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New to bike commuting

Old 03-09-21, 04:09 PM
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Bike4pie
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New to bike commuting

Hi all,
I'm a recreational biker and a very fair-weather bike commuter. I'd like to get more regular with my commuting, but I don't really know where to start. Your posts on your commuter bikes has given me really good insight into where I should look for my next ride, but are there other things I should know about if I'm going to commute regularly? In short, what do I need to do to not look like a noob on the bike path every morning? Special gear recommendations? Etiquette do's and dont's? Kind of worried about making a fool of myself amongst the Lance Armstrongs out there. TIA!
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Old 03-09-21, 04:39 PM
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Go ahead a ride to work and back. That's what makes a bicycle commuter. You'll probably do just fine.

If you live where it rains, you might want to take a rain jacket. If you keep it up, make sure you know how to fix a flat and have the appropriate tools. Figure out how to carry what you need, whether that's wallet and phone, clothes to change into at work, or clothes, towel, soap, and a laptop. Find a good route that doesn't add too much time to your commute but on which you feel safe. Leave home early if you're constrained as to what time you need to be at work. Think about how you'll adjust your commute if your bike breaks down -- call a spouse, housemate, or coworker for a ride, use public transportation, or ... ?
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Old 03-09-21, 04:41 PM
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Don't have any answers for you, but I can suggest some questions to think about:

What's the bike parking situation at work? Is it protected from the elements? Is it protected from thieves and passersby?
How far is the ride? Will you get sweaty or dirty on the way? If so, you might want to ride in bike kit and then change when you get there. If not, you might just ride in work clothes.
What do you need to carry and how do want to carry it?
Will you need to ride in the dark and thus need lights and blinkies?
Do you have the means of dealing with a flat or mechanical?
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Old 03-09-21, 05:18 PM
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Don't worry about how you look. It'll be obvious that you look like you're riding to work. The real cyclists (whatever that means) will be courteous and supportive, to heck with the rest.

I try to be predictable and not a jerk, but I expect others to follow a basic etiquette of giving particular consideration to the older or slower cyclists (such as me), and letting the racers fend for themselves.

When I started commuting, I always brought a rain jacket with me. Over the years of being out on my bike, I've gained a pretty good sense of the local weather, and gear up accordingly. If the chance of getting wet is less than 10%, then I wing it.

I find it useful to lay everything out the night before, so I'm not fumbling for stuff in the morning. I also check my inflation regularly, and anything else that could deteriorate on a bike. That way, I'm not faced with the decision of whether or not to ride, when I actually have to leave my house. This helped a lot towards making it a habit and eventually an addiction.
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Old 03-10-21, 10:42 PM
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Be prepared! Have a spare tube, tire levers, and pump for changing a tube. Pack a light weight rain jacket, and dry socks during rainy periods. Make sure you have lights! Not just for night time, but to keep you visible to cars during the day time. Wear a helmet. Play with routes and have fun! Be sure to allot time for unplanned things like flats. Also allot time to cool down, clean up, and change if needed. I try to keep a pack of baby wipes, and a clean set of clothes at the office just in case.

Don't worry about what you look like. Cycling has a ton of niche fashion rules, wear what you're comfortable in. Some days I ride in jeans and a t-shirt, some days I wear my road kit and take the extra long route.
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Old 03-11-21, 12:24 AM
  #6  
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Donít sweat it. Road cyclists, MTBers, commuters are three different subcultures within cycling. Commuting is anything goes as far as clothes and gear.
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Old 03-11-21, 07:28 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
Don't worry about how you look. It'll be obvious that you look like you're riding to work. The real cyclists (whatever that means) will be courteous and supportive, to heck with the rest.
Amen to that! Do you own thing and don't worry! As far as etiquette on the bike path, just simply be courteous and the rest will take care of itself.
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Old 03-11-21, 09:55 AM
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Bike4pie You are lucky. I commuted for about 16 years before I discovered bikeforums, and it changed my commuting for the better in every way!
The main thing is to not worry what you look like or if you are doing something "wrong".

There is usually more than one way to accomplish the different aspects of bike commuting, such a as bike type, gear, apparel, routes, how to tote your stuff, etc. As you continue to ride over the weeks, months and years (28 for me until my job situation changed last December) you will discover what works for you and what doesn't.

An easy way to search bikeforums is to use an external search engine (like google) and add the word "bikeforums.net" to the search (or site:bikeforums.net).

And just as you shouldn't worry about how you look while riding (except "visible"...you should always look visible in traffic), you shouldn't worry about asking "dumb" questions. This being an online forum, people will taunt people who post "smart" questions too, so just ask away. I've been here since 2009 and I still ask "dumb" questions. But you will learn more from asking "dumb" questions than not asking questions at all.

