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Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?  

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.

Would 15 miles each way be too far?

I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.

About how long would it take?

How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?

Thanks, Jeff.
post #2 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

"Jeffrey Pogodzinski" <jrpogo@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:11c19c42.0308040726.d518c92@posting.google.com...
> Hi,
>
> I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.
>
> Would 15 miles each way be too far?
>
> I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.
>
> About how long would it take?
>
> How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?
>
> Thanks, Jeff.

It's probably not too far, but that's an individual call. It might take as long as 4 to till it
becomes comfortable, but the great thing about a bike is you can vary your speed to go at a rate
that is comfortable. Depending on your route how long it takes can vary quite a lot. How many hills,
how much wind (and which direction), and how many lights are the major factors. With a flat course,
no major intersections or wind it might not be difficult to make it in an hour. That's probably the
shortest time you could expect then depending on all the above factors it could go twice that high.
With average conditions it will probably take about an hour and 15 minutes. Have fun, I find being
on a bike much more fun than being in a car.
post #3 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

jrpogo@yahoo.com (Jeffrey Pogodzinski) wrote:

>I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.

Excellent idea!

>Would 15 miles each way be too far?

No - actually, it's just about perfect. Much under 10 miles and it's almost not worth the logistics
- much over 20 and it starts taking too much time (for some of us at least).

>I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.

Then you want to take it a little easy the first few weeks, so you don't burn out and get soured on
the whole commuting experience. Your body will adjust, but if you start putting in 150 miles a week
from a low mileage base, you could hit a real "pit" in your fitness.

>About how long would it take?
>
>How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?

The last work commute I had was almost exactly 15 miles, and would normally take 45-55 minutes
(normally riding pretty hard since that constituted my "training" as well as my commute). My
personal best was a bit over 41 minutes (there were a lot of stoplights...).

If you're in good shape it shouldn't take too long to get to the point where you'd be making it
in an hour (barring TOO many hills, lights, nasty intersections, etc.). From there, it just
gets better.

Mark Hickey Habanero Cycles http://www.habcycles.com Home of the $695 ti frame
post #4 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

Jeffrey Pogodzinski wrote:
> I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.

Good for you.

> Would 15 miles each way be too far?

No.

> I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.
>
> About how long would it take?

In order, it will depend upon your condition, the terrain, weather, traffic and how well your bike
is built for speed. There's too many variables to guess accurately. I suggest that you do a trial
run on your day off to see how long it actually takes and then give yourself 10 extra minutes on the
first morning to account for variability and early morning slugishness. If I had to guess, I'd guess
1.5 hours to start. Many people can do 15 miles in traffic in under an hour but they usually aren't
beginners. If you do this ride daily, you can expect to speed up considerably over time.

> How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?

10-15 mph is probably a typical average for the beginner. Some will be a little faster. Some a
little slower. It's also affected by lights, stop signs, hills, wind direction/speed, traffic, train
crossings etc. All of these except tail winds and downhills slow you down.

--Bill Davidson
--
Please remove ".nospam" from my address for email replies.

I'm a 17 year veteran of usenet -- you'd think I'd be over it by now
post #5 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

jrpogo@yahoo.com (Jeffrey Pogodzinski) wrote:
>Hi,
>
>I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.

Good for you!

>Would 15 miles each way be too far?

No.

>I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.
>
>About how long would it take?

That depends on how many hills and intersections are on your route.

>How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?

12 mph is reasonable.
post #6 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

Mon, 04 Aug 2003 18:20:51 GMT, <m77tiv89os67thb5ag587concg368oocas@4ax.com>, Mark Hickey
<mark@habcycles.com> wrote:

>
>If you're in good shape it shouldn't take too long to get to the point where you'd be making it
>in an hour (barring TOO many hills, lights, nasty intersections, etc.). From there, it just
>gets better.

And remains quite consistent. I think that's one great advantage of bicycle commuting. Barring
mechanical problems, you know how long it's going to take when you leave home. The amount of other
traffic has little impact on bicycle travel times.
--
zk
post #7 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

In article <11c19c42.0308040726.d518c92@posting.google.com>, jrpogo@yahoo.com (Jeffrey
Pogodzinski) wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.
>
> Would 15 miles each way be too far?
>
> I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.
>
> About how long would it take?
>
> How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?
>
> Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff,

Excellent idea! I commute about 14-16 miles each way to work and it takes me around 50 minutes at my
speed with lights and traffic and such. I allow myself about thirty extra minutes for flats and
unexpected stuff.

