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.

Finally a commuter

Old 06-30-15, 03:11 PM
  #1  
MrKris
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Finally a commuter

Did my first commute to work ride this morning. Traffic was fairly light and I didn't get "buzzed" in the short section where there is no MUP or bike lane. That area is a 4 lane, undivided road, so drivers had a whole other lane to pass in. I'm new to cycling and it was about 80 with 85% humidity, so I was a sweaty mess when I got to work. It's a good thing there is a shower here in our building. My rack and trunk should be here tomorrow and I can ditch the backpack I have been using.

I'm watching the radar now and hoping the monsoon passes south of us or at least waits until about 5:30ish to start flooding.

I can only ride 2-3 days a week since I have my son on Thursdays, Fridays and every other Monday. I'm completely stoked about getting a few more miles in every day and doing my part to take a vehicle off the road for a little while.
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Old 06-30-15, 04:36 PM
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Welcome to the world of commuting! You are now considered hardcore!
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Old 06-30-15, 06:33 PM
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Welcome, indeed. May it be as rewarding for you as it is for me.
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Old 06-30-15, 06:57 PM
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Thanks for the welcomes. I look forward to making it a regular part of my week.

I did find myself hunting a couple more gears on the Trek 820. I might take my road bike on one of the next trips to see if I can squeeze a little more speed out of these legs. I spent most of the downhills and part of the flats just coasting along because I was topped out on gears.
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Old 06-30-15, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MrKris View Post
Thanks for the welcomes. I look forward to making it a regular part of my week.

I did find myself hunting a couple more gears on the Trek 820. I might take my road bike on one of the next trips to see if I can squeeze a little more speed out of these legs. I spent most of the downhills and part of the flats just coasting along because I was topped out on gears.
Get to work and back home safely and call it a win. Let speed be secondary. It will likely come of it's own accord as you round into shape.
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Old 06-30-15, 08:44 PM
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Congratulations! I also commuted to work on bike (and back!) for the first time today. A colleague was kind enough to meet me on the trail and show me his preferred routes to and from the office, including an alternate route that I could try going home. The difference in our abilities, conditioning and confidence as cyclists is significant, but I learned a lot. There are things he likes to do that I don't see myself emulating for quite a while but overall it was a good day and i'm glad to have made it home alive.

I'll probably do this 1-2 times a week myself.

BTW on another forum, bike commuting was jokingly referred to as the true extreme cycling sport - never mind that Tour De France, time trial stuff, whatever - if you return home alive and unhurt you win, otherwise you lose! .

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 06-30-15 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 07-01-15, 04:47 AM
  #7  
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Welcome to the addiction. Be safe and have fun!
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Old 07-01-15, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by GovernorSilver View Post
Congratulations! I also commuted to work on bike (and back!) for the first time today. A colleague was kind enough to meet me on the trail and show me his preferred routes to and from the office, including an alternate route that I could try going home. The difference in our abilities, conditioning and confidence as cyclists is significant, but I learned a lot. There are things he likes to do that I don't see myself emulating for quite a while but overall it was a good day and i'm glad to have made it home alive.

I'll probably do this 1-2 times a week myself.

BTW on another forum, bike commuting was jokingly referred to as the true extreme cycling sport - never mind that Tour De France, time trial stuff, whatever - if you return home alive and unhurt you win, otherwise you lose! .
Congrats on joining the club also. I rode in today and it was a bit cooler. I did have a car get a little close in the section with no bike lane. I guess it was too much trouble to move over into the other lane going in the same direction. But, it's all part of it and definitely won't be the last time.

Sadly, this is my last day that I'll be able to ride to work this week. But all of my stuff should be here today and I'll be all set for my ride on Monday.
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Old 07-01-15, 08:52 AM
  #9  
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Cue the addiction in 5... 4... 3...
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Old 07-01-15, 08:53 AM
  #10  
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Welcome to the club, @MrKris!
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Old 07-01-15, 09:00 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by MrKris View Post
Congrats on joining the club also. I rode in today and it was a bit cooler. I did have a car get a little close in the section with no bike lane. I guess it was too much trouble to move over into the other lane going in the same direction. But, it's all part of it and definitely won't be the last time.

Sadly, this is my last day that I'll be able to ride to work this week. But all of my stuff should be here today and I'll be all set for my ride on Monday.
Thanks for the mutual welcome!

I didn't know how to ride a bike at all as late as April of this year, so I've been getting a crash course on cycling these past two months - the "how to ride for adults" class, practicing turns and other basic maneuvers on an abandoned lot, etc. One of the thing I was advised as a beginner was to take the lane when on the road, which I did at first. Then I read up on the bike laws in my state and it turns out I'm supposed to ride as far to the right "as practicable" which is kind of confusing, but also, I think, gives me some leeway. For example in Old Town Alexandria, I ride to the right of the quiet streets while staying out of the "door zone" of parked cars because any closer to them would not be "as practicable". On a two-lane road that has an additional right turn lane coming up, I take the middle to try to discourage cars from right hooking me to get to that right turn lane - that is apparently "practicable".

