Author Topic: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat  (Read 16364 times)

SeaKayEl

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #200 on: August 03, 2018, 04:25:19 AM »
Finally I did it! Rode my bike to work for the first time this year. A good portion of the ride is through the woods on trails and I got a little lost so it ended up taking about 20 mins longer than it should have but I did it and I don't mind having the extra time outside in the woods anyway. The ride should be about 8.5 miles but I think I probably added a half mile to that. On the way home I'm going a different way so I can stop by the grocery store.

haypug!
What trails/routes do you use? 
I live in Bedford and have been commuting to work (in Lexington) since November.
I don’t bike into Boston too often but use the Minuteman most of the way in to Alewife and then fan off from there.

My route to work takes me through the Fellsway reservation. I go from Malden to Woburn. About 40-50% of the ride is in the woods and the rest is on fairly low traffic areas.

Mr Pug and I ride the minuteman trail (and extension) sometimes to get out to Concord. We've even done the Minuteman to the Bedford to Billerica trail before. It was a nice ride but some parts were really close to the highway (as in the overpass!)

That sounds great how much of your ride is through the woods!

I’ve rode to/through Concord a handful of times—I love the look of the town center and surrounding houses.  My favorite town to ride in and around is Carlisle—the road conditions are terrible but I really love the houses and scenery.  Also there is a farm store in the town center right on the rotary that is a cyclist magnet!  I’ve never not seen a handful of cyclists there when I go by...I stopped in there once to check out the draw to the place.  I didn’t buy a thing but I hung out on a rocking chair on the front porch for a bit people watching!

MoneyMouse

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #201 on: August 03, 2018, 08:39:18 AM »
Question for some folks - what should I bring/get when I'm about to bike in the rain?

I don't have any real raincoats or anything, so I'm starting from scratch.
I have travel pants that I like to wear riding, but I'm not sure if they're waterproof.

I have tested my panniers when I got caught in a deluge a few weeks back - fortunately, everything stayed dry and protected.

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #202 on: August 03, 2018, 08:53:00 AM »
Question for some folks - what should I bring/get when I'm about to bike in the rain?

I don't have any real raincoats or anything, so I'm starting from scratch.
I have travel pants that I like to wear riding, but I'm not sure if they're waterproof.

I have tested my panniers when I got caught in a deluge a few weeks back - fortunately, everything stayed dry and protected.

You don't need anything waterproof to cycle in the rain.  Being wet for a little while won't kill you.  Just wear clothing that is weather appropriate so you don't get chilled.  If you're worried about clothing that you're bringing getting wet, wrap it in a plastic bag for extra insurance.

MoneyMouse

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #203 on: August 03, 2018, 09:00:28 AM »
Thanks, GuitarStv. :)

That's true.
I'm gonna have to figure out what clothing won't get me chilled. Where I live, rain is often accompanied by really cold winds.

I bought some water resistant zippered pack bags that I tend to keep my clothes in, so they should be fine.

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #204 on: August 03, 2018, 09:22:44 AM »
Thanks, GuitarStv. :)

That's true.
I'm gonna have to figure out what clothing won't get me chilled. Where I live, rain is often accompanied by really cold winds.

I bought some water resistant zippered pack bags that I tend to keep my clothes in, so they should be fine.

Just stay away from cotton.  Soaking wet cotton when it's cold is worse than being naked.  Most synthetic type sweaters and sweat-wicking sorts of shirts will stay warmer.  Wool is also great when wet.

hadabeardonce

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #205 on: August 03, 2018, 04:32:51 PM »
I got some overshoes for the next time it rains. Last time I got caught in a downpour and went through some puddles, my shoes filled up with water. That wasn't much fun. Lights are a must for safety.

Are there any recommendations on overall reach? I've been playing with different positions, moving the stem up and down, flipping the stem, slightly angling the bars, but wasn't sure if there's a formula or measurement I could use to determine where my grip on the hoods should be. I even saw some different bars with other reach sizes(85mm,100mm), compact drops, shallow drops... My current bars are 42cm wide and I was thinking of 40cm. I've ridden 4 days in a row to work on the bike, feeling fine after, but I'm trying to improve how I feel during the ride. I bet I just need to focus more on relaxing my arms, grip, etc.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 04:43:08 PM by hadabeardonce »

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #206 on: August 03, 2018, 05:52:23 PM »
I got some overshoes for the next time it rains. Last time I got caught in a downpour and went through some puddles, my shoes filled up with water. That wasn't much fun. Lights are a must for safety.

Are there any recommendations on overall reach? I've been playing with different positions, moving the stem up and down, flipping the stem, slightly angling the bars, but wasn't sure if there's a formula or measurement I could use to determine where my grip on the hoods should be. I even saw some different bars with other reach sizes(85mm,100mm), compact drops, shallow drops... My current bars are 42cm wide and I was thinking of 40cm. I've ridden 4 days in a row to work on the bike, feeling fine after, but I'm trying to improve how I feel during the ride. I bet I just need to focus more on relaxing my arms, grip, etc.

