Author Topic: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?  (Read 13109 times)

homestead neohio

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Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« on: January 05, 2016, 11:46:51 AM »
I know living 22 miles from my work is anti-Mustachian.  As is having 3 vehicles with only 2 people of legal driving age.  We're working on it.  One of my goals for this year was to get down to "just" 2 vehicles, then down to 1 vehicle when I FI/RE.  Since DW and I are already living in our dream house/property we want to FIRE on, and my work situation is pretty good with limited local options in my field, I was thinking I would just put up with this long commute until I fire, maybe 6 or 7 years.  And maybe I will...

My past efforts to minimize commuting pain/costs have been to buy fuel efficient vehicles to keep expenses low-ish, take "back roads" to enjoy scenery and maximize fuel efficiency (toyota hybrid), and listen to ebooks.  I read this MMM post and was shocked by some of the maths:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/?s=real+cost+of+commuting

One of the reasons I'm interested in FI/RE is because I spend so much of my life sitting and I'd like to be more active.  Commuting in a car to work, 8 hours in a cube, a car ride home, then sitting for dinner at home.  With a bike I could at least be moving my body.

I then read this MMM post and was wondering... can I bike to work until I FIRE?
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/08/31/electric-bike-reviews/

The 22 miles each way is non-highway roads, mostly 35 mph limit, partly through the park with a separate bike path.  I ruled out the possibility of doing this with a normal bike, but an ebike makes it seem almost possible.  NE Ohio climate and topography, mix of flats and small hills.  I have an old motorcycle I can ride sometimes (less fuel efficient than my car, though), and I can try this out while only selling 1 of 3 vehicles.  If it works, maybe DW and I can go down to 1 vehicle even before we FIRE? 

I think it would take me almost 2 years to break even on a $1500 investment.  I spend $8/wk on gas (55mpg, $2/gal gas), $50/yr on registration, $200/yr insurance, and $100/yr on oil changes.  I just put new tires on the car, so those will be good for 4-5 years with no expense.  Sooner if there are other maintenance expenses and consideration for depreciation.  Then it would make me money. 

Am I crazy?  Is this a good idea?  Or am I going to buy a $1500 ebike and regret the expense when I still drive to work?  Would I enjoy it, biking in all weather?  Anyone else go this far on an ebike daily?

AZDude

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2016, 11:56:56 AM »
22 miles one way is a long time to bike. An hour plus, easy, even with the e-bike. Can you bike to a transit stop, then take the bus/train?

johnny847

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 12:00:56 PM »
22 miles one way is a long time to bike. An hour plus, easy, even with the e-bike. Can you bike to a transit stop, then take the bus/train?

Well sure to but the question really should be how much extra time is spent bike commuting vs car commuting. I might have missed it but the OP didn't mention their current commute time.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2016, 12:03:35 PM »
Cleveland area or farther east? For my job and particular geography (roughly same commute distance, but highway), it's just not feasible. I keep fantasizing about getting a job within walking distance of my house though.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 12:42:06 PM »
I think you're framing the issue too narrowly (is this commute feasible) given all the variables.

I too live in NE Ohio (feel free to PM me, OP) and I think it would be insane to bike 22 miles to work for the following reasons:

(1) Too much time;

(2) Weather is bad/very unpredictable;

(3) Commute would be dangerous;

(4) Savings aren't worth it in your case.

I don't have to lecture you about the weather. My twin brother is a pretty cautious driver but he slid off the road (no serious damage) three times last winter--two of them caused by other people pulling out in front of him. If you are going to bike during winter, people aren't going to expect that (given that most of NE Ohio is suburban), will have to unexpectedly brake, and then put you and other drivers in danger. I flat out don't think it's safe in the winter or in bad conditions.

But I think the bigger issue here is that you're too caught up in the money part of saving. I've brought this up before on this forum, but I think you're really losing sight that time can be just as important, if not more important, than money.

I'd highly recommend you read "Your Money or Your Life so you can see what I'm getting at. The theme of the book is that the more time you spend towards working--getting ready for work, commuting to work, actually working, commuting home from work, getting undressed from work, just thinking about working--the less of a real hourly wage you are making.

For example, if you make $20/hour and work 8 hours, you make $160. But you spend two hours getting to/from and/or ready for work, so you're really making $16/hour. Add in taxes and you're probably making something like $11-12/hour instead of $20/hour. Then add in the costs of working (paying for transport, work clothes, etc.) and it's probably $10/hour.

The goal of the book, in part, is to make you realize that you get paid a lot less than you think you get paid (as shown in the above example) and to think about costs in terms of time it takes to earn that much money instead of the actual money itself. So in the above example, a $200 iPhone takes about 20 hours of working time. Worth it when you think of it like that? Probably not. Hence the question "your money or your life."

Right now your commute probably takes 25-30 minutes. I just went to google and mapped out a bike route to a small downtown that's 16 miles from my office. Google projects that it would take one hour and seventeen minutes to bike there. Add another 6 miles and we are talking an hour and a half, easy.

So you're talking an additional two hours per day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year. That's 500 hours per year, or almost 9% of your waking hours (assuming you're awake 16 hours/day) dedicated to commuting to and from work. Add that to 45 hours per week of other work-related things (work hours and getting ready) and suddenly 47% of your waking hours are dedicated to work.

Just in terms of the time spent, I'd say not even close.

And to finally get to your numbers, your car isn't the kind of car MMM is bashing. You (like me) have a very frugal commuting habit. $750/year is a very, very low commuting cost.

To put it all into perspective, in terms of your FI/RE goal, based on a "a previous post of yours, you're about six years from FI/RE. Take that $750/year, invest it every year for 7 years, get a 7% return, and subtract the $1500 for an e-bike and...drumroll...you're left with $5,444.85.

That might accelerate your FI date by what, a month or two? Is 500 hours/year of commuting for six years worth that to you?

Add on the other points I made (namely the safety and weather part of it) and I think you're better off waiting until FI/RE to ditch this extra vehicle. Until then, it's a great $750 yearly expense.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 01:00:37 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

Jack

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 01:10:48 PM »
I think you should try out the commute a few times on the non-electric bike you (presumably) already have, and then you'll be in a better position to decide.

Right now your commute probably takes 25-30 minutes. I just went to google and mapped out a bike route to a small downtown that's 16 miles from my office. Google projects that it would take one hour and seventeen minutes to bike there. Add another 6 miles and we are talking an hour and a half, easy.

