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Just starting commuting...a few questions.

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Just starting commuting...a few questions.

Old 10-31-09, 10:12 AM
  #1  
RVD72
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Just starting commuting...a few questions.

Hi everyone,

I just starting commuting by bike. I have a mountain bike (Trek 6500) and a road bike (Cervelo RS). My commute is 16 miles each way and is mostly along a beach path so there is no traffic for 90% of the ride. In fact, I only pass about 5 traffic lights so usually I only have to stop moving once or twice.

The good thing is that the weather in Southern California is great. It's fairly warm all year and it rarely rains. It's chilly these days in the morning but I'm guessing that it's still in the 50s.

DRESS
My work dresses pretty casually...I'd say a little more casual than business casual. I generally wear khakis and a polo shirt but sometimes wear jeans and a clean t-shirt. Sneakers are ok.

I have been riding in these work clothes but usually wearing a t-shirt that wicks and then changing shirts when I get to work. It seems to work out ok in that it only takes me about 5 minutes to get cleaned up and cooled down to work.

But it is a bit uncomfortable. Would most of you in my position just ride cycling shorts and jersey to work and then change when you get there? It is a 16 mile ride so it's not like it's only a couple of miles.

BIKE
I have been riding my mountain bike. My clipless pedals are in the shoe so I don't have the change shoes. I also just feel that it's easier to ride my mountain bike to work.

Should I get a new commuter bike? Should I just swap out the tires to more commuter friendly tires (i.e. 26x1.25 tires)? Should I just ride my road bike and be happier? However, if I ride my road bike, I will definitely be wearing full cycling attire and changing in the office. It's just weird riding with street clothes and wearing clipless pedals riding a road bike.

LIGHTS
When I ride home at night, about 1/3 of the ride is in areas that are not lit at all. Basically it's pitch black. I have a set of blackburn flea lights because they are small and light and was fine in my normal evening rides on my road bike but they are barely adequate for nighttime commuting. The front light emits 40 lumens.

I was thinking of picking up a Cygolight or Dinotte. Is 150 lumens enough or should I get 200? Or more?

TIME
It takes me about 1:15 each way so my average is roughly 13 MPH. I know it's not fast (especially BF standards) but I'm also not hammering and I wear a backpack with my laptop, etc. I am hoping to bring this time down a bit to slightly over 1 hour. The ride is mostly flat but there are a few small hills here and there.

On my ride home, sometimes I take it really easy (especially due to low visibility) and it takes me 1:30.

Due to LA traffic, this isn't that much longer than driving. Going by car would be 20 miles and would take about 40 minutes in no traffic, an hour in normal traffic (if carpool), and 1:15 if driving alone.
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Old 10-31-09, 10:25 AM
  #2  
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The magicshine light has gotten lots of reviews around here for commuting. I don't own one, but I've been thinking about it.

Get a set of rear panniers. You'll find it is much easier than wearing a backpack 16 miles. My commute is 11.5 miles each way and I've done it with a backpack and with panniers. The panniers make life much easier.

I also stopped carrying my laptop back and forth. Now I just move files with a thumb drive and I also own a tiny handheld computer (Nokia N810).

I've also done my commute with both a road bike and mountain bike and find the road bike is more comfortable, but to each his own. I also never wear cycling gear. I can't imagine lycra would help me much in my commute. I find it a little odd when I see people dressed like Lance carrying bags of lunch and work clothes, but again to each his own.
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Old 10-31-09, 10:30 AM
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I was thinking about rear panniers but then I'd have to get a rack installed and I was a bit hesitant about doing that.

I sort of feel like if I'm going to take my mountain bike and change out the tires, add a rack, add fenders, etc...and go through the cost and expense of making it into a commuter bike then I may as well spend some cash and just buy a new cheap $500 commuter bike because if I take my mountain bike off road I'd have to change out the tires, remove the rack, etc.
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Old 10-31-09, 10:34 AM
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You will definitely be more comfortable in cycling-specific attire. I used to commute in jeans and switching to shorts in summer and now leggings (it's a bit colder here) has drastically improved my speed and comfort.

Lots of people like Dinotte lights here, check out the Lighting threads. I have NiteRiders as Dinottes are a little out of my price range, for now.