Reach is a tricky one because there are so many ways to change it.  It seems like everything will throw reach off.

Wider bars shorten reach.
Raising your saddle increases reach.
Lowering your bars increases reach.
Saddle fore/aft changes reach.
Every bar has a different reach.
Reach to the drops is different than reach to the hoods, and changes a lot between bars.
You can change stem length to change reach.
The more your stem is angled up, the shorter your reach.

The best way to figure stuff out is to keep riding and adjusting things until you find a setup that you like and that's comfy.  My rule of thumb is to rest my hands on the hoods and hold my forearms parallel to the ground.  Your upper arm should be close to vertical (lower elbow no more than a half inch forward of this) if reach is about right.

It's only after big rides that I end up tinkering with position.  I can comfortably ride almost any bike for an hour.  On a two hour ride little things might start to annoy me.  On a four hour ride you'll know for sure if something is wrong with your fit.

:P

hadabeardonce

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #207 on: August 06, 2018, 05:59:04 PM »
Reach is a tricky one because there are so many ways to change it.  It seems like everything will throw reach off.

Wider bars shorten reach.
Raising your saddle increases reach.
Lowering your bars increases reach.
Saddle fore/aft changes reach.
Every bar has a different reach.
Reach to the drops is different than reach to the hoods, and changes a lot between bars.
You can change stem length to change reach.
The more your stem is angled up, the shorter your reach.

The best way to figure stuff out is to keep riding and adjusting things until you find a setup that you like and that's comfy.  My rule of thumb is to rest my hands on the hoods and hold my forearms parallel to the ground.  Your upper arm should be close to vertical (lower elbow no more than a half inch forward of this) if reach is about right.

It's only after big rides that I end up tinkering with position.  I can comfortably ride almost any bike for an hour.  On a two hour ride little things might start to annoy me.  On a four hour ride you'll know for sure if something is wrong with your fit.

:P
My bike and I abide by your rule of thumb and I've had comfortable rides since my last post, so the stem/handlebar/saddle position game is over. Gracias for your guidance.

Local shops wanted $30-$55 to true my front wheel and I would have had to wait like five days, so I picked up my own truing stand over the weekend. Wheels are looking good, which allowed the brakes to get more dialed in. I have some new calipers and catridge style pads+holders en route to finish off the bike. It's amazing how much work can go into bring a used bicycle up to snuff. Bar tape, saddle, stem, pedals, front & rear derailleur adjustment, chain lube, tires, tubes, etc. It should be a good bike for a long time and require very little maintenance after all this though.

*adds a spoke tensiometer to his Christmas list*

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #208 on: August 07, 2018, 08:46:16 AM »
Oooh, once you get a tensiometer it's time to do some wheelbuilding!  Start checking out sales on hubs and rims in the fall, you can build them over the winter and have an awesome new wheelset for the spring.


:P



Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #209 on: August 07, 2018, 09:06:35 AM »
Gonna pop in here in the hopes of giving myself some motivation.  I'm trying to work up to being able to bike to work (4 miles).  I started out with biking errands I usually walk, so 1-2 miles round-trip, and every time I've had to walk the bike back at least some of the way.  I live at the top of a hill, so that's part of the problem... I'm having trouble convincing myself to bike on my errands, when it's so much easier and less painful to walk, especially in the 90F heat.

Any advice on motivation to keep biking?

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #210 on: August 07, 2018, 09:22:09 AM »
Gonna pop in here in the hopes of giving myself some motivation.  I'm trying to work up to being able to bike to work (4 miles).  I started out with biking errands I usually walk, so 1-2 miles round-trip, and every time I've had to walk the bike back at least some of the way.  I live at the top of a hill, so that's part of the problem... I'm having trouble convincing myself to bike on my errands, when it's so much easier and less painful to walk, especially in the 90F heat.

Any advice on motivation to keep biking?

If it's easier and less painful to walk, there's something REALLY REALLY wrong going on.

Stuff to check:
- Is your saddle too low?  A low saddle robs your legs of power.  Put your heels on the pedals and spin them backwards.  You should just barely be able to contact the pedals at the bottom of each stroke without leaning your body from side to side on the saddle.  (This usually means that it's not possible to stay on the saddle and put a foot on the ground on each side of the bike.)
- Are you using your gearing correctly?  Pick an easy gear.  No, easier than that one.  Easier than that one.  Pick the easiest gear on your bike.  Now spin up the hill moving your legs quickly rather than grinding away slowly.  It will feel weird and like your legs are moving way too fast initially.  This takes pressure off your knees, and will reduce muscle pain (it will work your heart and cardiovascular system harder though).
- How are you carrying stuff on your bike?  If you're dangling goods from plastic bags on the handles it can make your bike really hard to control (and kinda dangerous).  Do you have a rack, or a backpack that you can use instead?
- Does your bike fit?  Are you on a frame that's way too big or way too small for you?  Is your saddle uncomfortable?  Does your back hurt?  Do your hands hurt?
- Are you brakes dragging?  Are your bearings spinning nicely?  Is your chain oiled?  All of this stuff makes it harder to cycle.
- Do you have a ridiculous or crap bike?  City/Dutch style bikes are great if you live in Holland.  If you live in a place with hills, they kinda suck . . . because they weigh a ton and don't have much gearing range.  Most cheap department store mountain bikes weigh a ton (although they've usually got a reasonably wide gearing range).  All children's bikes weigh a ton (my son's bike weighs as much as mine . . . and he's like three and a half ft tall).


