Author Topic: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting  (Read 501 times)

mcshelbs

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Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« on: March 20, 2017, 07:40:41 AM »
I am an owner of a VW TDI, one of the cars involved in the VW lawsuit. I've decided to sell my car back to the dealership and instead of buying a new car, I want to attempt making the switch to commuting by bicycle. I figured that taking away my ability to drive will force me to ride my bicycle and make creating the habit easier. I have some questions and concerns for whomever is willing to share their advice.

My commute will be about 7.5 miles each way. I work in a professional environment where I need to look clean and presentable for my team members and our clients. I am a woman with naturally curly hair has a mind of its own. My office doesn't have any type of shower facilities and I don't have access to the office until we are ready to open the doors.

1. What are some tips and tricks you can share with me that help me to keep up my physical appearance after my commute?

2. I'm a woman and it is necessary for my hair and makeup to look clean and presentable. I know that I will get sweaty. What are some tips you can share that helped keep your appearance up after those commute?

3. What are some challenges you faced when switching to Bicycle only commuting, and how did you over come those challenges?

4. I don't own a bicycle so obviously one of the most important steps is getting one. Are there any bikes that are better for beginning bike commuters than others?

Thank you in advance!

Shelby

plog

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 08:08:22 AM »
Quote
I figured that taking away my ability to drive will force me to ride my bicycle and make creating the habit easier

Having lived among humans for 40+ years, I can tell you that they cannot trick themselves into changing habits.  Fat people buy treadmills everyday...and end up hanging clothes on them.  Poor people buy Dave Ramsey books everyday...and use them as paper weights.  People just don't trick themselves into doing things.  With that said, I hope it works for you, but don't rely on this "trick" to work for you.  To bike to work you must ultimately want to bike to work.

As to your questions:

1.  Know your exertion limits--find a pace that works and stick to it--don't race to work.  Be sure to take temperature and humidity into this equation.  Further, where I live its just too hot to ride some days without showing up soaking wet from sweat or rain.  Be sure you have a backup plan to get there.

2. I disagree with your assumption that you will be sweaty.  I bike 5 miles one way to work 200 days a year in Kansas and at most I mildly perspire.

3.  Soreness.  Not just muscles but chaffing/rubbing, etc.  Start riding your bike now to find out what's going to hurt and what you can do to avoid or mitigate it.  Developing callouses isn't a bad thing, and in the meantime vaseline and bandaids can help.

4.  A cheap one that you test ride.  Honestly, you don't know what you need so don't spend $5k on one the bike store sells you only to find out you hate it.  Go to craigslist and get one there (spring is a buyers market).  If you hate it, put it back out on craigslist until you find out what you want. 
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 08:10:21 AM by plog »

zhelud

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 08:43:53 AM »
Depending on your commute and the time of day you do it, you may not get very sweaty or look unpresentable when you arrive. You may have to try it first before you know for sure.  I commute about the same distance, starting at 730 am, and I've found that except on the hottest days of summer when it is already 75 degrees in the morning, I don't break much of a sweat. I also keep unscented baby wipes in the office, deodorant, etc.  Some people have advised keeping a washcloth that you can use for a wipe down in the bathroom too.
I'm also a female with curly hair.  Summer humidity wrecks my hair whether I ride or not, so I've just resigned myself to looking kind of woolly at that time of year.   

shaybro

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 08:49:57 AM »
Get a semi-upright flatbar bike like this Surly:

I would never buy a new bike because I like getting good deals on craigslist but someone who knows almost nothing about bicycles is more likely to get ripped off or buy something that they hate. If your city has a good bike scene you could look into buying a used bike from a bike shop (NOT A PAWN SHOP). They usually charge a small premium but they will also have gone over the bike for safety and functionality. If wearing a helmet makes you feel safer, buy a helmet. If having nice bicycle lights makes you feel safer, buy nice lights. Expect people to shame you on your personal safety choices; the bicycle community is obsessed with fear-mongering and victim-blaming.

Try out your ride during a weekend day when you can afford to get sweaty. Ride at a comfortable pace. Biking is more efficient than walking and does not require you to get sweaty.