Regarding a new bike, you have a couple options. You could try putting some slicks or road tires on your mountain bike if you don't use it for off-road stuff very often. Some people here commute with full-on road bikes and keep clothes/shoes at work. I use a touring bike for commuting and it works quite nicely for me - it functions nicely under loaded panniers, the drop bars give me lots of hand positions and less wind resistance. It's also smoother than, but not as quick as a road bike. Other people like commuting on MTBs as the wider tires are useful in adverse conditions and it's easier to hop curbs and eat potholes. You could also look into a hybrid - sport or comfort depending on your preference. I have a comfort hybrid and like it for the days where I want to sightsee rather than grind. With a headwind though, it's very frustrating as the upright posture slows you right down.

Last edited by coffeecake; 10-31-09 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 10-31-09, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by RVD72 View Post
I was thinking about rear panniers but then I'd have to get a rack installed and I was a bit hesitant about doing that.

I sort of feel like if I'm going to take my mountain bike and change out the tires, add a rack, add fenders, etc...and go through the cost and expense of making it into a commuter bike then I may as well spend some cash and just buy a new cheap $500 commuter bike because if I take my mountain bike off road I'd have to change out the tires, remove the rack, etc.
Buying fenders and swapping out the tires - even if you get another set of rims - will be cheaper than buying a new bike. You don't have to remove the rack for off-road use. Cheaper bikes are good when you have to lock up outside or go through rain, but the componentry and ride experience will be poorer.

Were I you, I would just put some lights on the Cervelo and have at it, but I'm kind of a speed demon in the making. You can get cycling specific clothes without going all-out lycra. If you like the comfort of the MTB but want something a bit more road-specific, check out a hybrid.

Last edited by coffeecake; 10-31-09 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 10-31-09, 12:07 PM
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I'll try experimenting a bit by taking the road bike out to see what kind of difference it makes. I'm guessing that it'll take me to work under the 1 hour mark and that may be enough for me to just take my road bike. The only minor issue is that there is the occasional curb, pothole, grass, etc. that I take sometimes on my mtb and I will probably have to refrain a bit on my road bike.
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Old 10-31-09, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by RVD72 View Post
Hi everyone,

I just starting commuting by bike. I have a mountain bike (Trek 6500) and a road bike (Cervelo RS). My commute is 16 miles each way and is mostly along a beach path so there is no traffic for 90% of the ride. In fact, I only pass about 5 traffic lights so usually I only have to stop moving once or twice.

The good thing is that the weather in Southern California is great. It's fairly warm all year and it rarely rains. It's chilly these days in the morning but I'm guessing that it's still in the 50s.

I'm sorry.. That's as far as I got . What was your question again?
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Old 10-31-09, 04:51 PM
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I think he's asking us what kind of bike we want for Christmas
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Old 10-31-09, 05:00 PM
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Are you taking the bike path that goes along Santa Monica and Venice Beach? If so that's an incredible commute! I try to hit it every time I am in LA.
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Old 11-01-09, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by bmt074 View Post
Are you taking the bike path that goes along Santa Monica and Venice Beach? If so that's an incredible commute! I try to hit it every time I am in LA.
Yup, that's the one.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/17562827

It's great. I'm lucky to live only one block from the beach and lucky that my office is only one block from the beach!

Dan.
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Old 11-01-09, 12:55 AM
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Do you have the ability to keep clothes at the office? If so, you could bring in clothes once a week, and then just carry a small backpack for your lunch, etc. For a 33 mi. round trip, I'd rather ride a road bike, and wear the full roadie kit.

Personally, I don't have a problem with wearing office clothes with a helmet and clipless shoes on my bike, but I only have a 4 mile direct route. But with your distance I'd be more concerned about prematurely wearing out the seats of my good pants.
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Old 11-01-09, 06:37 AM
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Wow I am jealous! Last time I was in LA I did Santa Monica to Manhattan beach and back and it was a beautiful ride!

The only "problem" is trying not to get distracted by the attractive women in bikinis that inhabit the beaches and having your bike end up in the sand around a bend (Yes, speaking from experience ).

Originally Posted by RVD72 View Post
Yup, that's the one.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/17562827

It's great. I'm lucky to live only one block from the beach and lucky that my office is only one block from the beach!

Dan.

Last edited by bmt074; 11-01-09 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 11-01-09, 06:50 AM
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When I taught a couple of years ago I did the same thing: wear my khaki pants and a regular t-shirt that I changed (the shirt) when I got to work. This was more of a problem in warm weather because I would tend to sweat more.