You should be moving faster and easier on a bike . . . which should provide all the motivation you need to keep going!  2 miles is nothing, even when hilly that's like a 10 - 15 minute easy ride if all the above is addressed.

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #211 on: August 07, 2018, 12:04:00 PM »
Gonna pop in here in the hopes of giving myself some motivation.  I'm trying to work up to being able to bike to work (4 miles).  I started out with biking errands I usually walk, so 1-2 miles round-trip, and every time I've had to walk the bike back at least some of the way.  I live at the top of a hill, so that's part of the problem... I'm having trouble convincing myself to bike on my errands, when it's so much easier and less painful to walk, especially in the 90F heat.

Any advice on motivation to keep biking?

If it's easier and less painful to walk, there's something REALLY REALLY wrong going on.

Stuff to check:
- Is your saddle too low?  A low saddle robs your legs of power.  Put your heels on the pedals and spin them backwards.  You should just barely be able to contact the pedals at the bottom of each stroke without leaning your body from side to side on the saddle.  (This usually means that it's not possible to stay on the saddle and put a foot on the ground on each side of the bike.)  I'll recheck tonight, but I had set it as high as I could and still reach the pedals
- Are you using your gearing correctly?  Pick an easy gear.  No, easier than that one.  Easier than that one.  Pick the easiest gear on your bike.  Now spin up the hill moving your legs quickly rather than grinding away slowly.  It will feel weird and like your legs are moving way too fast initially.  This takes pressure off your knees, and will reduce muscle pain (it will work your heart and cardiovascular system harder though).Even on the easiest gear, it's still hard to get up the hill.
- How are you carrying stuff on your bike?  If you're dangling goods from plastic bags on the handles it can make your bike really hard to control (and kinda dangerous).  Do you have a rack, or a backpack that you can use instead?  Carrying in a backpack or on a rack
- Does your bike fit?  Are you on a frame that's way too big or way too small for you?  Is your saddle uncomfortable?  Does your back hurt?  Do your hands hurt?  It's not uncomfortable, and nothing's hurting beyond being really sore the next day
- Are you brakes dragging?  Are your bearings spinning nicely?  Is your chain oiled?  All of this stuff makes it harder to cycle.  I don't know how to check those things, but I took it to a bike shop for new tires last month, and they did a courtesy check
- Do you have a ridiculous or crap bike?  City/Dutch style bikes are great if you live in Holland.  If you live in a place with hills, they kinda suck . . . because they weigh a ton and don't have much gearing range.  Most cheap department store mountain bikes weigh a ton (although they've usually got a reasonably wide gearing range).  All children's bikes weigh a ton (my son's bike weighs as much as mine . . . and he's like three and a half ft tall).  Maybe?  It's an old Huffy, but the bike shop guy said it's a pretty good bike

You should be moving faster and easier on a bike . . . which should provide all the motivation you need to keep going!  2 miles is nothing, even when hilly that's like a 10 - 15 minute easy ride if all the above is addressed.

Downhill is great, I just coast most of the way there, and even coming back it's probably faster than walking, but it's a lot more sweat and effort and soreness to pay for that speed.

Addressed your comments above.  I'll double check the fit tonight, but as far as the bike itself goes, I did have a local bike shop look over it, and they said everything was working fine except the front shifter, which (in their opinion) I shouldn't need just riding around town.  I'm sure the bike isn't particularly light, but it should be rideable.

Most of the exercise I've gotten the last year or more has been walking, and I never carried much muscle anyway, so working a different set of muscles to bike feels a lot harder than just walking the mile.

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #212 on: August 07, 2018, 12:12:40 PM »
Ah, a Huffy.

The bike can be made ridiable, but it's probably never going to be fun (particularly when climbing hills).  The combination of the very heavy bike and general lack of strength might be the problem.

Focus on rule #5?

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #213 on: August 07, 2018, 12:21:25 PM »
Ah, a Huffy.

The bike can be made ridiable, but it's probably never going to be fun (particularly when climbing hills).  The combination of the very heavy bike and general lack of strength might be the problem.

Focus on rule #5?

Well, yeah.  I'm working on that.  Which is why I said I had a motivation problem, I never thought it was a technique problem.  Any advice on motivation?

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #214 on: August 07, 2018, 12:32:06 PM »
Go on longer bike rides.  Use the bike to go distances that you could never go by walking alone.  Keep track of the total distance you've gone each week, and try to beat it the next week.  Time yourself climbing your hill to get home each day and chart progress.  Try to ride with other people when you can.  Make small goals "I want to get up that hill without walking this time" and then make bigger goals "I'm going to go up and down that hill twice today".  Work your way up to "I'm going to ride 100 miles on my bike today".  Watch your body transform as you make it into a lean, mean, bike riding machine.