First of all, a 22-mile commute on 35-mph back roads almost certainly takes more like 45 minutes or so (because even if he violates the speed limit, he's still slowed down by stop signs and traffic lights).

Second, there is a situation where it could still make sense: if the OP wanted a really good cardio workout and would have spent that extra time in the gym anyway.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2016, 01:20:11 PM »
I think you should try out the commute a few times on the non-electric bike you (presumably) already have, and then you'll be in a better position to decide.

Right now your commute probably takes 25-30 minutes. I just went to google and mapped out a bike route to a small downtown that's 16 miles from my office. Google projects that it would take one hour and seventeen minutes to bike there. Add another 6 miles and we are talking an hour and a half, easy.

First of all, a 22-mile commute on 35-mph back roads almost certainly takes more like 45 minutes or so (because even if he violates the speed limit, he's still slowed down by stop signs and traffic lights).

Second, there is a situation where it could still make sense: if the OP wanted a really good cardio workout and would have spent that extra time in the gym anyway.

Having lived in NE Ohio my entire life (sans my seven years at Ohio State, which is right down the road), it's my opinion that any health benefit to commuting via bike is trumped by the safety hazard it presents. Just to elaborate on this...here are the average monthly temperatures in Akron, OH (which is relatively central city in NE Ohio).

December: 39 high/26 low
January: 34 high/20 low
February: 38 high/23 low
March: 48 high/30 low

The temperature goes from below freezing to right around freezing to above freezing and back to below freezing in a single day more times than it doesn't. That means weird road conditions when the sun is rising and setting (i.e., during commute hours) for almost four months of the year. I simply don't think it's safe to commute via bike in those conditions.

And given his FI/RE projections, I'd emphatically say that saving $750/year simply isn't worth it for right now, both in terms of time and money.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 02:10:12 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

homestead neohio

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2016, 02:58:55 PM »
Thanks for replies, glad to see some others from NE Ohio on here.

My current commute is 45 minutes one way.  Google Maps says 2 hours on a bike, I have not (yet) biked it, but it's clearly not feasible 2x/day, 5x/wk.  I don't know if it would be more like 1 hour on an ebike, or more like 1.5 (2 hrs vs. 3 hrs round trip).  If it was 1.5, doubling my commute, I probably wouldn't commit to it.  If it was 1 or 1.25, the extra 30 or 60 minutes a day is productive exercise that can also save me money.   I need to find some time to get fit, converting my commute to fitness time sounds appealing in theory...

I've read YMOYL and am familiar with the real hourly wage.  It's a good way to consider options and wake up to hidden expenses of working, but doesn't rule every decision I make.  I could give myself a raise by moving within walking distance to work, but I don't want to leave the house I've renovated and land I've been cultivating for 6 years now (and want to stay on forever).  So I accept a lower wage.  I would ride my bike more if I FIREd tomorrow.

I see a lot of wimps around me surrounding themselves in climate-controlled comfort, minimizing any kind of physical effort.  This is a trend I try to resist.  We are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit.  I like being out in all weather, and have gear to keep me warm and dry.  I just don't know if I'm crazy for considering this.  Sometimes I go too far hoping to buck a trend.  Sometimes what people do actually makes sense.  I can't adapt to cars running into me!

Good points about safety.  Road crews are pretty good as they expect snow and ice.  It is not a hazard every time the temp goes from above freezing to below and back the other way because many times the road is dry and/or salted.  The point about drivers not expecting bikers in winter is spot on.  I'm not looking to increase medical expenses.  Or die. 

Public transit is not feasible.  The fastest possible route takes me south when I need to head NE, then out of the way for another bus change.  Kind of like flying from Ohio to Oregon with a layover in Florida.  Google transit forecasts one way is 2 minutes longer than if I rode my normal bike, and you have to wait for a bus to arrive.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2016, 03:17:18 PM »
Another option is to drive halfway, park the car, then bike (your normal bike) the rest of the way. This lets you try it out before you spend a lot of money.

honeybbq

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2016, 05:04:30 PM »
Another option is to drive halfway, park the car, then bike (your normal bike) the rest of the way. This lets you try it out before you spend a lot of money.

I'd do something like this. 22 miles is a LONG way. Some combo of bike  + car or bus would be a good compromise to start.

homestead neohio

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 06:24:06 PM »
Another option is to drive halfway, park the car, then bike (your normal bike) the rest of the way. This lets you try it out before you spend a lot of money.

I'd do something like this. 22 miles is a LONG way. Some combo of bike  + car or bus would be a good compromise to start.

There is actually a great spot to park, unload, and ride about 1/2 way to work.  Might be worth it for some testing in all weather.  Obviously does not allow me to sell 2 of 3 vehicles I currently own, but we can still go down to 2 vehicles (as planned without any biking to work).  I can get some exercise on the bike I already own and save a few bucks in gas while getting to work.  If it turns into a serious passion, I can pursue the ebike.

Take that $750/year, invest it every year for 7 years, get a 7% return, and subtract the $1500 for an e-bike and...drumroll...you're left with $5,444.85.

That might accelerate your FI date by what, a month or two? Is 500 hours/year of commuting for six years worth that to you?

These maths are not very compelling, are they?

Since the proposed bike route = my existing car route, I was picturing myself biking home this evening as I drove.  Roads were dry and no precipitation.  There was some snow on the park bike paths which were not plowed/salted.  In winter, it is dark when I leave home and nearing dark when I leave work (good thing the days are getting longer).  Committing to biking every day did not seem smart in these normal/optimal winter conditions.  It seems like it would indeed be dangerous in snowy/icy conditions.

I would be interested to hear from any hardcore bikers who brave long distances and/or all seasons if this is totally doable and I should test it.  I'm not sure I can be you, but I also want to know you exist.

kendallf

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2016, 06:50:06 PM »


These maths are not very compelling, are they?

Since the proposed bike route = my existing car route, I was picturing myself biking home this evening as I drove.  Roads were dry and no precipitation.  There was some snow on the park bike paths which were not plowed/salted.  In winter, it is dark when I leave home and nearing dark when I leave work (good thing the days are getting longer).  Committing to biking every day did not seem smart in these normal/optimal winter conditions.  It seems like it would indeed be dangerous in snowy/icy conditions.

I would be interested to hear from any hardcore bikers who brave long distances and/or all seasons if this is totally doable and I should test it.  I'm not sure I can be you, but I also want to know you exist.