One thing commuting cyclists like to do in DC is ride between the lanes when there's car traffic congestion. Following my colleague to/from the office, I found I could fit my bike between those stopped cars, but the gap was often a bit narrow for my comfort. My brain at the time was still processing the fact that I was trying to avoid cars passing too close and now here I am passing within 3 feet of cars myself. We did take the sidewalk for little bits of the commute, but foot traffic around the National Mall is heavy this time of year due to the tourists, so we rode on the road as much as possible.

This commute thing is an adventure for sure!

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 07-01-15 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 07-01-15, 09:18 AM
  #12  
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It certainly doesn't take long to become an addiction. Started commuting the 1st of June. Did some rides on my mountain bike this spring and decided to upgrade to an Anyroad and start commuting the 11 miles to work. I can make it 2 to 3 times a week depending on weather. One day is my manly day where I play hockey (goalie) at lunch and shoot trap right after work and I'm not lugging all that crap on a bike or trailer. Started with the bike and backpack. Immediately bought a rear rack and bike bag for it. I keep adding little things that my addiction demands like mountain bike shorts and reflective clothing. As a data junky I do enjoy using Strava to track and compare my rides. Morning ride I can't relax much the first 4 miles. It's a 2 lane state highway with a narrow shoulder and I just want it done. I get "punished passed" at least once each ride. Usually by a jacked up pickup truck that may or may not be pulling a contractors trailer or the worst one is the CN railroad maintenance rig. Part of commuting I guess. I do regularly see deer and other wildlife on the next stretch which makes it enjoyable.
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Old 07-01-15, 10:47 AM
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I'll add my congratulations. I have a bar-end mirror and a glasses-mounted take-a-look mirror. When I'm in a situation like yours. if I see a car approaching from behind and there is an empty lane to the left I make a "move over" motion with my left hand. Works most of the time. BTW, 85% humidity is a nightmare I haven't had to deal with since moving to Colorado 23 years ago...I am impressed.
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Old 07-01-15, 11:58 AM
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congrats! you've broken the barrier. now to continue! it's not easy but it's not too hard either. as my husband tells me (and kid) repeatedly: slow and steady wins the race.
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Old 07-01-15, 12:42 PM
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Thanks again everybody!

My Topeak rack and bag have been delivered along with my bar mirror and Cygolight Hotshot tail light. I'm just waiting for our stockroom guys to bring it around.

I started to get a helmet mirror too, but decided to wait and see if the bar mirror will be sufficient. I was concerned about having something blocking part of my forward field of view. If the bar mirror isn't enough, I'll get a helmet mirror. I really need something, I have to make 2 left turns on my ride to work and one on my ride home. One in the morning and one in the evening are along the stretch with no bike lane and 4 lanes of traffic. I do have a place I can pull off on the right and then go perpendicular across the road on the ride home, but not on the ride to work.
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Old 07-01-15, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I'll add my congratulations. I have a bar-end mirror and a glasses-mounted take-a-look mirror. When I'm in a situation like yours. if I see a car approaching from behind and there is an empty lane to the left I make a "move over" motion with my left hand. Works most of the time. BTW, 85% humidity is a nightmare I haven't had to deal with since moving to Colorado 23 years ago...I am impressed.
It was cooler this morning at 72*, but the humidity was 92%.
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Old 07-01-15, 09:28 PM
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Congratulations, but the payoffs are great too.
Things I learned the first year... this is my list, but FWIW...
it ain't a race. I tried to shave minutes off initially, and I did. I also discovered after a bit, relaxing and enjoying did not add that much time.
Smell the roses. Enjoy nice architecture. Smile to folks you encounter walking and riding.
You will develop a knowledge of your town you might have missed before.. cut through alleys, the nicest little bakery.
Have fun
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Old 07-02-15, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MrKris View Post
It was cooler this morning at 72*, but the humidity was 92%.
I looked at that weather, then noticed you are in Alabama. There should be a thread for Southern bike commuters.
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Old 07-03-15, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MrKris View Post
It was cooler this morning at 72*, but the humidity was 92%.
Similar conditions here in the DC area - 82 F at around 1pm when I rode my bike to the grocery store. Was surprised to see humidity was 90% for us because it didn't feel that bad. Then again the dew point was only 70 F - supposedly 75 F is when one should really start feeling stickiness in the air. Felt very much like a pleasant summer day, and even the climb up the hill home felt easier than before, albeit with the stand-and-mash technique which I hadn't tried before.

It was 90 F on the homeward half of my first commute day, but I was too focused on following my coworker on his preferred route out of DC into No. VA - quite an adrenaline rush riding with cars, cutting through three lanes to turn left, dashing between cars, etc. I did start to feel the heat and humidity though after that crazy sprint down the hill to get to the 14th St. pedestrian bridge, then immediately climbing to get on the bridge. The laptop, heavy book, heavy lock, work clothes, etc. combined to make my panniers feel heavier than normal.
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