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #215 on: August 07, 2018, 12:50:48 PM »
I'm sorry, maybe I'm in the wrong thread.  I want to be able to bike to work to reduce my reliance on the car, not because I want to fit more biking into my week.  Biking is transportation and exercise for me, not a hobby.  I don't want to ride 100 miles in a day, ever.  I know a lot of people love to bike, but I'm not one of them.  I actually kinda dislike it, I just hate driving way more.

Honestly, your advice to go a distance I can't get by walking sounds like a great way to get stranded somewhere with no way home.

And the more I'm thinking about it (stewing about it?) the more I'm bothered by your previous comment about Rule #5.  I come here for help wanting to bike, because right now I don't want to bike, and your response is to toughen up?  I'm sure you didn't mean it like that, but it's kinda doing the opposite of giving me more motivation.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood, don't mind me.  I'll just go somewhere else.

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #216 on: August 07, 2018, 01:25:40 PM »
If you dislike riding a bike, I'm not sure that there's anything that anyone can possibly say that will convince you otherwise.  If riding your bike is misery, then walk.  Or use a scooter.  Roller blades.  Skateboard.  Pogo stick.  Unicycle.  Get an e-bike so you don't have to pedal.  Life is too short to force yourself to do stuff that you hate.  That's fine.  Everyone has different tastes and preferences.

As far as the rule #5 thing . . . You're starting out on a path to self improvement.  You have a long way to go.  It's a mistake pretending that it's always going to be easy.  Anything worth doing in life is going to be a bit of a struggle.  It's going to be tough.  There will be times where you're hurting and have to keep going.  There will be times when it's pouring freezing rain, there's a wild headwind, and you're miles from home.  There will be times when the hill beats you, when your bike breaks down on you, when you crash and lose some skin.  You are capable of overcoming all of those challenges.  Doing so will make you stronger and more resilient.  You'll be able to draw satisfaction from the fact that you were able to motivate yourself through the hard parts, and when you get one of those fun bits of cycling (the gorgeous sunny days, the downhill sections, the many little oddities and adventures that you find) you will know that you've really earned them.

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #217 on: August 07, 2018, 01:44:57 PM »
If you dislike riding a bike, I'm not sure that there's anything that anyone can possibly say that will convince you otherwise.  If riding your bike is misery, then walk.  Or use a scooter.  Roller blades.  Skateboard.  Pogo stick.  Unicycle.  Get an e-bike so you don't have to pedal.  Life is too short to force yourself to do stuff that you hate.  That's fine.  Everyone has different tastes and preferences.

I dislike driving a car, too, but I do that every damn day without complaint.  Walking, or roller blades, or a pogo stick will never make an effective replacement for getting to work.  Isn't that what this thread is supposed to be about, biking to work?  It's about transportation to a place I need to go, to make the money to support my life.  If life is too short to do things I hate, I shouldn't be driving either, or going to work at all for that matter.  Given that I need to get there, a bike might well be the least objectionable option.  If I could get that far, which I currently can't.

Walking is more pleasant, which is why I have trouble motivating myself to ride shorter distances, but I'll never be able to go 4 miles if I don't practice going 2 miles.  That's why I need help with motivation.  Is that really so strange?  I'm not asking for some magic words to make me like biking.  Just trying to find a reason to do it anyway, like any other chore.

Quote
As far as the rule #5 thing . . . You're starting out on a path to self improvement.  You have a long way to go.  It's a mistake pretending that it's always going to be easy.  Anything worth doing in life is going to be a bit of a struggle.  It's going to be tough.  There will be times where you're hurting and have to keep going.  There will be times when it's pouring freezing rain, there's a wild headwind, and you're miles from home.  There will be times when the hill beats you, when your bike breaks down on you, when you crash and lose some skin.  You are capable of overcoming all of those challenges.  Doing so will make you stronger and more resilient.  You'll be able to draw satisfaction from the fact that you were able to motivate yourself through the hard parts, and when you get one of those fun bits of cycling (the gorgeous sunny days, the downhill sections, the many little oddities and adventures that you find) you will know that you've really earned them.

I know it's not going to be easy, but you're mistaken that my goal is self-improvement.  My goal is to be able to get to work without burning fossil fuels.  I'm not doing it for the sunny days, the downhills, and the other 'fun bits,' though I'm sure I will come to enjoy them with time.  I just can't use those as the motivation to get through the hard parts, because that's not the point for me.

So what, I just give up and drive because biking isn't inherently enjoyable to me?  That's a hell of a cop-out.  Pretty anti-mustachian, too.

More importantly, Rule #5 is not "Keep working at it, it'll all be worth it when you get through."  It's "Harden the fuck up."  Telling someone with a motivation problem to suck it up is not exactly motivating.

Arbitrage

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #218 on: August 07, 2018, 02:03:02 PM »
It was mentioned briefly, but try an e-bike.  Go to a store and give it a spin.  It should solve your hill problems (unless these are epic hills, at which point the e-bike could be worse due to weight and insufficient torque to overcome gearing and said weight). 