Before I started commuting, I did the route on the weekend. Try it out and see how long it would
take you to bolster your confidence. I did and have been bettering my time with each run. I can do
the ride in 40 minutes if I push myself. Try different routes, too. I started out one way, and ended
up another all the time, finding less traffic or a more-downhill route.

You also want to make sure you're keeping your bike in good order. More miles means more wear and
tear. And you're now using it to get to work. Nothing like getting stuck with greasy fingers on the
way there. So make sure you keep your chain and brakes in good order. Keep a spare tube (or two) and
the tools you'd need for that.

And, speaking of a bike, I am using a Gary Fisher Zebrano (lower-end hybrid) with all the standard
equipment, including a suspension saddlepost. (I did have to get a new rear wheel -- SUPER heavy
duty this time.) This bike is inexpensive enough that I wouldn't be crying if I lost it and it gives
me confidence to tackle potholes and climbing sidewalks. If I had to commute on a road bike, I'd be
worried about every little thing. Something to consider before getting that bike.

I added fenders, a rack with trunk bag, and a bike computer. I also bought clothes that dry quickly
so I change at work. The computer is excellent, especially when commuting, so you know how long it
REALLY takes. It also helps you maintain a speed when you know what your average is. For instance, I
know if I maintain 18 mph each way I will make it to work in plenty of time.

The best part of the ride in the morning is the high I get for about four hours. It's like having a
pot of coffee in the morning without the potty breaks. You'll love it, too! Just experiement and
good luck!

Whew. What a book.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

Thank you all for your suggestions!

I will try a test run this weekend. The only thing I do not like is the lack of bicycle lanes or a
shoulder on some parts of my ride that can not be avoided.

How do you deal with no bike lanes?

I have a mountain bike -- Giant ATX 890 -- it has knobby tires.

Should I buy some smooth tires before I try it?

Jeff.
post #9 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

"Jeffrey Pogodzinski" <jrpogo@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:11c19c42.0308040726.d518c92@posting.google.com...
> Hi,
>
> I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.
>
> Would 15 miles each way be too far?
>
> I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.
>
> About how long would it take?
>
> How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?
>
> Thanks, Jeff.

I'm 59 years old and I ride 15 miles (more or less) every morning. It isn't a commute (it's my daily
excercise) but it takes me about an hour on a road bike. I live in the country and ride on country
roads so there aren't any traffic issues but there is some hilly terrain. I'm in just average shape
for a person my age. The younger guys and those in better shape than I am do a lot better than 15
mph but that's my pace and I would assume most people could do at least that. Take care.

Fred
post #10 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

>How do you deal with no bike lanes?

The short answer is by operating as a car or motorcycle would in similar conditions, by taking the
lane--all of it--and using appropriate signals.

I guess the best thing I can suggest is to know what you intend to do before you do it, then execute
the maneuver. You are operating a light vehicle, and that has advantages and disadvantages, for
example you are fragile and you can't accelerate well--but you have everything else on the road beat
as far as agility is concerned.

Try to keep the surprise factor low. The other road users need to know your intentions, and you need
to know theirs.

You will find that the more you ride your route the better it will be in terms of safety and
predictability. If you do one thing each ride better than the last time, it will add up.

You may also have a local bike club that can assist you with tips, routes, etc. If you tell us where
you live (just the city) there may be someone here with local knowledge.

Bicycle commuting is a challenging and rewarding experience, given that you have to go to work
anyway you might as well have fun doing it and reap the health and financial benefits.

(commercial mode off)

P.S.--Yes, the slicks will help.

--

_______________________ALL AMIGA IN MY MIND_______________________ ------------------"Buddy Holly,
the Texas Elvis"------------------
__________306.350.357.38>>cwhitman@texastwr.utaustin.edu__________
post #11 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

jrpogo@yahoo.com (Jeffrey Pogodzinski) wrote in message
news:<11c19c42.0308040726.d518c92@posting.google.com>...

> I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.

Excellent

> Would 15 miles each way be too far?

No -- that's about my commute. One thing that I have going for me that you might not have is a bus
route that more or less parallels 10 miles of it on the freeway. I have the option at mile 5/6, mile
8, and mile 10 of hanging it up on the bus and shortening the commute. This makes it possible for me
to be home by the time the kids get out of school during the school year. It also provides incentive
when the weather is really nasty. I might not want to ride 15 miles when it's horizontally sleeting
and 35 degrees, but I can eke out 5 no problem, and then warm up a little on the bus.