Some people like to use baby wipes upon arrival instead of a shower....I personally just shower in the morning before I ride and ride at a slower pace (remind myself to slow up a bit) so I don't sweat profusely.

Now I work outside in work clothing, so I can basically wear whatever I want - hence I don't really change a lot at work except into my boots.
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Old 11-01-09, 06:54 AM
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One thing that the OP nor any other folks have mentioned is that the OP needs to thank GOD every day that he lives in such a magnificent circumstance; Southern California, nearly every day perfect weather, lowest temps around 50F. 16 mile commute on a beach-side paved bicycle path. AND, the OP (RVD72) has a job to commute to/from.

Don't ever move, RVD72, not for love or money or to escape Cali taxes. No matter what anybody tells you, there is no other place like that.

Man-O-Man, if they made a movie just about your bicycle commute, I would watch it on IMAX and buy the video!

Last edited by mike; 11-01-09 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 11-01-09, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bmt074 View Post
The only "problem" is trying not to get distracted by the attractive women in bikinis that inhabit the beaches and having your bike end up in the sand around a bend (Yes, speaking from experience ).
ah now I understand why it takes an extra half hour on the trip home....

I don't think a change in bikes is gonna help with that issue. Blinders might be of use here?
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Old 11-01-09, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by mike View Post
One thing that the OP nor any other folks have mentioned is that the OP needs to thank GOD every day that he lives in such a magnificent circumstance; Southern California, nearly every day perfect weather, lowest temps around 50F. 16 mile commute on a beach-side paved bicycle path. AND, the OP (RVD72) has a job to commute to/from.

Don't ever move, RVD72, not for love or money or to escape Cali taxes. No matter what anybody tells you, there is no other place like that.

Man-O-Man, if they made a movie just about your bicycle commute, I would watch it on IMAX and buy the video!
So Cal has wonderful Mediterranean weather, and should be cycling heaven, but we also have a very powerful car culture ("no one walks in LA") and if you don't happen to have a great bike path, you can just as easily find yourself on one of our 50MPH-65MPH multi-laned wide arterial roads fighting for space among all those motorists.

One would think that the body conscious attitude of So Cal, cycling would be revered... but that sadly is not the case.

It does sound like the OP has the ideal commute though.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by RVD72 View Post
miles.

BIKE
I have been riding my mountain bike. My clipless pedals are in the shoe so I don't have the change shoes. I also just feel that it's easier to ride my mountain bike to work.

Should I get a new commuter bike? Should I just swap out the tires to more commuter friendly tires (i.e. 26x1.25 tires)? Should I just ride my road bike and be happier? However, if I ride my road bike, I will definitely be wearing full cycling attire and changing in the office. It's just weird riding with street clothes and wearing clipless pedals riding a road bike.
My two main commuter bikes are converted hard tails. Replaced the forks with rigid and put on 1.5's. One of the bikes runs studs in the winter. Both bikes have racks and fenders.

As for lights, you can get 200+ lumens these days for around $30 but then it helps to have a rechargeable AA system.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:35 AM
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Waaaait... You have 16 mi one-way commute, 5 stop signs, no traffic and a Cervelo? It is not a commute, it should be a TT.

It is not real without a vid.

SF
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Old 11-01-09, 10:34 AM
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commute

DRESS - Start leaving some clothes at work on days you drive, and wear bike clothes on your commute. I can't imagine commuting 16 miles each way in street clothes. That must be very uncomfortable and sweaty. I leave shoes, pants, t-shirts, towel, etc. in my office. I carry clean shirts, underwear each day in a large seat bag (Carradice Barley).

BIKE - No harm in riding your mountain bike, but I would add a rack so you can put panniers in the rear, or use a large seatbag like a Carradice for carrying gear. Definitely put slick tires on your wheels; that could improve your average speed 1 mph or better, particularly if they are light folding tires. I would hold off on buying a new bike until you are sure that you will keep it up, but eventually plan on getting a cross, touring or sport touring bike made for carrying gear. I commuted for 2+ years on an old steel Italian racing bike using my Carradice bag, but bought a touring frame last winter. The touring bike is a little slower but much better for carrying gear.

LIGHTS - Check out the Magicshine LED light. There's a long thread in the Electronics & Lights forum here. Dinotte, L&M Stella and Fenix L2D are other relatively inexpensive front light options (altho not as cheap as Magicshine). For a tail-light, check out the Planet Bike Superflash or Dinotte 140 if you want some real firepower and don't mind spending $100 on a tail-light.

