I have yet to regret. I rode for another year out of two, I took time of to be a stay at home dad for nine months.

    I then went back to school and took another year off for teachers college and a year off to stay home as homemaker and didn't commute much other than groceries and library and the YMCA.

    We moved back to Vancouver and I have ridden every month since September 2013. My commute is 7 or 11 miles each way, daycare run dependent. It is a bit easier of a ride and I ride nearly exclusively and rarely drive and never transit.

    I love it and go fast except for the daycare home stretch where I take it slower and chat with the boy.

    Distance and hauling needs are the only changes, we are in process of adding a trailer instead of the kids seat. I still race myself and anyone in the distance.

    Edit: I have added more lights and made myself more visible. I always wore compression shorts with shorts and t-shirts and sometime I switched to Lycra. I eventually gained a pair of SPD shoes to go with my pedals and that was a nice upgrade. I have always ridden the road and become more comfortable taking lanes and making my presence known with positioning.
    Last edited by joeyduck; 01-21-15 at 02:56 PM.

  23. #23
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I started 7 years ago, not only commuting but completely car-free. I didn't know that bicycle commuters (other than college students and people going a few blocks) existed in the USA. So I started with zero knowledge and no cycling experience, determined to just do it, making it up as I went along. It was only 2-3 miles back then.

    The biggest differences that come to mind, then and now, is that a distances are so much shorter now, and the hills not nearly so steep. And a little weather is not so much a challenge. I don't mean to sound smug but it's true, and to me, it's a little amazing.

    After a couple of years I got a real job and 11 miles each way. I thought I had it pretty much down by then and most days I'd been riding that distance or more anyway, at least in the summer, so I figured it was doable. I still didn't know any other cyclists let alone commuters, or about this forum, so I was still winging it. I expected a challenge though, and I confess that I bought a car for backup because I wasn't sure I could handle it. I wasn't about to screw up this job by not being up to a bike ride on a bad day. As it turns out I needn't have worried - since then I've logged 18,000 miles commuting and 93% of my commutes to work by bike. Lately, 100% by bike.

    Up until then I was riding strictly in street clothes, like most inexperienced riders. Bundled up, rain jacket, anything to keep the weather off. That clearly didn't fly on a longer daily commute, particularly to a more upscale, image conscious professional office. So that's another thing that has changed. My attire, and attitude about attire, evolved from "regular" clothes to more cycling specific. Athletic wear, shorts, jerseys. And a lot less of it, on a given day.

    The old bike I'd been riding gave out some time before then, beat up by a right hook while laden with groceries, but it was on its last legs anyway. Barely maintained, just enough to stay rolling, again typical of the newbie commuter. Even the dry-rotting tire was lashed up in ways better left buried. I don't do any of that any more, another big change in my commute. For a few hundred miles I rode my wife's MTB, a too-small big box bike we'd picked up earlier. It was horrible, and I don't do that any more either, another evolution in my commuting. During that time I spent weeks in practically total immersion research of everything about bicycles - much of it the same subjects and arguments that we see in these threads - and picked up the cheapest bike with acceptably reliable frame, components and performance. That served me well and I'd do it again.

    A couple of years into this job and several with the cheap bike, I had another evolution of my commute, this time equipment. I built a more traditional road bike, with all standard and more or less modern parts. By then I was capable of literally all of the maintenance and repairs necessary - for that particular bike - and I'd often reconfigure it for different purposes, my version of the n+1 bike collection. But mainly it remains a standard road "racing" bike (with no excessive concern for weight) and that's how I roll now. From 30 year old touring bike carrying a tool box and huffing up hills to travelling light and fast on a road bike. And I have a backup bike, vowing never again on a department store MTB.

  24. #24
    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    I started with steel, rode about 3 miles round-trip, and did in plain clothes/shoes, carried a backpack, worst weather was warm rain.

    Switched to a better fitting steel roadie, started experimenting with handlebar setups and more expensive tires, added a rack a paniers, still plain clothes.

    Now I'm aluminum/carbon, have my setup dialed in, ride as often as I possibly can, carry a backpack, ride in/with traffic up to 40mph, and now wear form-fitting cycling gear. The worst weather I ride in now is...well I only don't ride when there is lightning. I've settled into a riding style that focuses on higher cadence as cycling is, for now, the only activity I do to maintain my fitness.

  25. #25
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I started my job on December 2, so I can't speak much of evolution. It's the longest bike commute I've ever had, about 12.5 miles each way. I started riding once a week. Last week, I upped it to twice a week. I'll increase it again soon. When I don't ride, I take the subway. Travel time is the same for both modes, but preparation time is a little longer for the bike.

    I sometimes vary my route, but not often, because my main route is almost completely on a bike path. Taking the streets involves dealing with much, much more traffic. The increase involves increased annoyance and travel time. I only hit my brakes three or four times normally, which is amazing for city riding.
    Please put your location in your profile. It makes things so much more interesting.

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

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