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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 05-26-10, 10:00 PM   #1
hurleyint1386
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Considering Going Car Light

So my work is about 14 miles away and I've been considering riding daily instead of driving. I had a few questions, though. How do many of you keep dry with out sweating or sweating a lot? When I get to work, I'd like to be clean instead of being all sweaty. Second, what are all must have tools when riding? I'm still a bit worried something will happen between my house and work that will cause me to be late, and that scares me. The other day, the bolt that keeps my seat on snapped and I had to walk home. Do many of you listen to music when riding? I'd like to, but if I do, I want to ride the trails because I don't want to lose my sense of hearing when cars are driving by me. Suggestions would be great. I think Friday will be my first attempt. I work at 11, so I want to leave at 8:30 to give myself plenty of time. Thoughts?

By the way, I'll be commuting using a 2007 Specialized Langster, but I'm currently in the market for a geared bike in the next week or two.
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Old 05-26-10, 11:34 PM   #2
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For tools, I'd carry the following: Tire patches and a spare tube or two and some tire levers, a pump, a chain tool, a set of allen wrenches to fit your bike, an adjustable wrench or a set of wrenches for your bike and pliers or vice grips. Chances are you won't need anything more than tire patches, if that, but I'd rather be a little more prepared.

As for listening to music when you ride, that's a no-no in my books. You need to be able to hear all the sounds around you, without any distractions.
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Old 05-26-10, 11:36 PM   #3
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I've got a seat bag, so I'll try to start filling it up with some tools/patches/tubes. When does it get easier to ride that distance over and easier?
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Old 05-27-10, 05:09 AM   #4
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It's a good idea to plan out your route and test it on one of your days off. If you can, testing it two days in a row will give you some good clues about how much you're up to going by bike every day.
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Old 05-27-10, 06:52 AM   #5
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14 miles - look at google maps & see if you can plan at least one alternate route. I have 3 routes I can take on my 6 1/2 mile commute. Depends on how I feel that day, which streets I take. I would figure 10mph as a good average speed to judge time/distance. Bring a spare set of clothes to work with you, & clean up & cool down a bit for 5-10 mins. Baby wipes have been suggested in previous threads, though I just use a washcloth & soap. Take a trial run or two & see the routes & conditions from a bike perspective before your first real commute.
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Old 05-27-10, 08:04 PM   #6
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I'd love to take the time to trial things, however issues with my car are increasing and I need to try abandoning it quick. Tomorrow I work 11-8. It's a 14 mile commute, so I'm going to take my time and leave at 8:30. Google Maps says about 1h 5m in time, so I'm giving myself 2h 30m. I'll bring extra clothes, a wash cloth, and try my best. So tomorrow's the big day. Been really looking forward to this!
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Old 05-27-10, 08:29 PM   #7
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I'd love to take the time to trial things, however issues with my car are increasing and I need to try abandoning it quick. Tomorrow I work 11-8. It's a 14 mile commute, so I'm going to take my time and leave at 8:30. Google Maps says about 1h 5m in time, so I'm giving myself 2h 30m. I'll bring extra clothes, a wash cloth, and try my best. So tomorrow's the big day. Been really looking forward to this!
Good luck and let us know how you make out!

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Old 05-27-10, 08:59 PM   #8
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hurleyint1386: Sounds like a great idea and I have no doubt you'll enjoy this little adventure.

Sweating: this is one of the major roadblocks for potential bike commuters. On your first rides to work, try to arrive about a half hour early. Cool down completely.... slow down 5 minutes before you arrive and them spend 25 minutes... very slowly!.... washing and dressing. You'll soon get over the fear of sweating. If you shower before you leave for work, there's very little chance that you'll actually stink. Especially if you cool down and stop sweating after you arrive.

Breaking down on the road: you won't be able to fix every problem, but you'll soon find out that a well-maintained bike rarely has a problem. Take spare tubes, a lever and a pump. But also work out a strategy in case you do have a major breakdown. I have a bus with a nice bike rack that takes care of me when the bike is down. If public transport isn't available, maybe you can ask a friend or family member to make the extra trip. I've had this happen a couple of times over the last 5 years, so, again, it's not like it's a weekly thing.