I think you do need to hear from somebody who rides those kinds of distances regularly (and not on an e-bike).  I rode 21 miles one way to work for many years.  My current commute is 15 miles one way.  I do not have NE Ohio weather at home (FL) but I have ridden in freezing conditions quite a bit.  A few thoughts:

First, you made the point earlier that everyone is ignoring, that you'd like some fitness benefit.  Cycling has an enormous payback here.  I would be obese without cycling (and was well on my way when I started riding seriously). 

Secondly, don't just go and buy an expensive e-bike and try to ride 44 miles round trip to work as your first ride.  You'll likely be miserable.  Work your way up; here are some options I'd explore.  Get an inexpensive bike and ride some on the weekends and in the evenings.  Figure out what clothing is comfortable for the weather you encounter, learn to layer and accustom yourself to riding in the cold.  Even on an e-bike, there will be muscular adaptation, finding a seat you like and getting your butt used to time in the saddle, etc. 

Next, you don't have to ride the whole way, or round trip, or every day.  You can ride one way with the bike in the car, ride home, and ride back in the morning.  You can pick one (or two, or three) days a week.  You can drive part way and ride the rest.  You get the idea.. don't think it has to be all or nothing.

I will get up tomorrow and ride the bus 7 miles toward my office, then get off and bike another 8 to get in to work.  After work, I'll ride 15 home (or more, if I want to detour).  It's often the best part of my day.

Edited to add: Google's bike transit times assume you're very, very slow.  On a normal road bike with reasonable road conditions (i.e., not snowy or icy) a 15 mph average is easily attainable by reasonably fit cyclists.  If you have an e-bike with 300-500w assist, you can ride 20+ mph without pedaling, or pedaling very minimally.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 07:05:32 PM by kendallf »

Rollin

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2016, 07:28:56 PM »


These maths are not very compelling, are they?

Since the proposed bike route = my existing car route, I was picturing myself biking home this evening as I drove.  Roads were dry and no precipitation.  There was some snow on the park bike paths which were not plowed/salted.  In winter, it is dark when I leave home and nearing dark when I leave work (good thing the days are getting longer).  Committing to biking every day did not seem smart in these normal/optimal winter conditions.  It seems like it would indeed be dangerous in snowy/icy conditions.

I would be interested to hear from any hardcore bikers who brave long distances and/or all seasons if this is totally doable and I should test it.  I'm not sure I can be you, but I also want to know you exist.

I think you do need to hear from somebody who rides those kinds of distances regularly (and not on an e-bike).  I rode 21 miles one way to work for many years.  My current commute is 15 miles one way.  I do not have NE Ohio weather at home (FL) but I have ridden in freezing conditions quite a bit.  A few thoughts:

First, you made the point earlier that everyone is ignoring, that you'd like some fitness benefit.  Cycling has an enormous payback here.  I would be obese without cycling (and was well on my way when I started riding seriously). 

Secondly, don't just go and buy an expensive e-bike and try to ride 44 miles round trip to work as your first ride.  You'll likely be miserable.  Work your way up; here are some options I'd explore.  Get an inexpensive bike and ride some on the weekends and in the evenings.  Figure out what clothing is comfortable for the weather you encounter, learn to layer and accustom yourself to riding in the cold.  Even on an e-bike, there will be muscular adaptation, finding a seat you like and getting your butt used to time in the saddle, etc. 

Next, you don't have to ride the whole way, or round trip, or every day.  You can ride one way with the bike in the car, ride home, and ride back in the morning.  You can pick one (or two, or three) days a week.  You can drive part way and ride the rest.  You get the idea.. don't think it has to be all or nothing.

I will get up tomorrow and ride the bus 7 miles toward my office, then get off and bike another 8 to get in to work.  After work, I'll ride 15 home (or more, if I want to detour).  It's often the best part of my day.

Edited to add: Google's bike transit times assume you're very, very slow.  On a normal road bike with reasonable road conditions (i.e., not snowy or icy) a 15 mph average is easily attainable by reasonably fit cyclists.  If you have an e-bike with 300-500w assist, you can ride 20+ mph without pedaling, or pedaling very minimally.

Very good advice here.  I have an e-bike, commute daily on it or my other regular bikes, and enjoy the trip(s).  However, 22 miles one way would be great on occasion.  If I had to do it every day that would be tough.  My e-bike really wouldn't be bad, but it is expensive to start out.  The cost to recharge is negligible, but you also seem to get great mileage so your savings will not be fantastic.

I'd say work yourself up to it like suggested, try one day going in, but get a ride home, etc.  Take it piece at a time.

homestead neohio

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2016, 08:17:29 PM »
don't just go and buy an expensive e-bike and try to ride 44 miles round trip to work as your first ride.  You'll likely be miserable. 

I have an inexpensive bike and previously biked up to 30 miles in a day with nowhere in particular to go, but this was years ago, I did not bike the day immediately before or after a long ride, and also had no required time to arrive anywhere, like a job "start time".  I do bike some on the weekends, but that is more like 6 miles round trip in fair weather/nice days, maybe with the family along (slow pace). 

I know I'm more likely to ride if I have somewhere to go, not just for fitness.  I don't run unless something is chasing me.  Knowing I want more excercise/fitness, I'm trying to give myself someplace to go on a bike so I'll do it regularly.  My job is a likely place (since I have to go there so often), but it is so damn far away.

I think I will do the 1/2 commute on a normal bike a few times and see how that goes.  Long term doing a mix of driving/biking will add complexity and time to the commute without the $ savings of being able to ditch a vehicle, but if it is worth it in terms of joy and health, it will be welcome.  I need to find the time somewhere to get fit.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2016, 07:25:13 AM »
I see a lot of wimps around me surrounding themselves in climate-controlled comfort, minimizing any kind of physical effort.  This is a trend I try to resist.  We are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit.  I like being out in all weather, and have gear to keep me warm and dry.  I just don't know if I'm crazy for considering this.  Sometimes I go too far hoping to buck a trend.  Sometimes what people do actually makes sense.  I can't adapt to cars running into me!

You made a lot of good points in this post, but I just want to chime in and say that you shouldn't treat life as an eternal dick measuring contest. I admit that when I first started being frugal (and then found MMM), I would scoff at my friends driving brand new F150s, friends that got the new iPhone every release, friends with 4-5 tablets around the house, etc.

But life is too short man. Don't do anything to simply buck a trend and scoff at others. Especially don't start biking 44 miles round trip because other people are "wimps." Start biking solely because you want to start exercising and that you think this is the best way to get you into an exercising habit.

