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New bike commuter - First impressions

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.

New bike commuter - First impressions

Old 04-13-11, 02:51 AM
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cycle.stig
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New bike commuter - First impressions

Been viewing the forum for months now but this is my first post...
So after years of thinking about it and months of actual planning I commuted on my bicycle round trip today for the first time. My bike is my 2009 Norco Wolverine mountain bike converted to hybrid. I replaced the tires with Conti Travel Contacts, added a rear rack and fenders, lights and reflectors, and the big addition was the BionX electric bike kit. I know some people arent too fond of the electic kits but I deemed it neccessary for myself as I will be travelling 13 miles to my work which has tiny bathroom facilities and no shower. There is no way I can arrive covered in sweat as there is no where to clean up.

I took the advice of many commuters online and biked my planned route on a day off. Im glad I did because I found it had too many hazards. About an hour on google and I had found a new route that provided me with wide paved shoulders or bike lanes almost the whole way by adding about 2.5 miles. Took me 56 mins in daylight today and 1HR 15 Mins on the way home at 11PM in rain (being cautious).

I have read all about others who have to deal with co-workers warning of the dangers of cycling and I found it no different at my place of work. Everyone finds it neccessary to tell me that they wouldnt ride on the roads I plan to, or that they wouldnt ride in the dark as I sometimes plan to. And they all point out it is very dangerous to ride a bike to work, and recommend that I should only do so during clear days in daylight. So far my approach has been a mixture of ignoring or explaining the precautions I have taken to mitigate the dangers. Anyone come up with a good approach to these people? I feel like I'm letting them get to me if I cant prove them wrong.

With that said my current route has about 1 mile downtown where so far I've been carefully using the sidewalk (I know) which opens into a few miles of bike lane in a 50 km/hr zone, then connects to a highway with wide (5-6 foot) shoulder bike lane at 80 km/hr. This section is maybe 5 miles. Then a bit of residential with paved shoulders connecting to one more highway with usually wide paved shoulders at 80 km/hr again. These hgihways are often used by large trucks including tractor-trailer and dump trucks. I feel like I have plenty of room except for maybe a few quick sections where it narrows, and except for driveways there are very few side streets. Does this sound like a reasonably safe route or are people out there avoiding similar highways at all costs? Also, half of my shifts end at midnight.

I have only ridden in to work a few times including the test run but so far I really am loving it. Ive been excited to get on my bike and I am enjoying my commute to work. Despite the electric kit Im also getting some exercise as I am setting it as low as I can without building up a huge sweat. Now I'm just looking forward to getting as much cycling in as possible this spring/summer and re-evaluating when fall/winter rolls around.

Jon
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Old 04-13-11, 04:44 AM
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FunkyStickman
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First, welcome. Sounds like you did your homework, and there's very few surprises. Now you know what we've all been ranting about! Biking to work is liberating, and invigorating. Other than nasty weather, it just gets better.

Second, welcome! Killer looking bike, man! (love the Stig reference, too... LOL)
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Old 04-13-11, 06:36 AM
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congrats!
about the people, just thank them. yes they will become quite tiresome. don't debate them, just thank them. like politicians don't answer questions they are asked, just thank them.
my route always had certain "kill zones" areas that I was more likely to die riding through than others. (watcha gonna do?)
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Old 04-13-11, 06:38 AM
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"I'm letting them get to me if I cant prove them wrong."
As they say you can not prove a negative. Just keep at it. Sounds like you are doing great. In a few more months nobody will even think twice, in fact if you drive they will be asking you why you did not ride.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:40 AM
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COngrats! just be attentive to what's going on around you, you'll be fine.
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Old 04-13-11, 12:43 PM
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Nice. Congratulations! You did your homework that's for sure. AFA your co-workers comments and/or concerns they'll never fully absorb your eccentricity unless they try it themselves. Which they wont. I worked at a major auto manufacturing plant before the lay-offs and out of over 4000 people I was the sole cycle-commuter. Man, did I get ridden hard. Everything looks and reads well. Nice bike.