There are many website that have lists and tips on how to freshen up using only a bathroom sink. During the Summer I don't shower after my morning commute but I do wear separate athletic-type clothing and change into more professional clothing once in the office. Fall, Winter, and Spring I just ride in my work clothes and take it easy to avoid sweating too much. Your climate may require your strategy to change.

Good luck and stick with it! Daily bike commuting is great for your mind, body, and soul. Using a bike for transportation is one of the few paradigm shifting moments in my entire life (getting engaged and finding MMM are two other moments) and almost all future career, housing, geography, and family planning decisions have been impacted by this simple choice.

CptCool

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 09:00:34 AM »
Definitely keep some unscented baby wipes on hand at the office. A quick wipe-down does wonders in case you do get more sweaty than anticipated on the ride in

Footsore Rambler

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 10:10:50 AM »
You might want to get some dry shampoo to keep in your office, to help de-sweat your hair.  Also show up early enough to give your body some time to change modes.  I used to commute 7.5 miles on a bike, in hot, hilly terrain, and I turned into a sweat monster during the ride.  I would change clothes when I got in, but if I did it too quickly, I was sweating in my work clothes.  Every person/location is different, though, so give it a try one day when you don't have to go in to work and see how you look and feel afterward.  Then you will better know what to prepare for!

Sailor Sam

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 10:27:03 AM »
I have curly hair. In my experience, a helmet is murder on your nicely set curls.

I'd suggest showering in the evening, then using some sort of plopping method to dry overnight. Keep your hair in the hair containing device on under the helmet, then make the final tweaks at work. Just make sure the head covering doesn't reduce the effectiveness of the helmet, though.

Good luck! I hate my hair in direct proportion to how much I enjoy it.   

acroy

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 10:31:08 AM »
Badass on you, and good luck!
Good information here.
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Doggybutt

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 04:40:02 PM »
What I have found:
-Comfort trumps efficiency.  A clunker bike that you enjoy is way better than a superbike you don't.  I recently rode a bike with basic platform pedals and will never go back to any sort of binding.  My knees are so much happier...
-Ride at a relatively easy pace.  This means giving yourself extra time so if you feel tired, you can go slower.
-Use your gears.  Learn to anticipate and downshift ahead of time.  Shift early and often.
-Use your legs.  Learn to stand on the pedals and use your legs as shock absorbers.
-Learn to climb and go down steep inclines.  Take a cue from mountain bikers-- learn how to shift your weight back going down steep obstacles and how to relax your upper body and keep your butt in the saddle on climbs.
-I highly recommend bikes with 29" wheels.  I am much faster and more comfortable while expending less effort on my $400 commuter bike than I was on my $1700 mountain bike.

marielle

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 04:59:07 PM »
2. I'm a woman and it is necessary for my hair and makeup to look clean and presentable.

I get the hair but why the makeup? No one at work cares if I wear makeup or not. Neither should clients unless they're jerks or trying to hit on you. If you have really bad rosacea or something I can understand, but no one will judge you for having natural eyelashes or slight dark spots under your eyes. If you really have to put on makeup, keep it minimal and put it on after you get to work and before seeing clients.

I don't have curly hair, maybe wavy/curly but the only suggestion I have is to make a really loose braid. Loose enough that it won't dent the curls, but tight enough to still keep your hair from getting tangled.

Eric

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 05:22:16 PM »
The best advice I have is to wear biking clothes and bring working clothes to change into upon arrival.  You need a rear rack with panniers (more expensive) or a milk crate (less expensive) or some way to not wear a backpack while riding.  It's like night and day how much you sweat while wearing a backpack versus not wearing one.  Then when you arrive, give yourself some time to cool down in the shade, drink some water, and stop sweating.

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Mrs. PoP

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 06:29:43 PM »
You can do it!  My commute is ~9-11 miles depemding in my construction detours at the moment and I've been doing it for about 4 years.   In the am, I don't ride quickly, and don't feel too sweaty when I get to work (save riding hard for the afternoon!).   But I do shower before leaving the house and wear separate biking clothes that I chnage out of in arrival.   Not sure how this would translate for curly hair, but I put my hair in a braid when it's wet from the shower and then take it out and brush it a couple of times and let it air dry in the morning at my desk.   Easy and no weird helmet hair. 

