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Planing my 17 mile commute to work

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Planing my 17 mile commute to work

Old 02-16-09, 11:56 PM
  #1  
Timber_8
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Planing my 17 mile commute to work

I plan on commuting to work starting some time in March, I live in Massachusetts in a south shore farming community. My challenge is I start work @ 3:30 am so I am going to be on the road @ 2:00 am. I have a very nice Trek hybrid I bought last year that I need to outfit with lighting and a few other things. I am the boss so I have no issues with keeping work cloths at work and keeping my bike inside. The commute is 17 miles in and I am still plotting my ride home that should be around 1:30 pm or so. The traffic will be considerably heaver for my commute home so I am exploring lighter traveled routs home. My concerns commuting into work have more to do with wildlife, Deer, Coyote and a Wolf pack that resides in my area. The drunk driver at that hour is also a concern. My plan is to start 1 or 2 days a week to work up my stamina and and do 4 days a week. I'll use the 5th day to bring supplies back & 4th to work. I'll be ditching my Laptop & lunch bag to travel light. My wife is not too Keen on the idea but she will come around. I would welcome any advice from anyone especially on night riding. My route is all rural country roads, about 5 miles of which the shoulder is rather narrow, that is more of a concern for my commute home
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Old 02-17-09, 12:12 AM
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Those 5 miles, in particular, sound a bit dangerous. It sounds like there aren't many other routes for you, but if you could find one, that might make it a bit easier for you (and your wife), although this might add to your already long (for me) commute.

2:00AM? CRAZY....Get lights, lots of em. Reviews can be found of many different lights if you use the Search function on here. Good luck. I'm sure more people have some more advice for you.
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Old 02-17-09, 12:17 AM
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I had a 17.5-mile commute each way. Don't drop the lunch. And you'll want to take a Patch kit, air pump, Tools (tire levers, Wrenches, chain tool, spoke tool, etc.) along with new tube. I all ways try to patch the tube first. But some times you just can't patch it. And in the rack bag I had my work outfit and all the above.

I would stop and take a 5 min break in the middle of the commute on windy days, or days that I just wanted to. This would be water or drink break. And it lets your legs rest a little. All so eat after you ride. This will help you stay fueled up for work and the ride home.

Hope this helps
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Old 02-17-09, 12:19 AM
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lights, lights and lights. Visibility for you, and *of you* is key for the morning. Consider putting on tires with reflective striping (Schwalbe Marathon, Continental Top Touring, etc). Run multiple rear lights in case one fails. Have a backup for the front light. Consider an ANSI reflective vest or similar.

I'm leaving for work shortly, so I speak from experience. the ansi vest and my helmet mounted light are indispenasble for being seen. Helmet light primarily at intersections, since when you turn to look at a car, the light follows. They do notice.

Deer have never been a problem, although they've scared the bejesus out of me, and me of them on more than one occasion. Coyotes and wolves I've not had to contend with.... pedal REALLY fast? Or HALT Spray. LOL

-Roger
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Old 02-17-09, 12:36 AM
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The most important thing for you is lights! You have to be seen. Get the best and the brightest.

http://www.dealextreme.com/search.dx/search.p7

for a headlight, pick one of the above... read about them in the electronics and gadgets forum. There are things that are just as bright but cost $200-$400 more.

http://store.dinottelighting.com/sha...t=products.asp

The dinotte tail light is the best. You will be seen.
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Old 02-17-09, 12:45 AM
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The traffic at 2 am is almost non existent, I had already planned on the vest and lighting as well as a tool and parts kit. The helmet light is a great idea I had not considered, in fact I even have 1. I am also a big fan of backup systems. I do have options for my commute home & I am spending the next few weeks running all my options in my pickup for the ride home. I am in very good shape as I own a full gym in my home and have been a fitness buff for years. I am taking the time to plan & outfit my equipment. I do have rest locations along the route and will plan on protein drinks and water along the way but I have a fully stocked kitchen at work to have all my food at work. It is good to be the king
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Old 02-17-09, 12:50 AM
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I will tell ya the hardest thing to see at night and the thing that will absolutely ruin your ride......

skunks.

Don't ask how I know. It was ugly.
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Old 02-17-09, 12:57 AM
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Sounds like you have every thing you need. So the qustion is "Why have you not been ridding before now?"

If your going to be on the roads why not get a road bike. It will be faster.
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Old 02-17-09, 12:59 AM
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I passed a skunk on the way home tonight. LOL
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Old 02-17-09, 12:02 PM
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Mine is an urban, 19-mile commute, so the only wildlife I've seen are rabbits, raccoons, and squirrels. However, I do ride both ways in the dark (actually it's getting light at the end of my ride in and the beginning of the ride home). As many others have said, visibility is your friend. That means visibility all-around, both to see and to be seen. I've got a bike mounted headlight, a helmet-mounted headlight, a bike-mounted taillight, and a helmet-mounted taillight. Both the headlights are DiNotte 200L lights, so they're nice and bright.