Late_Bloomer

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2016, 09:39:14 AM »
All I'm going to say is, 44 miles on bike is simply ridiculous. Seriously, any one who defends that is simply ignorant. Now, granted, if you lived in southern Florida or California, I'd say give it a trial run and see how it feels on a weekend, but Ohio? Your doing nothing more than deluding yourself, especially when the winter months come. Do something to reduce the amount of vehicles you own. If you are single, one, if you are a couple, two. And that depends on the circumstances. If your SO doesn't need to drive, then you have your answer. but I recall you said you had 3 vehicles. Get rid of one, or two. Bike for fun, fitness, and enjoyment. No need to bring extremism into it. 

Jack

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2016, 01:18:25 PM »
All I'm going to say is, 44 miles on bike is simply ridiculous. Seriously, any one who defends that is simply ignorant. Now, granted, if you lived in southern Florida or California, I'd say give it a trial run and see how it feels on a weekend, but Ohio? Your doing nothing more than deluding yourself, especially when the winter months come.

So do it in fucking summer instead! Seriously, between you and ReadySetMillionaire pissing on the idea just because snow exists, I'm beginning to wonder what forum I'm on.

Even if the OP can't reasonably ride in winter, or ride the whole 44-mile round trip every day, there are plenty of variations on the idea that are perfectly feasible (such as riding the other nine months of the year, for example).

KCM5

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2016, 01:56:30 PM »
You've gotten some good advice already. And some bad advice.

Just wanted to chime in there with some encouragement. It feels good to get somewhere using your own power. And the built in exercise is an excellent bonus. And winter sometimes sucks, but sometimes its awesome. I'm in Iowa, so we have similar winters.

I don't imagine you'll be able to get down to one car using solely your bike to get to work, but if you have another means (public transit, carpool, spouse drops you off) then it may be doable. Riding part of the way to work one day is a great start!


frugaliknowit

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2016, 02:15:52 PM »
I think it is too far as a pure commuting option.  You could do it as weather and your state of being allows (not sleeting and you don't have a bad cold).  I would NOT purchase the Ebike.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2016, 02:31:22 PM »
All I'm going to say is, 44 miles on bike is simply ridiculous. Seriously, any one who defends that is simply ignorant. Now, granted, if you lived in southern Florida or California, I'd say give it a trial run and see how it feels on a weekend, but Ohio? Your doing nothing more than deluding yourself, especially when the winter months come.

So do it in fucking summer instead! Seriously, between you and ReadySetMillionaire pissing on the idea just because snow exists, I'm beginning to wonder what forum I'm on.

Even if the OP can't reasonably ride in winter, or ride the whole 44-mile round trip every day, there are plenty of variations on the idea that are perfectly feasible (such as riding the other nine months of the year, for example).
LOL. I know via PM where OP lives (pretty dense suburban area). I live in suburbs that have less population density than OP. One small stretch of my 7 mile commute is on a 45 MPH road and the rest is on 35 MPH or lower roads. And I'm telling you, there is absolutely no way I could safely commute to work. It's just not possible given the infrastructure, weather, and expectations of drivers here.

OP is asking whether it's feasible to go triple the distance of my commute and, based on my experience, it's just not safe (I don't care what season it is).

But hey man, MUSTACHIANISM RAH RAH RAH. Stop it.

mies

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2016, 03:35:25 PM »
I live in the NEO too. I would just suck it up and drive in the winter especially if you are on the east side of Cuyahoga, Lake, or Geauga counties. You'll be soaked, filthy, and frozen by the time you get to work. Road salt will trash your drivetrain quickly too.

If you are stuck in traffic often, I would just try to avoid the traffic going one way (get to work early to avoid morning traffic, or leave later to avoid it in the evening).

I think 22 miles each way sounds reasonable in the spring, summer, and fall. If you don't have a lot of stops and you don't mind spending an hour+ each way, it could be a great way to improve your fitness.

Good luck!

Villanelle

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2016, 03:44:53 PM »
Another option is to drive halfway, park the car, then bike (your normal bike) the rest of the way. This lets you try it out before you spend a lot of money.

It doesn't necessarily help you get rid of a car, but it might be an option to do one way each day.  Day one, you drive in with the bike, bike home. Day 2, you bike in and drive home with the bike (or without bike so the next day would be drive in, bike home).  Repeat.  That gets you the fitness and cost saving benefits, but without quite so much time (and literal energy) spent on it.

This was husband's approach when we lived in Germany, which had winter tips close to those posted for Akron. 

kendallf

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2016, 07:16:17 PM »
So do it in fucking summer instead! Seriously, between you and ReadySetMillionaire pissing on the idea just because snow exists, I'm beginning to wonder what forum I'm on.

Even if the OP can't reasonably ride in winter, or ride the whole 44-mile round trip every day, there are plenty of variations on the idea that are perfectly feasible (such as riding the other nine months of the year, for example).
based on my experience, it's just not safe (I don't care what season it is).

I'm with Jack.  RSM, I don't believe you have any relevant experience, merely opinions.

OP, if you have any more specific cycling questions we can answer, fire away.

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2016, 08:44:15 PM »
Clevelander here (been transplanted in cbus for too long though).

I think you would be crazy to even think of this during the winter, unless it would be on the parkway 90+%. 

Try it out come spring and see if you can do it 6 months/ year. 

And go Cavs! Browns! Tribe!





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CindyBS

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2016, 08:59:19 PM »
Another Ohioan here!

My DH used to commute about that far, but only once per week.  Then he tried to work from home another day of the week.  He only did it in the summer - mainly b/c it gets dark and it is much more dangerous to ride in the dark. 

The dark is going to be more of a problem than the weather.  Look at the weather we just had in December - definitely warm enough to ride, but with only 8 hours of daylight, you would be commuting in the dark. 

I ride to work, but it is only 1.5 miles and I drive in the winter (I don't ride under 30 degrees and I don't care if that makes me a complainer).

We are a 1 car family, but borrow/babysit my parents' car in the winter (they are snowbirds).  One thing that we did that worked when we were on the fence about ditching the 2nd car is that we spent 3 months pretending we didn't have it.  It sat in the drive and I only used it when the other car was home - just so it could be run.  It made us a lot more confident about the choice before we took the plunge.

Whatever you decide - try it out first for a couple weeks/months and then you will really know.

