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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mult47's Avatar
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    How best to use commute ride for helping with longer rides

    I'm a 61-year old, 5-day a week bike commuter who does some longer rides on the weekends. My commute is 14 miles round-trip, which really just means two 7-mile rides a day. I've been biking for a year and have done a couple of charity rides. I did a 33-miler yesterday with lots of hills, and I'm registered for a 50-miler in early June and a 62-miler about 3 weeks later. During the winter, I concentrated mostly on getting out the door and on the bike in the cold and dark. Now I want to use the commute to help me get in better shape for my longer rides. Suggestions on how to use my two daily 7-mile rides to help improve my longer rides? By the way, work and home responsibilities make increasing the distance not very practical.

  2. #2
    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    That's a poser, now. If you can't increase distance it limits what you can do. Not meaning that you need to be riding 300 miles per week, but 7 miles each ride is not a whole lot, unless you have some significant climbing.

    My commute is 18 miles round trip, not a lot longer than yours. I try to ride it as hard as I can safely - the portion through downtown I have to slow down for. But I usually can get a good hard sweat up on the ride to work, lasting about 35 minutes. Going home I have two pretty good hills, so that lengthens the ride a bit time-wise, and I am thoroughly soaked with sweat when I make the driveway.

    Can you drive to work some days and do a lunch ride? I do that when weather permits, since I can get an 18 mile loop in at a high work rate. Half being hilly and half in the flats, it works out quite well for the lunch hour.

    I would think you will survive the longer rides, but they won't be as fun as they could be if you were riding longer distances a couple of times per week. If you could get a longer ride in mid-week, then put some miles on the odometer on Saturday or Sunday, you will be better off.

    Disclaimer: purely unqualified opinions expressed above. I am blessed to have a bit more time so as to ride a bit more.

    Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
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  3. #3
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Make the most of the longer rides at weekends - the longer, the better. Use the commute to make some intense efforts. A couple of times a week, do one seven-mile leg as hard as you can sustain for the whole distance. Once a week, if the traffic makes it safe to do so, use one trip to do intervals - five minutes to warm up then full-on for two minutes then spin gently for a minute to recover, rinse and repeat three or four times, then a warm-down for the last couple of miles.

    There's a limit to what you can do in seven miles, but even short bursts at high intensity will make some difference.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  4. #4
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I always considered commuting as a healthy substitute for driving or mass transit. A short commute is not a substitute for regular training. You need to find some time for longer rides.
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  5. #5
    cyclepath daredevil's Avatar
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    Ride those 14 miles hard as often as you can and you will be fine. In fact, more than fine in my opinion unless you're looking to set records or are racing. Congratulations on your efforts. Just (as you put it) two 7 mile rides a day every day is pretty darn good.
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    I'm going to offer a different opinion.

    There's nothing a 7-mile commute can do for longer rides that will not leave you arriving at work exhausted. This is not what you want. So, use those commutes for mental health - just enjoy the interaction between bike, rider and the outdoors. If everything you do on a bike is about "training" or distance events, it will quickly become a chore rather than an activity. Don't be that guy.

    If you can do a hilly 33-miler today, your level of fitness is already up to a 50 and a Metric Century is likely just a little optimized nutrition out of reach. Don't give up an opportunity to ride just for the sake of riding.

  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Use the commute as a form of interval training. Don't know if it is flat or hilly or just has a few slopes in it. But final 100 yards of a hill- then sprint it. Slopes and on a 200yard one- Get a couple of gears higher and ride out of the saddle- that will use a different set of muscles and make you ache a bit. If on the Flat then treat it as a hill for about 200 yards and high gear and low cadence to get used to working the legs under strain. And find headwinds and work hard into it.

    None of this will build up stamina that is required for Longer distances but it will build up the Cardio Vascular that is required for longer rides. It will also build the mental side of when it hurts- keep going.

    But be careful of intervals- They are tiring so fully recover from one before attempting the next.--UNLESS you find them easy then just put an extra few MPH into your average speed.

    I have not ridden much over the winter and I have just started training for a couple of rides at the end of May. A fifty with a good few slopes in it and a couple og Mean hills- and a 60 miler the following week. I do at least one 30 miler with a hill a week. That is my marker and it is not easy at present. It is getting easier though and faster. Even if I do nothing other than that 30 miler- those rides will be easy enough. May have to come down on speed a bit but if you can do 30- Then 50 is just a bit longer.
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  8. #8
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    Take the long way home. You could take the long way on the way to work too but for me, I wouldn't want to get to work to tired to work. Good luck.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Mult47's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I've added a little length to both commutes, about a mile extra going to work and 3 miles on the return trip, which also puts in a little bit in the way of hills. I'm also getting out of the saddle on a couple of short, steep hills and on the last part of the one "sort of long" hill that I have. That plus taking advantage of the warmer weather to get in at least one long ride on the weekends should help me get in a little better shape for the long (for me) charity rides I want to do this summer.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mult47 View Post
    ...I've added a little length to both commutes...
    Right. Your commute has a MINIMUM length of 14 miles round trip. You can make it as long as you want. Now that the weather is getting good and the days long, I suggest making one direction at least 25 miles every other day. Maybe do an extended ride on the weekend and then extended commute rides on Tue and Thu. Or extended commmutes Mon, Wed, and Fri and whatever you want on the weekends.

    At my last job, my commute was 30 miles each way. I only did that one or two times a week and then only in good weather and temperatures 40 F and above.

  11. #11
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Change up the distance/difficulty of your commute home. One day you might do some hill intervals, another a time trial, etc. The advantage of doing this on the way home is that it doesn't wear you out for work, and you already feel kind of crappy because you had to work all day. Being able to find that little extra and push yourself when you already feel crappy pays dividends on longer, harder rides.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Senior Member ecrider's Avatar
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    I commute regularly about 19 miles round trip. I use the weekends for longer rides. i don't think a 35 or a 50 will be too much to handle if you can do some longer weekend rides. Be sure you hydrate and get plenty of ongoing nutrition on the longer rides. As a veteran advised me before my first 50 miler, be sure you leave something in the gas tank for the end of the ride. Pace yourself.

  13. #13
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    How about riding at lunch?
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  14. #14
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Get a full set of really flashy racing kit. This will draw the attention of the poseurs, maladjusted young guys, and insecure hipsters. They'll try to come blowing past you on your ride to work. Do everything you can to get on their wheel, and then blow past them at the first opportunity. This will provide you with daily high-quality interval training (assuming you stop at all red lights). Be careful, though. These insecure street racers will ALWAYS blow the stop signs without even slowing down, and they'll run the red lights just to get rid of you!

    Actually, if you're taking this seriously, only do this 2x/week. You'll soon be overtrained if you do much more than that! Very bad psychologically, you will want to throw the bike over a bridge in about six weeks if you do this on a daily basis for that long. Also, try to get a warmup before the first hard effort, otherwise you will really wreck yourself.

    Good luck!

    The only alternative is to increase the distance at one of the two ends. Get up earlier and make it a 21-mile ride to work (about an hour and a half, minimum).

    Luis

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