For side visibility, I've got the Down-Low Glow (dual tube) and a pair of firefly lights, which are mounted on my valve stems and come on flashing when I'm moving.

Have a patch kit and tools with you. On a long ride like that, things will get loose and sometimes fall off. Further, in night riding you don't see the smaller things in the road like you do in daylight, so you run over things. Sometimes the things you run over are bad for the bike. This is where a helmet light comes with an added bonus -- it's a portable, hands-free flashlight.

Carry your cell phone. If you've got ID for your job, put the two together someplace obvious. I carry mine in a pouch attached to the handlebar stem. The reason for doing this is a little morbid, but if you get hit and knocked out, it's a place people will look to find out who you are. I also have ICE-1, ICE-2, and ICE-3 in my phone. Those are my house, wife, and son, respectively.

Night riding is very peaceful and enjoyable, if you're ready for it. Good luck!
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Old 02-17-09, 02:30 PM
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Wolf packs,, please...l live within 5 miles of you...
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Old 02-17-09, 03:54 PM
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Good news about 2 am traffic: almost negligible.
Bad news about 2 am traffic: they're mostly drunks.

Get good lights and ride as if all cars are DUI. That said, it's probably much safer than riding at rush hour.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:02 PM
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I picked up a set of full length fenders today to start the conversion of my bike into a commuter. I also started looking at lighting as well. Their is some real nice technology out there. I have some time to do some research, the stuff is very pricey. I do have a bunch of stuff all ready but I do want to update some things. I also think I want to swap out the saddles with my mountain bike. I have been exploring my route home & I am very pleased with what I have found so far. I am really looking forward to this. My target is mid March.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:14 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Dont Hit Me. View Post
Wolf packs,, please...l live within 5 miles of you...
You can believe what ever you want their pal

Last edited by Timber_8; 02-17-09 at 05:38 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-17-09, 04:28 PM
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I commute 18.5 miles each way here in the Seattle area. This time of year, it's dark on the way in and dark on the way home. I also commute on some narrow, rural roads before I get into town.

Many very good suggestions above that I will add to.

Lights - I have a Dinotte 600L on the front (on my helmet, actually) and a Dinotte 140L taillight. I also have a SuperFlash on the back of my helmet as a backup. These lights are EXPENSIVE but worth it IMHO. I see many bikers who have cheesy little flashing lights that they cheaped out on and they wonder why they are always getting left and right hooked by cars. I bought the 600L primarily for night Mountain Biking but it also works great for commuting. Both lights really get the attention of drivers (especially when in strobe mode) and I never have trouble with drivers pulling in front of me or not giving me enough room on the road.

Reflective material. I have reflective tape all over my bike (including the cranks). I wear reflective leg bands and a reflective vest. My shell has relective tape on the arms. You can never have enough, IMHO. I get many comments from cars and other commuters on how well lit I am.

I commute with a rack and trunk bag/panniers. Tried a backpack for a while, but after 18 miles loaded with shoes, clothes, towel, etc., my shoulders where getting a little tired. Love the rack/panniers setup.

Get good tires. I run ultra gatorskins and have been satisfied with their performance in wet and dry conditions.

Good luck with your commute.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:43 PM
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Since traffic will be virtually non-existent on your way in, you'll be able to hear anyone coming. However having a mirror (mount on clear glasses, helmet, or bike) can still provide a good visual confirmation that the car behind is going to move over sufficiently to overtake, and that they aren't a mad weaving drunk (where you may wish to ditch dive).

In a dark countryside the contrast of your lights and your vest against almost no light pollution, will make you really easy to spot, there's no need to overkill it. More important will be making sure your headlight is sufficient for YOU to see the road edges and the wildlife, rural roads can be really dark at night, and the cheap headlights that work great in urban areas just don't cut it.

For the way back, don't be squeezed into a teeny tiny bad shoulder. Better is to ride sufficiently into the lane so that passing traffic must cross the center line to pass you, and you have sufficient escape room to the right if they are not moving over (here again the mirror is handy). It will be tense though if traffic is heavy enough that most traffic cannot easily move over and has to slow and wait for gaps. But you'll have to try it out to see how it goes.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:49 PM
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Lights, reflective vest(I have one with flashing LEDs), reflective tape, and more lights. Take the lane. Be careful. Good luck.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:51 PM
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Regardless of the fear mongers, the majority of people out driving on a weeknight are working stiffs just like you or me.

And regardless of whether the wolf packs really exist, they're gonna be more weary of you than you are of them.
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Old 02-17-09, 05:21 PM
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My interest hear is my commuting by bicycle to work, not what animals live around me. I have eyes & ears. I have horses and have been places most never will. It is amazing what you can see from the back of a horse deep in the wood. 10 years ago Fisher cats were extinct, These days they are quite plentiful. When you have prey animals your predators tend to show themselves
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Old 02-17-09, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by crazybikerchick View Post
Since traffic will be virtually non-existent on your way in, you'll be able to hear anyone coming. However having a mirror (mount on clear glasses, helmet, or bike) can still provide a good visual confirmation that the car behind is going to move over sufficiently to overtake, and that they aren't a mad weaving drunk (where you may wish to ditch dive).

