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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.

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Old 05-12-11, 08:21 PM   #1
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First road ride during commute - Questions


I have been commuting for about month now. I got fed up with the pedestrians getting in my way on the sidewalk or pretending like they don't see me coming in their direction. I have been nervous about riding in the far right lane, but saw a guy slowing pedaling away on the road during my morning commute. The cars didn't seem bothered, so I decided to try my commute on the road on my way home. It was awesome, but a little scary. How do you deal with the anxiety of cars/buses coming within feet of your bike? Also, when going up hills at a fast speed (15-20 mph) do you drop to your inner chain? I'm excited and willing to try it again. I have a cyclocross bike with cyclocross tires. Am going to need a different tire if I plan to do this regularly? It cut down my commute by an additional 15-20 minutes. Thanks for any other road tips you may have too!
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Old 05-12-11, 08:33 PM   #2
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Old 05-12-11, 08:39 PM   #3
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Riding on the road with cars takes some getting used to. You need to be vigilant and never assume they see you. In addition to the mirror and lights recommended above, wear high visibility clothing (think neon orange, yellow or green).

For climbing up hills, you generally want to shift to a lower gear (inner rings) and spin the pedals as opposed to mashing them in a high gear. Your knees will thank you for this. Make sure to shift at the bottom of the hill, it is much harder to shift in the middle of a hill until you get the hang of it.

If you're happy riding your cyclocross bike there isn't any reason to change it.
Originally Posted by Xerum 525 View Post
Now get on your cheap bike and give me a double century. You walking can of Crisco!!

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Old 05-12-11, 09:30 PM   #4
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Why would the pedestrians get out of your way? You are on their sideWALK and by law they have the right of way over any vehicle.

You are far safer in the street then you are on side walks and especially cross walks. More cyclist get hit in cross walks and drive entrances then on the road. Becides you can go a LOT faster on the road then a sidewalk.

A lot of people really hug the right side of the road and that's an invitation for the vehicle to try to pass you IN the lane. This can be dangerous and they will pass very close to you. You need to command the space around you and understand that you can effect the way a driver acts around you by where you ride in that lane.

Drivers fixate on the lines and try to center them. Ride more in the right tire track. First off there is less debris in the tire tracks so less chances of flats (but more pot holes so pay attention). Riding in the right tire trick puts you far enough out that it will force the driver to move partly out of the lane and give you a little more berth. If you read your local code more then likely it will have a clause that states "if the lanes are under 11ft in width you have the right to take the lane" aka ride right down the middle of the lane and there are instances that this is what you want to do.

A driver will not try to pass a car on a blind curve but a cyclist hugging the right side they will. I move to the center of the lane in blind curves or blind hills to make the diver think before they pass since they really have to leave the lane to get around not just a little into the oncoming lane. Remember that Double yellow means no passing even if its a bike. You need to be aware of driver doing stupid **** and recognize instances where they will do it like curves. You do NOT want to be between a car and a curb on a blind curve because if a car comes from the other direction the driver is going to pinch you. When you clear the curve move back to the right tire track and the driver will recognize that you are making room for them to pass. Just don't go all the way to the right.

Get on the flat and find the cadence (speed you are peddling) you feel comfortable peddling. That will be around 80rpm. Thats the RPM you are going to be most efficient at and where you want to try to stay regardless of the speed you are traveling.

Like a car you need to down shift on hills and pick up the cadence a little. The trick on hills is a little for thought as you approch the hill. Pick up speed, cadence and momentum as you approach and let that help you part way up that hill. Modern bikes can be shfted under power but the front rings don't do that as easy as the cassette in the rear. If its a steep hill you want to down shift the front before you really get on the hill and then as you climb progressively down shift the cassette (to the next bigger ring) as you loose speed so that you can keep your cadence up over 80 rpm to power up the hill.

This is assuming you have a triple crank:
Unless you hit a really steep hill or have a heavy load you probably will seldom use to the lowest ring on a triple when under way. Starting on the hill yes or going really slow you may use it but seldom will you be in it over about 8-10mph. Thats why they are often refured to as a "bail out gear" You will peddle like hell and have very little forward speed. On most triples its a huge drop in tooth count from the middle. Dropping onto it mid hill will often cause you to "Spin out" (need to peddle faster then possible if you were at say a 70 rpm cadence when you dropped off the middle ring). As your strength and feel for your bike improve it will be a natural response when you feel your cadence drop as you hit a hill.
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Old 05-13-11, 06:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Grim View Post
You are far safer in the street then you are on side walks and especially cross walks. More cyclist get hit in cross walks and drive entrances then on the road.
This is an extremely important point. You should never ride on the sidewalk, especially in high traffic areas. Look here ( for an excellent online guide to safe riding in the street with other vehicles. For you, I would particularly recommend chapters 2-6.

And whatever you do, do not ride on the sidewalk.
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