Good luck! 

Also, as a 1 car family - Uber has been wonderful.  It is expensive to use daily, but It fills in the gap nicely here and there when needed.

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2016, 09:11:18 PM »
I also wanted to add - all snow is not equal.  We had a friend in from Colorado and he couldn't believe the snow here.  In Ohio it is not the light, fluffy, mountain, dry blow away stuff.  The sun does not come out and melt it in a few hours.  It is heavy, wet, dense and the air is humid/damp.  The snow can takes weeks/months to melt and it ices over, gets filthy dirty and makes rivers/puddles of disgusting slushy crap in the bike riding area of a street. 

Also, Lake Effect Snow events are not something to mess around with and ride a bike through.  They can be VERY dangerous - especially with cars sliding around and drivers with poor visibility from blinding snow.

I respect fellow bike riders who ride in winter, but frankly just don't buy it if someone thinks I'm a wimp for not riding through NEO snow.

MayDay

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2016, 05:23:19 AM »
Columbus here, my in laws live on the west side of Cleveland and Chagrin Falls.

I biked year round in Mpls, all weather, no special tires. My bike was destroyed by the end of one winter. Oops. Could have been helped by twice daily wipe-downs, etc but I'd worry with an expensive ebike.

I had no safety worries but Mpls is drastically more bike friendly than cleveland from what I've seen, and I was going ~5 miles each way.

Eric222

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2016, 05:59:51 AM »
It sounds like you have 2 goals:

1.  Save money by driving less
2.  Getting in better shape.

I think biking 44 miles a day to replace your commute is a tough sell/$ saved. Especially as there are going to be days that it will be a very difficult ride.

However, I think replacing part of your commute with a bike ride is an excellent idea!  It would take a bit longer, but that time would more than be offset by the exercise that you'd be getting.  I feel like my bike commute is one of the best parts of my day!  You could have that and set the distance you wanted.  The only money you'd save would be on gas, but this would be more about making yourself feel better and your commute more pleasant.  Also, no expensive e-bike required.

Come join us at the bicycle challenge thread!  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/january-cycling-challenge-2016/msg923980/#msg923980


GuitarStv

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2016, 06:30:32 AM »
All I'm going to say is, 44 miles on bike is simply ridiculous. Seriously, any one who defends that is simply ignorant. Now, granted, if you lived in southern Florida or California, I'd say give it a trial run and see how it feels on a weekend, but Ohio? Your doing nothing more than deluding yourself, especially when the winter months come. Do something to reduce the amount of vehicles you own. If you are single, one, if you are a couple, two. And that depends on the circumstances. If your SO doesn't need to drive, then you have your answer. but I recall you said you had 3 vehicles. Get rid of one, or two. Bike for fun, fitness, and enjoyment. No need to bring extremism into it.

Why can't you enjoy the fitness you get from a couple 22 mile rides in a day?

FWIW, I went on a 50 mile ride last weekend.  It was -2 and lightly snowing.  I had fun.  I have a pretty standard bike for winter riding . . . Aluminum frame, rim brakes (v-brakes), bar end shifters, studded mountain bike pedals, 32 mm tires . . . so it's not like you need ridiculously expensive specialized gear to bike in the winter.

For clothing you just need some fleece lined bib tights, tight fitting windproof pants/tights, a warm base layer, a warm fleece sweater, and a tight fitting windproof jacket. . . of course with hat, gloves, boots, and face mask.  If you live in a cold place, you've probably got most of that stuff.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2016, 07:37:01 AM »
I'm with Jack.  RSM, I don't believe you have any relevant experience, merely opinions.

OP, if you have any more specific cycling questions we can answer, fire away.

So far there are five NE Ohio posters commenting on whether biking 44 miles to work in NE Ohio is viable. Their opinions (starting with mine, which bike riders have apparently viewed as a direct attack on cycling):

OP is asking whether it's feasible to go triple the distance of my commute and, based on my experience, it's just not safe (I don't care what season it is).

I live in the NEO too. I would just suck it up and drive in the winter especially if you are on the east side of Cuyahoga, Lake, or Geauga counties. You'll be soaked, filthy, and frozen by the time you get to work. Road salt will trash your drivetrain quickly too.

...

I think 22 miles each way sounds reasonable in the spring, summer, and fall. If you don't have a lot of stops and you don't mind spending an hour+ each way, it could be a great way to improve your fitness.

Good luck!

I'll note here that OP does in fact commute to the east side of Cleveland, which has a similar lake effect pattern as Buffalo. But what do us piddly NE Ohio folk know?

Hey another NEO member here ;)

I have a 24mile drive to work and no way in hell would I bike that lol. I have built a few motorbikes and I want to build an ebike, but even with the motor help, I still wouldn't do it, specially in the winter months.

Clevelander here (been transplanted in cbus for too long though).

I think you would be crazy to even think of this during the winter, unless it would be on the parkway 90+%. 

Try it out come spring and see if you can do it 6 months/ year. 

I also wanted to add - all snow is not equal.  We had a friend in from Colorado and he couldn't believe the snow here.  In Ohio it is not the light, fluffy, mountain, dry blow away stuff.  The sun does not come out and melt it in a few hours.  It is heavy, wet, dense and the air is humid/damp.  The snow can takes weeks/months to melt and it ices over, gets filthy dirty and makes rivers/puddles of disgusting slushy crap in the bike riding area of a street. 

Also, Lake Effect Snow events are not something to mess around with and ride a bike through.  They can be VERY dangerous - especially with cars sliding around and drivers with poor visibility from blinding snow.

I respect fellow bike riders who ride in winter, but frankly just don't buy it if someone thinks I'm a wimp for not riding through NEO snow.

So it's unanimous among NE Ohio members here that biking in the winter is a bad idea. OP himself said:

Since the proposed bike route = my existing car route, I was picturing myself biking home this evening as I drove.  Roads were dry and no precipitation.  There was some snow on the park bike paths which were not plowed/salted.  In winter, it is dark when I leave home and nearing dark when I leave work (good thing the days are getting longer).  Committing to biking every day did not seem smart in these normal/optimal winter conditions.  It seems like it would indeed be dangerous in snowy/icy conditions.

So it's completely unanimous among NE Ohio members that biking in the winter in NE Ohio is not safe. Even OP thinks that after it barely snowed. All of us NE Ohio members also know that the weatherman predicts an inch or two, you go about your day, and then you go out to your car to find it buried in 6-8 inches of snow. All of us also know that we can get random snow in November and April, meaning that snow is possible six months of the year.