So welcome, get ready to enjoy biking in a whole new way, and...go, Go, GO!
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Old 03-11-21, 11:13 AM
  #9  
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I just ride a bike it has lights and a way to carry stuff. I dont care what I look like.
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Old 03-11-21, 02:23 PM
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Don't worry about what you look like, or how others look. I commute in the same "Lance Armstrong" clothes that I use when on the fast weekend rides, because proper cycling kit is comfortable, breathable, and functional, and then I change into work clothes once I get there. The only "commuting gear" I'd recommend is a Topeak QuickTrack rack and rear trunk bag, with drop down panniers to carry a lunch, change of clothes, and sneakers. A backpack will do, but can be sweaty or heavy, and puts the weight up high, instead of lower and on the bike and off your shoulders. And learning cycling etiquette is essential regardless of why you're riding, and there's lots of existing threads on that subject alone, read them all.
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Old 03-13-21, 09:45 AM
  #11  
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My suggestion would be to test the route you plan on riding before you start commuting. This should give you an idea of how long your commute will take, the type of road conditions you will deal with and the type of clothing you will need. So if you work Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm, you would test out the route on a Saturday or a Sunday around that time.
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Old 03-13-21, 09:58 AM
  #12  
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I never ride outside easy walking distance w/o flat-fixing stuff. Minimum level, spare tube, the means to install and inflate it.
Beyond that, itís all down to what your bailout options are.
WRT clothes etc, wear what works for you. Iím equally unlikely to ride in all bike-specific kit as I am to ride w/o any. Cycling specific pants have a point in that theyíre more likely to hold up well to being rubbed against the saddle. Cycling jackets tend not to spinnaker as much as something like a random running jacket.
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Old 03-15-21, 06:28 PM
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You don't have to ride everyday. I had one ride that took over an hour each way. I couldn't do that everyday. I later had a ride that was only a few miles which I could do everyday.

Ride what you can and enjoy it.
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Old 03-26-21, 09:24 AM
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I think, after your first commuting ride to work, all your fears will disappear. You cannot really make fool of yourself. Commuting is fun and keeps you fit. Also, it helps me to wake up in the morning.
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Old 03-26-21, 08:59 PM
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Fenders

Iíve been commuting regularly the last 15 years in south Texas.

I have fenders on both my primary and backup commuter bikes.

Also, I carry foil packs of mosquito repellent with my flat tire kit.

These items may not be needed in a drier climate, but Iíve found pumping a river into my crack and swatting while installing a tube to be unpleasant.
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Old 03-27-21, 04:46 PM
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I commute to work every day. Prepare everything the night before and enjoy the journey.
Oh and a pack of baby wipes in your bag is always handy on the hot days.
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Old 03-27-21, 06:51 PM
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Just do it. Then, figure out what you need to do to make it better.
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Old 03-29-21, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by flangehead View Post
Iíve been commuting regularly the last 15 years in south Texas.

I have fenders on both my primary and backup commuter bikes.

Also, I carry foil packs of mosquito repellent with my flat tire kit.

These items may not be needed in a drier climate, but Iíve found pumping a river into my crack and swatting while installing a tube to be unpleasant.
Lol. The mosquitos are not really an issue here in California. But I bet, I would carry some repellant as well, if I would live in Texas.
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Old 03-29-21, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeEthics View Post
Lol. The mosquitos are not really an issue here in California. But I bet, I would carry some repellant as well, if I would live in Texas.
Speak for yourself! Here on the far north coast mosquitoes are most definitely an issue. The trick is to pedal faster than they can fly.
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Old 03-30-21, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Bike4pie View Post
Hi all,
I'm a recreational biker and a very fair-weather bike commuter. I'd like to get more regular with my commuting, but I don't really know where to start. Your posts on your commuter bikes has given me really good insight into where I should look for my next ride, but are there other things I should know about if I'm going to commute regularly? In short, what do I need to do to not look like a noob on the bike path every morning? Special gear recommendations? Etiquette do's and dont's? Kind of worried about making a fool of myself amongst the Lance Armstrongs out there. TIA!
Funny.

Really, this is the last thing you have to worry about. A person riding a bike to work in the morning is hardly making a fool of him/herself. Some dude all dressed up in spandex and a yellow jersey, on the other hand, living his Tour de France fantasy on the way to work . . .

You know what looks funny? Anyone over six feet tall riding a folding bike. Still, it gets me to work every morning.
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Old 03-30-21, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
Speak for yourself! Here on the far north coast mosquitoes are most definitely an issue. The trick is to pedal faster than they can fly.
Haha. It must be the wind that keeps them away over here.
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Old 03-30-21, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Inisfallen View Post
Funny.

Really, this is the last thing you have to worry about. A person riding a bike to work in the morning is hardly making a fool of him/herself. Some dude all dressed up in spandex and a yellow jersey, on the other hand, living his Tour de France fantasy on the way to work . . .

You know what looks funny? Anyone over six feet tall riding a folding bike. Still, it gets me to work every morning.
As small as those bikes are, that sounds harsh on their knees
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Old 03-31-21, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Difficultocelot View Post
As small as those bikes are, that sounds harsh on their knees
Not really. Or mine isn't, anyway. The seat and bars extend far enough from the folded position so that I get a fairly normal seating position. My legs are fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. It's pretty comfortable.
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Old 03-31-21, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Inisfallen View Post
Funny.

Really, this is the last thing you have to worry about. A person riding a bike to work in the morning is hardly making a fool of him/herself. Some dude all dressed up in spandex and a yellow jersey, on the other hand, living his Tour de France fantasy on the way to work . . .

You know what looks funny? Anyone over six feet tall riding a folding bike. Still, it gets me to work every morning.
So you think tall, folding bike riders are funny, and OK, yet you cast judgement towards fully spandexed commuters (myself included). If you didn't know it already, you're part of the problem.
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Old 03-31-21, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Riveting View Post
So you think tall, folding bike riders are funny, and OK, yet you cast judgement towards fully spandexed commuters (myself included). If you didn't know it already, you're part of the problem.
Lighten up. It was a joke, meant to let the original poster know that making a fool of him/herself should be the last thing on the list of concerns. I am a tall folding bike rider, well over six feet tall, riding a little bike with tiny wheels. I look funny. I'm fine with that.
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