You might enjoy riding more, too.  My e-bike is a blast to ride, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.  There are options for conversion kits, as well as prices all about the spectrum if you end up wanting to proceed with it, but don't want to spend too much. 

Regarding fossil fuels (since you state that as motivation), I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations based upon my experience, and my carbon output is lower on my e-bike than it would be on a regular bike.  The electricity used emits less carbon than the food production that goes into the extra calories I would need on a regular bike.  Part of this might be particular to my situation, as I live in CA and the electricity produced here is fairly carbon-friendly.  Still, the electricity consumed is basically negligible.  About 1 kWh for 80 miles for me; I do burn extra calories as well on the e-bike, but not as many as I would on a regular bike.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 02:08:33 PM by Arbitrage »

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #219 on: August 07, 2018, 02:12:13 PM »
It was mentioned briefly, but try an e-bike.  Go to a store and give it a spin.  It should solve your hill problems (unless these are epic hills, at which point the e-bike could be worse due to weight and insufficient torque to overcome gearing and said weight). 

You might enjoy riding more, too.  My e-bike is a blast to ride, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.  There are options for conversion kits, as well as prices all about the spectrum if you end up wanting to proceed with it, but don't want to spend too much. 

Regarding fossil fuels (since you state that as motivation), I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations based upon my experience, and my carbon output is lower on my e-bike than it would be on a regular bike.  The electricity used emits less carbon than the food production that goes into the extra calories I would need on a regular bike.  Part of this might be particular to my situation, as I live in CA and the electricity produced here is fairly carbon-friendly.  Still, the electricity consumed is basically negligible.  About 1 kWh for 80 miles for me; I do burn extra calories as well on the e-bike, but not as many as I would on a regular bike.

Thanks for weighing in.  I was hoping not to spend any more on the bike, at least until I know I'll actually use it enough to justify the expense, but maybe I should just bite the bullet.

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #220 on: August 07, 2018, 02:19:11 PM »
If life is too short to do things I hate, I shouldn't be driving either, or going to work at all for that matter.

Agreed.  Find a job that you don't hate within walking distance of a place you can rent.

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #221 on: August 07, 2018, 02:25:12 PM »

Agreed.  Find a job that you don't hate within walking distance of a place you can rent.

Are you being unhelpful on purpose?  We both know life's not that easy.  For instance, where I live isn't determined by my job alone, it also has to be in commuting distance of my husband's job.  I've been trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but so far you just seem to be offended that I don't enjoy your hobby like you do.  If you didn't have anything motivating to say, why did you respond to my post in the first place?

Anyway, congratulations.  I'm now more demoralized than I was when I asked for help.  Great job.

robartsd

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #222 on: August 07, 2018, 03:10:43 PM »
Go on longer bike rides.  Use the bike to go distances that you could never go by walking alone.  Keep track of the total distance you've gone each week, and try to beat it the next week.  Time yourself climbing your hill to get home each day and chart progress.  Try to ride with other people when you can.  Make small goals "I want to get up that hill without walking this time" and then make bigger goals "I'm going to go up and down that hill twice today".  Work your way up to "I'm going to ride 100 miles on my bike today".  Watch your body transform as you make it into a lean, mean, bike riding machine.
@GuitarStv, looks like you're getting a little over zealous for cycling in the newbies thread. As always you have great advice for cyclists (thanks for your long distance cycling tips thread - I do want to do an century ride someday, but I know that's not for everyone - not even for everyone that likes cycling).
Oooh, once you get a tensiometer it's time to do some wheelbuilding!  Start checking out sales on hubs and rims in the fall, you can build them over the winter and have an awesome new wheelset for the spring.
A few years ago I looked into building my own (dished rear) wheel, but sourcing spokes appeared to be a problem. I could only find spokes at a reasonable price in bags of 50 - not great when you only need 18 in a particular length. Ended up spending about $250 on a hand-built wheel at a LBS.

@Raenia, Great job trying out biking on shorter errands. If you lived in flatter terrain, I'm sure you would have been much more successful working up to longer distances. Would your route to work involve more hills? Your old Huffy is probably fairly heavy. I think in your case, an e-bike might make a lot of sense. I'd look for someplace you can try one out on a hill similar to yours - you might even find you like it.

As far as spending money goes, it would be hard to justify the expense of a decent new e-bike based solely on the reduction of driving (easy to justify financially if it means you maintain fewer cars though).

In my city the local buses have bike racks, so a transit card in my pocket means I don't have to worry about being stranded. Do you know what resources for cycling your city has?

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #223 on: August 07, 2018, 05:01:56 PM »
It's better when you are building a wheel set.  Often both sides of the front and the NDS rear spokes are the same length . . . so for 32 spoked wheels you need 48 of one size, 16 of another.  Two bags of 50.  I've found good prices at JensonUSA for wheelsmith double butted and straight spokes.  I'd love to use Sapim CX Rays but they range from damned expensive to totally ridiculous depending on where you look.  :P

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #224 on: August 08, 2018, 06:13:17 AM »
Gonna pop in here in the hopes of giving myself some motivation.  I'm trying to work up to being able to bike to work (4 miles).  I started out with biking errands I usually walk, so 1-2 miles round-trip, and every time I've had to walk the bike back at least some of the way.  I live at the top of a hill, so that's part of the problem... I'm having trouble convincing myself to bike on my errands, when it's so much easier and less painful to walk, especially in the 90F heat.