Long story short is that none of us are anti-biking. It's just that we don't think it's safe in the winter months. About half of us apparently think it would be okay in the other seasons, but given daylight restrictions, I'd limit that to about six months of the year (April-early October).
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 07:38:35 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

MayDay

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2016, 08:09:25 AM »
Very fair summary, RSM. 

But I am sad central OH votes don't count!

KCM5

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2016, 09:04:24 AM »

OP is asking whether it's feasible to go triple the distance of my commute and, based on my experience, it's just not safe (I don't care what season it is).


Long story short is that none of us are anti-biking. It's just that we don't think it's safe in the winter months. About half of us apparently think it would be okay in the other seasons, but given daylight restrictions, I'd limit that to about six months of the year (April-early October).

That's not actually what you said in the beginning. You said it's not safe regardless of the season. To that I say BS, to which apparently you now agree.

big_owl

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2016, 09:18:14 AM »
Pffft, 44 miles biking daily for work?  Mostly during dark in the winter?  1-2 hours each way?  Why would I ever want to do that?  That's like 2-3 hours a day just biking back and forth to work in heat/cold/traffic.

If two wheels if your goal then buy a Ninja 250 and allot 30 minutes a day to the gym if fitness is required, and keep your sanity. 

Jack

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2016, 09:24:57 AM »
If two wheels if your goal then buy a Ninja 250 and allot 30 minutes a day to the gym if fitness is required, and keep your sanity.

OP stated that he already owns a motorcycle. For all I know, a Ninja 250 might get better fuel economy or something, though.

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2016, 09:26:19 AM »
At the risk of jumping into some form of regional pissing match, I want to encourage OP to recognize the power of contending with yourself and your own mind and resistance when it comes to these challenges. What other people say you can or cannot do only affects you to the extent you let it. I live in North Dakota, commute 38 miles round trip a day in every season on a regular bike and have been told almost weekly that it can't be done or that I am crazy. I decided for myself that it could be done and how to do it safely. So while sometimes these Ask AMustachean questions and forum can be good for getting ideas, inspiration, etc., do your own determination about what is or isn't possible, likely by trying it--whatever it is--for yourself.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2016, 09:33:45 AM »
That's not actually what you said in the beginning. You said it's not safe regardless of the season. To that I say BS, to which apparently you now agree.

I still think it's not a good idea for all four seasons, but noted that half of the others thought it would be okay for six months of the year.

big_owl

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2016, 09:37:45 AM »
If two wheels if your goal then buy a Ninja 250 and allot 30 minutes a day to the gym if fitness is required, and keep your sanity.

OP stated that he already owns a motorcycle. For all I know, a Ninja 250 might get better fuel economy or something, though.

I know, but it doesn't sound commuter friendly if it gets lower gas mileage than his car.  Ninja 250 will get close to 75mpg and can hang while on the expressway easily.  Plus they're a lot of fun to wind up and race around town at sane speeds.

Janson

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2016, 10:02:54 AM »
Another NE Ohioer here. I'll buck the trend, or least my wife will. We live in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland and dropped a car when she started biking to work every day. It's a little over 8 miles a day, and with studded tires and the right winter clothes there's  very few times she's not able to bike. Cleveland drivers are, in general, assholes. But the route she takes is mostly 25 mph with some bike lanes.

I don't think the solution to the "its dangerous" argument is to say don't do it. Do it as safely as possible and try and change some minds. It would be safer than driving if everyone was biking.

However, I have a similar commute time/distance to the OP, and I've struggled to find a good route that's not highway, a bad part of town or 10 miles out of the way. Any route I would take would be longer than an hour and it's not  worth it to me to lose that much of my day.

You live here, you know what it's like. It snows, but its not Alaska. Temps are never frigid because of the lake. If you're going east to west or the reverse its hard even in a car. Drivers have no qualms about coming within a couple inches of your left elbow. I made that calculation and right now its not something i want. I bike inside on the trainer while I watch shows I was going to watch anyway. Everyone here has their opinions, but you're the only one who can make that calculation.


**EDIT - My wife read this and informed me that I miss-typed. It's 8 miles total, 4 miles each way.**
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 08:37:53 PM by Janson »

GuitarStv

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #38 on: January 07, 2016, 10:08:00 AM »
Cycling through a bad part of town might not be that big a deal if you're a guy.  I cycle through a bad part of town to get to work and home, and have for several years and nobody ever hassles me.  My wife has had some bad experiences on the same route though and won't cycle there.

homestead neohio

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2016, 10:37:00 AM »
...but frankly just don't buy it if someone thinks I'm a wimp for not riding through NEO snow.
The wimps I was referring to want a climate controlled life, constantly 72F, believe they will melt if any precipitation hits them, and drive to the end of their driveway just to get the morning paper.  I unfortunately see that everywhere.  I wouldn't consider someone a wimp for having a legitimate safety concern and making an informed choice. 

There is a surprising amount of local variation in snowfall here, especially since it is not mountainous.  I'm east of Cleveland, but not 'snow belt', and even what they call snow belt here (Chardon) is not Buffalo. 

Very fair summary, RSM. 

But I am sad central OH votes don't count!
Columbus here, my in laws live on the west side of Cleveland and Chagrin Falls.

I biked year round in Mpls, all weather, no special tires. My bike was destroyed by the end of one winter. Oops. Could have been helped by twice daily wipe-downs, etc but I'd worry with an expensive ebike.

I had no safety worries but Mpls is drastically more bike friendly than cleveland from what I've seen, and I was going ~5 miles each way.
I'm not really looking for votes, MayDay, but rather points to consider from experienced folks, just what you provided.

At the risk of jumping into some form of regional pissing match, I want to encourage OP to recognize the power of contending with yourself and your own mind and resistance when it comes to these challenges. What other people say you can or cannot do only affects you to the extent you let it. I live in North Dakota, commute 38 miles round trip a day in every season on a regular bike and have been told almost weekly that it can't be done or that I am crazy. I decided for myself that it could be done and how to do it safely. So while sometimes these Ask AMustachean questions and forum can be good for getting ideas, inspiration, etc., do your own determination about what is or isn't possible, likely by trying it--whatever it is--for yourself.

I agree with this.  There are so many things I already do and enjoy that many people think are crazy or impossible.  Bicycle commuting would be an extension of this perspective on life, but I'm not going to decide to do it just because people say it can't be done, or shouldn't.  Hence my original questions about am I crazy or would I like it, which I realize I have to answer.  There is no harm in starting and seeing how it goes.

