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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 12-13-09, 09:14 AM   #1
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Is commuting a serious form of training.

I was commuting during 2008, before I began to participate in century rides. It allowed me to ride 100 to 150 miles per week depending on how I split my car use and cycling. I enjoyed commuting, but would not want to depend on riding every day.

I changed jobs this year and have not been commuting. It's a 35 mile one-way drive. I could commute by bike with the use of an express bus that helps me avoid 9 miles of roads that are too dangerous for cycling. The remaining 26 miles are a reasonable combination of safe roads and MUP. I have a shower at work.

I could see myself commuting two or three days a week once the worst of winter is over and I can do most of my riding with some daylight. It would provide me with two hours of cycling before work and another two hours after work. Doing this several days a week would allow me to double my overall mileage.

Is commuting a worthwhile form of training?
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Old 12-13-09, 09:34 AM   #2
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A 24 mile roundtrip commute, plus long weekend rides has gotten me thru 3 super rando series and a 1200k with consistent mid-pack finishes, so if you do it right, yeah, commuting can provide good training.

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Old 12-13-09, 10:02 AM   #3
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Sure, I commute a 30 mile round trip several times a week to work and stay in great shape. Once in a while I'll ride quite a bit faster than normal just for the extra training benefit. However, I tend to follow the wisdom of the late Ken Kifer and take it easy during most commutes. I may have lost some speed since I no longer run intervals outside and do squats, but I don't notice it much and my enthusiasm for cycling is greater now since I an not always fatigued and trying to recover.
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Old 12-13-09, 11:18 AM   #4
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It is if you use the bike time to actually train. If you just ride it, you are just adding miles and not necessarily improving. In fact, you could slow yourself down. Use the commute to do interval and speed work and you should be good to go!
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Old 12-13-09, 11:40 AM   #5
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yeah, it depends on the commute. I had a 25 mile round trip commute a few years ago that was mostly suburban, and had some good climbing options and I found that, combined with long weekend rides to be fine as a training regimen for endurance cycling. The current commute that I have now, which is all urban and only 13 miles round trip is not, in my mind, sufficient for training. Yes, I can do intervals between signals, and use a couple of bridges as substitutes for hills, but the stop and go nature of urban commuting combined with the short distance didn't make it useful as preparation. This year, when training for a 1000k, I found that I had to do more than just commute + long steady distance Saturday, and actually alternate Saturdays that were either mid-distance speed & climbing work or long & steady endurance; since I wasn't building up enough strength during the weekdays.
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Old 12-13-09, 09:35 PM   #6
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It is if you use the bike time to actually train. If you just ride it, you are just adding miles and not necessarily improving. In fact, you could slow yourself down. Use the commute to do interval and speed work and you should be good to go!
How would one slow oneself down? Seriously, I'm not being contrary; I don't understand. The OP is suggesting he will ride 52 miles each time he commutes--something he hopes to do a few times a week. How could this be bad?

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Old 12-14-09, 12:05 AM   #7
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How would one slow oneself down? Seriously, I'm not being contrary; I don't understand. The OP is suggesting he will ride 52 miles each time he commutes--something he hopes to do a few times a week. How could this be bad?

Thanks
No problem! That is a perfectly valid question. It's not really a bad thing if you are happy with your speed. When you are out riding you are conditioning you muscles. If you are just tooling along on your commute at 10mph every day you are training you're muscles to go 10mph. If you are doing some speed work or you are going as fast as you want to, then it doesn't really matter.

Mileage in-and-of itself doesn't do a whole lot for long distance riders except condition your butt. A mistake that a lot of long distance riders make is to think that to ride long distances we need to train by riding long distances. You don't have to do that. Many long distance riders neglect speed work in their training and then complain about not making controls on brevets or not getting any sleep on a 1200k. I know people who ride 20K+ miles a year. You'd think they would be Lance Armstrong fast but they aren't. They are strong and have lots of endurance but they go the same speed they train at and several have problems making cut-off times on 1200ks. That's all I was getting at. The commute is fine, the miles are fine but don't neglect the speed!
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Old 12-14-09, 12:13 AM   #8
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How would one slow oneself down? Seriously, I'm not being contrary; I don't understand. The OP is suggesting he will ride 52 miles each time he commutes--something he hopes to do a few times a week. How could this be bad?

