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  1. #1
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    Prospective bike commuting plan: feedback wanted

    Prospective bike commuting plan:

    I am looking for feedback on the soundness of this plan and anything I have missed. I have never commuted by bike other than to class while in college and that was in the last century.

    The general plan is to initially travel to work one day a week via bicycle. The route is 20 miles one way. The only way to get from A to B includes 2000 ft of vertical climb. From my house to work there are 3 substantial hills to climb and the reverse is true on the home trip. There is a reason they call it the South Hills of Pittsburgh. There is one section of heavy traffic of about 3 miles at the end of the home to office trip. I can bypass the heavy traffic by adding another 500 ft climb and a mile to the trip. Figure 2 hours one way.

    Plan on using a standard road bike with a compact crank 12/25 rear. I can not see the need to go with a backpack or other stuff. Flat kit, blinky light & cell phone of course. Since riding or driving would be dictated by the weather report - no rain kit but a rear fender sounds in line.

    I run our family business and figure to keep a set of clothes to change into at the office. I do not have a shower so I guess the folks will have to get used to it.

    The ultimate backup plan is if the weather man is wrong(gee when is he right?) or something comes up, I can take the company pickup truck home that night. Then the next day return the truck and ride the bike home.

    The plan has nothing to do with saving money or the planet, just getting some riding time. If it works out then maybe go to 2 or 3 days a week. The question, has anything of great importance been overlooked?

  2. #2
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I know that area and I'm still trying to figure out how a 20 mile ride there has only one 3 mile section of heavy traffic.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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    Senior Member RepWI's Avatar
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    I would say, rethink the, "blinky" light issue, head up to this forum...Electronics, Lighting, & Gadgets
    and begin to set yourself up to actually be seen on this route. Be as safe as possible.

    Good luck
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  4. #4
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Keep some baby wipes at work....they're a good way to freshen up after riding.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Go for it Oilman. I bet you get used to those 500' to 700' climbs real quick and tame the two hour ride down to 1.25 hrs in short order. Avoiding the busy section can always be an option. I'm from North of the city and miss those hills. We have cabin near Emlenton so I do get to ride in and out of the Allegheny River valley on occasion.
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  6. #6
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    I'm into my 3rd year of commuting now (average 3 days a week, year round); 20 mile round trip. It's great for my training and a much less stressful way to get to work.

    I would just add the following:

    - I think a front fender is more important to your comfort in rain than a back fender. A back fender keeps your back clean, but a front fender keeps your feet dry. I can handle about any kind of weather if my hands, feet and head are reasonably dry and warm.

    - Bring a spare tube (not a patch kit); carry some thin latex gloves in case you have to change a tire.

    - Get a Dinotte tail light if you really want to be seen on the road.

    If you start riding more, and start wanting a shower, is there a health club near your office that would sell you a "shower only" membership?

  7. #7
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    Hey, it's a family business. You should be able to get a shower installed. You won't regret it. Maybe some other employees will start riding then.

    Make sure you have some high energy snacks for the ride home. I find that the ride home (18 miles for me) after a day at work requires a refueling at the halfway point. And my ride is mostly flat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    I know that area and I'm still trying to figure out how a 20 mile ride there has only one 3 mile section of heavy traffic.
    The only busy section is Route 50 in Collier Twp and Carnegie, PA. My office is on the West side of Carnegie if you know the area. Without getting into a regional discussion, the route is from Peters Twp back through Thomas, Hendersonville, and Cecil Township to Route 50, Toms Run Road back to 50 again. The alternate takes me off Toms Run over the hill to Walkers Mill and into Carnegie from the West.

    This is the only possible route that does not include a major highway. Route 50 from Cecil Twp is 4 lane but has a decent berm to ride on even though it is littered with trash.

    We regularly ride the same hills on various group rides but not as often. I think I can handle the hills but it is early in the season.

    Also thanks for the encouragement. This is a fair weather only commute. Will report back first part of April about this experiment.

  9. #9
    Who farted? Ka_Jun's Avatar
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    +1 to baby wipes and headlight. You have a mini-tool and a pump/CO2?