In a dark countryside the contrast of your lights and your vest against almost no light pollution, will make you really easy to spot, there's no need to overkill it. More important will be making sure your headlight is sufficient for YOU to see the road edges and the wildlife, rural roads can be really dark at night, and the cheap headlights that work great in urban areas just don't cut it.

For the way back, don't be squeezed into a teeny tiny bad shoulder. Better is to ride sufficiently into the lane so that passing traffic must cross the center line to pass you, and you have sufficient escape room to the right if they are not moving over (here again the mirror is handy). It will be tense though if traffic is heavy enough that most traffic cannot easily move over and has to slow and wait for gaps. But you'll have to try it out to see how it goes.
An excellent discussion. Most of my early morning commute is with "...cheap headlights that work great in urban areas..." (BTW I commute from Kenmore Square in Boston to Norwood). On rare occasions I go through rural Dover while it's still dark, and on those roads I can be blinded for a couple seconds after a car passes. The best I can do, other than pulling off the road, is slow down and keep my head pointed towards the road until I can quickly spot it as I recover. I estimate I travel blinded for about 20 feet.
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Old 02-17-09, 05:50 PM
  #21  
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+1 on the helmet light/fixed headlight combo. Usually run the helmet light in flash mode and I can't tell you how many times that's kept cars from pulling out in front of me at stop signs or intersections. I also turn on the fixed light on very dark roads.

The only thing I'd add to what's been suggested so far is to carry an extra layer of clothing when it's cold or raining. I tend to get chilled if I have to stop in these conditions for any length of time, such as to fix a flat tire, and they really help. More recently, I've discovered flat-resistant tires and they add great peace of mind too for nighttime commutes.
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Old 02-17-09, 06:07 PM
  #22  
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The helmet light never occurred to me till this thread, I can't thank you all enough for your input. I really would like my Bike all set up and my routs all planed out to see what works best. It seems to me the road most traveled will work best for my inbound commute since it will always be done in the dark. It has the best light and if I did need help I could easily be found. I ran a rout home today that will work fantastic for the commute back home in the afternoon. It is a work in progress though.

That is quite a commute Jim, what is the time frame of your commute

Last edited by Timber_8; 02-17-09 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 02-17-09, 06:30 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Timber_8 View Post
That is quite a commute Jim, what is the time frame of your commute
Thanks for the question. My four various routes are each about 14 miles long, taking about 60 to 75 minutes mostly depending on wind, weather and departure times. I'm usually on the road by 5:30 AM and I go in the reverse commute direction. My secret though, is that I take the commuter rail home in the evening. Perhaps you know that you can take your bike on the train during non-peak hours. You can check www.mbta.com for routes and times; I note that the Middleborough/Lakeville line goes through Bridgewater.

During the nice weather, May to Sept, I go on a progressive 10 week schedule to train for a century or two, increasing my miles from about 70 to nearly 200 per week by lengthening my routes. My long Saturday rides are also often to Norwood to go in for a few hours. One frequent long route is from Kenmore to Norwood by way of West Bridgewater.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 02-17-09 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 02-17-09, 11:18 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Timber_8 View Post
...My concerns commuting into work have more to do with wildlife, Deer, Coyote and a Wolf pack that resides in my area. The drunk driver at that hour is also a concern...
I ride in very remote areas at times with everything from bears, deers, coyotes and once, yes, even a wolf (in Canada). I think you have very little to fear from any of the wildlife barring a rabies outbreak or your accidently hitting one in the dark. But concerns about being attacked would be virtually non-existent. The only predatory species in North America that has rarely but occasionally attacked human beings on bicycles is a cougar/mountain lion.

Whether or not a "wolf pack" is residing in East Bridgewater would certainly challenge most naturalists as being possible. Take note that an eastern gray wolf was shot and killed last year in Shelburne, MA- about 150 miles away from where you live but the whole topography of the area is different- far more remote and forested. I have a home in western MA surrounded by 18000 acres of state forest and while we do get fisher cats and coyotes- and I track both- I've yet to see evidence of wolves. Some of the coyotes are massive and appear wolf-like and I wouldn't be terribly surprised to hear of the return of the eastern gray wolf to that area but East Bridgewater- a bit of a stretch- but if you're convinced and have seen them (and I hope you've contacted the Mass Division of Wildlife).

If anything bring a camera and get some pictures. Wolves are notoriously difficult to track and rarely seen. If you even see one it would be a one in a million event to be attacked by one virtually impossible.

You're much more likely to hit a skunk, a raccoon or a pothole so get really good lights and yes, your concern about drunk drivers is a much greater concern or DWD (driving while drowsy). So good lights and be visible and vigilant. But don't worry about the wolves.
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Old 02-17-09, 11:41 PM
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I work in Mansfield so unfortunately the rail is not available to me as a backup at this point. might be down the road.
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