Btw, I also worked 2nd shift and it was great for that last 19 miles as I might see 3-4 cars the whole way home. After a time you may want to go to bigger wheels...700cm as they will cut your time by about 5-8 mins. It adds up over time. Anyway, congratulations again!
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Old 04-13-11, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cycle.stig View Post
I have read all about others who have to deal with co-workers warning of the dangers of cycling and I found it no different at my place of work. Everyone finds it neccessary to tell me that they wouldnt ride on the roads I plan to, or that they wouldnt ride in the dark as I sometimes plan to. And they all point out it is very dangerous to ride a bike to work, and recommend that I should only do so during clear days in daylight. So far my approach has been a mixture of ignoring or explaining the precautions I have taken to mitigate the dangers. Anyone come up with a good approach to these people? I feel like I'm letting them get to me if I cant prove them wrong.
First, fuggedabout arguing with them. They’re telling you their emotions, and you can’t prove or disprove emotions, especially someone else’s.

Second, poke around and see what you can find out about the real risks of bicycling. It’s hard, isn’t it? Mostly because the risks are so low, and it’s hard to measure small risks. Then compare that to the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. (That’s a whole lot easier!) Now compare the two. I came up with cycling, with attendant weight loss, fitness, and circulatory health, is 1/6 as risky as remaining sedentary. Other people have estimated 1/5 to 1/20. That’s right, staying sedentary is 20 times riskier than not staying sedentary (for you, riding your bike)!

Third, do not try to convince anyone. Remember the first step: you’re arguing with their emotions. Only if they get loud, obnoxious, and in your face, should you quietly mention their risk of dying of heart attack, stroke, cancer, etc., is up to 20 times higher than your risk of being killed riding your bicycle. No, you probably won’t convince them (remember step one?), but perhaps the fact that you have considered their concerns already, and made an informed choice, will quiet their bluster.

Finally, enjoy yourself! Look forward to next week; there’s something magical about riding a bike on quiet roads during a full moon that no one can believe until they’ve experienced it themselves.
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Old 04-13-11, 01:09 PM
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Welcome to the club !

Don't worry about your coworkers, but also don't advertise what you've done. If they ask questions, answer them, but don't go in depth unless they seem sincerely interested.

Posts like yours remind me of how simple things were when I got started. I simply hopped on a bike and went with never a second thought.

I'm glad I didn't have the internet when i first got started. I probably wouldn't have gone nowhere. (Of course back then we had just discovered fire and noticed that rocks roll better when round ).
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Old 04-13-11, 01:36 PM
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All good suggestions. Thanks for the input. I think I just needed some reaffirming after a whole shift of being warned of my impending doom. I think I'll continue with the grin and bear it approach.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Theres something magical about riding a bike on quiet roads during a full moon that no one can believe until they’ve experienced it themselves.
I think you're right about that. As opposed to driving home, the commute feels so much calmer riding on usually busy now abandoned streets.
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Old 04-13-11, 03:03 PM
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Congrats!
Great job on the bike, too.
I couldn't see from the pics, but a mirror would really help with rearward visibility on those dicier sections.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
Congrats!
Great job on the bike, too.
I couldn't see from the pics, but a mirror would really help with rearward visibility on those dicier sections.
It's not very visible in the pictures but I have a Mirrcycle handlebar mirror which I also highly recommend. Seems really tough and provides a wide field of view.
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Old 07-29-11, 07:58 PM
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Update: New Commuter Bike

So I've been commuting with the mountain bike from the first post in this thread for a few months now. For commuting though, it has its shortcomings. It only has two chain rings up front, front suspension, and is pretty heavy.
I recently purchased its replacement, a Montague MX folding bike. I bought the bike mostly for the frame and have built up the rest the way I want it.

This is the bike when I first got it.


And this is the bike now:
-Surly 1x1 Fork
-Avid SD7 V-Brakes
-Avid SD7 Levers
-Ergo Grips
-New cables and housing.
-Raceface Deuce Stem
-Easton EA50 Handlebar
-2x Niterider Minewt 250 Headlights
-Shimano M520 Pedals
-Continental Travel Contact Tires
-Fenders, Rear Rack, Panniers, Trunk Bag
-Bionx PL350 E-Bike Kit





Next on the list is to replace the crankset and derailleurs.
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