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What's Your Radius for Utility Cycling?

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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

What's Your Radius for Utility Cycling?

Old 10-10-11, 09:17 AM
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Easy Peasy
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What's Your Radius for Utility Cycling?

Do you have a set distance before you drive a car?
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Old 10-10-11, 09:20 AM
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For me, it's more a matter of how much time I have to get there... if I have no deadline or timetable, I'll ride almost anywhere. The furthest thing I would want to bike to is about 25 miles away, most stores are about 10.
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Old 10-10-11, 09:58 AM
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Seeing as I have no car, 75 miles or so
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Old 10-10-11, 10:18 AM
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For me it depends on which of my 3 kids I'll be taking and how much weight I'll be carrying. If we're just headed out to ride for fun with no load (except the kids), I've ridden up to about 35 miles in a day. The heavier the load, the less likely I'm going to do that. If I'm hauling ~300 pounds of sand, you won't see me dragging it 35 miles. For that, 8 to 10 would about the most I'd want to do.
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Old 10-10-11, 11:53 AM
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The longest I have done is 40 miles each way. That said, most of my utility runs are sub 10 miles, with occasional 15-20 each way. As funkystickman said, it's all about time. I will add that it is also about vehicle access. Since I am car-free, I modify where I get stuff from so I can bike to it (or it can be shipped) rather than always going for the best price.
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Old 10-10-11, 01:54 PM
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I'd like to increase my range, but time is the problem. So far my radius max is 5 miles, and usually my errands are done on my commute home. I have a car, but since cycling, I've used it very sparingly.
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Old 10-10-11, 10:24 PM
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Most of my utility rides are under 2 miles. Farthest I would go is about 8, and that is the max I have done. Luckily I live in a very compact, for an American city, area. Almost everything a person could want is within a half mile, with a few places being about a mile away.

As for "before you drive a car", that is not an option as I have no car. I am 100% car free.
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Old 10-10-11, 10:24 PM
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Grandma's house, 15 miles each way is my regular limit. I will go further for special occasions
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Old 10-11-11, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
Do you have a set distance before you drive a car?
Since I live in a very rural county I'm limited to the city limits of my small (3,500 POP.) town. Anything outside of town must be take by car.
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Old 10-11-11, 08:03 AM
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I'm sort of a returning bicyclist this year after taking 20 years off. Went to our MN State Fair which ended up being a 56 mile round trip, with 5 hours walking at the fair in between. It turned out to be much easier than I thought it would have been, and very enjoyable.

So with that in mind I think my limit for a round trip in a day would be 60-70 miles if I needed to.
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Old 10-12-11, 01:54 PM
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For utility cycling, i.e. going somewhere to buy something and then schlepping it back, I'd say a 5-6 mile radius is my usual max, though I've done more VERY infrequently. Usually my utility trips are within a 2 mile radius - that's how far the supermarket is. Except the two bakeries with the best Italian Bread are 4 miles and 5 miles from here, respectively. So I make that trip fairly frequently. A loaf of Italian Bread doesn't weigh much... .
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Old 10-13-11, 02:17 AM
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Normal is 5 miles one way which gets me to the edge of my city. However, I have taken the cargo bike to work for pick-up of items at lunch or on the way home. Biking to work averages 16 miles one way.

Last edited by richkarr; 10-13-11 at 02:18 AM. Reason: Fix typo
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Old 10-13-11, 03:38 AM
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As long as I have enough time in the day, nearly any distance I could travel with a load I would do. Only thing that limits my direction is the numerous bridges that link the city. Most are old and very narrow. It's tricky navigating with a double size child trailer. The railings were seemingly placed at handlebar height making them even smaller. One bridge in particular has only one side walk used for both directions, one side is open to traffic with little to no barrier.
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Old 10-13-11, 09:55 AM
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I'm really amazed at some of the numbers I see in this thread. 75 miles! That's 150 round trip! I'm not sure I could have done that on a road bike in one day, at my peak, with no load except the water I was carrying.

How long does a trip like that take, assuming a loaded bike on the way back? I'm thinking that's got to be at least 12 hours in the saddle, probably closer to 15 with a loaded bike!

I can only manage my 10 mile round trips to the bakery on weekends and rare weekdays (when the conference call gods cooperate) - it's a good hour out of the day, taking into account red lights, locking up the bike, waiting on line at the bakery, etc. My 4 mile trips to the grocery store are manageable every day - that easily fits into a lunch break, also leaving time to eat. Ditto other errands around town. Luckily (or unluckily from a traffic point of view), I live in an area where you can get just about anything you need within 2 miles of home.

I'm curious: Those of you who routinely do utility runs of more than 10 miles each way, how do you fit that in with working, family, etc?
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Old 10-13-11, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
I'm really amazed at some of the numbers I see in this thread. 75 miles! That's 150 round trip! I'm not sure I could have done that on a road bike in one day, at my peak, with no load except the water I was carrying.

How long does a trip like that take, assuming a loaded bike on the way back? I'm thinking that's got to be at least 12 hours in the saddle, probably closer to 15 with a loaded bike!

I can only manage my 10 mile round trips to the bakery on weekends and rare weekdays (when the conference call gods cooperate) - it's a good hour out of the day, taking into account red lights, locking up the bike, waiting on line at the bakery, etc. My 4 mile trips to the grocery store are manageable every day - that easily fits into a lunch break, also leaving time to eat. Ditto other errands around town. Luckily (or unluckily from a traffic point of view), I live in an area where you can get just about anything you need within 2 miles of home.