    You post your question here, yet?

    http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by oilman_15106 View Post
    This is a fair weather only commute. .
    That's what *I* said when I started....last night I rode home, in the dark, pouring rain.

    Laid my jacket, gloves, boots out by the fire last night, they were dry and ready to go this morning.

    Two more words of advice (and these are the kind of magic words that give you an unassailable excuse to go shopping):

    "Rain bike."

    A phrase I had not heard before I moved to Seattle.

  11. #11
    ride lots bcordy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    A phrase I had not heard before I moved to Seattle.
    welcome to the Pacific Northwest!

    Eu faço da dificuldade/A minha motivação/A volta por cima/Vem na continuação/O que se leva dessa vida/É o que se vive/É o que se faz/Saber muito é muito pouco

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  12. #12
    tsl
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    Tip 1: Since you can drive the company pickup home, you may want to alternate--bike in, drive home, drive in, bike home. Twenty miles with 2,000 feet of climbing twice a week sounds much better than 40 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing once a week. Less painful the next day too. You may wind up doing that cycle more than once in the week.

    Tip 2: Shower as the very last thing before leaving, and wear clean kit. Either a birdbath in the sink or wet wipes on arrival.

    Tip 3: Depending on the number of intersections and entrances along your route, a high-power blinking headlight (like a Dinotte) may be more important than a taillight. In urban and suburban traffic, the far more common car/bike accident is from cars pulling out or crossing in front of you. Using my DiNotte, I've reduced those sorts of incidents on my commute from a couple a day to once every month or two.

    Tip 4: Commuting in the rain takes 40 years off my state-of-mind. Give it a try!
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  13. #13
    Muscle bike design spec robtown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Tip 1: Since you can drive the company pickup home, you may want to alternate--bike in, drive home, drive in, bike home. Twenty miles with 2,000 feet of climbing twice a week sounds much better than 40 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing once a week. Less painful the next day too. You may wind up doing that cycle more than once in the week.

    Tip 2: Shower as the very last thing before leaving, and wear clean kit. Either a birdbath in the sink or wet wipes on arrival.

    Tip 3: Depending on the number of intersections and entrances along your route, a high-power blinking headlight (like a Dinotte) may be more important than a taillight. In urban and suburban traffic, the far more common car/bike accident is from cars pulling out or crossing in front of you. Using my DiNotte, I've reduced those sorts of incidents on my commute from a couple a day to once every month or two.

    Tip 4: Commuting in the rain takes 40 years off my state-of-mind. Give it a try!

    What he said and

    I use a showers pass rain jacket in rain or shine. If you encounter rain at temps below 60F you'll be glad you have rain gear. Given a 2 hour commute I wouldn't trust the weather forecasters.
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  14. #14
    Laid back bent rider unixpro's Avatar
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    This sounds about like my commute. 19 miles each way with about 1500 feet of climbing in one direction and 1000 in the other. I, too, deal with 3 hills. I do my ride 4-5 days/week.

    My advice is to just ride and don't worry overmuch about the time. It will take some time for you to gain the endurance to do that ride every day, but it will come.

    As far as kit is concerned, I carry everything, including my change of clothes and toiletries. Then again, my employer offers a locker room with showers. I suppose if I were to narrow it down to just the tools and spares I'd need, I'd include the multitool, tire levers, spare tube(s), and the CO2 inflator. Lots of people don't like the CO2, but it takes up less room than a frame pump and is faster on the change.

    Visibility is the key to successful commuting, in my opinion. I don't mean your being able to see, I mean you being seen by everyone else. Personally, I have 3 blinkie taillights (2 SuperFlash and one regular) and 2 DiNotte 200L headlights. I also have firefly lights on the tube stems and a purple down-low-glow. My trunk bag (I ride a recumbent) is bright green and reflective. It also has a snoopy riding his doghouse on the top. The more visible you are, the less likely to be hit inadvertantly.

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Lights would be my suggestions. LIGHT(S)

    I would get the strongest light possible on the front as your main light and a good light that can be set to Flash as the other. And two rear lights aswell. You never see when the one rear light stops working.