I'm going to give the 1/2 way ride a shot after a few shorter winter rides.  The parking lot I'm considering driving to is 9.75 miles from work (slightly less than half of the commute).  Not sure how soon, but I won't wait for spring, I'll just be picky about weather and road condition.  I adjusted and lubed my bike last night and all is well.  Today I'm scoping out a place I could store the bike inside at work.  Drivers not expecting cyclists during the commute is still a big concern.  I'll pick up some lights to mount to the bike so I can be seen easily and wear a headlamp I already have.  I'll don a bright reflective vest since my windproof gear is dark.  Since the part I'll be biking is the second half in the morning, and the first half in the evening, I will have more daylight on my side than if it was the other way around.

GuitarStv,
I appreciate your guidance on what to wear.  I have all that gear available to me for nothing.

Any other tips from actual bike commuters regarding winter riding on roads at their busiest?

GuitarStv

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2016, 11:43:59 AM »
Any other tips from actual bike commuters regarding winter riding on roads at their busiest?

I ride to work in the winter.

Visibility is key, as it's going to be dark often while you're on the road.  Reflective stuff is most visible when it's pitch black out, florescent stuff is most visible when it's low light conditions.

- Put reflective tape on your winter bike (crank arms, between the spokes on the wheel, on the chainstays.)
- Use a reflective jacket (or a reflective safety vest over your jacket), reflective ankle bands, reflective patches on your panniers, reflective tape applied to the back of your helmet.  Ideally you want to be using a fluorescent jacket of some kind.
- Two bright tail lights on the rear in case one goes out (you don't ever want to be cycling at night without rear lights, especially in the winter).  I've had good luck with Planet Bike's Superflash Turbo lights, and with the Cygolight Hot Shot.  Both are pretty cheap and very bright.  Your choice of headlight will depend on whether or not there are pitch black areas that you're cycling through or if street lights light your route.

It's frigging miserable changing a tire or trying to make a repair when it's cold and snowing, and you're wet.  Flat proof tires, or tire liners are worth checking out so that punctures are less common.  You will hit potholes and bad road sections in the dark and hidden by the slush/snow.  Get yourself bombproof wheels, particularly the rear wheel.  You want a minimum of 32 spokes on your wheels (ideally 36).  When you break a spoke on a low spoke count wheel, you are fucked.  Breaking one on a 32 spoke wheel you can ride back home . . . (at worst you might have to release the brake to prevent rubbing).  On a 36 spoke wheel, you can ride back home and will still be able to use your brake.

When riding in fresh snow, stay in the ruts created by cars.  This does a few things . . . it gives you a better grip on the road so less chance of wiping out.  It makes you more visible to cars behind you (and they have to fully clear the lane to get around you, so there's less close passing).  It gives you a better idea of where the road is (sometimes the curb can be totally hidden under snow, and you don't want to bounce off that), and it makes it much easier to pedal.

When riding in deep snow or on ice, this is one of those rare times where you don't want to use your front brake much or turn suddenly.  It's too easy to lose traction on the front which almost always leads to a hard crash.  Stop well in advance, reduce your speed well before you take a corner, and get to know your route so that you're aware of as many hazards as you can be before you come on to them.

KCM5

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #41 on: January 07, 2016, 12:00:39 PM »
^^ Listen to him!

Also, I use a studded front tire and a normal rear tire. I used to use studded on both, but I found that too slow. My commute is way shorter than yours, so you may find even a studded front tire is too much. But I find it to be a good compromise and really makes a difference when its icy out. It's easier to recover if your rear wheel slips than if your front wheel slips, so that's why I use a studded front wheel. The rear wheel is where your power comes from, so the extra drag from the studs does make a bit of a difference. It's so much easier for me to get my 60 lb bike up the hill when I don't have a studded tire on the back.

stashmeister1

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2016, 02:43:11 PM »
I also live in Ohio.  Crazy how many of us there are here!

I have a really similar commute but more country roads.  I wouldn't risk it, mostly because of reasons stated above by fellow NEOhioans.  I grew up in the snow belt part of NEO (east of CLE) and no way would I touch that commute on bike October-April.  The weather is too unpredictable. 

Having a motorcycle in Ohio is fairly wasteful in terms of cutting down fuel expense (sorry, been there and done that) since you can't ride it for more than 50% of the year.  Even if you bought a used Ninja 250 ($2,000?) it would take you awhile to earn back that money in gas savings.

Anyways, I don't have much to add.  Be safe out there!  Go Browns/Tribe/Cavs!


GuitarStv

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2016, 05:35:14 PM »

Avoid busy streets.  My favorite type of street are non busy side roads and trails.  Even if you make your trip a couple of miles longer it's well worth it because you minimize stress due to flat tires, angry drivers, and chance of accidents.

^^ Listen to him!

Also, I use a studded front tire and a normal rear tire. I used to use studded on both, but I found that too slow. My commute is way shorter than yours, so you may find even a studded front tire is too much. But I find it to be a good compromise and really makes a difference when its icy out. It's easier to recover if your rear wheel slips than if your front wheel slips, so that's why I use a studded front wheel. The rear wheel is where your power comes from, so the extra drag from the studs does make a bit of a difference. It's so much easier for me to get my 60 lb bike up the hill when I don't have a studded tire on the back.

It's kinda counter-intuitive, but I prefer very busy streets in the winter because they tend to get salted and plowed faster after snowfall, and they're usually more than one lane each direction which means people can pass me more easily.  Side streets can have so much snow that it's hard to make your way through them, and when the snowbanks pile up people will often close pass you.

Russ

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2016, 03:35:32 AM »
Not sure why everyone is taking a big dump on OP's aspirations, I thought this was a place where we tried to make difficult things work instead of shutting them down.