Any advice on motivation to keep biking?

Hey Raenia,

I’ll throw out a few motivation suggestions with the hopes that one will stick!

I am a numbers person and really love looking at my biking stats. I bike for transportation and entertainment (not for exercise or trying to beat speed or distance PRs).  It’s motivating to see how many miles I’ve rode.  Apps like Strava compile your stats and give weekly/month/yearly stat totals.

Speaking of numbers, what about a running tally of calculating either how much gas you aren’t using per day/week/month/etc. or how much time you are saving by biking rather than walking which you can use doing something else.

How about a commuting buddy?  Is there someone from your work that you can meet up with and bike in together?  Can you recruit someone to do it with you even 1-2 times a week to start?

What about an accountability partner that will check in with you (however often you need) to hold you accountable and also motivate you to reach your goals.

Would spending money (for instance buying an e bike like others have suggested) give you motivation to use it and not collect dust in storage?

Raenia

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #225 on: August 08, 2018, 07:39:43 AM »
@Raenia, Great job trying out biking on shorter errands. If you lived in flatter terrain, I'm sure you would have been much more successful working up to longer distances. Would your route to work involve more hills? Your old Huffy is probably fairly heavy. I think in your case, an e-bike might make a lot of sense. I'd look for someplace you can try one out on a hill similar to yours - you might even find you like it.

As far as spending money goes, it would be hard to justify the expense of a decent new e-bike based solely on the reduction of driving (easy to justify financially if it means you maintain fewer cars though).

In my city the local buses have bike racks, so a transit card in my pocket means I don't have to worry about being stranded. Do you know what resources for cycling your city has?

Thanks for the tips!  We're already a 1 car household, so we wouldn't be able to drop the car maintenance/registration entirely.  Unfortunately the only savings will be for gas/mileage.  We're out in the suburbs, where the buses are much less available, but maybe I can plan out a route that goes by more bus stops as a back-up.  I'll have to check if the buses here usually have a bike rack, as well.  I should also check out the route I would use to get to work - I've looked on a map, but it's not quite the same as the car route I use (avoid some bad intersections, cut through a golf course) so it may have shallower grades that I can handle.

Hey Raenia,

I’ll throw out a few motivation suggestions with the hopes that one will stick!

I am a numbers person and really love looking at my biking stats. I bike for transportation and entertainment (not for exercise or trying to beat speed or distance PRs).  It’s motivating to see how many miles I’ve rode.  Apps like Strava compile your stats and give weekly/month/yearly stat totals.

Speaking of numbers, what about a running tally of calculating either how much gas you aren’t using per day/week/month/etc. or how much time you are saving by biking rather than walking which you can use doing something else.

How about a commuting buddy?  Is there someone from your work that you can meet up with and bike in together?  Can you recruit someone to do it with you even 1-2 times a week to start?

What about an accountability partner that will check in with you (however often you need) to hold you accountable and also motivate you to reach your goals.

Would spending money (for instance buying an e bike like others have suggested) give you motivation to use it and not collect dust in storage?

Thanks for the ideas!  I don't have a smartphone to use an app, but I could probably whip up a spreadsheet to show miles/time saved/gas saved and enter the numbers when I get home.  A commuting buddy would be fantastic, unfortunately none of my coworkers live in the same area as me, and they are all much further away (I don't think any of them commute less than 40 min, many longer.)  Sadly, past evidence suggests that spending up-front is not effective as a motivator for me, but maybe I can figure a way to use it as a reward if I stick with it for a certain time...

hadabeardonce

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #226 on: August 08, 2018, 03:38:57 PM »
Oooh, once you get a tensiometer it's time to do some wheelbuilding!  Start checking out sales on hubs and rims in the fall, you can build them over the winter and have an awesome new wheelset for the spring.


:P
Haha, for now I just want the tensiometer for keeping my own wheels true and properly maintained. Maybe I'll turn wheel truing into a side gig later: "Wheels trued for $20 or your wheels back. (No warranty - Not liable for damages[even if clearly intentional].)"

Building or buying new wheels looks like a major expense. I'm not sure how much of a benefit I'd be able to feel and the cost could easily exceed the price I paid for the bike. I already regret looking up the weight of the wheels I have(which might be north of 2100g.) It's hard not to chase the "upgrade rabbit" or scratch the "new parts" itch. I've already failed in a few ways(as previously mentioned), I installed matching groupset calipers with Kool Stop pads last night and bought new Jagwire Pro shift and brake cables today - that has to be the end to it... right?

I still love the bike though. Ridden every day since I bought it. For anyone who's commuting on a 26" mtb and thinking about a road bike, the switch is worth it. I'm faster and I can ride every day.