Happy trails!
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Old 05-27-10, 10:31 PM   #9
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I'm so excited I can't get to sleep yet! haha I'll wake up extra early, get some good breakfast, shower, and gear up. Thanks for the encouragement everyone! I'll definitely be updating everyone to let them know how it goes. People at work think I'm crazy, but I don't think 14 miles is that big of a deal. I guess we'll find out tomorrow! haha
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Old 05-27-10, 10:36 PM   #10
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Breaking down on the road: you won't be able to fix every problem, but you'll soon find out that a well-maintained bike rarely has a problem. Take spare tubes, a lever and a pump. But also work out a strategy in case you do have a major breakdown. I have a bus with a nice bike rack that takes care of me when the bike is down. If public transport isn't available, maybe you can ask a friend or family member to make the extra trip. I've had this happen a couple of times over the last 5 years, so, again, it's not like it's a weekly thing.
Another option if you don't have public transportation for you and your bike is to call a taxi if you break down. Yes, it's a bit pricey, but it's a way for you to get to work in a pinch.
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Old 05-28-10, 04:56 AM   #11
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Ao I'm just curious, what do you guys do for thunderstorms? They're saying about 40 % chances, but not until weekend, so I'l probably miss it completely. What do you guys do?
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Old 05-28-10, 12:47 PM   #12
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Sweating--Changing clothes trumps anything else. Baby wipes and generic Gold Bond powder will help. Add in some hand soap, a comb, and a hand dryer, and you're good to go. Stashing a pair of shoes at work will be a plus.

Rain--I always have rain gear in my trunk (40% is an every day thing here in Fl.). Keep some ziplocs in your luggage, or just ziploc all your clothes and stuff before you head out, if the chance of rain is high.

Repairs--It's worth the investment to get flat resistant kevlar tires and a good lighting system. If you carry a mini pump, tire levers, a multi tool and a few tubes, you should be pretty self sufficient.

I do that same commute every day and I love it. If you like to ride, you'll enjoy it. I'm looking forward to hearing how the ride went today.
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Old 05-28-10, 12:58 PM   #13
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sweat: I sweat alot, luckily we have showers at work

tools: I carry a spare tube, tire removal tool, patch kit, mini pump, multi tool and a pocket knife

music: heck no. too dangerous

rain: my backpack has a rain cover to protect my clothes, food, phone, etc. i just get wet and change clothes when the ride is over.

enjoy!!!
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Old 05-28-10, 01:07 PM   #14
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By the way, I'll be commuting using a 2007 Specialized Langster, but I'm currently in the market for a geared bike in the next week or two.
One of the things that I found changed with my transition to car light was the way that I looked at my bikes. I don't do a lot of recreational riding any more, although I do still have a fast bike, intended for recreation. The bulk of the fleet are designed for reliability and versatility. I do carry tools to repair flats and misc other minor mishaps on the road, but to be honest, I hardly ever need them. A bulletproof bike with good solid tires just doesn't need all that much maintenance. Over the past year, I have probably put over 5,000 miles on my utility bikes, and fewer than 500 miles on my 'fast bike'. I have had two flats. Both on the fast bike.
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Old 05-28-10, 02:50 PM   #15
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Well everyone I did my first run today with the new Pannier's did the laundry after two weeks it all fit in both Pannier's with not to much room left over.
The round trip was 6 miles and the last hill as usual which is 9 % grade was a B. I had total 24 1/5 pounds which included my u-lock,auxiliary cable and laundry detergent.
I couldn't get over how nice the bike handled it handled better loaded down then when not.
Well it was my first time with a loaded bike and it felt good to know I can do it.
Now the next stop in a few days will be groceries.

This is posted in my original post of Grocery and Laundry Chores ?

I just love being car-lite and not having to rely on the automobile for everything.
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Old 05-28-10, 05:52 PM   #16
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Ao I'm just curious, what do you guys do for thunderstorms? They're saying about 40 % chances, but not until weekend, so I'l probably miss it completely. What do you guys do?
Plain rain isn't a problem, but it's probably best to avoid riding in blinding rains, strong winds, softball-size hail, etc. if you can.