    And staying on lights-- That second front light could be a helmet light. Very handy if you do have to repair a flat or the bikein the dark. And a helmet light will shine where you look- so if a car looks as though it is going to casue a problem- Shine it at the driver.
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  16. #16
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    A lot of good suggestions there.

    Before you commute, do a dry run on a weekend. Do not try to ride fast, just a comfortable poke. That will give you the time needed. Then add 15 minutes to that time to calculate your time to leave home. This will give you time to wash up at work on good days and time to patch a flat on bad days.

    Definitely take water, especially in Summer.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member ecrider's Avatar
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    If that doesn't work out, you might want to try a partial bus commute. I ride several miles to a bus stop where the bus takes my very close to work. In the afternoon, I catch a different bus that drops me off further from my home. This allows me more biking time when working up a sweat isn't a problem.

  18. #18
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    I like the ride in, drive home idea, especially at the start.

    And I'd probably risk the heavy traffic at the end. Do you really want to add an extra mile, and a extra hill, at the end of a long commute?
    Zero gallons to the mile

  19. #19
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    2,000 ft climbing! Wow. My route is boring flat.

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    If you can find a copy on a newsstand, the premier issue of "Bicycle Times" magazine has several good articles and stories about bicycle commuting. One feature in particular goes into lists of essential and optional gear to carry on the bike for commuting, along with some discussion of how to carry it. Another article tests rain jackets.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  21. #21
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Tip 2: Shower as the very last thing before leaving, and wear clean kit. Either a birdbath in the sink or wet wipes on arrival.
    +1. I shower before I leave. The one thing that others haven't mentioned is that in lieu of baby wipes I basically take a baby powder shower. I keep baby powder at work and douse myself in the stuff. I also put on deodorant after getting to work. I have had no complaints at all, and frankly I feel fresher later into the day than when I drive in.

    Also, along with visibility provided by lights, go with with a high-viz jacket or vest. I have a construction vest for warm days and a Canari high-viz yellow windbreaker for cool/cold days.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  22. #22
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    Although Daylight Savings time is almost here and the days are getting longer, an eight hour day plus four hours of riding is likely to put you in some darkness, particularly if anything delays you. I agree that if you feel a blinky is necessary, a front headlight is also required. Get a good, LED model. Since you will be riding in the dark for only a few hours per week, one of the ones with AA batteries should be fine.

    First get your lights, then just do it. You won't really know what your requirements are until you have made at least one trip. I assume that 20 mile bike rides are no novelty for you, so why wait? Do it tomorrow.

    Paul

  23. #23
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    I've been doing a very similar thing for the last five years. I spend 1 hour 45 minutes on the bike instead of 1 hour driving. It's like a "free" hour of exercise for an investment of 45 minutes.

    I keep a change of clothes, towels and toiletries at work. A couple of water bottles over the head and a sink are better than nothing. I usually bike home and then in the next morning. But for the days that I go both directions, I always use a clean pair of bike shorts and jersey for the ride home. I keep a floor pump, tube, CO2 cartridge and tire at work as well as the CO2, spare tube and tools on the bike. Also you might want to consider an emergency plan for a sag wagon in case you and/or your bike become disabled. I'd take the tip about packing a snack if you're biking both ways the same day.

    This does not save any money. In fact it costs more than just driving. I spend more on extra food than the gasoline I save. When available daylight or work or personal demands require, I drive part way and bike the rest. During the dead of winter, I try to get out for a lunch ride whenever possible as I won't commute in the dark.
    Last edited by pennstater; 03-05-09 at 07:24 AM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Bring diluted shampoo, a wash cloth and towel, change your clothes head to toe and bring deodorant, no one should have to deal with your odors, and after 20 miles of hard work, you will appreciate feeling clean and refreshed. One day a week? You can stock what you need via car and bring home the laundry. You might want to do a test run on a weekend to see if your time estimate is accurate. I did a test ride and 1/2 way there I realized by bike needed tires because the current tires were heard tearing apart! I was lucky to make it home.
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