I'm curious: Those of you who routinely do utility runs of more than 10 miles each way, how do you fit that in with working, family, etc?
I know what you mean!!

I think is a lots of cases riders guesstimate how far they went since there and back come out as one number to be more impressive.

I know some do ride long distances but they are not the majority IMO.
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 10-15-11, 12:49 PM
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Even when I was car free in cycling hell I doubt my longest utilitarian trips were ever more than five miles one way, and those were rare. When I moved, I knew I would be car free so I made sure I would live in a place that would be convenient. So the grocery store is a half mile away, and I'd say the farthest I've biked to pick up something was maybe three miles at the most. To be honest, since moving here my bike is mainly just used when I need a lot of groceries at once, which doesn't happen terribly often. Most of the time I find myself walking and/or using the bus and carrying home a few small items in a bag. Considering the size of the town, I'd probably have to really try to make a hauling trip of more than 10-12 miles, and such a trip would be incredibly rare. At the end of January when my lease is up, I'm planning to try to move even closer to the grocery store, for even more convenience. Of course, the price of rent will be the deciding factor.
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Old 10-15-11, 01:59 PM
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With one exception, everyplace I shop is within three miles of the house. The exception is a Mills Fleet Farm, and when I'm going there I'm usually getting more stuff than I can carry on a bike.
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Old 10-16-11, 12:42 AM
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Being new to an area where utility cycling is even feasible (we really were WAY out in the sticks before we moved here,LOL ). So far,it's been about 4 miles,but that was due more to having my 9 year old riding with me than the effort for me to go (he on his little 16" wheeled bike,it was growing dark fast and he was wearing thin of energy,LOL).

I suppose mine will be dictated more by my old spinal injuries\issues than mileage,but I could see myself on a good day riding as far as 12-15 miles one way,the city's fairly flat here
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Old 10-16-11, 01:00 AM
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For the most part, I do not have to travel more than 4 miles round trip to obtain any of my daily essentials and there are no significant hills.

Some people would have no trouble walking any of these distances but since my ability to do this is limited I ride.

Other distances I ride on a routine basis is a 60 mile round trip to the frame shop, 12 mile return to the co-op (do this daily), and when I go see my mom it is a 60 mile ride (one way).
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Old 10-17-11, 06:31 PM
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I ride 9.25 miles each way to work. On my route to work, I pass a grocery store so I'm finding that it's easy to stop on the way home. I generally shop in the middle of my day, though, because I ride home alongside a co-worker and he probably wouldn't wait while I shop.

The grocery store where we like to shop near home is about 2.5 miles away. We've just gotten the bicycle trailer so I haven't really shopped there by bike, yet (we've gone by bus and made an evening of it, 35-40 minutes each way, not counting time waiting for the bus). The helmet and blinkies for the kiddo came in this weekend so I'll probably start making the run with the trailer this week or next.

We're car-free but our family members aren't really keen on the idea just yet so we end up getting well intentioned and sometimes appreciated help from them for the routine grocery runs.

Diapers.com/Wag.com/Soap.com has been fantastic, Amazon.com has been decent (their free shipping is slow so you have to plan way ahead), HomeDepot.com I've used once.

Summary: 10 miles will probably get us anything we need but, depending on what we're getting, getting it home could be a challenge.
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Old 10-31-11, 12:26 PM
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About 5 miles if I'm hauling more than 40lbs (and thus towing a trailer). Less than 40lbs, my radius would be 15 miles if there were anything I needed to pickup that far. My usual furthest trip is ~10 each way to the Grocery Outlet.

Actually I did that ride yesterday to get some IPA. I discovered that my new 26 x 1.5 tires don't like the 9 22oz bottles I had in the panniers...
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Old 10-31-11, 02:35 PM
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Farthest I have gone is 15 miles (30RT) outside of a commute to work. When commuting I go 20 miles (40RT).

I think 20 is probably as far as I would regularly go, however.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:20 PM
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Typical out-of-the-way chores run might extend a typical 6.5 mi ride to 10-12 miles. I've hauled some furniture about 7 miles. I live near downtown, so most of my shopping rides are much shorter. I regularly take day trips with about 120 lbs cargo (kid, food, propane stove) and doing about 25mi round trip is not uncommon, or difficult, if I'm matching the pace of my 8yo riding ahead of me.
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Old 11-06-11, 06:58 AM
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I'm new to this bit of the site, so I hope no one minds if I just jump in.

For me it depends entirely on what I'm carrying and where it is.

I once rode 250 miles each way to deliver some samples ( in a 4 1/2 foot long 3"tube) and see a client, but that was obviously more of an excuse for a bike tour than "utility" cycling.

The long trips I make fairly frequently are about 10mile each way to a wine merchant to pick up a case or so of our favourite plonk. And a occasional 30ish mile round trip to a timber merchant with the trailer for figured oak boards. That tends to use up the whole day though, there a good friend and an excellent pub on the way home.
I don't have a car so might go further on the bike than some, just to avoid the hassles that go with public transport.

Last edited by Fat tabby; 11-06-11 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 12-04-11, 02:42 PM
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18 miles o/w w/ cargo.
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