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #227 on: August 09, 2018, 07:22:28 AM »
No pressure to build 'em or anything.  I waited five years until my wheelset was breaking spokes pretty regularly and the rims were wearing through from braking before changing mine out.  Going from a 2400 g wheelset to the 1750 gram wheelset that I built was a pretty dramatic change to the bike though.

Agreed on the difference between a road and mountain bike too.  Just the body position alone makes you significantly faster for the same effort.

:P

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #228 on: August 09, 2018, 09:50:07 AM »
A commuting buddy would be fantastic, unfortunately none of my coworkers live in the same area as me, and they are all much further away (I don't think any of them commute less than 40 min, many longer.)
Commute buddy doesn't have to be a co-worker, a neighbor who works in the same general area would work just as well. Of course co-workers are easier to meet with to discuss the idea.

Thanks for the ideas!  I don't have a smartphone to use an app, but I could probably whip up a spreadsheet to show miles/time saved/gas saved and enter the numbers when I get home.
I've done plenty of tracking my miles manually. You can get cycle computers to track distance (and speed) for less than $10. I do know that Strava also works on a tablet that has GPS.

GuitarStv

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #229 on: August 09, 2018, 09:54:24 AM »
Thanks for the ideas!  I don't have a smartphone to use an app, but I could probably whip up a spreadsheet to show miles/time saved/gas saved and enter the numbers when I get home.
I've done plenty of tracking my miles manually. You can get cycle computers to track distance (and speed) for less than $10. I do know that Strava also works on a tablet that has GPS.

Manual tracking is pretty easy.  You'll find that you tend to cycle to/from the same places pretty regularly (home-work, home-library, home-grocery store) so it's mostly a matter of checking Google maps for the distance once and then simply tallying things up.

* Also worth tracking if you're in a hilly area is the height change that you ride.  Doing 10 km on the flat is totally different than doing 10 km with two thousand feet of climbing!

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #230 on: August 09, 2018, 10:00:04 AM »
No pressure to build 'em or anything.  I waited five years until my wheelset was breaking spokes pretty regularly and the rims were wearing through from braking before changing mine out.  Going from a 2400 g wheelset to the 1750 gram wheelset that I built was a pretty dramatic change to the bike though.

Agreed on the difference between a road and mountain bike too.  Just the body position alone makes you significantly faster for the same effort.

:P
I think I only got about 5000 miles on machine built 32 straight spoke rear wheels. Upgrading to hand built, 36 single butted spoke rear wheel has improved durability drastically. Never have had issues with machine built 32 straight spoke front wheels (did replace both wheels as a wheel set once, but probably didn't need to replace the front - do have rim brakes, so front rim will need replacing eventually).

It's better when you are building a wheel set.  Often both sides of the front and the NDS rear spokes are the same length . . . so for 32 spoked wheels you need 48 of one size, 16 of another.  Two bags of 50.  I've found good prices at JensonUSA for wheelsmith double butted and straight spokes.  I'd love to use Sapim CX Rays but they range from damned expensive to totally ridiculous depending on where you look.  :P
Good point about wheel set. 50 spokes is even enough for 32 front and 18 rear. I did think about going with a not dished wheel by swapping out my derailleurs for a NuVinci Nfinity hub.

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #231 on: August 09, 2018, 10:11:06 AM »
Manual tracking is pretty easy.  You'll find that you tend to cycle to/from the same places pretty regularly (home-work, home-library, home-grocery store) so it's mostly a matter of checking Google maps for the distance once and then simply tallying things up.

* Also worth tracking if you're in a hilly area is the height change that you ride.  Doing 10 km on the flat is totally different than doing 10 km with two thousand feet of climbing!
I do love that Google maps shows the elevation profile of the ride for cycling directions (although mine is usually simply "mostly flat"). An inexpensive cycle computer won't provide that (I believe Stava does).

If the motivation is reduced driving, the miles for the route you would have taken in the car is more important than the miles you actually biked (especially great if you have shortcuts you can take by bike; not so great if the car route is more direct due to avoiding high stress cycling situations).

SeaKayEl

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #232 on: August 11, 2018, 08:56:06 AM »


Just picked this up on a whim at the library (was on display).

Might be a good read for those just starting their commuting journey—I’ll let you know if I think it’s worth the read!

How is everyone’s commuting going?
Triumphs? Obstacles? Challenges?

Happy biking!

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #233 on: August 13, 2018, 05:51:14 AM »
Just picked this up on a whim at the library (was on display).

Might be a good read for those just starting their commuting journey—I’ll let you know if I think it’s worth the read!

How is everyone’s commuting going?
Triumphs? Obstacles? Challenges?

Happy biking!

Nice. I highly recommend "Just Ride" for the beginner commuter or one thinking about taking the plunge. Helps to detach yourself from any fears and to approach commuting by bike rationally (and also not like a racer, which the author likes to poke fun of, having been one himself).

I just finished a month straight of commuting only by bike to work. I even made it a point to only use my car if 1. I was leaving my city limits (which is quite large) or 2. my gf and I were going somewhere further than she was willing to walk (doesn't happen often, she doesn't have a bike - YET).