Thanks
I commute on and off. I generally do less total miles when commuting and less intensity(hey, I've already ridden my bike 10 miles today, think I'll have a beer and watch the telly).

Though the singlespeed seems to have helped keep my fitness up through the winter.

ps, I'd rather use the term effective rather than serious in relation to training. Nearly all my rides are fun.

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Old 12-14-09, 08:08 AM   #9
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No problem! That is a perfectly valid question. It's not really a bad thing if you are happy with your speed. When you are out riding you are conditioning you muscles. If you are just tooling along on your commute at 10mph every day you are training you're muscles to go 10mph. If you are doing some speed work or you are going as fast as you want to, then it doesn't really matter.

Mileage in-and-of itself doesn't do a whole lot for long distance riders except condition your butt. A mistake that a lot of long distance riders make is to think that to ride long distances we need to train by riding long distances. You don't have to do that. Many long distance riders neglect speed work in their training and then complain about not making controls on brevets or not getting any sleep on a 1200k. I know people who ride 20K+ miles a year. You'd think they would be Lance Armstrong fast but they aren't. They are strong and have lots of endurance but they go the same speed they train at and several have problems making cut-off times on 1200ks. That's all I was getting at. The commute is fine, the miles are fine but don't neglect the speed!
Great answer--thanks. That all makes sense. And it's of course the case that some riding--whether rambling along at ten mph or actually making an effort to train--is far better than no riding at all.

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Old 12-14-09, 08:25 AM   #10
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Hi,

The OP is back.

I've considered the comments about the effectiveness of commuting. It's clear that not all commuting has a benefit.

However, commuting allows me to ride during the workweek. Driving more than an hour each way kills so much time that riding after work becomes difficult to do on a regular basis. I would need to use the bike before driving home, if I was to train during the week. I've done this.

I expect that my commute will have a benefit. Most of the roads and MUP that I will use allow faster travel and I should be able to travel for 3 miles on average between stops. I expect to make about 8 stops over 26 miles each way.

The attractiveness of training while commuting is that it allows me to train and travel to and from work at the same time. A car is faster but takes too much time to allow as much time for training as I want.

Michael

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Old 12-14-09, 08:44 AM   #11
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The attractiveness of training while commuting is that it allows me to train and travel to and from work at the same time. A car is faster but takes too much time to allow as much time for training as I want.
I think that this and the prior comment from csmo are correct in that some riding is better than just sitting in the car, waiting in traffic; and I don't think any of us are saying, "don't bike commute." ( god forbid, any of us would encourage one to ride less ) Just, from my point of view, commuting by itself isn't always a sufficient form of training for endurance cycling. I think the route that you describe is a good foundation for a commuting + brevets/weekend century training program, but shorter or more urban commutes would, I think, require something else to supplement them.

Similarly, I think homeyba's point is also worth considering that if you're going to think of commuting as training, you should think of it as training. But, that goes for all traiining ... it's not just a matter of getting a raw number of miles into the distance log, but how those miles are earned does matter.
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Old 12-14-09, 09:09 AM   #12
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commuting won't get you there any more than simply riding around your block.
training for specific outcomes requires specific training.
but, commuting is a great way to build a base, keep moving, and use as a testing ground for gear, etc.


want to 'finish' a 200k? most anyone who can finish a century in good stead can finish a 200k within the time limits.
want to finish a challenging 200k (hilly, mountainous, windy, etc.) with room and energy to spare so you can focus on riding the 300k in a few weeks? better add something with punch to the long steady distance. intervals, hills, etc.

from personal experience i can guarantee you that riding the same way all the time pretty much guarantees that you will be able to ride the same way... most of the time.
throw in the weather, fatigue, non ideal fueling options... and it can fall apart pretty quick.

ride your commute like you plan to ride your events. test out gear. ride in the cold. ride in the wet. use it for recovery... whatever.
and then do some focused 'training' for specific outcomes.
need to climb faster with less recovery over the top? work on it.
need to be able to burn hard for an hour or so at a time? work on it.
etc. etc.
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Old 12-14-09, 10:21 AM   #13
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All good and well known points about training. If you always ride slow, you train to ride slow. It all depends on the course you're commuting and what opportunities that course provides. Red lights can be great sprint training. Stand up on the peddles and sprint off that green light as fast as you can.

