Newbie wants to attempt long commute

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by Excelsior, May 4, 2005.

  1. Excelsior

    Excelsior New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I've been driving to my current job since December, 2004 and I've had enough. I can't stand sitting still in the car for an hour on the way to work, sitting at my desk for 8 hours at work, and sitting in the car again for another hour and a half on the way home in traffic.

    Commuting by bicycle is the best alternative I can think of for the obvious reasons: it's WAY healthier, I'll save money, and it's better for the envirionment.

    I've solved a few of the usual issues. I can shower at a fitness club that is only a few blocks from work and I plan to bring work clothes in this unique bike garment bag (http://www.twowheelgear.com)

    The only issue I have is that the commute is a relatively long 44 km (27.5 miles) each way. Luckily, here in Vancouver, we have some great bike routes and I've already planned a safe and somewhat hill-free journey. My only concern is the sheer length of the ride.

    I know that this distance is definitely do-able, and others manage longer commutes, but I need some help with the best way to train for it. Right now I am out of shape, slightly over weight, and fed up enough to make this work. I am very dedicated to the idea and eventually I would like to make this my usual method of getting to work, with my car being the exception - not the rule.

    My apologies for the lengthly post, but I have been thinking about this for a while and wanted to throw it all out there to see what kind of feedback I'll receive.

    Thanks
     
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  2. Count Dz

    Count Dz New Member

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    By overweight and out of shape, how exactly? Different people have different ways of measuring these things. This is just so we have an idea as to help you accomplish your commuting goals.

    I will say this to you, last year I was kinda in the same boat as you are. I was actually without a car (so I obviously had no other choice) and I was 15 miles from my job. So I had a mountain bike and a pair of legs and off I went. Now I won't lie, the first few weeks I rode Marta (mass transit in Atlanta) to work and then rode home cause I was completely outta shape. After a few weeks I could ride both ways. So I would work up to your 28 mile ride at first, ride 15 miles outside of the commuting then escalate on up. I would not jump into your commuting goal head first this is a long way in the beginning, hell it's a long way now (57 miles) no joke. Eventually though I think within a few months you can do this. Of course this depends on outta shape you really are. I'm 6'0 & 198 lbs. I do over 100 miles a week and my avg. daily ride is about 30 miles. I've been riding seriously since last year at this time, although I did take 3 months off for winter (packed the lbs. on) now I have a road bike and am a riding fool. Be prepared to be addicted cause I'm hooked. Good luck and let us know how you do.

    Peace,
    Dz
     
  3. Excelsior

    Excelsior New Member

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    Thanks for the inspiration, Dz.

    I'm not terribly out of shape - 5'10" and about 185 lbs. I was in reasonable shape before I started this new job, but all this sitting is killing me. I've gained about 10 pounds over the past 5 months.

    You're definitely right about not jumping right into it. And your note about taking transit one way makes total sense. They just started allowing bikes on the Skytrain (Vancouver's monorail-like system) and there is a line that will take me more than half the distance to work.

    Right now I have a MTB, but I think I'll definitely need to get a road bike once I start increasing the distance of my rides. I can totally see the ride becoming addictive - I just need to get started.

    I'm actually thinking about starting a blog to continually post updates. Hopefully as I start to make progress it will encourage others to give this a try.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    If it takes you 1.5 hrs to drive, with a little practice/training you should be able to make it faster by bike after a while -especially if there are no hills. Do you have the option of taking a bus or rail part of the way to start out with? It could help you work up to the full 44km if you start out with just part of the ride.

    My husband has a similar commute down here in Seattle (no way to cut out the hills though :D ). Sometimes he takes the bus part of the way. Sometimes he drives in with his bike and commutes home, then the next day commutes in and drives home. Sometimes he will commute both ways. Drive or bike it takes about the same amount of time - says something about the traffic eh?

    Go for it, even if you can't do it every day to start out with, you will get stronger, you'll probably lose weight, and you'll feel great! Good Luck!
     
  5. ishiwata

    ishiwata New Member

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    That's a long commute. Mine is 2.5 miles and sometimes I'm too lazy and take the bus. Maybe try it on fridays for a couple of weeks, then twice a week, and so on for a few months until you work up to doing it every day. That should get you in shape gradually and give you an idea of whether you're really committed to it.
     
  6. Excelsior

    Excelsior New Member

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    All good advice.

    Thank you very much.
     
  7. eric_the_red

    eric_the_red New Member

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    You might want to try doing the entire ride one weekend day, see how long it takes, and if you can do it all. Also maybe ride every second day until you get fitter.
    And btw the Skytrain only allows bikes from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm and after 6:30 pm, not very useful for commuting.
    Where are you commuting to, maybe I'll see you on the road one day.
     
  8. Excelsior

    Excelsior New Member

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    Yeah, trying it out first is the plan. I totally forgot about the time restrictions on the Skytrain. Thanks for the reminder. That will make it pretty useless to me since I'll be leaving around 5:00am and coming back around 4:00pm.