TIME - Your speed is not bad for a mountain bike with knobbies. Adding slicks should improve your time a lot. I average 15 mph year-round riding a road bike on hilly terrain with about a dozen red lights on my route.
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Old 11-01-09, 11:49 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by RVD72 View Post
I have a mountain bike (Trek 6500) and a road bike (Cervelo RS)... 16 miles... along a beach path... no traffic... only have to stop moving once or twice... weather in Southern California is great... warm all year... rarely rains
I think you just made A LOT of enemies here with your post. Count me as one! I'm coming to get ya, 'cause no one deserves this kind of paradise! Muahahahahaha!!!

But it is a bit uncomfortable. Would most of you in my position just ride cycling shorts and jersey to work and then change when you get there? It is a 16 mile ride so it's not like it's only a couple of miles.
If it's uncomfortable, by all means wear bike-specific clothes. Riding a bike should be fun!

Should I get a new commuter bike?
You can never have too many bikes... But really, unless you really want another bike and have spare cash, you really do not need another bike at all.

Should I just swap out the tires to more commuter friendly tires (i.e. 26x1.25 tires)? Should I just ride my road bike and be happier?
Whatever rocks your boat! Switching to narrower higher-pressure tires will certainly make a lot of difference on your MTB. Locking the forks might help a bit too. Riding a road bike will be fun, no doubt. Your choice. BTW, do you have a secure place to store your bikes at work? If not, then maybe you do need another bike - just a really simple reliable beater, so that your world is not shattered if it gets stolen.

It takes me about 1:15 each way so my average is roughly 13 MPH. I know it's not fast (especially BF standards) but I'm also not hammering and I wear a backpack with my laptop, etc. I am hoping to bring this time down a bit to slightly over 1 hour. The ride is mostly flat but there are a few small hills here and there.
It's nothing to be ashamed about. Most people inflate their average speeds anyway (and almost everyone means "rolling average" when saying "average"), so don't try to compare yourself with internet speed daemons. Your goal is fine, if it's there for fitness and fun, but it wouldn't actually save you all that much time to shave 5-10 minutes off a one-way commute.

And in the end it actually takes LESS time than a car commute, because you're combining commuting and exercise... don't need to spend time at the gym on a stationary bike.
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Old 11-01-09, 12:18 PM
  #21  
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Here is a taste of the path I found on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbak2...eature=related
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Old 11-01-09, 09:03 PM
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I find the reason I need more illumination on my bike is from oncoming traffice, that washes out what I can see. If its pitch black, with no glare from other light sources, I think 100+ lumens would be fine. Without rain and glare, you can do with alot less.
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Old 11-02-09, 12:26 AM
  #23  
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Ok ok ok, I hear you all. A few responses...

1) No need to watch the youtube video. Here's a time lapse video that I made 3 months ago of the ride. This ride is longer since I go from my house up to Will Rogers (Pacific Palisades) and back but my commute goes from the start to the 5:08 mark (at which point I turn right and head up a small hill and get to work about 5 minutes later.

http://www.vimeo.com/5853181

I am in much better riding shape now so I don't stop for breaks (other than maybe a stop sign or red light sometimes) anymore. I can basically ride from home up to the end, rest for about 5 minutes and then ride all the way back in one shot.

I also took this video on my road bike but I was averaging around 13-14mph back then and am averaging around 16-17mph now.

2) Yes, I know how lucky I am to live a block from the beach and have any job let alone a job that is one block from the beach.

3) I am planning to pick up a Cygolite Milion 200 for the front and Dinotte for the back. There are many parts of the bike path that is not lit at all when I am riding back. I'd say about 40% of my ride back is in complete darkness where my lights are the only source of light.

4) There is definitely a lot of eye candy around that is distracting. But at 7:30am it's pretty cold so there are no bikinis. Coming home is after it's dark so again...no bikinis. But weekends are another story.

5) It's not quite a TT because there are other bikes, joggers, pedestrians, etc. on the bike path. There is also a lot of sand sometimes that can really cause problems with skidding. But yeah, it's nice.

I think I'll ride the mountain bike tomorrow but maybe I'll try the road bike on Tuesday to compare.

Thanks for the info everyone.

RVD.
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