I have a 18.5 mile one way commute. For example, I go over one very small bridge which is only a 20 second climb, then a larger bridge which is a good 60+ second climb. Most days I stand up on the pedals and sprint up these climbs. The small climb is not much of a challenge but it drives the heart rate up, which is good. On the larger climb I can drive myself right into the anaerobic state until I collapse back onto the saddle. I get that opportunity in the morning ride in, and again on the ride home. Then there is the one mile section where I'm on a narrow two lane residential street which is also a major connector for commuting motorists. The traffic is bumper to bumper in both directions with three traffic lights along this one mile stretch, leaving motorists with no opportunity to pass me. I can sense the frustration of hurried commuters trying to get home (especially now that Christmas shopping frenzy is in full swing). They are stacked up behind me and I have a car in front which is slowly pulling away from me. This motivates me to sprint that full mile all out, as fast as I can peddle. When I hit the end of that one mile "guantlet" I am always pretty gassed. On top of that, my commuter bike is a cro-moly touring bike with loaded saddle bags. So the speed work is being done with extra weight and wind resistance. On the weekends I get on my carbon fiber bike and and the difference is amazing. I've increased my average speed on a 40 mile ride on Saturday by about 1 MPH since starting this two day per week commute five months ago.
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Old 12-14-09, 10:31 AM   #14
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If you have the energy to ride the route hard, of course it's a good form of training.

For me, right out my door is an immediate 6% climb. The bike has loaded panniers and heavy as hell studded tires. It's a workout even if I don't ride it hard which I usually do.
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Old 12-24-09, 04:33 AM   #15
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I have a 45 mile round trip commute with 2,400 feet of climbing. I do this century (miles) around the island with 4,500 feet of climbing every so often (once a month or so) in about seven and a half hours and am not particularly tired at the end. So, from what I read here it sounds like I should be able to take on some longer rides but we simply don't have any long distance events around here except two centuries a year (one metric, one miles) and I've got to fly 2,400 miles over open ocean to get anywhere else. So I'm thinking maybe I ought to try to do some "simulated" brevets on my own. I guess I'll try mapping out a 200 k route and see what happens.
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Old 12-28-09, 12:26 PM   #16
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I have a 45 mile round trip commute with 2,400 feet of climbing. I do this century (miles) around the island with 4,500 feet of climbing every so often (once a month or so) in about seven and a half hours and am not particularly tired at the end. So, from what I read here it sounds like I should be able to take on some longer rides but we simply don't have any long distance events around here except two centuries a year (one metric, one miles) and I've got to fly 2,400 miles over open ocean to get anywhere else. So I'm thinking maybe I ought to try to do some "simulated" brevets on my own. I guess I'll try mapping out a 200 k route and see what happens.
this is a slight derail, but I was out in Honolulu for a few weeks last year for work, and I managed to squeeze in a few rides around O'ahu during that time period, including a century from Honolulu to the North Shore and back via Schofield Barracks. I generally agree that your riding options are limited in Hawaii, and I think that a 200k is certainly feasible on O'ahu, especially if you incorporate a second loop with the Pali Highway. I've also believed that you can work out a decent 300k route doing a figure eight around Maui; and possibly a 400 on the Big Island. I only regret that work was too busy to allow me to get off the island and try these routes out, but I think that Hawaii has more potential than you may think. The main challenge, I suspect, with designing routes (especially with a mind to using it as a prep for 1200k's on the mainland or elsewhere) is incorporating sufficient climbing. There certainly a lot of challenging climbs around Hawaii, but it'd be tough to string them all together into a cohesive itinerary that doesn't double back on itself too often.
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Old 12-29-09, 05:19 PM   #17
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you might try what I do-- I take it easy going in to work (50 mile round trip), and then push it home. Going home is always into the wind, and gradually uphill, so it is a great workout. Also, i tnd to do this on my fixie, whch forces the push on the hills. I 'train' on my commute, and it certainly helps in the long term. As has been statedd, if you train slow, you will 'race' slow. Speed work is important. It's just a matter of how you fit it in. I also ride with a group on weekends and we have sections we will push, then regroup after so we can ride together. In the long run (ride) it's about enjoyment anyway. If you are enjoying it, it is worth it...if not...

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