Learn how to read the live doppler satellite images, if you don't already know. Leave early if you have to, in order to get to work before the storm hits. Or leave late if you're on your way home and the radar looks like things are going to clear up soon. If a sudden storm hits while I'm riding I know places all over the city where I can find shelter--under bridges, MacDonalds, markets....
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Old 05-28-10, 06:20 PM   #17
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Ao I'm just curious, what do you guys do for thunderstorms? They're saying about 40 % chances, but not until weekend, so I'l probably miss it completely. What do you guys do?
Around here, 40% of rain means it most likely will not rain. Just in case, i carry a rain jacket and cover for my backpack.

You'd be surprised though at the number of times you start out with a threat of rain, you arrive at your destination, it rains cats and dogs, it stops and then you ride home.

About once a year, the rain might be dangerous... as Roody points out. Just develop a contingency plan... perhaps stopping for a Mocha at Macdonald's or dropping by some friendly Tap joint for a pint.
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Old 05-28-10, 07:57 PM   #18
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Well, I'm back! It was absolutely amazing. It felt great to ride. I took off at about 8:45am, decided to stop at Brueggers at about 9:30, stopped at a LBS and test rode a 2010 Synapse Carbon 5 (I must have it!) then headed to work and got there at 10:30. I could have easily been to work in an hour. Today was just such an amazing feeling. I came home, and I think i'm going to invest in some goggles because when riding home, I'm right by the eerie canal and there are hundreds of thousands of gnats all around and I rode right into them numerous times. I'm feeling great, though! About to have a good nights rest and do it again tomorrow, only instead of leaving at 8:45, I'll be leaving at 7am to be there by 9. Wish me luck! Tomorrow is the true test to make sure I can do it consecutively.
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Old 05-28-10, 08:50 PM   #19
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Ao I'm just curious, what do you guys do for thunderstorms? They're saying about 40 % chances, but not until weekend, so I'l probably miss it completely. What do you guys do?
Try not to ride in them. Unless you have a heavy front coming through or live in Florida thunderstorms are not as common as you would think. I check the radar prior to riding, if a series of cells is coming through I will either wait them out or try to time my ride with the lulls. If I am riding and get caught, I will try to wait it out, otherwise I just take my chances and go.

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Old 05-29-10, 10:02 AM   #20
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My old commute was 13 miles one way. What i noticed is that the bike (chain, wheels, etc) gets very dirty & grimy, with that mileage you're going to put on. Make it a point to clean off the chain & all the components every other day, and on weekends or whatever days you don't work, once a week, give it a _good_ cleaning. You'll also want to check for chain & brake cable wear. A clean, well-maintained bike is a happy bike!
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Old 05-29-10, 04:31 PM   #21
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Congratulations Hurley, awesome stuff!
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Old 05-29-10, 09:11 PM   #22
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So... I didn't ride today haha I woke up at 6:30, and I couldn't do it haha I don't really wake up that early usually. But tomorrow I'm going to head out an hour later, so I'll be good to go. Looking forward to the ride!
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Old 05-29-10, 09:54 PM   #23
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Good job Hurley, I started commuting by bike year round about four years ago. I find now it’s the highlight of the day now for me.

For tools I very much like Park Tool Ppm-3 Mini Tool Kit W/Wallet. Everything I need is in it.


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Old 05-29-10, 09:55 PM   #24
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Good job Hurley, I started commuting by bike year round about four years ago. I find now itís the highlight of the day now for me.

For tools I very much like Park Tool Ppm-3 Mini Tool Kit W/Wallet. Everything I need is in it.
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Old 05-30-10, 08:06 PM   #25
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This morning I overslept and thought "dammit, now I cant ride in" but I decided I didn't want to give up. I got on my bike, and I rode to work! The only thing that i hate about the ride is the fact that on one of the roads, there's a dead deer that's decomposing and it smells absolutely awful. I can stand it. So tomorrow ill be trying to call animal services or something and see if they can do anything about it. Tomorrow i have off, so ill take the time to relax. But i plan on continuing on wednesday! Thanks a lot for all the encouragement. You guys have helped out a lot!
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