In terms of bike upgrades, I'd say the nicest one that you don't think about is fenders.  Having water spray up at your back or your crotch is really an unpleasant way to start or end a day, even if you are going to change when you arrive at work. 
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Doggybutt

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 09:56:26 AM »
If you haven't already, you could also consider an electric bicycle.  Many folks report they're great for "leveling out" the hills and depending on the rider some actually get a better workout than they did using a standard bicycle.

KCM5

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2017, 10:34:09 AM »
Quote
I figured that taking away my ability to drive will force me to ride my bicycle and make creating the habit easier

Having lived among humans for 40+ years, I can tell you that they cannot trick themselves into changing habits.  Fat people buy treadmills everyday...and end up hanging clothes on them.  Poor people buy Dave Ramsey books everyday...and use them as paper weights.  People just don't trick themselves into doing things.  With that said, I hope it works for you, but don't rely on this "trick" to work for you.  To bike to work you must ultimately want to bike to work.


I disagree with this assessment.

Here's the thing - in order to work and be paid you need to go to work. If the car isn't an option because its been sold, then what are your other options? Bike. Treadmills and books aren't your only option. You could watch a nice TV show or mess around on the internet instead. But to get to work? It's not optional, and if your only option is a bike, that's what you'll do.

Regarding the questions - how's it for hills? If there aren't too many, I'd get a three speed or eight speed internal gear hub. And definitely fenders. And a rain cape for wet days. And make sure you have lights (if you get really serious, dynamo lights are awesome for commuting).

Regarding hair - wrap it up in something and wear that under the helmet.

Make sure you can carry stuff - either panniers or a big basket on front or both (I like both). That way if you have to run errands, you have space to do so.

Challenges: actively snowing. Do you have an alternative like if it's really bad you can get a ride or Uber or bus? That's my one hang up. Here in the midwest I have this issue about once or twice a year, so no big deal. Also, if you're dealing with ice often get some studded tires and leave them on all winter. 

etselec

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2017, 01:36:51 PM »
You know your hair better than anyone else, but in my experience water is a pretty powerful "reset" button for curly hair — could you use a spray bottle, or go to the bathroom sink and drip some water onto your head/finger comb it through? Not so much that it's soaking wet, just enough to pull the frizz back in line (and apply a bit of leave-in conditioner, if that's something you do).

JRA64

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2017, 01:49:30 PM »
Find a hairstylist who specializes in curly hair and tell them your situation. It's nothing short of miraculous when you find a good one.

Have a back-up plan for rain and very cold weather. Public transit? Uber?

Seek out showers in nearby buildings. Maybe you can get a low cost gym membership. Ask fellow cyclists, they will know about any nearby showers.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2017, 02:06:56 PM »
Definitively wear clothes for cycling. At work, change into your working clothes. Handicap toilet is best and a washing cloth helps. Make sure your cycle shirt doesn't smell when you put it on in the morning.
For your hair, maybe a pony tail or putting it up in some way would be a solution?
You should count on getting rain from time to time. Maybe wear a rain hat or helmet rain cap. Wear as thin clothes as you can, then you'll sweat least.

Long ago, whenI lived in the Netherlands I cycled every day to school and later to work. That time we typically rode bicycles that you could sit straight up on. Typically 20kms per hour cruising speed, which doesn't make you sweat much.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 02:09:23 PM by Linda_Norway »

Hoglet121

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Re: Advice for switching from car to bicycle commuting
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2017, 04:45:15 PM »
I don't bike everyday but when I do:

- Wear bike clothes, change at work. Leave some clothes at work for convenience.
- Freshen up with wipes.
- Do make up in the bathroom, tidy hair etc.

That's after a 10+ mile bike ride where I push myself every time, with a huge hill just before I get to work.

For what it's worth, my boss says he can tell the days I've cycled to work as I'm much more energised first thing in the morning. I don't have anywhere secure to park my bike so I take the front wheel off and shove it all under my desk.