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First Bicycle Commute Today

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

First Bicycle Commute Today

Old 06-10-15, 01:22 PM
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Little Darwin
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First Bicycle Commute Today

This may get long winded, so relax and enjoy.

I moved to Pennsylvania about 10 years ago (from California), and found myself in a situation where I could live close enough to work to avoid using the car once in a while.

For my first 3 years, I lived in an apartment just over 2 miles from work, and I would walk periodically... but the hills precluded riding for a 300+ pound person like me. I then bought a house, and it is about 8 miles from work, with no major hills between me and work (although there are a couple I have been avoiding), and thought that I would shortly commute. Well, that didn't work out real well for a few years, and last year I started really targeting the opportunity to commute, and was putting in plenty of recreational miles, but never commuted. This spring, I looked even more fervently, but until today, either weather, or having some sort of perceived need for the car has kept me from commuting until today.

I had decided to drive to a trail head near me and ride from there in order to avoid a few sections of road I am not quite ready to face yet... I often ride the levee where I parked this morning, and had contacted the local officials to make sure that parking there all day wouldn't be an issue... Sunday morning, I decided to take a long (for me) ride, and decided to go past my work place to judge the level of effort needed to get there to start my ride. It seemed easy enough, and only took me about 1/2 hour to ride the 5.5 miles to the point on my route that passed a few blocks from work. I continued on with my ride, determined to commute this week on the first nice day. (My intention for now is to be a fair weather bicycle commuter). I knew that I could easily ride round trip without resting, so I thought I could pace myself on the commute, and arrive pretty fresh.

So, the weather Monday and Tuesday was rainy and windy, with thunderstorms predicted, so I drove, but Wednesday and Thursday looked perfect for commuting. Yesterday, I brought a change of clothes with me to work, and left them. Although I don't plan to push hard in the morning, I am being prepared in case I do need to change for some reason.

This morning, I put my bike on the car (after locating my lock) and drove to the parking area near the levee, and got everything mounted on the bike and away I rode. I either had a favorable wind, or a couple of hard rides recently, along with a couple of days rest before the commute really helped me, as I was averaging 1 or 2 mph faster, and pedaling easier than I remember on some of the stretches I was riding. I weigh over 300 pounds (still) and so I am very sensitive to even the slightest incline... But, I got to the end of the one section of levee, and road to the next section feeling good. Then I finished that section of levee, and the part of the commute I dreaded was ahead of me, 5 or 6 blocks of drivers that are at best ignorant of cycling, and at worst antagonistic toward cyclists. So, I went slow, and waited at the stop lights, and managed to make it to work, 6.04 miles in 33 minutes (I figured 45 to be safe in my estimate).

I felt good as I locked up my bike and grabbed my bag and helmet to go in to work, after a nice easy ride. Then I got inside and immediately the lack of breeze across my skin reminded me that I was sweating. So, since there are no facilities here to shower, I will be buying some baby wipes to keep in the office to freshen up. I was glad that I showered right before leaving home, so at least my sweat was fresh, and not fermented.

I don't know if I will be extending my trip home tonight with any side trips, but I am looking forward to the ride. I am really going to like commuting. Who knows, I had thought that I might attempt some riding in mildly inclement weather by next year, but I am thinking of figuring out some good wet weather options for a large rider like myself, and maybe give it a try soon. I am also looking forward to extending my trip to ride all the way from home within the next couple of weeks.

By the way, my commuting bike is a 2011 Trek 7.3 FX with beefed up wheels to handle my weight (Velocity Chukker rims on Deore hubs) and 35 mm Clement X'plor USH tires, with a rear rack, trunk bag (for locks and misc stuff) and seat bag (for spare tube, multi-tool, CO2 inflater etc). By this time next year, I am motivated to be light enough to be able to switch to the stock wheels and tires, and possibly make the commute in under 30 minutes, even with the additional 1.5 - 2 miles to start from my driveway.

I have poked my head in here occasionally, and I now look forward to gaining even more from the experience since I have taken the plunge.

I am expecting the evening commute to be too warm to enjoy it as much as this morning's commute, but I expect to have a smile on my face anyway!

Thanks for letting me share my joy!
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Old 06-10-15, 01:59 PM
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Good for you. It will get easier the more you do it. You might start out just a couple of days per week and build from there. Baby wipes are a good idea. I keep a bottle of witch hazel, a wash cloth, and some deodorant at the office. Having a set of fresh clothes there is a good idea too.

Congratulations on your first commute!
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Old 06-10-15, 02:06 PM
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Congratulations, @Little Darwin!
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Old 06-10-15, 03:07 PM
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The most difficult part about commuting by bike is getting it in your head that you can do it at all. Nothing wrong with fair-weather commuting, either, you're still getting out of the car and on the bike.

Keep it up, and be safe out there
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Old 06-10-15, 06:09 PM
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Holy cow! Nice job. This: "I am looking forward to the ride. I am really going to like commuting." says it all.
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Old 06-10-15, 07:30 PM
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Congrats! For me, the hardest part of doing something is getting started. That first commute is the hardest! Once you have a routine that works for you (change of clothes, baby wipes, etc), it gets easier. I like reading these posts because it's a reminder that I too, struggled and suffered when I started commuting regularly.
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Old 06-10-15, 08:30 PM
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WTG. Keep at it! Ride the bike to work!
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Old 06-10-15, 08:36 PM
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The commute home was not as nice as the ride into work, but I was still smiling.

It took me 8 minutes to go the first 5 or 6 blocks because of lights, and I was riding into the wind the whole way, but I felt good.

Tomorrow weather is still looking favorable, but there is a chance of rain, so I will have to see how it looks in the morning.

I did pick up a package of baby wipes to bring in with me tomorrow, and hope to hve as good a time as I did today.

Less money spent on gas is a good thing too.
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Old 06-11-15, 12:18 AM
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Congrats! Keep it up... I'm still afraid to ride on the road, been riding to work from ACE Train Station about 6 miles to my office, but last 1.5 mile is on high traffic road, so I will take the light rail from there :-( hoping that soon I will overcome that fear of sharing the road with cars.
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Old 06-11-15, 06:36 AM
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It gets easier. And foul weather becomes less onerous.
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Old 06-11-15, 06:40 AM
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And whether it is your goal or not, you may find yourself losing weight.
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Old 06-11-15, 07:05 AM
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Congrats on your initiative and resolve! This website has proven invaluable to increasing my enjoyment and safety when commuting. It sounds like you've done everything right, especially giving yourself more time than needed so you can go as slow as you need to be safe in traffic. While fitting the stock wheels may be an admirable goal, you can't beat the reliability of slightly overbuilt components. I have bike commuted regularly for 23 years, primarily for fitness, so a little extra weight here and there in exchange for reliability, comfort or utility doesn't bother me. And as far as those head winds. I'd like to say there will be an even amount of tail winds, but that never seems to be the case. But when the wind is blowing in your favor....there is nothing better!
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