> About how long would it take?

Depends on how hilly the ride is, and how many lights and traffic you have to contend with. My ride
is relatively hilly -- only one flat section -- and is somewhat more downhill in to work and uphill
for the way back. The first time I rode it home, it took me one hour and forty minutes. Now, it's
more like an hour on the way in, an hour and fifteen on the way back.

Warm Regards,

Claire Petersky (cpetersky@yahoo.com)

Home of the meditative cyclist: http://home.earthlink.net/~cpetersky/Welcome.htm

Singing with you at: http://www.tiferet.net/

Books just wanna be FREE! See what I mean at: http://bookcrossing.com/friend/Cpetersky
post #12 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

>Take the lane, when appropriate. Not necessarily all the time.

True. My bad.

--

_______________________ALL AMIGA IN MY MIND_______________________ ------------------"Buddy Holly,
the Texas Elvis"------------------
__________306.350.357.38>>cwhitman@texastwr.utaustin.edu__________
post #13 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

jrpogo@yahoo.com (Jeffrey Pogodzinski) wrote in message
news:<11c19c42.0308040726.d518c92@posting.google.com>...
> Hi,
>
> I am thinking of buying a road bike to commute to work every day.
>
> Would 15 miles each way be too far?
>
> I am in pretty good shape but new to biking.
>
> About how long would it take?
>
> How fast (average speed) can the average beginner go on a road bike?
>
> Thanks, Jeff.

My commute used to 15 miles one way (it is longer now). If you are in good shape it shouldn't take
much more than an hour, unless the hills are terrible. If it helps, once I got into it, I would go a
couple of months without ever driving my car to work.

You may try riding on a weekend to check out the best (safest) route. The safest route is not always
the shortest. Also, if you live in a major city, you may find some streets with wide bike lanes are
not always too safe if they cross a freeway. At rush hour the traffic getting on and off can make
even a marked bike lane dangerous.

The best way to stay alive while riding in traffic is **be more alert than the motorists**.

But don't let this discourage you. Enjoy.

Tom
post #14 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

Jeffrey Pogodzinski wrote:
> I will try a test run this weekend. The only thing I do not like is the lack of bicycle lanes or a
> shoulder on some parts of my ride that can not be avoided.
>
> How do you deal with no bike lanes?

No bike lane and no shoulder--take the lane. Narrow shoulder (less than 3 feet)--take the lane. Wide
paved shoulder (5 feet or more)--ride the shoulder; it's practically a bike lane. 3-5 foot
shoulder--Use your judgment.

Luckily for me, I seldomly have to deal with this. Most roads where I ride either have bike lanes or
very wide right lanes. I don't much like taking the lane but I do it when it makes sense; even if it
does infuriate some drivers.

> I have a mountain bike -- Giant ATX 890 -- it has knobby tires.
>
> Should I buy some smooth tires before I try it?

I highly recomend them; especially given the distance. They will make you faster. It's very
noticable.

Cheap ones here:

http://www.nashbar.com/results.cfm?c...toreid=&init=y
http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...22&Sub_ID=5430

I would tend to go with this one: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...e.cfm?SKU=2314 It's
cheap, kevlar and handles high pressure for an ATB tire (45-90psi). Higher pressure means lower
rolling resistance which means you go faster. It also means a harsher ride but given the distance
you're covering, I'd think you'd welcome any reduction in the commute time.

--Bill Davidson
--
Please remove ".nospam" from my address for email replies.

I'm a 17 year veteran of usenet -- you'd think I'd be over it by now
post #15 of 19

Re: Is 15 mile road bike commute too far?

>What makes me angry about you guys is that the general public sees you every day and gets the
>impression all cyclist ride hybrids or other lamers and wear dorky gear from those general
>bike shops.

It's actually worse than that, Mayonnaise. Some of those nimrods are roadies that have started
buying their gear from Chinese surplus shops and so forth. Oh, the shame.

>I'm devoting all my time to putting forward the image and lifestyle of the euro pro and you types
>are ruining that for me.

Well, we have to get to work and so forth.

--

_______________________ALL AMIGA IN MY MIND_______________________ ------------------"Buddy Holly,
the Texas Elvis"------------------
__________306.350.357.38>>cwhitman@texastwr.utaustin.edu__________
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