I lived in NE Ohio for all but the last 3 years of my life. The weather is no worse than anywhere else in the States, maybe a bit more snow than some places but then also warmer and less windy than much of the Midwest. Definitely possible to cycle safely 95+% of days in the year

Problems and solutions:
Darkness -> lights and reflectors
Slippery roads -> narrow, knobby, studded tires
Cold -> proper clothing
Distance -> drive one way, cycle home, then cycle in and drive home (benefits compared to other methods: clothes are always fresh/dry, better ride time : prep time ratio, practice not having a car in the evenings)
The one day a month it dumps 12"? -> hop in your cage and drive both ways! Giving winter cycling a try doesn't mean you have to ride every fucking day no matter what. Speaking of extremism, stop terrorizing yourself with the idea of an honestly pretty rare event and just give riding a try for a couple days

It doesn't seem that the NEO posters here actually have much experience winter cycling. Of course they'll say it's impossible. I, guitarstv, Phil in Yellowknife Canada and a bunch of others have done it in far worse. Prepare thoroughly and there's nothing that should stop you
« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 08:13:31 AM by Russ »

mskyle

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #45 on: January 08, 2016, 07:46:50 AM »
I think doing this every day all year is probably unrealistic for the vast majority of people, but if you start by doing it one day a week on your existing bike (try the nicest day weather-wise) and that goes well, you can go from there. It's probably better to get started by buying $50-100 worth of high-quality lights for your existing bike than it is to shell out for an e-bike. Seriously, you can't have too many lights.

One of my coworkers cycle-commutes 16 miles each way every day all year round in Massachusetts, and often does a quick out-and-back ride before he gets started on the actual commute. He's a real cycling enthusiast, though - he cycles because he loves it. I am not a particular cycling enthusiast, but my RT is only about 7 miles, and I was able to do it almost all of last year (I don't do deep standing snow and I don't like making turns onto busy streets when the snowbanks are too tall to see over).

I don't know about motorcycling, but we have a 50cc motor scooter and I find it WAY too cold to ride the scooter already, even though I'm perfectly comfortable on the bike. Sitting still exposed to the wind is really, really cold. I guess if you have the right clothes (I'm not willing to put on a snowmobile suit to run errands!).

big_owl

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #46 on: January 08, 2016, 02:53:07 PM »
I think doing this every day all year is probably unrealistic for the vast majority of people, but if you start by doing it one day a week on your existing bike (try the nicest day weather-wise) and that goes well, you can go from there. It's probably better to get started by buying $50-100 worth of high-quality lights for your existing bike than it is to shell out for an e-bike. Seriously, you can't have too many lights.

One of my coworkers cycle-commutes 16 miles each way every day all year round in Massachusetts, and often does a quick out-and-back ride before he gets started on the actual commute. He's a real cycling enthusiast, though - he cycles because he loves it. I am not a particular cycling enthusiast, but my RT is only about 7 miles, and I was able to do it almost all of last year (I don't do deep standing snow and I don't like making turns onto busy streets when the snowbanks are too tall to see over).

I don't know about motorcycling, but we have a 50cc motor scooter and I find it WAY too cold to ride the scooter already, even though I'm perfectly comfortable on the bike. Sitting still exposed to the wind is really, really cold. I guess if you have the right clothes (I'm not willing to put on a snowmobile suit to run errands!).

Heated gear is where it's at.  I motorcycle to work most of the year as along as road conditions are safe and can go down to subzero without much issue as long as I have my heated vest and gloves. 

act0fgod

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #47 on: January 08, 2016, 07:47:51 PM »
Something that hasn't been discussed is the facilities required at your destination to make this work.  You'll need to have a safe place to store the bike so it doesn't get stolen (I had a bike stolen when locked at work).  More importantly what will your hygiene requirements be like after riding for 2 hours in bad weather.  If you are going to need to shower are there public showers?  Are you going to be able to store your hygiene items.  Are you going to ride with these things every day?  Are there places to store your wet riding gear? 

Last how firm is your start time for work?  If it's really firm you better plan for contingencies and give yourself a bit of a buffer.  The longer the ride the bigger the buffer.  Flat tires aren't uncommon and weather can really slow you down (wind, rain that may flood areas, and snow).

Jakejake

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #48 on: January 08, 2016, 09:18:06 PM »
I bike about 24 miles round trip in Michigan. I wimp out and drive when my route is icy or has packed snow because I don't have appropriate tires for that. It doesn't seem worth investing in them now, when I only have maybe two months of snow to deal with - possibly as few as 10-20 snowy work commutes - and I'm retiring this summer.

I'm pathetically slow, so it takes over an hour each way for me - where you might be faster. I'm a 51 year old woman, so I'm just feeling awesome that I'm out there doing it, but I am aware that many people on strava are twice as fast as me.

During the shortest days, I often have about an hour of my commute in the dark. I have a good tail light, a head light, a light on my helmet, reflectors all over, and an obnoxious green/reflective vest. I switch the head light to strobe mode when waiting to cross a busy intersection.

My best tip for winter riding - Pitzips. I can't even imagine wearing a winter or spring coat now that doesn't let me vent the underarms. After that, layers, and alternate gear that you can access easily. Monday I had an hour ride at 12 F, and I had the armpit vents of my coat fully unzipped, and had to unzip the front of the coat some. I was wearing a headband and hat, and my helmet has a liner. I had to stop and remove the hat halfway to work because I was too warm. And I had multiple gloves with me; when the thick ones got sweaty I was able to grab lighter ones and swap out.

Last year I was dependent on homemade electric foot warmers, but this year I invested in (used from Craigslist) boots that are about 4 sizes too large, and I have a layer of foam (from a gift box of oranges) underneath some thick insoles, more fruit foam filling the toe, and room for two thick pairs of wool socks. With that, even at 12, I didn't need the foot warmers. With pogies, like I said, the thick gloves were too much.

Also, I use anti-fogging ski goggles, and a neoprene half face mask. I know balaclavas are popular but the problem I have with them is the bike helmet needs to be buckled over them. When I do that, my breath is directed up and I still have problems with goggles getting fogged up. With a half face mask I can put on the helmet first and then the mask. Then exhaled breath is directed more down toward my neck, instead of up at my eyes/goggles.

Erica

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Re: Can I really bike to work (44 miles round trip) in NE Ohio?
« Reply #49 on: January 08, 2016, 11:14:06 PM »
I think you eventually should get in shape so you can ride to work a few days a week WITHOUT any motor involved

This means buying a very good bicycle upfront.

Until then, I would drive my car and park somewhere. Then ride to work the rest of the way.

Making the ride a bit longer..then a bit longer... as you are comfortable.

You should eventually be able to leave from the house a few days a week, at least.

Buy a GOOD used bicycle first from a local bicycle shop. Otherwise biking isn't fun unless it;s a good quality bike.

Your local Bike shop can answer your questions about your route.

Cycling will very likely prolong your life. Also offer a better quality life. Better bones and better overall health.