So this means going to work, getting groceries, taking the kid to parks, library, etc. all has been done by bicycle. Most noticeable things so far are my appetite is enormous and I feel like I'm never satiated. And I suddenly have a "ripped" stomach. It's not bodybuilder-like but it is noticeably different. The gf also said that lately I've been in a really good mood all of the time. Not sure if this has anything to do with biking but I like to think it is.

I've really come to detest driving in all honesty. I can feel the mental difference when driving a car versus riding a bike or walking. Stress vs a feeling of freedom. I drive to the burbs every weekend out of necessity and that's plenty of driving for me every week. I wish I could eliminate that but all my family lives in suburbs (south of me) and even my son stays with his mom in another suburb (north of me). There's just too much damn sprawl here.

Ok, rant over, bike commuting is going well :)

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #234 on: August 13, 2018, 11:28:34 AM »
A coworker reminded me that a batch of condos is just finishing up in my neighbourhood, and most of them are going to be getting on my public transit route. An even stronger argument for riding whenever possible.

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #235 on: August 15, 2018, 04:55:16 PM »
Just picked this up on a whim at the library (was on display).

Might be a good read for those just starting their commuting journey—I’ll let you know if I think it’s worth the read!

How is everyone’s commuting going?
Triumphs? Obstacles? Challenges?

Happy biking!

Nice. I highly recommend "Just Ride" for the beginner commuter or one thinking about taking the plunge. Helps to detach yourself from any fears and to approach commuting by bike rationally (and also not like a racer, which the author likes to poke fun of, having been one himself).

I just finished a month straight of commuting only by bike to work. I even made it a point to only use my car if 1. I was leaving my city limits (which is quite large) or 2. my gf and I were going somewhere further than she was willing to walk (doesn't happen often, she doesn't have a bike - YET).

So this means going to work, getting groceries, taking the kid to parks, library, etc. all has been done by bicycle. Most noticeable things so far are my appetite is enormous and I feel like I'm never satiated. And I suddenly have a "ripped" stomach. It's not bodybuilder-like but it is noticeably different. The gf also said that lately I've been in a really good mood all of the time. Not sure if this has anything to do with biking but I like to think it is.

I've really come to detest driving in all honesty. I can feel the mental difference when driving a car versus riding a bike or walking. Stress vs a feeling of freedom. I drive to the burbs every weekend out of necessity and that's plenty of driving for me every week. I wish I could eliminate that but all my family lives in suburbs (south of me) and even my son stays with his mom in another suburb (north of me). There's just too much damn sprawl here.

Ok, rant over, bike commuting is going well :)
My mood improves the more I bike too, but my ripped stomach is still hiding under some other stuff. Props to you for all the biking.

There's certainly a different mindset to driving versus biking. When I pedal I can go as fast as I want to, I don't have to worry about parking, I feel less aggravated and more accomplished.


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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #236 on: August 15, 2018, 04:59:08 PM »
Driving makes me angrier than anything else in my life except reading the news. People are so BAD at it! Not to mention rude!

So biking is a good way to improve my mood just by removing that frustration from my daily life.

Er, if only I did it more often...

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #237 on: August 15, 2018, 05:21:05 PM »
hadabeardonce & Tass

I agree about feeling in a better mood when biking vs driving

As for people not being the best drivers....I’ve been commuting since November and the few times I opted to drive instead of bike was because it was snowing or the day after a snow storm and I just don’t trust other people on the road in those conditions.


SeaKayEl

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #238 on: August 18, 2018, 09:57:19 AM »
What is your commuting attire?

I live in an area where there is 4 seasons and since my commuting started in November I’ve been through many trial & error clothing sessions on what to wear in what weather condition.

I may not wear what others would choose or advise in certain circumstances but I’ve found what is efficient and comfortable for me.  But there may be something better out there I haven’t tried so I’m interested in hearing what other commuters wear or if they have any attire hacks....or attire failures!

This is what I wear in 65°F & above:

-Plain ol’ t-shirt.  I’ve yet to find a sweat-wicking material I like the feel of (including bike jerseys) so I don’t own any.  This serves me well and with my short commuting distance, I’ve never been uncomfortable.
-Green fluorescent vest.  I may trust drivers enough to commute on the road with them, but that trust only goes so far.  If I can draw attention to myself from a distracted driver, I will.
-Shorts: I don’t wear padded shorts underneath.  I just wear a pair of 97% nylon 3% spandex hiking shorts. Super comfortable and a tad stretchy.
-Wool socks
-Sunglasses
-Gloves: these are not a necessity but I prefer the feel of the gloves rather than having naked hands.

As for rain, I usually take a rain coat but have never once worn it....if it’s pouring I’ll usually stay at work a little longer until it passes and if it’s a light rain I’ll just get a little wet.


Tass

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Re: Start Biking To Work - cycling newbies chat
« Reply #239 on: August 18, 2018, 03:00:08 PM »
I really need more fluorescent/reflective materials like that if I ever want to commute in the evening.