    I live in Vancouver and will be going out to Langley. The plan is to go through New West, across the Pattullo bridge, through Surrey, and then along the Fraser Hwy. Where I work is actually right on the Surrey/Langley border.
     
  9. Conniebiker

    Conniebiker New Member

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    I just started my commute at my job last month. 20 miles. It took a long while at first but I have it down to 1:20 with hills on my mtb(there are too many glass hazards for the roadie:mad:) I usually plan on 2 days a week, and if Im feeling stoggy I leave the car at work. That forces me to overcome it and ride back to work in the morning.
    It makes a difference if there are a lot of hills in the route. In my area 20 mi is as far as I could practically do without tiring out for the rest of the day(I do a lot of walking at work) since it is almost all hills. That is a personal limit that can change as the season goes on, and in fact should to an extent. Don't kill yourself on the first few trips. It usually takes about 2 weeks to see serious improvements in stamina, though improvements can be felt each time.
     
  10. nurgles

    nurgles New Member

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    My advice is just go for it.Youve already planned the route.Get up early...really early on the first day so that you can make a few mistakes and see how you feel.If you feel knackered dont go every day.I can bet that after a couple of weeks it will get easier and normal and you will miss it if you are sitting on the bus or in the car.
    I bike to work here in Hong Kong when some people said impossible.Now I have withdrawal symptons if the bike stays at home.I do between 12 and 50 km because I can vary the route but on very steep terrain with 4 or 5 20% climbs.
     
  11. listopad

    listopad New Member

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    Definitely go for it, but prior planning and preparation essential. Make sure you know your bike inside out and can easily repare punctures/carry out roadside maintenance. Check out weather websites for prevailing winds in your area as to start with it will be better to cycle with the wind (if there is a prevailing wind). That is a long commute to be faced with a headwind first time out. Get a good idea of all available local transport that could be used in emergency. Is there somewhere you can drive to with the bike, park up and cycle the rest of the way to work?

    Good luck
     
  12. Excelsior

    Excelsior New Member

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    Thank you to everyone for all the great advice. This has been very helpful. I should have my bike next week and I'll post about my progress.

    Thanks again
     
  13. *Alice

    *Alice New Member

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    take the bus/train to work in the morning (bring your bike with you).
    Bike home after work :)
     
  14. chephy

    chephy New Member

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    Wow, 44 km each way is a non-trivial distance. My daily commute is only about 17 km each way, and it takes me about 55 minutes on average to complete it given the traffic, the stop signs etc. So I guess you'd need over two hours, if your situation is similar. However, if you actually like the idea, then go for it - 44 is certainly a doable distance. Try it on the weekend first, but keep in mind that traffic volume will be higher on a weekday, so your commute will be slower. Although, if you leave house at 5 a.m., that might not be the case. In fact, if I were you I'd probably call Skytrain and ask if 5 a.m. counts as "off-peak" - I don't think too many people use public transit that early in the morning.
     
  15. centralmail

    centralmail New Member

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    I am a newbie too, having only been cycling my 8 mile round trip to school for about 9 months...

    If your route is hill-free, that is a BIG plus...

    I think the main thing is to get a light and fast road bike...

    I currently ride a Giant Expression hybrid and it takes me 25 minutes for 4 miles... I tried the route on a friend's road bike and I did it with much less effort in 20 minutes... a 20% saving!!
     
  16. Don Shipp

    Don Shipp New Member

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    That is just too far to ride both ways, every day, throughout the year. Is there a way that you can ride in then get a lift back? Next day you get a lift in and ride back. When you are fit then do it both ways but not every day.
    I know that some people would recommend a recumbent for this kind of commute, so check the 'bent pages of this site for advice on that.
     
  17. chephy

    chephy New Member

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    I wonder how the project has been going anyway, if at all. Excelsior, what's up? :)
     
  18. Chris516

    Chris516 New Member

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    I will be going 120mi.(193.12128km) round-trip in one day. I haven't decided when I am going to do it, but, I would like to do it before October.
     
  19. meke

    meke New Member

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    As a pilot project, translink has relaxed the restrictions. Bikes are not allowed on skytrain from 7-9 am and 4-6 pm in the direction of rush hour traffic only, so if you're going from Vancouver to Langley in the morning, no restrictions! and it's 2 bikes per car now, instead of 2 bikes per train. YAY!
     
  20. Transitman

    Transitman New Member

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    I'm in a similar situation... I'm looking to commute to work via commuter rail and bike home in the afternoon. The trek home would be about 35 miles. I've mountain biked a bit a few years ago but found I enjoyed road riding a great deal more with the MTB. I'm somewhat stuck on what type of road bike to buy, new or used, and specifically which manufacturer/model. A bit about me, 6'5" 200, 26yrs old. Used to be fairly active playing soccer 2/week, crew for a period, and biking a bit. Have not done a darn thing since moving from Boston To San Diego 1 year ago. Any pointers on bikes/equipment would be terrific.
     
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